Entries in tom bihn (3)


Hacking a Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook for a 9.7" iPad

Tom Bihn makes some really nice travel bags, backpacks, and briefcase/messenger-style bags. I previously wrote about their Large Cafe Bag and taking my Aeronaut 45 to New Zealand and Australia, and have always thought their Field Journal Notebook was groovy. But I've gone almost completely digital and don't need to carry around paper, pencils, and pens anymore. What I do carry with me almost everywhere is an iPad, and I currently have the 9.7" iPad Pro, with the Smart Keyboard cover. As I've come to use the iPad more and more, and a laptop less and less, I realized that what I really could use was a case/bag that was just big enough to for the iPad, my phone, wallet, keys, and few other little odds and ends. Essentially, rather than taking a laptop with me, much of what I need (for meetings, email, surfing) could be contained in a super-small minimalist bag.

This is where the Field Journal Notebook (FJN) came back into play. I've seen threads on the Tom Bihn forums where people have put their iPad Minis in their FJN (see here and here), but if you look at the dimensions of the FJN, it's just a shade larger than a regular iPad. One of the threads showed that an iPad Air would fit in a FJN that had been "gutted", with the 3-ring binder and paper removed, and I realized that this actually fits my needs perfectly. I don't need the paper, but I do want to carry an iPad (9.7" version).

So I ordered a FJN, and confirmed that once the binder is removed, a 9.7" iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard will fit. But if you remove the binder, the FJN loses some of it's rigidity and also the back panel is exposed (i.e., it's not "finished" to be an exposed surface. It would be great to retain the plastic backing without the binder rings. I'd just need to find some flexible, yet still relatively stiff, plastic that could be cut to size. A trip to my local Bed Bath and Beyond yielded the perfect solution: a plastic cutting board, sold in a package of four for $8 (after a 20% BBB coupon).

I also removed the seams between a couple of the pencil/phone slots, so that an iPhone 6 Plus would fit, as well as a small lipstick-sized USB battery. In addiion, you might notice that this strap is a bit wider than the one that comes with the FJN; this one came from another laptop bag I had laying around the house.


One (plus one) bag travel

As I head out to my conference in Australia, with a stop in New Zealand on the way, I've been planning for how to pack for the trek. Some caveats as a starting point:

  • Although part of my trip involves attending an academic conference, I tend to dress at the causal end of the spectrum for these sorts of things (maybe even outside the range of what is normative). No suits, ties, shiny leather shoes, etc.
  • There will be lots of walking and exploring in the cities, as well as some hiking in the countryside. Much more on the activewear side of things rather than anything formal.
  • I tend to be low maintenance when it comes to toiletries, and am perfectly fine using whatever is found in the hotel. And I don't mind being scruffy and going without shaving for a few weeks.
  • Admittedly, there's likely going to be more photography gear than most would bring. In particular, a second body is a total luxery. But I'd be crushed if I had a problem with my camera and didn't have a backup on a trip like this. And it's not like I'll be carrying two DSLRs...
  • I need to have a pack for day trips with my photo gear and small messenger bag for the conference and walking around Sydney and Melbourne.

I've been reading about "one bag travel," where the goal is to fit everything into a carry-on bag. Given that I'm an avid photographer, I know there's no way I can do this, unless half of the bag is camera gear. Even though I travel with the small(ish) Fuji X-sytem which is lighter than the Nikon DSLR I used to travel with, it's still more gear than most "one-baggers" would carry. Couple that with a (small) laptop and iPad, I know one bag isn't going to happen. But if I could get to "MLC" (maximum legal carry-on; ~40 liters) bag plus a small bag or backpack (i.e., "personal item" on the plane), I'd be going much lighter than the 90+ liter Gregory Whitney backpack I previously traveled with. So here's the plan...

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Man bags: BaileyWorks Pouch vs. Tom Bihn Large Cafe Bag

We're carrying more devices these days, but in my line of work I don't need a formal briefcase. A small messenger-style bag suffices for most things. Below I've made some obervations about two such bags, the BaileyWorks Pouch and Tom Bihn Large Cafe Bag. This isn't a direct comparison because they are different sizes and each serves a somewhat different purpose in my day-to-day life. Instead, I've provided some thoughts and observations about how each functions in my work and travel.

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