Friday, September 16, 2016

Bag Fetish: The Tom Bihn Swift - A Review

If you've read this blog, you know that I have a bag fetish. I've acquired more than a few bags and I've also made everything from project/ditty bags to carpet bags to full-blown TARDIS messenger bags. Part of this bag fetish is trying to find the "one perfect bag" that will carry everything that I need everyday, comfortably, and without hassle.

However, I know that the "one perfect bag" is a myth --- an elusive unicorn that exists only in myth & story. But recently, I've found something that is pretty damn close to that unicorn, and those bags are made by Tom Bihn. I've known about their company for a number of years, but haven't tried out their bags until this year. Why? Because I didn't quite like their aesthetic; it was fine, but there were always other shiny / pretty bags available. But, as they say, don't judge a book by its cover.

I've seen many knitters rave about the Tom Bihn Swift for a few years. Generally, I prefer messenger bags (both vertical and horizontal versions) instead of totes with shoulder straps, but I thought to give it a try. Back in May, I bought the Swift for my birthday.

(From Tom Bihn's site)

And WOWZA. They really took the time and effort in working with to create this bag! I've never had a bag so thoughtfully laid out, organized, and with a multitude of space and pockets! It's more than a knitting bag and slightly less than a true bag of holding!

Here's my Every Day Carry for Work:  Big (sweater or shawl) and small knitting project (socks), a shawl (because my office gets cold), work laptop, tea mug, sunglasses, wallet, keys, notebook, pen, and assorted knitting notions in the blue case. (Cat not included)

It all fit into the Swift without issue and with room to spare. The side pockets with clear windows is genius! You can see what's inside without rooting about. Also, they have a key strap at the top of the back that I can clip my car keys onto --- so no more fishing for keys at the bottom of the bag!

I was so enamored with the configuration that I ordered a few more organizational things from Tom Bihn, because I loved how well just the bag helped me organize everything.

I picked up their "Freudian slip", a few of knitting pouches, and two of their knitting ditty bags.
  • The small Freudian slip let me able to consolidate my wallet, notebook, pens & pencils, earbuds, extra cell phone battery, a phone cable/charger, and a few other things. It's extremely convenient:
    • If I turned the FS sideways, it opened up the bag when I was working at my LYS. 
    • The FS also lets me transfer all the important things to any other bag with minimal fuss. 
    • Note: I did not purchase the FS made for the Swift. I bought the smaller version because I thought Swift FS was much too big.
  • The organizational pouches let me get rid of the bulky notions case AND add a few more things, like a pair of scissors. 
    • The clear windows let me see what's inside.
    • They come with a ring that keeps them together.
  • And insofar as the knitting bags........ Hold on! Sure, you might be asking right now - You have made tons of ditty bags! Why buy!? - Well,  the ditty bags have a built in clip that lets me clip it to the O-ring inside of the bag so that they never fall out! They also have a yarn guide on the inside. (In my copious spare time, I am going to add these features to any new ditty bags I might make, but for now, it was just as easy to purchase them.)

Here's all that stuff in the bag.

For FUN, I bought their Field Journal Notebook (FJN), because I love notebooks and writing. This is slightly bigger than an iPad Mini; it actually fits my iPad mini inside.

Here's the FJN inside the Swift instead of the laptop.

So far, I've used this bag extensively for work, for play, and generally everything. I've take it on car trips and on airplanes. It's a great bag to have at your feet as a passenger or under the seat for a plane and be able to access everything quickly and without hassle.

I am still amazed at how much stuff I can fit into this fairly compact bag. You would think that it would get heavy, but the weight distribution of the bag is actually well done. Yes, there is weight, but because the weight is distributed evenly, you don't really notice it. The only time I really noticed a problem was when I went urban hiking for 15 miles, but then again, I knew I was probably taking the wrong bag for a romp through the San Francisco hills!

Is it perfect? Not quite, but it's pretty damn close despite the fact that it's not my beloved messenger-style bag. I'm seriously considering purchasing a few more in different colors for different purposes!

Tom Swift makes bags in the U.S with a lot of workmanship and care. Their products have a life time guarantee and they have a small cult following.

I was so impressed with the quality of workmanship of the Swift, its organization, and its carrying capacity that I also purchased the Maker's Bag almost two months later to try out the messenger bag version (kinda sorta). I'll review that later.

I told you that I had a bag fetish....I might also be a Tom Bihn convert.