In January I reviewed Tom Bihnâ€™s Aeronaut and a gazillion and one little packing cubes, pockets and organizer pouches. As you may have gathered from the review, I was very keen on the packing cubes. Over the last year Iâ€™ve used these accessories, in many combinations on every trip Iâ€™ve done. I also use them to corral cables in my desk drawer.
About a month ago another package arrived from Tom Bihn; their Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack. Iâ€™ve used this little gem on three trips since, and its extraordinarily useful. The idea is simple. Tom has combined his â€œLarge Packing Cubeâ€ with an â€œEnd Pocket,â€ and added some shoulder straps. The result is a small daypack and a dual-size packing cube.
All Tom Bihnâ€™s packing cubes are made from an attractive charcoal grey and silver-checked material and use No. 5 YKK zippers. This one has a small webbing carry handle, and simple webbing backpack straps. The straps are adjustable. Inside, and at the top end of the main compartment is a d-ring for keys etc.
The pack weighs 255 grammes, and the material is soft and flexible but still built to Tom Bihnâ€™s usual â€œbullet proofâ€ standards. As Iâ€™ve said before, I think flexibility is important; when you are not using the pack its handy to be able to fold it up tight and compact. In backpack form the pack is: 44.5 x 34.5 x 10.5 cm (17.5″ x 13.5″ x 4.25″). Thatâ€™s just over 16 liters.
On the back, with light loads its surprisingly comfortable, though you have to be careful to avoid sharp-edged contents.
As a packing cube you can use it in many ways. The large compartment takes trousers and shirts for example – pack them in fairly tight and youâ€™ll avoid creases. The end compartment will take a pair of business shoes (mine are UK 10.5) but is a little small for my gym shoes.
You can reverse the main compartment and the pack becomes pretty much a standard large packing cube with dimensions: 34.5 x 34.5 x 10.5 cm (13.5″ x 13.5″ x 4.25″).
I found this pack to be very useful for trips to the hotel gym or pool. Shoes, shorts, t-shirt and wash-bag went into the main compartment, and I used the small compartment for my towel / swim-kit. Its handy to have this wet stuff separate from shorts and shirt.
Coming back through Brussels AIrport the other day I bought some very heavy Belgian Beer. I whipped this pack out from my Aeronaut and in went the beer, saving my hands on that long trek to the gate.
If you are going to buy a Large Packing Cube and End Pocket from Tom Bihn, then seriously consider this pack as its just $5 more than the price of the two combined. For that $5 you get lots of extra functionality. My only gripe is that the end pocket could have been a little bigger – to accommodate some muddy running shoes. Overall though, nice work again Tom Bihn. Well done.