May Contain Nuts

I cook clean yell at kids work clean repeat & I AM ALL ABOUT EFFICIENCY

In Search of a New Backpack

I’ve had my North Face backpack for around 20 years and a year ago I found that the lining inside (kinda like a ScotchGuard type of protector lining) was flaking off and polluted everything in the bag with dust bits everytime I used it.  It was time to search for a new backpack and after months of searching, I’ve finally found one that I hope will last me for the rest of my lifetime (which I’ve learned from North Face that a Lifetime Warranty does not mean the owner’s lifetime).

Patch is a big fan of Tom Bihn bags, and although I agreed that it’s beautifully handcrafted in Seattle, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to spend two to three times as I would on a backpack that I would use less than my Tory Burch everyday purses (that’s the term I use to justify my purchases to Patch – it’s for everyday use).

I agreed to consider investing in a TB (now all my bags have the same initials) – Bihn bag, if I can feel and see it in person. I’m not going to order something online plus $30 shipping and hope that it turns out okay. So ROADTRIP TO SEATTLE!

First of all, downtown Seattle traffic and along the I-5 sucks on a Friday.  But I’ve heard worse for LA so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  TB has limited store hours and when we finally made it through the traffic an hour later than what the GPS suggested, the first thing we asked the store clerk was where the bathroom was.  He was kind enough to not give us crap like ‘Bathrooms are for employees only’ and escorted me and Patch to the bathroom walking through their factory where the Chinese aunties were sewing (like the Lululemon factory where you watch the aunties doing the same thing).  I asked if I could take a photo but the clerk said no because they could be working on new items.  I wanted a photo just to show my North Face fan friends that my future bag is not made by a Vietnamese 8 year old. It’s made by a real US citizen (hopefully, the aunties got their green cards lol).

The clerk was awesome in letting us try on the bags, stuffing my jackets and crap in and carrying around the store.  I was torn between the sizes, and the colours. He reminded me of Seth Rogan and he told us the story of what made him move from Vermont to Seattle.

After spending an hour looking at their stock, I chose the Synapse 19 in Steel Dyneema with a Wasabi lining, although I was tempted to get the Synapse 25 for only $10 more.  But the 19 felt perfect on me and later realized that on the website, the 19 was designed for shorties like me.

Patch knew what bags he wanted but they didn’t have his colours in stock, so he is going to order them online. We left the store and Patch asked if I wanted to take a pic of the store as a souvenir.  Uhm, okay, yes, it’s for me… right.



This was when I realized it’s Tom Bihn, not Binh.  So I guess he is not Vietnamese afterall.

I used it today for the first time and although the straps slid off my shoulders (not constantly, just a few times but I have ridiculously small shoulders), there was a strap across to buckle the shoulder straps together.  There was a piece of plastic that stuck out and it cut my finger twice but I took my swiss army and shaved off the sharp part poking out so it’s all good again.  After using it for baby stuff, my stuff and just stuff in general, I’m really happy that I didn’t just settle for a backpack for a fraction of the cost. Since everyone in Vancouver carries a North Face item of some sort (thanks to the frequent sample sales happening around here), I’m glad I’m not part of the population but most importantly, I may have walked by the auntie that made my bag on my way to the bathroom and not some child labourer!


His and hers matching bags (even more matching when Patch orders the Synapse 25 and Brain Bag). His Empire Builder is close to 3 years and it still looks good as new.


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This entry was posted on August 7, 2013 by in Life At Home, Up and Around Vancouver and tagged , , , , .
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