American luggage manufacturer Tom Bihn, has introduced a new line of Dyneema nylon products this summer called Travel Stuff Sacks. If you’ve used to their Packing Cube organizers, you’re in for a change of pace. These Travel Stuff Sacks are designed to cram stuff into, instead of carefully folding or rolling clothing in. The sacks don’t use any zippers, but instead use a pull cord that cinches them shut at the opening.
My biggest surprise was how small these actually are. You can really cram your clothes in there, but if you’re used to really big stuff sacks, these will feel much, much smaller.
In fact, if you might think these are just a variation on their Yarn Stuff Sacks, you’re right!
So what does Tom Bihn say is different between the Yarn Stuff Sacks and these new Travel Stuff Sacks? The difference is actually pretty subtle, but it makes a difference when you’re packing these in your main luggage. Unlike the Yarn Stuff Sacks, its Travel cousin has an oval (or oblong) bottom, which allows it to lie flatter.
Some people might think that introducing a whole new line of stuff sacks with a slightly differently shaped bottom is silly, but I think it’s an example of the manufacturer improving on an existing design—and choosing to continue to sell the original design. The Yarn Stuff Sack is great for what it was designed for (holding skeins of yarn).
The Travel Stuff Sack comes in four sizes, and the main thing most people want to know is, exactly how big are these things? Here’s the official dimensions as described at Tom Bihn’s website:
- Size 1: External Dimensions – 5.2″ tall x 3.8″ x 2.6″ / 130 x 100 x 70mm; Weight: 0.7 oz / 20 grams; Volume: 40 cu.in. / 0.7 liters
- Size 2: External Dimensions – 6.3″ tall x 5.2″ x 3.5″ / 160 x 130 x 90mm; Weight: 1.0 oz / 28 grams; Volume: 100 cu.in. / 1.6 liters
- Size 3: External Dimensions – 7.9″ tall x 6.6″ x 4.3″ / 200 x 170 x 110mm; Weight: 1.4 oz / 40 grams; Volume: 185 cu.in. / 3 liters
- Size 4: External Dimensions – 9.2″ tall x 7.9″ x 5.2″ / 230 x 200 x 130mm; Weight: 1.7 oz / 48 grams; Volume: 300 cu.in. / 5 liters
If you’re like me, those numbers don’t really mean a whole lot. Fortunately, their product description provides a little more information:
- Size 1: Very small (very light down vest)
- Size 2: Small (very light down jacket)
- Size 3: Medium (down jacket)
- Size 4: Large (all of the above)
Living in Northern California, I actually don’t own any down clothing. I do, however, have a packble fleece jacket, which I was able to pack into the size 3 sack.
I found that I needed to fold my jacket and roll it a bit, and even then, I still wound up with part of the jacket still sticking out of the top of the sack. However, these aren’t called stuff sacks for no reason; at this point, I was able to start smooshing and cramming the rest of the jacket in, and the jacket fit really nicely. I then pulled up the cord and cinched it shut—and to my delight, I discovered I’d created myself a great little travel pillow.
In order to get a better sense of the various sizes, I thought I’d take some snapshots with them next to some familiar items.
Size 1 of the Travel Stuff Sack is actually quite small. In fact, I was really surprised when I first got to see it in person. It’s not much wider than an iPhone, and it’s not much taller than a can of beans. I don’t know what kind of down vest the Tom Bihn folks wear in Seattle, but maybe it’s a really small one for kids—I can’t see using this for anything more than a couple of pairs of socks. That said, this particular stuff sack would make a great little pouch for holding makeup or some accessories like earphones, spare batteries, flashlight, and USB cords.
Size 2 is a little bigger, and will actually be able to fit a Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube right into the sack.
Size 4 is relatively roomy. It can easily hold a good handful of medium Organizer Pouches, not to mention everything else from the other three sizes.
I’ve had a chance to use the four sizes of these Travel Stuff Sacks. I find myself using size 3 regularly to stuff my gym clothes in, and size 1 as my make-up kit. Next time I have a chance to travel, I’ll give these Travel Stuff Sacks a try instead of using my regular packing cubes and see how it works.
- Size 1: $14.00
- Size 2: $15.00
- Size 3: $17.00
- Size 4: $20.00
They are available in steel (grey), Iberian (red), ultraviolet, and their newest color, wasabi (light green). As with all of their other products, these are made in the USA. Order them from their website.