Made-in-America bag manufacturer Tom Bihn this week introduced a brand new version of his popular Dyneema nylon fabric. The 400 denier weight 400d Dyneema is roughly twice the thickness of the maker’s popular 200d Dyneema nylon. While introducing a thicker fabric may seem ho-hum to you, what is news for fans of his travel bags is that for the first time in the history of Tom Bihn, we are now able to purchase his main carry-on travel bags—the Aeronaut, Tri-Star, and Western Flyer—using this new Dyneema for its exterior fabric.
Even with this new 400d version being thicker than the original fabric, the Bihn bags that use this new Dyneema is roughly 20 percent lighter than their ballistic nylon counterparts. This actually proves to be essential if your plans involve flying to Europe; many airlines (including Virgin Atlantic) not only have size restrictions, but weight restrictions that they actually enforce when you check in at the airport. If you are only allowed 13 pounds for your entire carry-on, for example (see my attempts to travel with just such a restriction in “The Ultra-Minimalist Packing List: How I Packed for Europe“), saving 20 percent makes a significant difference.
For example, the ballistic nylon Aeronaut is listed as weighing three pounds; the Dyneema version can take over a half pound off. The ultralight packer’s favorite, Tom Bihn’s Western Flyer, weighs two and a half pounds, which means its Dyneema version will be a featherlight two pounds. Although it will be possible to beat two pounds by using extremely lightweight bags made of materials like parachute nylon, my opinion is that the 400d Dyneema version is going to provide the level of security and sturdiness Bihn bag owners have come to expect. Best of all, the bags in Dyneema are priced the same as their ballistic nylon siblings, leaving the choice up to you whether you want to go for heavier and sturdier, or lighter.
If you’re hoping to pick up a carry-on bag right now, you’ll need to hang tight: The Aeronaut, Tri-Star, and Western Flyer are all on pre-order and are not expected to ship until well into November. The popular Synapse backpack is also on pre-order, but the Bihn website reports that it is shipping soon. Can’t wait? You can pick up a Swift (knitter-friendly tote bag) right now.