The Tri-Star: Tom Bihn’s Convertible Carry On Bag…and a giveaway!

I had the opportunity to test out the Tri-Star convertible carry on bag during my recent trip to New Orleans.  Tom Bihn, a local company in Seattle, reached out to me to see if I was interested in this opportunity and being the gear geek that I am I welcomed it with open arms.

Now, I’ve used different bags throughout my travel career and admittedly most have been impulse buys that were so cheap they only lasted after a few uses. Some had been thoroughly researched but out on the road the performance turned out to be underwhelming or some essential features lacking.

However, with Tom Bihn’s Tri-Star Convertible Carry On Bag I think I may have found a keeper. Why?

1. It’s well designed and made of high quality material.

  • The Tri-Star has 3 main compartments: 1) a front compartment for your shoes, toiletry and other personal effects; 2) a middle compartment for your laptop; 3) a rear compartment for your clothes complete with tie down straps.
  • It has 4 other secondary compartments which consist of a curved zipper that could either hold travel documents for easy access or a water bottle or more shoes!
  • As for material, the Tri-Star is made with an exterior of urethane coated, 1050 denier U.S. Made ballistic nylon which is superior for travel as its smooth texture allows you to more easily stow and retrieve it from overhead compartments. It also naturally attracts less fuzz/pet hair (yay!). Additionally, the bag is lined with ultra-light custom-made Dyneema/nylon rip-stop fabric that is extremely tough.

Did you know that Tom Bihn started making bags when he was 10 years old?

2. It’s versatile- it can be a shoulder bag or a backpack.

  • This has got to be one of the coolest features for me.  You can attach their ultra-comfortable shoulder strap or take out the well-hidden backpack straps to wear it anyway you want.
  • As a backpack, the Tri-Star comes complete with a waist strap. The back compartment also has a light padding!

Tom Bihn bags are all made in the USA! So go support local business.

3. It’s durable and flight-friendly.

  • The Tri-Star’s size meets most non-commuter domestic and international airlines’ carry-on size standards. It fits in the overhead compartment of CRJ commuter planes. Overall dimensions are : 19″ x 13″ x 8″ / 480 x 330 x 205mm
  • I love, love their heavy duty non-snag zippers. They are YKK splash-proof Uretek zippers which keep the weather outside where it belongs.
  • Speaking of weather, the fabric is treated to be water-resistant.
  • I also love the stitching and the black piping. You know it’s not going to burst with all the excess items you keep shopping for. This also helps the bag stay in shape and upright.

It’s my Mary Poppins bag- it can fit anything you can stuff!

Final Verdict

POTM give’s the Tri-Star a TWO THUMBS UP. I suggest checking out their accessories: their rockin’ 3d organizer cube and their neat packing cubes. Just makes it easier to organize everything while being TSA compliant.

I’m so happy with this bag and I have been using this for all of my weekend getaways. I’m so happy with it that I’m giving one away. Well ok, technically, Tom Bihn (retails for $270) is giving one away to a lucky POTM reader. AND on top of this, they have also agreed to join me on my giveaway give back program. They are matching my $25 Kiva card donation that will also be given to the winning POTM reader who will use it to do good (because doing good is awesome).

Happy gear geek at the airport!

How to enter the giveaway

You can do one of the following:

1. Add Tom Bihn on Facebook: and Twitter: @tombihn

2. Visit the Tom Bihn website and share your favorite bag by reposting on Facebook and tagging @TOMBIHN.

Rules & Mechanics

 1. Only a maximum of three (3) entries per person will be allowed.

2. The contest is only open to US residents.

3. You must comment on this post by letting me know that you are joining the giveaway while indicating where I can find your entries.

4. Retweet this giveaway post on Twitter or share it on Facebook. Make sure to tag me on Twitter: @grachececilio or Facebook:

5. Only one (1) winner will be selected. This will be announced on the website, Facebook and Twitter. I will also contact the winner via email. The winner will then be given two (2) days to respond to this email or the prize is mine! Note: item color may be limited to what the manufacturer has in stock.

6. Winner will be randomly selected by using So if you submit three (3) entries then your name will appear three (3) times on the list to be randomized.


Giveaway Period

Nov 1 – Nov 15, 2011

Seven Ways to Travel Cheaply in Hanoi, Vietnam

Guest Post by FlipNomad for POTM

Hanoi is the chaotic yet charming capital city of Vietnam. Although it’s globally known as a cheap destination for all kinds of travellers, there are still a lot of creative ways on how to minimize the cost of travelling in Hanoi.

Here are seven things that I think might help you travel cheaply in Hanoi.

1. Stay on Hostels with Free Beer/Tea/Breakfast: Most hostels offer $5 dorm bed around the Old Quarters and a few hostels offer freebies such as beer, tea and breakfast for the same price. Check out Hostelbookers for the listings.

2. Eat on the Streets: The price of a pork spring roll is three times more expensive in a restaurant than on the streets. Baguette sandwiches at only 15,000 dong and Pho at around 20,000 Dong. No need to break the bank to enjoy the sumptuous meals that Vietnam has to offer.

3. Shop at Intimex Supermarket: A bottle of water here is a few thousand Dongs cheaper than when you buy it in stores near your hostel. If you’re really in a very tight budget like I am, there’s a lot of cheap cup noodles for less than 10,000 Dong.

4. Do not book the city tour: DIY. It’s easier than you think. You could even walk from the Old Quarters to the War Museum and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

5. Compare prices of tour before you purchase one. An overnight tour of Halong Bay cost around $35 – $75 (based on quotes we got) including food, tour, guides etc except drinks. Average cost of Hop On and Off bus ticket is $35 some offer it for much higher. Some agencies add a ridiculous mark up. So make sure to ask around first before you buy anything.

6. For long distance train travel, book your tickets directly to the railway station. It’s not as far as what most moto drivers say (from St. Joseph church, Old Quarter). Our hard seat ticket to Sapa is just $6 but we were quoted $13 in a travel agency Check my post about How to Go to Sapa from Hanoi for more details.

7. Always carry bottled water with you. Hanoi can be hot and humid during the summer months and it would cost you money if you keep on buying bottled waters one after the other as you explore the outskirts of the Old Quarter. Bring your own 1.5L bottled water and carry it around.
I hope these tips would help you save on that hard earned money of yours. Travelling does not need to be that expensive to enjoy it. By the way, if you’re curious on how much I spent in Hanoi, just click on the link.

Author: FlipNomad is a Filipino backpacker and travel blogger currently on his 7th month travelling in Southeast Asia. He frequently writes about budget tips, overland border crossing and his experience in this journey. Follow his adventures in Twitter @flipnomad and FB FlipNomad.

Travel Photo Thursday: Turkish-Egyptian Belly Dancer

The lights dimmed and she glided gracefully into the middle of floor. The music starts and we hear the sound of the drums creating a beat that was tribal. All eyes were glued to the beautiful dancer as she started to shimmy.  Her hands skillfully beckoning and her hair seductively swirling. Even the thick tobacco smoke cannot conceal the sparkle of her golden coins. We were mesmerized.

She moves to the corner of the room where she picks up a large sword. She twirls it around and unsheath it. I gasped as she places the big silver sword on top of her head. My tummy tightens as I anticipate disaster. But alas, she balances the sword on top of her head while she continues to dance. The crowd starts to clap as she moves faster. It was at that moment that I felt that I was transported into another world.

That night I was in a Turkish tent in the middle of the desert. Sipping hot mint tea as I lazily inhale from my hookah. I was part of a caravan and we were on our way to mysterious and unexplored territories. My phone buzzes on my lap and reality sets in. I realize that I need to go on a search for good deals on Turkey holidays. For now part of my bucket list is to learn belly dancing in Turkey. Perhaps Istanbul or Bodrum? Regardless, I’m going to make it happen.

This is my submission for Travel Photo Thursday. Check out Budget Travelers Sandbox to see more great shots!