Key Straps save my stuff: how Tom Bihn’s bags keep arthritic fumblefingers from ruining my day

In other posts, I’ve referred to the way Tom Bihn bags often make my life better. I want to expand upon that point lest I sound like a mere company shill.

Tom Bihn PCSB and Cafe Bag with Sunday Afternoons hat on hotel desk

Tom Bihn bags and Sunday Afternoons hat

Today I’ll talk about how one “key” feature of this particular brand helps me stay organized and deal with the ongoing issues of a chronic medical condition. I’m talking about removable Key Straps that can be attached to O-rings integral to Tom Bihn bags and many other anchors on luggage or in hotel rooms.Tom Bihn Clear 3D Organizer attached with Key Strap to handicapped rail in hotel bathroom

Key Straps are the “key” feature

I carry a Cafe Bag ($70, size: Medium, color: Original/black Halcyon with Wasabi lining) almost every day, sometimes swapping it out for a Travel Cubelet ($40) or my Packing Cube Shoulder Bag (PCSB, $34) when I travel light. My Cafe Bag is generally fitted out with six separate Key Straps at once, each serving a unique function.

Tom Bihn yellow Key Strap on Cafe BagKey Straps ($5) come in 8-inch and 16-inch lengths, and are currently offered in seven colors. Many of mine are the older style, sewn from folded Dyneema/Halcyon nylon fabric. Newer Key Straps are made of webbing instead. Key Straps come in two varieties: with a snap hook on both ends, or a snap hook on one end with an O-ring on the other.

Additional Tom Bihn accessories that go virtually everywhere with me include:

  • Clear Organizer Wallet ($17) for cash on Wasabi TB Key Strap
  • Coach purple leather card wallet on Steel/grey TB Key Strap
  • Solar/yellow TB Key Strap left empty for… my keys!
  • Pocket Pouch ($10) in Aubergine with Wasabi lining for lip balm attached with its own integrated clip
  • Eagle Creek pouch on Ultraviolet TB Key Strap
  • Aubergine Small Q-Kit ($18) on Iberian/red TB Key Strap for medication
  • Wasabi Mini Q-Kit ($15) on Wasabi TB Key Strap for electronic charging cables and earbuds
  • Clear pouch with red back for paper and longer objects I want to carry, often including a checkbook, a full length emery board (nail file), or a passport

I attach non-Bihn items by various methods. You can see the Key Strap snap hooks attached to a key ring on my card wallet and a fabric loop on my Eagle Creek purple pouch in my detail photos. The integrated O-rings and detachable Key Straps are tiny things that make a tremendous functional difference in my Tom Bihn satchel, but these accessories play very nicely with other brands.

By designing modular pockets, pouches, and parts for the end user to attach or not with separate Key Straps, every bag can be customized precisely for its specific purpose. This works really well for me.

Key Straps corral crap

Items tethered by Key Straps don’t go flying when a bag is knocked over. Tethered wallets are neither left behind when minds wander nor dropped when stiff fingers miss narrow pockets.

“Thy purse hangs about thy knees” sounds like a Shakespearean insult/ double entendre, but many are the times that I’ve walked out of a store with my credit card or cash wallet dangling after a transaction. Without Key Straps, I might have forgotten those very necessary items on a shop counter, not once, not twice, but many, many times.

Having arthritis in the hand makes these not just handy travel features, but helpful everyday accommodations. That they may also deter pickpockets is merely a nice extra for me.

Colorful Tom Bihn Key Straps attached to Cafe Bag

Color coded Key Straps organize chaos

Color coding is another bonus. I can find exactly what I’m looking for in my bag without digging around with sore or swollen fingers. In cramped coach airline conditions, I can yank on the right strap to extract lip balm or eye drops without pulling my whole bag from beneath the seat in from of me. As a mom, I can direct a kid or even my husband to the right place in my purse to grab a tip for the pizza man without finding all of my possessions strewn about the room after the fact.

No other bag or organizational system has ever helped me more with keeping items neatly stowed yet easily accessed. I’m lazy and frequently overwhelmed by the tangible objects I’m expected to wrangle. Something that works for me has to be dead simple to apply yet elegant in its execution for me to stick with it. Tom Bihn is almost definitely a genius, if only for his products’ ability to check my susceptibility to chaos.

Tom Bihn bags are designed and sewn in Seattle, Washington, USA. They offer a lifetime guarantee and top notch customer service. Order once, and you’re likely to understand the raving fan base, quite possibly joining it yourself.

Important fact: I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on Tom Bihn products. I’ve never gotten anything for free. I haven’t even gotten one of the coveted “decorated” shipping boxes that I’ve seen pictured on the brand fan forums. All of my thoughts on the blog to date and what I’ve said in the Tom Bihn forums for that matter reflect the experience of a consumer in the retail marketplace.

Items marked with this symbol are made from production scraps and therefore can’t be ordered by specific color. Customers can request a color if available, or specify colors that would not be acceptable. I’ve also asked for “item ABC only if available in color X,” receiving either what I wanted or nothing at all if it wasn’t available.

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