followup review: Tom Bihn Little Swift

This is a follow up review of a product I love and use every day, my Tom Bihn Little Swift. The first review was written after being with the bag for only a few weeks. I thought it would be nice to update how it is faring and what my thoughts are after two years together.

However, there’s a sad catch, it was discontinued. This happens for many reasons and I respect and support the company in making the decision. They sometimes pop up for sale on Ravelry and eBay, but they don’t seem to come up as often as the Swift. The regular sized Swift is a very nice bag and I do love mine, but the Little Swift has my heart.

So why am I writing about it if you can’t purchase one? Because when they show up, there are questions. How well does it wear? What can you fit in it? What do you wish was changed?

Well, first off, I love my Little Swift. I love it so much I don’t think about it. I just grab it and go about my life.

I believe that’s the highest compliment I can give a tool I use. It works so well that I trust it completely and don’t worry about it at all.

Yes, I still love both my Co-Pilot and Swift, but I definitely love this bag much more for where my life is right now. I will be the first to admit it’s likely not the right bag for everyone, though I love it. It’s the right size for me and for 97% of my schlepping needs. In those rare occurrences when I can fit in everything I need, mostly because I need to transport unfolded papers neatly, I pull out my Co-Pilot or my Swift.

A question I’ve heard recently is: can it be used only a knitting bag? Well, mine stores a knitting and crochet project most of the time, but really it’s my EDC. Here’s what was in mine today. The only thing missing from the photo is my tablet which I used to take the photo!

contents of my Tom Bihn Little Swift

During the week I just carry a small pouch with supplies for my crochet cat toys. On weekends and longer errands, a yarn stuff sack is attached to a long keystrap. I use a random plastic ring from my supplies to connect the two.

I think it’s a great size and shape for just about anything. When I brought my newest foster kitten, Max, home (you’ll meet him officially tomorrow) the bag held several cans and jars of food for him and two toys.

Tom Bihn Little Swift with cat food & kitten toys

I love that the fabric is robust and I have no problem with kittens playing near or on it.

Tom Bihn Little Swift with kittens

Tom Bihn Little Swift with kittens

And I love that it still looks good enough to go out for coffee.


Ok, I’ve spoken about the outside but what about inside? Well, honestly I don’t look closely! It’s rare when it’s completely empty. So this is what it looked like tonight when I emptied it to take the photo of everything that was in it.

Tom Bihn Little Swift inside

Tom Bihn Little Swift inside

Oops. I forget when I left a ballpoint pen uncapped and it’s marked up the pocket, but honestly I don’t really think about it when I’m using the bag at all. I haven’t tried cleaning it (though I know what to use).

Yes fuzz and stuff gets caught in the bottom of the bag. I vacuum it every so often.

Is there anything I wish was different? Yes. I wish these o-rings were on the opposite side or the zipper was reverse. I like my keys here, but I do wish I could put them in the pouch and zip it (mostly) closed.

How I was keeping my keys in my Swift and Little Swift for the past several years

How I was keeping my keys in my Swift and Little Swift for the past several years.

UPDATE (the morning after I published this post): As I was moving the bag this morning, guess what I finally felt and found inside the pouch? o-rings!!! YAY! This isn’t the first time I’ve used a TB bag for years and missed out on the o-rings I felt would make the bag just right.

Yay! There are o-rings inside the pouches! (This isn't the first time I missed o-rings.)

Yay! There are o-rings inside the pouches! (This isn’t the first time I missed o-rings.)

Do you want a Little Swift of your own? Please don’t email me and offer gobs of money or contact Tom Bihn and beg. They’re aware of interest and in the future it may come back, though it may be a while. Keep an eye out on Ravelry and eBay.

I know this format doesn’t work for everyone. There’s now a Maker’s Bag that is very lovely and if my daily needs were different I could see myself loving it. For now the Little Swift has my love.

What has happened to my big Swift? I’ve still not gotten the courage to sell it. I have a bunch of totes I use around the house, but for some reason not this one. Yet. I think in the very near future it might get a few accessories and find it has become my “I don’t want to work at my desk today” bag.

I wish I could say I loved my wallet (not TB) as completely but that’s a post for another day. And I may have a workaround with a few Tom Bihn accessories. I need to take some measurements first.

another tale with two swifts

There are phases we go through. For many years I needed everything with me all the time. So I could be prepared for anything life threw at me. That was okay, but on many levels a bit absurd (though if you are in this phase of life yourself, I will not dissuade you). E tried many times to help me lighten up (see what’s in my tumi bag, planning or planned, and bag problem), but I wasn’t ready. Even through some excruciating neck and shoulder pain a few years ago, I still justified the kitchen sink.. and then some.

Now it wasn’t as bad as it could be. Since my first Tom Bihn bag in July 2010, I discovered that they are a bit of a real world interpretation cross of both Mary Poppins’ magical carpet bag and Hermione’s undetectable extension charmed beaded bag. I’m not sure at all how Tom does it, but I found that I could fit everything that I needed into a bag and it would fit and not weigh at all anything that I expected it to.

tombihn-copilot me & my tom bihn co-pilot & the cat

About two years later, my work needs changed as a hobby became a business (yes you deserve to be paid). I then needed to carry more oddly shaped objects and while the co-pilot was a wonderful bag for many things, a change was required. So after much internal debate, I acquired a Swift — the bag that first introduced me and many knitters to Tom Bihn‘s genius.

Surprising everyone, including myself, it wasn’t black. I bought the olive/linen combination so that I could use it year-round, not that I’ve ever cared much about fashion and the thought of a bag for a certain time of year seemed silly and frivolous (yet a bag for a certain use makes complete sense). Even more than the co-pilot, I found the Swift magical. It held everything, in just one bag. It looked amazing (even after I spilled coffee on it). It wasn’t heavy. It could handle both businesses and look good in all situations.


But it was a bit big. But that was ok. When I left the house in the morning I wouldn’t be back for hours and never quite knew what the day would throw at me.

sprossling at rhinebeck Tom Bihn Swift

Two years ago I transitioned to give my businesses my complete attention. That meant that most days, my commute no longer involved trains, but just a walk downstairs to my office. While I need to transport things within our house, in general I didn’t need to carry much outside and I was rarely gone the entire day. So I carried a mostly empty Swift more days than not. I had another tom bihn bag, a small cafe bag, that I tried to use for errands, but it doesn’t quite work for me. The proportions are just off a bit and it never felt right.

Last year at TNNA I finally saw the little swift in person and was amazed at the compact size, especially next to my behemoth (which at the time was stuffed past the gills full). I thought it might work for me as I was tired of schlepping, but was hesitant to spend money on something I didn’t exactly need. I waited. And waited. This very long drawn out never ending winter, after being tired of many layers and bulk and feeling that most of the bag wasn’t used most of the time, and learning that my colour combination is highly desired among knitters that I realized I should just try and see if the Little Swift worked for me. Only there was a problem. The combination I really wanted black/black/steel was no longer produced. I love purple, but the Ultra Violet is a colour I just really dislike on its own. So I was hesitant to have one with an interior that I found repulsive. I asked online. I begged in various forums and no one had one to offer, so I finally bit and purchased a black/black/uv little swift.

A week later it arrived and once I filled it I realized that the interior did not bother me at all. Even the little bit that peaks out doesn’t affect me. YAY! (Such a firstworldproblem, I know. It bothers me more that I was bothered by this.)

As for holding all I need? I emptied the Swift directly into the new Little Swift. A perfect fit. I’ve been experimenting with caring even less — I can now do most (definitely not all) work with the tablet thanks to advances in software and hardware. While the little swift can carry my 11″ Mac Book Air if it needs to, I likely don’t require that service. It holds my tablet, notebooks, and a project bag with a pair of socks with ease.

Little Swift

Tom Bihn Little Swift very first impressions...

The UV purple is bright but I think I'm falling in love with my @tombihn little swift.

What's in my Little Swift

Here are some photos I wished I had while debating between the two sizes. I’m holding the bags in as much the same way as possible and shown with two different angles. The swift isn’t filled completely properly (it’s actually just with the little swift stuffed inside) but I hope the comparison is useful for someone.

Swift & Little Swift Comparison

I’ve been using it for three weeks now and am still madly in love with it. I love the black exterior, the UV interior doesn’t affect me at all. I love how I’m not carrying extra baggage I don’t need. It fits perfectly on my shoulder and I feel more organized and more important happier.

What does the future hold for the larger Swift? I’m keeping it without question for the next 3 months. Then we’ll see what happens.

Swift & Little SwiftSwift
Dimensions: 7.5″ x 12.5″ x 13.5″ / 190 x 320 x 340 mm
Volume: 950 cubic inches / 15.5 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)

Little Swift
Dimensions: 6″ x 9.5″ x 11″ / 150 x 240 x 280 mm
Volume: 500 cubic inches / 8.2 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)

Next is to decide on a travel bag and designing (and stitching up) my perfect thin and lightweight wallet.

Please click here to read all my Tom Bihn posts. Note: I personally purchased all items reviewed and all thoughts are my own.

a tale of two swifts

The stats indicate my most popular post is my Tom Bihn co-pilot review, I have a new bag, are you surprised?. I reviewed the bag again last summer, One year together, declaring my continued love for it, but hinting strongly there was a new contender for my heart, a Swift. Since that post I have struggled to write about my thoughts and yes, my feelings, for this bag. Why? Many before me have eloquently reviewed it and I’m sure this picture alone sells many. Who am I and what can I contribute that has not been said before?

I’m not sure I’m adding anything new, but hopefully my voice will be heard and helpful for someone!

I admit it is now my primary weekday bag, I rarely carry the co-pilot. Why? The Swift helps me balance the demands of my two businesses, PennyWise Consulting, LLC and Little Acorn Creations with more ease than I often do.

How does it do it?

I had hesitated to buy this bag as I was concerned about its size and that it was too big. I’m known for carrying absurdly large items for my size — I’m 5’2. In any case, I fill whatever bag I’m carrying to capacity. The reason I wanted to purchase a swift was to eliminate the one problem I encountered with the co-pilot: the need for a supplementary bag for my oddly shaped objects. The co-pilot rocks papers and a laptop/tablet. It can also handle a library book. It can even handle some small knitting. But it cannot handle a container with lunch, knitting, three books, and the other random odds and ends I schlep around. I looked hard and long at the little swift which measures 6″ x 9 1/2″ x 11″ while the swift comes in at 7 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ x 13 1/2″. I wish I could say that I made the final choice due to size considerations, but honestly I chose by colour. Not all colours are always available on all products and over time many fabrics are retired. While I was greatly interested in the cork, my swift is olive and linen, which to me makes it a perfect year round bag, if I want to be fashionable (HAH) in summer I can flip and show the linen side. ;)

How does this bag perform in my daily life? It’s as good an assistant as Jane and is mobile. I can easily carry my tablet and keyboard with a project bag or two and still pick up a (library) book or three. What is most appreciated by me is that the pockets are zippered, clear, and do not go to the bottom. The zippers are such that the bag is securely closed and I do not need to overly fear wandering fingers snagging my wallet. I love the D rings scattered throughout — at the top of each side and deep inside too. With keystraps or my own clips, everything I need is easy to find and harder to loose.

As with the co-pilot, this bag magically holds more than I expect time and time again and does so while being lighter than I expect. I am happy I bought the “larger” swift. The only time I’ve pulled out a secondary bag was when I had some fragile items from the Green Market. Also, as a fiber person, I am very thankful there is no velcro anywhere to catch and ruin my knitting.

It should surprise no one that the December holidays brought me another addition to my growing Tom Bihn family, a small cafe bag. It is tiny! Sometimes I am sad that it is so very small, but it is perfect for running weekend errands when I have no greater need than to carry my wallet, a small notebook, my cell phone, and a hexipuff. One day I’ll review that bag too. Short answer: it does what it does perfectly for me.

My love and appreciation for the Tom Bihn company and the fine craftsmanship they put into their products has sold products I don’t even own! I believe that Beverly picked up their field journal a bit ago; I’ve heard good things about it and wish her well with the purchase.

Do I really need any more bags? No. Definitely not, but after hearing of Brenda’s sponsorship one can’t help some jealousy but spend time daydreaming and wishing…

But wait.. that’s just one Swift. What’s the other one?

Craftlit and its sister podcast Just the Books (which is Craftlit, but without the crafty talk) are now reading Gulliver’s Travels. You want to join in, I know it!

Disclosures: Please note I am just a very happy customer, there is no official affiliation between myself and Tom Bihn and I did receive nor do I expect to receive any perks.
My businesses, PennyWise Consulting, LLC and little acorn creations are currently sponsoring the podcasts.

i have a new bag, are you surprised?

I fell hard for a brand new product. The Tom Bihn Co-Pilot.

Geared as a carry-on, what appealed to me the most (this was during the first heat wave of 2010) was the center pocket for a water bottle/umbrella. Swoon! It appeared to be just big enough to hold a file folder (my ideal size) and there were pockets that could hold large moleskines and just ways to compartmentalize all my stuff.