Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Review

Tom Bihn brings back a classic design with the Old School Carry All. It has more space and compartments but keeps the familiar robust build quality.

Our Verdict

7.8 /10
Good info

Form

80/100

Design

80/100

Value

73/100
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Pros

  • Holds its shape and structure even when empty
  • Handles keep upright and are easy to grab
  • Each compartment has independent volume

Cons

  • No smaller built-in pockets for organizing accessories
  • Wide base juts out when worn crossbody-style
  • Main compartment can feel somewhat small

Technical Details

31 %

Carry-On Compliance

View 45/144 Airlines

47 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity

    22.2l

  • Weight (oz)

    17.5 oz (496.1 g)

    - 400D Halcyon | 20.6 oz - 525D Ballistic Nylon | 23.5 oz 1050D Ballistic Nylon | 21.0 oz - 1000D CORDURA Nylon

  • Denier

    400D

    Halcyon | 525D Ballistic Nylon | 1050D Ballistic Nylon | 1000D CORDURA Nylon

  • Dimensions

    9.3 in x 17.5 in x 11.6 in (23.6 x 44.5 x 29.5 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Ripstop Nylon, Ballistic Nylon, CORDURA® Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, PORON foam, Woojin Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country

    United States

  • Warranty Information

    Lifetime Guarantee

Full Review

If you’re a fan of the Looney Tunes cartoons, you may be familiar with a certain Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. The huge problem with Mr. Coyote is, whenever a plan fails, he never seems to try it again. Why not? Why not take the feedback, work out the kinks, ring up the Acme Corporation, and come back with an improved version two? You can apply the same logic to all other plans, schemes, and designs—and Tom Bihn agrees.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All In Use
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | Taking feedback in stride.

Meet the Old School Carry All, Tom Bihn’s revival of their classic design from the ’90s. While we don’t have the old version to compare it to, the Old School Carry All is as capable of a duffle bag as they come. It’s well-built (as expected) with separate compartments for shoes, clothes, and other everyday carry items—a direct result of the feedback from their old design. The volume for each compartment is substantial, and we’re generally satisfied with how they’ve allocated the space. It’s not perfect, though, so let’s see where the vintage design wins and where it falls short.

Materials & Aesthetic

As the name implies, the Old School Carry All is a revival of one of Tom Bihn’s classic designs from the ’90s, namely the Classic Sport Bag. Of course, this throwback isn’t immediately apparent in our sample because we chose the rather discreet-looking black 1050D Ballistic Nylon/Coyote 210 Ballistic colorway. But if you choose other colorways like the Beaver Camo 1000 Texturized Nylon/Coyote 210 Ballistic, you do get a punchier style.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Brand
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | Some might prefer this logo to the current one.

On the other hand, our sample looks more like it belongs in the current era where shades of grey dominate. The closest comparison would be bags from the likes of Aer or NOMATIC. Only the vintage Tom Bihn logo serves to distinguish it from the rest of the pack, highlighting that it’s indeed one of the brand’s classic designs. The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted that it’s the same one Tom Bihn used on the Zeitgeist, which is also a revival of an old classic.

Other key traits carried over include the bag’s shape, which has a triangular profile. This shape does affect the bag’s capacity, but not so much that it’s a deal-breaker. On the other hand, the bag’s solid structure means that even when it’s fully packed out, the shape remains mostly the same—which is good because we do like the way it looks as it is.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Zipper
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | Cord pulls are also included in case you prefer those.

Aside from the looks, the overall structuredness of the Old School Carry All makes a good impression. Everything feels solid and ready to take on the wear and tear of daily use. This is a duffle that feels right at home both in a professional setting and the rough-and-tumble outdoors. It has the right hardware to back it up as well. The zippers and built-in key clip are YKK-branded, and the rest of the hardware is from Duraflex, Nexus, and Woojin. It’s an all-star cast of hardware brands we’ve come to trust over the years.

External Components

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Side By Side
Left: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm) | Right: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm)

The Old School Carry All has two built-in handles, and these are some very thickly-padded ones too. They’re very comfortable to hold even with the bag fully packed out with clothes. Furthermore, the handles stay upright even when you let go of them, which makes it easier to grab the duffle and go. This isn’t because the handles haven’t broken in yet; rather, Tom Bihn intentionally designed it this way. In fact, the exact wording is that they “naturally fall into each other” and “kiss.” Quite romantic for a set of duffle bag handles, but if it works, it works.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Handle 2
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | We didn’t set it up; they just ended up together.

Unfortunately, the Old School Carry All doesn’t come with a crossbody strap. In comparison, other duffle bags like the Thule Subterra Convertible Carry-On and The North Face Base Camp Voyager 32L come with one either built-in or removable. Instead, the Old School Carry All has attachment points located near the main compartment’s opening and are situated diagonally across each other. These are quite beefy attachment points and are compatible with Tom Bihn’s Absolute Shoulder Strap or your spare strap of choice.

Additionally, there are smaller loops located across the attachment points for hanging accessories like carabiners and keychains. There are also bigger loops on either end of the main compartment’s opening. We use these to grab onto while we’re unzipping the compartment and for hanging the bag behind a restroom stall’s door. These relatively thin nylon loops aren’t very comfortable to use as handles, and they orient the bag vertically, which isn’t optimal for a duffle.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Handle
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | The wide base juts in when worn crossbody-style.

On that note, whenever we try to carry the Old School Carry All using a shoulder strap, the wide base does jut into our side noticeably—a downside of the shape. That said, it’s not too uncomfortable, and we’re able to alleviate some of it with some lengthening of the strap. In general, we default to carrying the duffle by the well-padded handles instead. It’s still a joy to carry, even with just the handles, because of how well-structured it is. The bag doesn’t feel floppy, cumbersome, or sack-like.

Inside The Pack

The Old School Carry All’s layout is mostly symmetrical and easy to follow. There are three compartments: the front, main, and shoe/dirty clothes compartments. Starting with the front compartment, it encompasses about half the surface area of the side of the bag, giving it a lot of internal volume.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Pocket
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | There’s enough space but minimal organization.

As for getting items organized, there are no built-in pockets for more granular organization. There’s only the included key clip and three O-rings, the latter being a staple feature for a lot of Tom Bihn’s gear. For the uninitiated, the brand puts in a lot of these O-rings to serve as interior attachment points for accessories, giving them a good degree of modularity. You can attach the key clip to whichever of these O-rings or even to the ones located in the other compartments. But other than that, there are no other means of organizing items, and you’ll have to use your own smaller pouches if you wish to do so. Fortunately, the Coyote fabric is sufficiently bright enough that shuffling through items isn’t too difficult.

On the other side of the Old School Carry All is a similar compartment to the front (there’s also three O-rings here). The key difference is that the bottom portion of the compartment is mesh. This is ideal for dirty clothes and smelly shoes that need to vent out their odor and excess moisture. It’s even worth putting food containers and water bottles here in case of a leak. In terms of space, we’re able to fit our size 10 ½ men’s sneakers, though your mileage may vary if, say, you’re putting in taller boots.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Studio Front
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | Shoes fit easily in here.

In the middle of the Old School Carry All is the main compartment where most of the space is allocated. We can fit in two or three packing cubes alongside a hoodie and a sweater, but not much else. The amount of space is decent enough, but it can feel a little lacking. We sometimes find ourselves throwing other items inside the other compartments if they can’t fit in the main. We would’ve liked to see more of the overall capacity dedicated to the main compartment, but it’s a pretty small nitpick, especially if you plan out your packing strategy.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Empty
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | The available space may feel limiting sometimes, but still fairly large.

The rectangular shape of the compartment makes stacking packing cubes and folded clothes easier. Furthermore, Tom Bihn did a good job at giving each compartment independent volume. We never really feel that we have to balance the load across them, save for when we ran out of space in the main compartment. None of the compartments really eat into the other’s space, and that’s a somewhat underrated feature of any bag.

Tom Bihn Old School Carry All Stuffed
Tom Bihn Old School Carry All | The compartment’s squared shape makes packing easier.

Our biggest takeaway with the Old School Carry All is the build quality. The structuredness of the bag coupled with the independent volume of each of the compartments puts it head and shoulders above other duffle bags that offer just a big empty space and some small pockets. Despite the classic design, the Old School Carry All can confidently stand among its more contemporary peers and even one-up some of them.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • The padded handles feel comfortable to use, though a shoulder strap can also be attached
  • Bun-like shape means space curves around the sides
  • There are plenty of O-rings around this bag
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Material is easy to clean, and the mesh pocket is great for letting dirt escape
  • Thick padded handles make for a really comfortable carry and are easy to grab
  • Hangs nicely at your side as you walk, unlike other duffels that can feel unwieldy
  • Good amount of storage space in each individual pocket, and they don’t interfere with one another
  • 10 total O-rings for attaching accessories add a ton of customization options
mm
By Lauren Maternowski
Created January 25, 2022 • Updated March 2, 2022
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