Tom Bihn Tray Bien Review
The Tom Bihn Tray Bien isn’t designed to be the most travel-friendly organizer, but its build quality and style feel right at home on a busy desk or drawer.
- A step-up from plastic trays
- Fits most desk drawers
- Fairly light for its robust build
- No lid or seal to keep gear in
- Walls’ thickness not always the most space-efficient
- Fabric more susceptible to ink stains
4.0 oz (113.4 gm)
(525D Ballistic Nylon), 4.1 oz (1000D CORDURA Nylon) - Small | 6.5 oz (525D Ballistic Nylon), 6.7 oz (1000D CORDURA Nylon) - Large
Ballistic Nylon | 1000D CORDURA Nylon
2.3 in x 6.3 in x 6.3 in (5.8 x 16 x 16 cm)
Small | 2.3 in x 9.8 in x 9.8 in - Medium
CORDURA® Nylon, Ballistic Nylon, Polypropylene
There’s no doubt in our minds that Tray Bien is a play-on-words by Tom Bihn on the French phrase “très bien,” which means “very good” in English. Remember, this is the same brand that got creative with naming their Truckasana tote bag. To us, this is a huge part of what makes Tom Bihn’s gear standout: personality. They’re not afraid to get a little creative in all aspects of their gear.
It has come to the point that even the trays they use around their office get the same treatment. The Tray Bien isn’t strictly for traveling (there’s the Travel Tray for that). It’s more of an organizer or caddy one would use around the office than a remote work setup. We do dig Tom Bihn’s craftsmanship and style, so why don’t we take a look at what twist they’ve added to their humble organizer.
Materials & Aesthetic
The Tray Bien is a simple-looking organizer. It’s square with relatively shallow walls and a nylon shell that slightly classes everything up. Tom Bihn’s put their branding smack dab in the middle of the Tray Bien where it can easily be covered up by all the knick-knacks we’re putting inside. To be fair, this does help keep the looks clean and minimal, which we’re fans of.
On the small-sized trays like the one we have, the walls do appear relatively thick, and that’s because they are. This is especially true around the corners where extra fabric tapers off and fastens around the sides. In other words, the Tray Bien isn’t the most space-efficient organizer tray. The corrugated polypropylene sheet that makes up the walls and floor is itself quite chunky. Combined with the nylon fabric, things start to stack up.
That said, the Tray Bien is reassuringly well-made. The wall and floor sheets feel fairly rigid and can withstand some reasonable twisting and bending. Meanwhile, the 525D Ballistic Nylon of the Constellation Blue colorway we have feels just as durable as the fabrics Tom Bihn uses on their bags.
Other colorways include Boreal Ruff Stuff, Beaver Camo, Red Blend, Black, and Aubergine. Each comes with their respective fabric type, namely 1000D CORDURA Nylon for the Beaver Camo and Red Blend, and 525D Ballistic Nylon for the rest (except the Boreal Ruff Stuff, which at this point is a little unclear). It’s also available in two sizes at the time of writing: small and medium. You can check out the spec table at the top of this review for the exact measurements, but the gist is that while the surface area is different, the height of the walls is the same between the two sizes.
Usage & Features
The main purpose of the Tray Bien is mainly as a dump pocket. The tray itself doesn’t feature any organization inside—it’s just an open space. We’re able to fit some of our pens inside, plus some everyday carry items like a ChapStick, eyedrops, an AirPods case, and our iPhone XR. The smartphone doesn’t sit flat inside the small Tray Bien. Instead, it leans on one of the walls.
The Tray Bien is somewhat expandable, though not in a well-polished way. Undoing the snap fasteners loosens the corners and allows the walls to lean outwards. Mind you, this only leans the walls at around a 45-degree angle. It doesn’t let the Tray Bien fold completely flat like the Travel Tray, meaning these aren’t the most travel-friendly organizers to take with you on the go. However, if you’re really determined, unsnapping the edges gives you a little wiggle room for packability.
The snap fasteners around the corners are primarily there to keep the sides tensioned. Tom Bihn’s rationale here is that it’s tricky to make the corners rigid enough with just sewing techniques, so they use snap fasteners to keep it together. The end result is that the Tray Bien is more structured than the Travel Tray at the cost of portability.
All that said, we can’t knock the Tray Bien for not being good at something it isn’t designed to do. In Tom Bihn’s own words, it’s more of a “household or office accouterment.” That is to say, it’s something you would use more on a permanent basis around one area. In this case, how does the Tray Bien fare?
Because of the relatively shallow walls, the Tray Bien is good as a desk organizer and an organizer inside desk drawers. Two or three of the trays sit next to each other snuggly, something which the rounded Travel Trays would struggle with. You can even nest a small Tray Bien inside a medium one for more granular organization.
It’s not like they’re completely unwieldy to bring around, either. Sure, the Tray Bien is lidless, but at least it’s lightweight enough that carrying it over to the next room isn’t much of a hassle. The snap fasteners are also reasonably strong that they won’t suddenly pop open when you’re holding them by the edges.
Something to watch out for is ink stains. Since the Tray Bien is made of fabric, uncapped pens and leaky fountain pens will easily stain it. If you’ve gone through the pain of getting clothes inked as we have, you’ll know how impossible it is to get ink out. Then again, some people are totally chill with their organizers getting marked up—it’s like the patina on a vintage car.
The Tray Bien is arguably one of the most simple designs by Tom Bihn. The usage and purpose are relatively straightforward: it’s an organizer to be used in an office or at home, in a drawer, or on a desk. The styling is very Tom Bihn, and so is the build quality. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a travel-focused organizer, as the brand does have other offerings for that.
- The walls are quite thick for the size of the tray
- The snap fasteners can be unfastened, but it doesn’t collapse the structure
- Struture feels very rigid despite the fabric exterior
- Material is durable—almost too durable, considering it’s just a table tray
- Great for dumping small items like chapstick that can easily get knocked over and roll around on a tabletop
- Doesn’t pack flat, but it’s still low-profile enough if you really want to bring it along on a trip
- Deep enough to hold a fair amount of gear