TOM BIHN Trinity Review
The trio of compartments in TOM BIHN’s Trinity strikes a good balance for both travel and daily use, though we found its backpack straps somewhat uncomfortable.
- Convertible to brief, backpack, or shoulder bag modes
- Relatively well-balanced organization for travel and daily use
- Laptop compartment incidentally protected by the other compartments
- Very jangly zippers
- Shoulder straps don’t quite feel as comfortable as we like
- Not as spacious as similarly sized travel backpacks
2.78 lb (1.3 kg)
10.75 in x 16 in x 11.4 in (27.3 x 40.6 x 29 cm)
When packed; 11" x 15.75" x 6.5" seam-to-seam
Ballistic Nylon, Ripstop Nylon, PORON foam, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, Woojin Hardware, Meets bluesign® CRITERIA
Laptop Compartment Size
The TOM BIHN Trinity is one of those bags that’s very hard to sum up. It’s not that the Trinity is so hard to understand. Nope, it’s simply very ambitious in purpose and functionality. In fact, though we’ve elected to categorize it as a daypack, you can reasonably argue that it’s a travel backpack, a messenger, or even a briefcase.
Fortunately, it doesn’t look like TOM BIHN fell into the trap of simply overloading the Trinity of features to make it multipurpose. Nor did they settle for simply taking an existing backpack, turning it sideways, and slapping on a crossbody strap. Nope, the Trinity has a much more clever layout and organization than that. So let’s see how they’ve done it and where the Trinity falls short.
The Trinity looks rather conventional by TOM BIHN standards. Granted, the Black colorway we’re sampling isn’t supposed to stand out, but neither does its rectangular shape. Still, you get the brand’s usual design cues: curved zipper tracks and a tastefully applied logo. Overall, it’s a very lowkey-looking bag, and we’re more than satisfied with that approach.
At the time of writing, TOM BIHN only offers the Trinity with ballistic nylon and 200 Halcyon fabric (the latter is the liner). The durability and structure the ballistic nylon provides are important, given how much you can pack in the Trinity. The fabric holds up well in day-to-day use, too; it didn’t even pick up that much pet fur throughout our testing. Other important ingredients are YKK zippers and a combination of Woojin and Duraflex hardware. All three brands have solid reputations, and we’re happy to report that it holds true, at least for the Trinity.
If we have any gripes, it’s that the included metal zipper pulls are very jangly. There are a lot of them, so it’s hard to miss the Christmas-like ringing while you’re walking. In fairness to TOM BIHN, they’ve included cord zipper pulls, which, in theory, should be quieter. Unfortunately, it only slightly lessens the jangling, and it’s still noticeable.
The name “Trinity” refers to a few design elements of this bag. The first is the three primary ways to carry it, so we’ll begin with the twin handles. There are two of them, and they’re both well-padded to make them comfortable to hold. More importantly, though, they’re wide and close enough to be used as a pair. We’ve seen pairs of handles that are either too low-profile or too far apart, even though they serve a similar purpose, so we’re not taking the Trinity’s for granted.
There are also simpler handles on the top and bottom sides of the Trinity. You’re not meant to use these to carry the bag for any significant amount of time. Rather, they’re there so you can pull the Trinity out of tight spaces like overhead bins and car trunks. It’s a small but very useful feature we typically see on travel backpacks, so we’re happy to see it trickle down to a multipurpose bag like the Trinity.
Next up is the backpack harness system. Because of the Trinity’s multi-carry design, it’s an understandably modest setup with a pair of relatively thinly padded shoulder straps. They unclip at the bottom so you can stow them away in a zippered compartment built into the back panel. Interestingly, there’s a way to access the back panel’s padding here as well. You can use this as a security pocket of some sort if you really want to. Be warned, though, that it’s very deep, so your gear will sink to the bottom.
The back panel also has a luggage pass-through, so you can slot the Trinity on your rolling carry on luggage if you bring one. This is also particularly useful for the Trinity. Though it’s fairly travel-oriented, it’s not the kind with a ton of capacity for week-long trips—more like weekend-long trips.
Included with the Trinity is the Standard Shoulder Strap, and yes, that is TOM BIHN’s specific name. It’s a relatively simple strap with length adjustment and some padding for comfort. It attaches via snap hooks on either side of the Trinity with corresponding plastic loops. Admittedly, this strap is also relatively thin for to the Trinity’s 21-liter capacity, but it gets the job done.
Though we’re willing to give the shoulder straps the benefit of the doubt, they just don’t feel up to the job. They obviously work, as you can see the Trinity securely hanging off the shoulders in the image above. However, they don’t quite deliver the comfort we’re expecting. The thin padding is okay, but a packed-out Trinity’s depth really makes it feel top-heavy and sag backward. Try as we might, there’s no adjustment of the sternum strap that pulls enough weight forward to make the carry feel more balanced. It’s usable, just not optimal.
This makes a great case for using the included Standard Shoulder Strap. You already have an imbalance carry, so it’s fair to argue that you might as well have the convenience of just having one strap to sling over your shoulder. Comfort-wise, it’s no doubt worse than using two fully padded shoulder straps. That said, TOM BIHN does sell the Absolute Shoulder Strap, which has more substantial padding. We gave this a shot since we had one anyway, and, as expected, it’s much more comfortable. Pro-tip: you can also use your own straps since the attachment points are simple plastic loops.
Inside The Trinity
Continuing with the theme of trios, there are also three front pockets. Two of them are facing away from each other, with their respective openings at the top and bottom sides, while the last one faces sideways. With all three directions covered, you’ll always have at least one pocket properly oriented with respect to how you’re carrying the Trinity.
Interestingly, the top pocket (when the Trinity is in backpack mode) is noticeably shallower than its opposite counterpart. This makes sense because you don’t want a super deep pocket unless you like digging for quick-grab items. Conversely, it’s nice that the opposite pocket is much deeper since it’s ideal for bulkier items like a packable jacket or gloves.
Meanwhile, the side pocket acts as the quick-grab pocket if you carry the Trinity crossbody style. Unlike the previous two, though, this has additional pockets inside for organizing gear. There are two pen slots flanked by liner pockets, and the included key leash attaches above on one of the many O-rings scattered throughout the Trinity. There are ten in total, with at least one in each compartment/pocket, so you get a lot of choices on where to hang the key leash.
The theme of threes continues with the number of primary compartments—yep, count ‘em, three. The one in the middle is the Trinity’s laptop compartment. This is interesting because its central location means it’s flanked by the rest of your gear in the other compartments. Provided you’re not traveling with knives, sharp diamonds, or rocks, this gives your device a lot of incidental protection. That said, the laptop sleeves (there’s one on each side) don’t have false bottoms, so devices can still slide all the way to the edges if they’re not sitting snuggly.
The sideways access—if you’re orienting it in backpack mode—isn’t everyone’s favorite since it requires extra horizontal space to take out your device. It’s not a huge deal most of the time, but we struggle with it when we’re seated in economy class, where personal space is scarce. It’s worth noting that while the Trinity is only 2% carry on compliant (at the time of writing) based on our tool. However, the specs in our table are based on a packed exterior, so your mileage may vary.
Next up is the front compartment, which is one of the more clever parts of the Trinity. It’s technically a clamshell compartment, meaning the entire front folds out so you can access the space inside. However, by default, there’s a water bottle pocket in the middle that attaches with a zipper to the front, limiting how much it opens.
The result is a much more brief-like compartment subdivided into three sections. We use the two spaces at the side to store a tech pouch and a small toiletry kit, respectively. The central water bottle pocket is big enough to hold some 32-ounce bottles. Since this is an internal water bottle pocket, we recommend using an insulated travel bottle to avoid condensation. Alternatively, you can detach the bottle pocket by unzipping it and turning the entire compartment into an empty bucket space for additional clothing. This sort of flexibility is one that we can appreciate because it showcases the Trinity’s thoughtful design, with both day-to-day and travel usage in mind.
Last but not least is the rear compartment, which opens up fully clamshell-style. You can think of this as the main compartment since this is where you’d store the bulk of your gear or clothing. As such, you’ll find a pair of hold-down straps useful for packing folded shirts without packing cubes. That said, the compartment doesn’t have a lot of depth, so using these hold-down straps is almost a must to prevent your gear from simply rolling off once you open it.
In terms of capacity, the Trinity’s main compartment holds enough for a weekend trip. You can squeeze more mileage out of it depending on factors like your packing strategy and how fast you go through clothing. Just keep in mind that the Trinity isn’t meant to be a full-fledged travel backpack, as it’s also trying to be other bags.
Lastly, cost is also something to consider. The Trinity is relatively pricey at a pre-order price of around $425 at the time of writing. If you’re only looking for a daypack, a travel backpack, or a messenger, it’s quite a steep number for a bag with one job. On the other hand, if you need all of its functionality in a single package, then it’s much easier to justify.
- Zippers are super jangly
- Interesting organization between the three large compartments
- Seems like an everyday carry/weekend travel hybrid
- Material is holding up well (as expected)
- Zippers still super jangly, though you get used to it
- Backpack mode isn’t particularly comfortable, and the crossbody strap is sold separately (at the time of review)