24 Hours with the Tom Bihn Luminary Daypack

Luminary EDC bag review, at the library

Loving my new EDC daypack, the Tom Bihn Luminary. It’s small, 12 L in volume but, with some thought and Bihn’s legendary organization system, adapts to most of my everyday activities. This is what I appreciate about the Tom Bihn travel bag line – the ability I have to customize the bag to my carry. Accessories are offered for most every carry use – pouches for chargers or pens, and padded caches sized specifically for many tablet and laptops.

What’s in my bag?

In my Luminary I use several accessories:

  • Side Effect, a slim, purse-like object which I use ALWAYS
  • Freudian Slip, an organizational sleeve with designated spots for papers, pens, etc.
  • Snake Charmer, a double-sided bag with mesh sides
  • Organizing Pouches, different sizes for different needs
  • Key straps, the secret to Tom Bihn system. Every bag and pouch has o-rings which you use to tether your accessories to your bag.

The Luminary’s sleek design and profile make it an attractive alternative to carrying a tote or a briefcase. The shoulder straps are incredibly well made and comfortable. And honestly, my 60+ year-old back and shoulders appreciate the light carry.

The Luminary features a padded side slip pocket which spans the whole side of the bag. This is the perfect spot to put your tablet, journal, passport, or any papers or documents you don’t want to get wrinkled. The pocket is pretty inconspicuous which I like for security purposes.

The main compartment’s zipper appears to extend around the around three sides of the bag but in fact it’s divided into an opening for the primary compartment and two small sleeves on the bottom sides of the bag. These side pockets are tight but are perfect for small items. [update: a new version of the Luminary 12 has been released with wider pockets to accommodate large cell phones, etc.] On the right side I keep rarely used items – a reusable shopping bag and a pouch with eyeglass wipes, backup lipstick, etc. On the left side I keep my most often needed item – my iPhone 6. I love how I can reach this pocket while still wearing the backpack.

What's in my bag - Bihn EDC lumiinary at the libary


I’ve recently retired from my library but can’t seem to keep away. So most days I load up my Luminary to take the short walk to the library and spend a few minutes reviewing my plans for the day. I slip my iPad and journal into the padded side pocket, and my iPhone into the secret stash pocket. Books to be returned go in the main part of the bag along with my purse, the Bihn Side Effect. I keep my Freudian Slip (Bihn’s two sided bag organizer) in this compartment as well and have it loaded with pens, pencils, headphones, etc. And of course I attach a wallet with my library card using one of the handy o-rings Tom Bihn sews into each compartment.

Bihn EDC daypack review. What's in my bag?

Grandbaby Time

My newest bosses are all under 4 feet tall. The pay is lousy and the bosses can be demanding, but the benefit package is amazing!!

For my babysitting gig, I pull out the Freudian Slip again and load it with supplies to entertain the kids. Books, markers and paper, toys to entertain, and a few nature guides to share on our walks.

I use two more Bihn accessories in my bag – a double sided bag called the Snake Charmer into which I use one side for diapers and wipes and the other snacks. I also carry a pre-packed small red pouch with first aid supplies (and a lollipop. I’m a grandmother. I’m allowed.)

Plenty of room left for jackets and gear.

Off to the airport

Flight bag luminaryThe Luminary shines as a personal item for air travel. I leave the Freudian Slip at home to leave room for more travel gear. This trip I fit a medium sized packing cube on the bottom of the bag, and had plenty of room for my purse (the Bihn side effect), a pencil case, snack pouch and technology pouch for chargers, headphones, etc. iPad, kindle and journal all fit easily in the side pocket. The Luminary features a built in sleeve for a water bottle which I used unzipped at the airport. (when zipped the bottle pocket essentially divides the bag into thirds. You 3-1-1 bag would fit easily into one side and various pouches in the other. My side effect could still fit horizontally above this arrangement)

Bonus points for realizing I could cinch the waist belt and slide it over the handle of my spinner carry-on for ease in navigating the terminal.

At my destination

One last conversion and the Luminary becomes a camera bag. Unzip the water bottle wall and a small camera insert can fit in the bottom of the bag. I’m using a Crumpler medium haven which will hold one camera body with small lens and another accessory – I add binoculars. There’s room left for a purse on the side of the bag.

EDC daypack luminary by Tom Bihn as camera bag

Now I innovative by adding a Tom Bihn cache to the top of the bag. It can be attached to the o-rings but I sewed my own version of the TB rail system so I can suspend this cache from the top of my bag. I use this spot for my primary camera. It’s not a super secure housing but works for my needs. After (a lot of) experimentation, I realized that I like to carry my camera when I’m in the field, using the bag spot only for transportation or when the other camera or binoculars are coming out.

Update- Tom Bihn has released a new version of this bag and also, a larger Luminary. The Luminary 15. This bag is longer and somewhat deeper than the original bag and should fit my Surface in the padded back compartment. I look forward to trying this as soon as my pre-order arrives!

Stats for newly designed bags:

Luminary 12 – $120, 9.8″ (w) x 15.0″ (h) x 5.9″ (d), 1 lb. 5 oz.

Luminary 15 – $130, 11″ (w) x 16.5″ (h) x 7.9″ (d), 1 lb. 8 oz.

The Luminary makes a great personal item for flights. To see other bags we recommend for flights, read Finding the Right Personal Item for Your Flight

Tom Bihn is a Seattle based company producing Made In The USA bags and packs for a variety of lifestyles. The challenge is limiting yourself to just a few bags, especially once you begin interacting with other Bihnions on the company forum…

TravelingTulls has not been given any products listed for review. We only recommend things we have tried and hope will help you in your travel. If you choose to purchase based on our recommendation, please let them know where you heard of them!

Tom Bihn EDC daypack Luminary user review

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