I’ve been on a Tom Bihn roll lately. The more I get to know his products, the more I see how all of his items works well with each other. When I first decided to get a Side Effect, I got it for the purpose of having something to organize all of the things I’d want to have on hand inflight during my upcoming trip. Since everything expensive thing that I buy now must have more than one function, I decided to also use it as a purse.

My typical purse is a medium-sized wristlet or a small cross body. I love the look of wristlets but find them uncomfortable when I must use my hands for things like grocery shopping. They always swing in my way. Crossbody bags are very comfortable to wear, but the straps take up a lot of space when I put them in the backpack I carry to work every day.  And then there’s my iPhone. For some reason, I insisted on purchasing an iPhone 6 Plus a couple of years ago- despite the fact that I favor small bags. I’m not ready to upgrade to a new phone yet, so having a purse that comfortably fits my phone without being too big to place in the center console of the car or into my backpack became a priority.

What I love about Tom Bihn bags are the O-rings. These rings allow you to tether items such as pouches, wallets, and other bags into your bag. I also love that the straps work for more than one bag. For example, I can carry the Side Effect with the strap that came with it, with a wrist strap, or with the waist strap that came with my Synapse 19.

Let’s take a little look-see inside my bag.

Starting with the back pocket:

Tom Bihn Side Effect

This is a deep pocket which can hold more than what you see. I have my keys attached with a 16-inch key strap so that I can keep the clipped to the bag while driving and while opening the doors. The mirror is a cute and handy item that I found at one of my favorite places to shop in Takoma Park.

I use mini organizer pouches to keep from having to rumble through a bag of junk to find what I want. As of this writing, I am a couple of weeks post cataract surgery and still have a daily regimen of eye drops to take. Keeping them in pouch which is tethered to my purse ensures that I will have them on hand.


The clear pouch is my emergency kit with pillbox, feminine hygiene, perfume, ginger candy, nail file, earrings, Poo-pourri, and a Dentak brush.

The clear organizer wallet holds quite a bit.  It is divided into three sections. In the front I keep my license, insurance card, and lens implant ID card. (I usually have my driver’s license in the front, but for obvious reasons I covered for this picture.) The second section holds credit cards, gift cards, and loyalty cards (total 11 at the time of the picture). The last section holds cash and usually my emptiest section.


There are two side pockets in this bag. I refer to them as my beauty section.


Organic lip balm from RachelMade Products, two tubes of Bite Beauty lipstick, Nars Lip Pencil, and La Mer hand lotion are the things I don’t want to be without. (I’m squeezing the life out of that sample of hand lotion because I will not be paying full price for it.) The pen/stylus/flashlight is incredibly handy, and the S-carabiners were in one of the pockets for no apparent reason.

Everything else gets dumped into the main compartment.


Hand sanitizer, gel pen, Moleskine notebook, tissues and reading glasses (in addition to the above pouches) fight my iPhone 6 Plus for space. They all fit nicely together, but when I take my phone out, the other items shift so that I have to move them apart to put the phone back in.

Here’s a view from the top:


The Side Effect as a crossbody bag:


As a wristlet:


As a fanny pack/bum bag:


Who knew that a bag so small could carry all of this?

Tom Bihn Side Effect and Organizer Pouch