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  1. #1
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    Small vs. Medium Cafe Bag (size wise)

    I just thought I would post on the sizing of the small versus medium cafe bags, because I know some advice would have been helpful while I was deciding which one to purchase.

    I am not a light traveler. I normally carry what I call my ďpanic bagĒ, which has everything I could need for a variety of situations Ė anything from spontaneously staying over at a friendís house to surviving the first three days of a zombie strike. I had a small Timbuk2 bag that was perfect as my panic bag, but I noticed that as summer rolled into Toronto I was beginning to resent lugging my panic bag out to patio lunches on my work hour when I knew I would unlikely encounter either a zombie strike or a sleep over.

    So I wanted to move away from my panic bag to something I could throw my wallet, work keys, lip chap and sunglasses into and tote with me around the city on short day trips.

    I got the Medium Cafe Bag in Plum/Wasabi, and I love it. Even though I had measured out itís approximate size, I was still shocked at how large it seemed. I managed to put my water bottle, my Moleskine, my fountain pen case, wallet, keys, cell, lip chap, iPod and huge earphones, glasses (in their case) and my hair stick case into it, with plenty of extra room at the top. It was roomy and gorgeous and I loved it. I actually added a truncated survival kit (basically a mini first aid kit) to the bag and am now using it as my everyday bag. Iíll just have to accept that Iíll only survive the first day of a zombie strike now. Oh well!

    Then I began thinking Ė if there is so much extra room in the medium, why not try the small? Maybe it would fit better. I ordered it in Navy/Crimson, and although it was equally beautiful, when I transferred all my stuff into the Small Cafe Bag from the medium one, the small one was packed to the hilt, which made it uncomfortable to carry on my hip. That extra space in the bag allows it to mold to your body a lot more comfortably.

    I kept the Small Cafe Bag anyway. Iím leaving it at work to serve the purpose I originally bought it for Ė something I can transfer my wallet, sunglasses, and keys into when I head out from work for a short trip, errand or patio lunch.

    The main point of my post is this Ė if you do not tend to travel super light, I suggest the Medium Cafe Bag rather than the small one. Although there may seem to be a fair bit of space once youíve packed everything into the medium one, if you try to shift it into the Small Cafe Bag it might not work out so well.


    On a final note, Iím still feeling kind of antsy about not lugging everything I could possibly need with me all the time. I like the security of being prepared for absolutely any situation. Therefore, Iím going to try and create a step between the Medium Cafe Bag and my Timbuk2 bag in the form of the Imago Ė not quite a full panic bag, but hopefully a bit more prepared for the apocalypse than I feel with the Medium Cafe Bag. I got it in Steel/Steel/Sapphire. Itís incredibly beautiful, and I think it will serve me well. But right now Iím too in love with the Medium Cafe Bag to pay it much attention.

    Thanks Tom Bihn, for encouraging me to move away from traveling with everything including the kitchen sink on my shoulders!

  2. #2
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    Tnx for your useful-to-me post!

    Quote Originally Posted by rodrigues View Post
    The main point of my post is this – if you do not tend to travel super light, I suggest the Medium Cafe Bag rather than the small one. Although there may seem to be a fair bit of space once you’ve packed everything into the medium one, if you try to shift it into the Small Cafe Bag it might not work out so well.
    Hi rodrigues,
    Thanks for your post.

    I was vacillating between the Small & Med Cafe Bags as well as the Ristretto. A video of the Ristretto bag allowed me to see it was not quite what I was looking for. But, I was still unsure whether to go small or medium (or even large) cafe. I ultimately did go with the medium cafe (on order, awaiting deliver). I appreciated your post as it helps to reinforce some of my thinking on the matter. Your point on the small bag becoming too stuffed/solid is a good one, relevant to my purposes.

    I too, am trying to downsize what I carry. I figured if I went with the large I wasn't really downsizing so much as just using a new bag. I currently use a Manhattan Portage Europa (deluxe), which has held up well carrying my school books (though I did notice some slight fraying on a seam and its less than six months old - I see an ID or SuperEgo in my future). The feature I like A LOT about the Europa is its quick change doubling of volume. It has a great expandability that opens with the pull of a zipper. But, when its not in full textbook mode (expanded and stuffed to the gills), it seems a little big (even in its collapsed form) and I find myself just adding stuff and carrying too much.

    I wanted a bag that can hold my Moleskine (large cahiers), PDA, glasses in hard case, mp3 player, pens, camera (planning to buy), personal radio (uses ear buds), smokes, lighter, keys, pocket knife, micro light, pills/tablets/capsules, and still have room for other items, like an expandable bag (such as the TB Shop Bag, which will be part of my next order), a book, etc.

    I think I made the right choice (hence I ordered it, heh) and will post my experience in bag reviews after an appropriate shake out time.
    Last edited by ex machina; 01-01-2009 at 08:29 PM. Reason: Resolved spelling/grammar error.
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

  3. #3
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    I think the Imago is an excellent Zombie Apocalypse bag. It's my every day bag (in plum/olive). I can actually fit my Dell 620 laptop with extended battery into it if I really have to! (But it doesn't look that big.) I just ordered the medium cafe bag (also in plum/olive) so I would have something a little more subtle while I'm doing the professional conference thing. I chose the medium because it has two inner pockets (cell phone and camera.) I also carry a Moleskine, multiple pens, a foldable sunhat, a wooden comb, and several (Tom Bihn) accessory bags. That IS traveling light for me.

  4. #4
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    I say, for full zombie attack mode, a Super Ego is the minimum size

    The plain old Ego, not so bad, either.

    But in a zombie pinch, the Imago would beat a sharp stick in the eye, except to actual advancing zombies.

    timothy

  5. #5
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    The prepared intelligent mind can always defend against the zombies. And as we all know, anyone who uses Tom Bihn bags is, by definition, intelligent and prepared.
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

  6. #6
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    This is the greatest and most important thread ever.

    Do you think we could get Tom to add "Approved for the Zombie Apocalypse" as the new saying on the bag tag?

    How does one get such certification?
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  7. #7
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    timothy ...

    Your point is valid if we're dealing with slow moving zombies. In that case, lugging a huge bag around would be fine. But if the scenario involves fast moving zombies, no matter how appealing the thought of extra ammo is, the extra weight of the contents of your Super Ego (versus the Imago) will only weigh you down to an unsafe point.

    Still, I encourage you to use the Super Ego. That way the zombies can eat you while I run. You know what gamers say - when you find yourself in the company of a halfling and an ill-tempered Dragon, remember - you don't have to outrun the Dragon ... you just have to outrun the halfling.
    Loving life with my Imago.

  8. #8
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    Cool The FVZA Rides Again!

    Quote Originally Posted by MagicTiki View Post
    This is the greatest and most important thread ever.

    Do you think we could get Tom to add "Approved for the Zombie Apocalypse" as the new saying on the bag tag?

    How does one get such certification?


    The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency
    ( http://www.fvza.org/ ) would be my best bet for a place to get that. I heard rumor that they are still operating, albeit as a 'black' agency, and that they work closely with - read mopping up after - the Santa Rosa Institute. Oh, the possibilities! Freudian Slip with optional Stake($5)?
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

  9. #9
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    Medium Cafe Bag: great conference bag

    So I am relatively new to Tom Bihn bags (although I consider myself a bag addict!)--and I just recently got a Medium Cafe bag. I have always used the standard LLBean, Lands' End, Timbuk2 bags; and have just recently discovered Waterfield Designs (made in San Fran), and Tom Bihn.
    I have to say that the Medium Cafe bag was wonderful. I do a lot of 3 or 4 day academic conferences which start at 8 and go on till late night; and I am usually lugging around the program book (fairly heavy!), various papers and presentations, usual assortment of other oddities...and I must say this was the most well thought out and easy bag I have ever carried. Everything was quickly accessible, and it hung well --and it was never in the way when I had to sit around crowded tables.
    My only wish was that it had a removable shoulder strap--so that I could have put in a better shoulder strap.
    I am thinking of getting the Western Flyer--but I am wondering if I should wait for your 3 compartment one. Can you say when that might be available?
    Given all the luggage restrictions, I am trying to see if I can carry a Western Flyer and an Imago or ID and that is it. I am a fairly small person, so sizing does become crucial. I am not able to tell between Imago and ID-so chewing on that. The Patagonia MLC fully loaded is too big for me, for example!
    Thoughts? I am just 5 feet tall!

  10. #10
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    Zombie Apocalypse aside, I am looking for a new medical bag. This is a sort of worst-case-scenario in-case-of-emergency kit. I need to hold everything from meds to sterile towels, suture supplies, stethoscope, otoscope, etc. I am considering the Super Ego with some organizer pouches, kit, clear quarter packing cube, etc. I need it to be large, but also be something I can take to third world countries occasionally for medical trips as a personal item. Any thoughts?

  11. #11
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    Have you put together the contents yet to determine the volume you will need in a bag? Also, will this be used as a First Responder kit, necessitating immediate access to all contents or more of a classic doctor's bag? I could see a system of keystraps and pouches working well as a doctor's bag and providing quick access to contents. But this method will require opening the zipper on the pouches. I guess you could leave the zippers open but the possibility of spillage increases.

    I have the medium cafe bag and it is excellent. I use it daily, it holds up well, looks like new, and allows me quick access to contents. I utilize a series of pouches and keystraps. The medium size pouches I do not strap up. The others I do.
    Bags: Super Ego (Black/indigo w/cork seatbelt); Aeronaut (Crimson/Steel); 2 Medium Cafe Bags (Navy/Cayenne, Linen/Olive), w/an Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap; Large Cafe Bag (Cocoa/Wasabi) w/Absolute Strap; Imago (sadly lost to hazmat); a Brain Cell w/ another Strap Wrap; and a Shop Bag (Steel). Accessories: Bunches and bunches.
    Wanted: Zephyr or Empire Builder.
    " ...all [that] you have to depend on is yourself and your luggage." - The Luggage Salesman (Joe Versus the Volcano)

  12. #12
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    Do you need something more structured/protective? You also might want to consider the Empire Builder as an option if you need that.
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  13. #13
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    Consider the Imago in ballistic, as it has a wider opening and slightly more structure than the Cordura, I think. I agree with the series of pouchs, but you may just want the clear front pouches so you immediately see the contents and maybe a clear packing cube or two for other bulky or larger items (Kerlex, 4x4s, tape).

    Regardless, get the Absolute Strap; it would be much more comfortable carrying the bag.
    Imago in cocoa/cocoa/wasabi, Medium Cafe Bag in plum/wasabi, Swift in cork, steel stuff sack, steel pen/pencil pouch, plum clear organizer wallet, small cork pouch and steel/cork/wasabi Imago

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsMoon View Post
    Zombie Apocalypse aside, I am looking for a new medical bag. This is a sort of worst-case-scenario in-case-of-emergency kit. I need to hold everything from meds to sterile towels, suture supplies, stethoscope, otoscope, etc. I am considering the Super Ego with some organizer pouches, kit, clear quarter packing cube, etc. I need it to be large, but also be something I can take to third world countries occasionally for medical trips as a personal item. Any thoughts?
    I'd steer you towards the Western Flyer. I think it would provide the best organization for what you need to carry because it has two compartments of equal size (one with a zip open/shut divider) that open wide and offer easy access to their contents. The compartments can be further organized, if need be, with Packing Cubes. The Western Flyer stands up on its own most of the time (the Super Ego does not) and you may find this useful when grabbing supplies from the bag.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  15. #15
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    For the medical bag I second the Imago and let me add the Large Cafe Bag, if you prefer vertical bags. In any case, pay the extra for the Absolute Shoulder Strap.

    Cancoi is spot on about using Clear Quarter Packing Cubes for the bulkiest items and others already mentioned Clear Organizer Pouches.

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