Medium Cafe Bag
Last year for a big trip, I decided to treat myself to a new bag for personal item carry-on -- the Cafe medium. I liked the style, color, and quality of the bag, but honestly I thought it was just an OK bag...
Fast forward to this year, I believe I have unlocked the true potential of this bag, and I now use it as my everyday carry.
I am sure most of you already know this, and I'm preaching to the choir, but it is the organizer pouches and the ability to clip them to this bag that truly make this bag unbelievably useful.
I just got back from a trip out of town with my son. Normally the wife handles everything with our son (his travel documents, snacks, entertainment items, etc). It was all me this weekend (which made me appreciate her even more -- subject for another forum) with this bag and a combination of medium and small organizer pouches I purchased for other purposes.
The ability to know exactly where my wallet is at all times (in the small clip org pouch) is a lifesaver! At least a few times, the clips saved me. Items that would have fallen down unnoticed right before subway turnstiles never to be seen again, followed with me, holding on for dear life. Knowing what is in each organizer (by color), and everything having its own place gave me peace of mind. Periodically I would do a bag check to make sure everything was away and in its proper place.
Having the clips and organizer pouches allowed me to take certain things out without disturbing anything else. Having the org pouches provide a level of protection for other items in the bag.
I remember at least a few times that I was jostled as I was bringing things in and out of the org pouches. On a normal basis, straight to the ground. I would not have relished having to bend over and pick something up off a subway platform!
I was splashed by a car hitting a puddle of indeterminable origin on a New York City street. On that day, nothing inside the bag was wet. I didn't have a chance to clean it -- as I look at it today, I can't even tell where the bag was ever wet.
I do have a slight regret. I probably should have purchased the Large Bag, it isn't much larger, isn't that much more expensive, for as much as I had to carry on this trip, the fit in the medium bag was snug.
All in all, I was very appreciative of how this bag helped me enjoy this trip. I don't think it would have been as stress free as it was, without it.
Man, I love stories with happy endings.
Perhaps you might consider adding a LCB to your collection now that you've figured out a way to maximize the utility of the MCB. Then you can still have your slightly more compact everyday bag, and have the Large on standby for when you have more to carry. I could also see the LCB being extra-useful as a carry-on as well since you could stick a light jacket in there.
Tom Bihn bags are OK bags... until one has to get somewhere on time with all their stuff and take some things out, in a hurry, along the way.
It doesn't matter if the destination is a conference, trade show, job site, fair or vacation spot.
The seconds it takes to find ID and boarding pass, tickets, public transport card, change for toll or parking, essentials for the highway rest stop break make the more portable bags (Cafes, Imago, Co-Pilot, Synapse) gems.
The time savings brought by luggages and luggage accessories when one has to dress up or change in a big hurry the minute after setting foot in the hotel room while dehydrated, tired and hungry or set up everything for the next morning while the effect of jet lag is starting to be felt while the need for hydration, food and quiet is so dire, one has to fight not to order junk food.
Brain Bags, Aeronaut and Packing Cubes save the day, the evening and allow for some peaceful time.
Besides the lifesaver Pouches, I also give 3 Tom Bihn Accessories many many many kudos for their ability to become "can't live without it" items.
The first is the Guardian Dual Function Light (light anywhere, intuitive to use, easy to find and replace battery); Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle 16 OZ, (lovely husband reminded me to take it on one outing, I didn't take it and ended up missing it); Clear Quarter Packing Cube (so perfect I use it all the time to separate essentials, it used to fit perfectly in my Large Cafe Bag but I had to leave it behind on my last trip, too many other things, it is now perfectly situated in the big Synapse pocket).
A special mention need to be given to the Field Journal Notebook, a dream organizer, perfect size and shape on the go notebook, stylish interview, lecture, conference, book club, needle art club, fab minimalist date purse at a bookstore or cafe and fierce Field Notebook for your inner Audubon, Monet, Manet and Dian Fossey!