Cross-Body Day Bag
I have been lurking for some time and am now looking for some help on which bag to add to my Tom Bihn collection.
I will be doing some traveling and want to get a cross-body day bag. I will probably be carrying my camera (Panasonic LX3), extra batteries, large sunglasses, small sunscreen, cell phone, hand fan, pens, mini moleskin, handi-wipes, maps (maybe) and 0.4 liter collaspible water bottle.
I'm leaning toward the SCB. Would all of the above fit? How would the 1000d Cordura and the strap hold up to being slashed?
Thanks for the help and for being such an informative group!
As for size, someone else will have to help.
About security, well, no bag, except security bags from Pacsafe and Travelon are slashproof.
However, there is a way around it. Use the "o"rings. Put anything of value in a Tom Bihn pouch and clip it to one of the "o" rings. Even if your bag is slashed, nothing will fall out because it will be attached to the bag. And if you wear it cross-body you have a less of a chance of being bothered.
The two types of slashing are the straps, which is nearly impossible to do if worn cross body, and the bottom or side of the bag so things fall out. The thief then scoops up your wallet or anything they see of value and takes off.
You didn't mention a wallet....are you wearing a moneybelt? That's the safest place for your money, passport, etc.
From your list, I'd put the camera, batteries, sunglasses (if they are of value) and cellphone in pouches. The rest of the stuff is fairly easy to replace.
This. Although there are folks who have instructions online for how to line your bag with screen material that makes it harder for them to take anything.
Originally Posted by Frank II
As for size, I think you should be able to get everything to fit into a small Cafe Bag, but it might be a little tight in there. Unless you're really trying to go with the smallest cross-body you can take, you might consider a medium Cafe Bag instead. It will be a lot roomier so it will be easier for you to--with one hand--unclip the buckle, flip your hand in, rummage through the inside of your bag, and pull out whatever you need--without having to bring the bag to the front of your body and flipping open the flap. That might sound a little OCD, except that if you're concerned about safety from pickpockets or drawing attention to yourself, I'd say you'd do much better to just slide your hand into the bag without making a fuss to those around you.
The medium cafe Bag is very generous and you can easily fit an iPad in it. It won't bulk up too much, but it's not so big that you'll feel like your items are bouncing around in there from so much space.
One consideration though--if you ARE worried about pickpockets, I don't know that the Cafe Bags are the best. Their biggest drawbacks are that there is nothing stopping a pickpocket from easily sneaking their hand in even if the buckle is still snapped shut on the front flap. That's because when you flip open the flap, there is no zipper that goes across the top on the inside. This is just asking for something to get plucked out.
If you really have your heart set on a Cafe Bag, then I strongly urge you to consider sewing a couple of Velcro strips on the inside. Even if you can't get a complete seal all the way across, just make sure they stick shut when you close the flap. That way if someone tries to pickpocket you, you will HEAR the Velcro.
You do have one huge advantage going with a Cafe Bag, though. It doesn't scream "fancy expensive camera bag from a rich tourist!" It looks quite plain and assuming you don't wear white tennis shoes with knee-length socks to go with a pair of Bermuda shorts (read: dress like the locals and try not to stick out), you'll be less of a target. And if you can avoid being a target in the first place, you won't have to worry nearly so much about how to foil them.
Otherwise, I'm with Frank on this one. Figure out a way to pack everything up in the TB organizer pouches and then hang them inside the bag.
The MCB is almost the same size as a PacSafe bag I already have. It seems big. That could be because the PacSafe is very stiff and doesn't conform to the body. Do the Cafe Bags if not stuffed full?
Am I being too paranoid about the bag slashing? I do plan on putting things into the pouches/stuff sacs. How may o-rings are in the main compartment of the SCB? Does the Side Effect fit inside a SCB?
I will be using a money belt (TB RFID passport pouch around my waist) for my passport, extra money and credit card. I will have a wallet in the day bag with limited money.
The Side Effect won't fit into the SCB. I wrote about using the Side Effect inside the LCB and connect it via the key rings so that if the bottom is slashed, the Side Effect, holding all my important stuff, won't fall to the floor. It will also work in the MCB.
However, you are adding a good deal of weight with the Side Effect.
I'm guessing you have the Pacsafe Metrosafe 200 which is about the same size as the MCB. The weights get to be close once you start adding pouches and stuff to the MCB.
In truth, while bag slashing has occurred, it's still pretty rare. Just keep a hand on the bag while in crowded areas and you should be okay. Put a couple of things into pouches and you'll be fine.
Do you mind me asking where you're going that is getting you so worried?
FrankII, I missed your post on using the Side Effect inside either the Large or Medium Cafe bags, connected via key rings. What a fantastic idea! I'm going to try that out with my MCB as soon as my Side Effect arrives.
Originally Posted by Frank II
I enjoyed your review, and especially the photo of how you connect the Side Effect with key straps. I just checked my Imago, wondering if I could do the same thing with it, but alas, it doesn't have two O-rings in the main compartment. This may prompt me to get a Large Cafe Bag one day.
Thanks for the great idea!
Frank II, that reveiw is why I asked about putting the Side Effect in the SCB! (Love your website - lurk there all the time too!!)
I'm mostly worried about Rome. I have been there before and gotten pickpocketed on the Metro. It was during rush hour and people were packed like sardines. Luckily he only took my loose cash ($60) and left my camera, credit card and stashed money.
I'll give the MCB a shot. I can always use just one more bag in my collection. Right?
Frank II, how easily does the Linen get dirty? It is such a beautiful color.
My Linen hasn't gotten dirty. I'm very careful.
Yes, Rome is one of those cities where pickpocketing is a problem. Keep the bag in front of you when in crowded places and your arm over the front. It will be difficult for a thief to stick his, or her, hand in the bag that way.
My wish would be a Cafe Bag with a zipper closure for the main compartment.
I travel using public transport in most places.....I find attaching everything via O-rings, and daisy chaining couple of key straps should take care of most issues. If you must carry passport etc., carry it via a neck pouch or hidden waist belt. There is no getting around that.
I have also liked a travel bag that Ellington's make--it is quite an old one. It has a hidden zipper pocket in the back of the bag--say, if TB were to add a zippered pocket in the outside compartment--I find this the most useful to stash important things--it will always lie against your body and no one can get at it sans mugging you. Tom or Darcy: is this something that can be added? I think I am being clear--but happy to discuss it. It is an old design and I have never found anything else as useful or sensible!
Oooo yeah Rome is particularly full of pickpockets, especially on mass transit. There are professional pickpockets who just ride the bus all day and wait for hapless tourists.
Originally Posted by okie
If you wind up taking a Cafe Bag, just make sure, when you get on a bus or Metro, that you:
- "Flip" the bag around so that the flap is against your body.
- Cinch the strap a little tighter (which you will want to do in advance because the Cafe Bag straps are a little harder to tighten on the fly)
- Bring the bag to the front so it's worn cross-body style by your ribs, and right under your forearm as you crook your elbow. Make sure the flap opening nearer to your side is covered by your forearm or elbow, so that you'll be able to feel anyone's hand trying to worm into the bag from that side opening.
Also, NEVER sit with your back to an exit. A friend got thoroughly scouted for a grab 'n dash. Fortunately she was wearing her bag cross body and I told her to hold onto it so the scout gave up and went looking for other foolish tourists. Often the pickpockets work in gangs with one or more putting on performance art - a loud argument, pitiful crying etc to distract the marks while others hit up the audience.
I recently discovered that a 3D Clear Organizer Cube fits pretty perfectly at the bottom of my Small Cafe Bag. I tried it to prevent everything from piling at the bottom of the bag (which seems to work really well), but the o-rings would also allow you to attach it to the bag for extra security. (The SCB has two o-rings in the main compartment.)
I've ordered a Medium Cafe Bag that's arriving on Wednesday, and I'm curious to see how the 3D Cube works in it. I considered trying a Side Effect, but the waist strap seemed like wasted weight/material/labor since I don't expect to use it (I would love to have the option of a Side Effect without the waist strap). Instead, I ordered a Snake Charmer to try out at the bottom of the MCB (a bit big but should work if not stuffed), with the backup plan of using it for cables and other electronics accessories. Just two more days of waiting left before my order arrives!
Thanks everyone for the useful information.
I'm going to order both the Small and Medium Cafe Bags to see which one suits me better. I'll give the other one to my mom. Win-win!