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Thread: Large Cafe Bag interior organisation

  1. #1
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    Large Cafe Bag interior organisation

    My first post, hello everyone.

    I am looking to buy a new bag and it is very likely to a Large Cafe Bag (or an Imago). As I am in the UK, returning it isn't practical and neither is really a secondary order for one or two pouches. Therefore I'd like to get the order right first time.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on anything to do with how you organise your LCB or Imago.

    I need my new bag to fulfil three main tasks.

    Firstly as a daily bag to and from work (cheque books, A5 notebooks, lunch and shopping on the way home).
    Secondly as a personal bag for travel (ipad, camera, personal stuff and documents)
    Thirdly as a day bag while travelling (camera, documents, water bottle and extra clothes)

    The side effect seems to be the ideal partner for my camera (Olympus PEN E-PL1) and I already have a Belkin slip case for the iPad, similar to the Breve, although the Breve is obviously a better match to the TB bags (does the Breve fit nicely horizontally in the LCB? And how snug is the Breve with an iPad 1?).

    I do have two specific queries, though. The first is that all of the organiser pouches seem to have snaphooks on one corner only. I'd have thought that if they were on the top two corners then they could hang from the top of the LCB, effectively adding extra pockets. Clipped on from one corner they seem to be a little awkward to get to quickly. Or is it better not to clip the larger pockets and have them loose?

    The second question is about vertical organisation. Does anyone use a stuff sack or packing cube to hold stuff (waterproofs in summer, hats and gloves in winter perhaps) along the bottom of the LCB and then other items (lunch to work and tins from the shops on the way home) would sit nicely on top of them?

    Any thoughts or tips on how you use your LCB or Imago would be appreciated. I should add that I am male and about 6'3".

  2. #2
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    I did a review of the LCB a few months ago. Perhaps it will help answer some of your questions:

    Review: Tom Bihn Large Cafe*Bag - OBOW Blog - One-bag, carry-on, light travel tips, techniques, and gear
    dorayme likes this.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  3. #3
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mentos3 View Post
    My first post, hello everyone.

    I am looking to buy a new bag and it is very likely to a Large Cafe Bag (or an Imago). As I am in the UK, returning it isn't practical and neither is really a secondary order for one or two pouches. Therefore I'd like to get the order right first time.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on anything to do with how you organise your LCB or Imago.

    I need my new bag to fulfil three main tasks.

    Firstly as a daily bag to and from work (cheque books, A5 notebooks, lunch and shopping on the way home).
    Secondly as a personal bag for travel (ipad, camera, personal stuff and documents)
    Thirdly as a day bag while travelling (camera, documents, water bottle and extra clothes)

    The side effect seems to be the ideal partner for my camera (Olympus PEN E-PL1) and I already have a Belkin slip case for the iPad, similar to the Breve, although the Breve is obviously a better match to the TB bags (does the Breve fit nicely horizontally in the LCB? And how snug is the Breve with an iPad 1?).

    I do have two specific queries, though. The first is that all of the organiser pouches seem to have snaphooks on one corner only. I'd have thought that if they were on the top two corners then they could hang from the top of the LCB, effectively adding extra pockets. Clipped on from one corner they seem to be a little awkward to get to quickly. Or is it better not to clip the larger pockets and have them loose?

    The second question is about vertical organisation. Does anyone use a stuff sack or packing cube to hold stuff (waterproofs in summer, hats and gloves in winter perhaps) along the bottom of the LCB and then other items (lunch to work and tins from the shops on the way home) would sit nicely on top of them?

    Any thoughts or tips on how you use your LCB or Imago would be appreciated. I should add that I am male and about 6'3".
    Welcome, mentos3! I can understand why you want to get your order right the first time, especially since you are in the UK. I think a lot of us "lurk" in the forums for weeks before we make a purchase, trying to do exactly what you are doing. I'm running out the door to get to the bank before it closes, or I'd do some quick research for you, but have you searched the forums, especially the sub-forum about packing lists? There are specific threads in that forum about both the Imago and the LCB; and lots of us have posted photos of our bags and how we've packed them. That might be useful for you.

    I have both the Imago and the LCB; I use them for different sorts of things. When I want to carry my Macbook Air 11 simply, in a felt case that I've sewed for it, I use the LCB. It can carry so much in addition to the Air: my iPad, a thermal mug, my wallet, all my toiletries (I'm a female, and I've carry around too many of those), pens, notebooks, and now my Kindle as well, sunglasses, keys, iPhone, etc. When I want to carry my Air in a more protective case (the Higher Ground Flak Jacket), I take my Imago. The 13-inch Flak Jacket squeezes in it perfectly, and provides extra structure for the bag. Then I add all my other stuff as well. I've also used the Imago as a wonderful camera bag, with a three-compartment Tenba insert and my Olympus e620 with lenses and accessories. (Darcy says the TB camera insert may be available for pre-order in January, but I don't know if it will fit in either the Imago or the LCB.)

    I don't know the dimensions of A5 notebooks, so I can't speak to how they fit in the Imago and LCB. As for the OPs, however, what many of us do is use keystraps to attach the pouches to various o-rings inside the bag. This way you have the flexibility of placing the pouch anywhere in the bag for best fit, but you can always located it quickly by a tug on the key strap. (If you use the color keystraps, as I do, then you know which strap to tug on for which pouch.)

    I have read that some people put a stuff sack or packing cube at the bottom of their LCBs, then stack things on top of it. The Side Effect will fit nicely in the bottom of the LCB; and you could attach a key strap to each side of it and suspend it within the bag, if you'd like. I think FrankII or Lani or some of the other frequent travelers on the forum has suggested doing that to provide an extra measure of security with the LCBs when one is in areas frequented by pickpockets.

    I have another suggestion as well. I just bought one of the new Kindle Organizer Pouches before Christmas, and what excites me about it is that it would work well in any of the vertical bags, such as the LCB, even if you weren't using it to hold a Kindle. That's because the Kindle Case is vertically aligned as well; it's a great way to use the vertical space of the Cafe bags. I'm thinking I may need to order a second one so I can keep one on each side (left and right) of my Cafe bags.

  4. #4
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    I clip small pouches with key straps, so I can just fish out a pouch without hunting for it.

  5. #5
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    I don't have an LCB, but have a SCB and a Ristretto for iPad. I also use key straps with the pouches, which really makes it easy to find and grab the right pouch. Especially with the colored key straps (which I color code to the pouch color, as much as possible).
    Owner of Crimson/Steel Western Flyer, Forest/Steel Zephyr, Olive/Cayenne Ristretto for iPad, Olive/Cork/Steel and Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, Plum/Wasabi Side Effect, Linen/Steel and Conifer/Steel SCB, Steel Breve, Plum/Black Swift, Steel FJN, Horizontal Freudian Slip, black Brain Cell, Iberian Packing Cube Backpack, Ultraviolet Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, and various organizer pouches, caches, and other odds and ends.

  6. #6
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    I have many 4 LCBs in different colors and they are the best bags ever!

    I use it exactly the way you want to use it, except I haven't packed a real lunch in it, but cookies, nuts, a sandwich and utensils on one side of the Clear Quarter Packing CubeClear Quarter Packing Cube: TOM BIHN

    For the Camera gear, I recommend a Padded Pouch secured to an one of the O ring.

    Pouches are the best and simplest creation Tom has come up with. Depending on their size, they hold change or id/transport card or credit card, cd sized items, paperback sized items and the Large one which can double as a thin document holder (letter and A4 size).

    I don't clip my Large Pouch and I don't think you need to unless you plan to ride a mechanical bull in Texas.

    The smaller Pouches are clipped via C-clips into the O rings, I have used Pouches since the day Tom Bihn Inc got them for sale or just about.
    However, the newly designed straps in color are a great addition, get some in black too, great neutral color.

    What do you mean by extra clothes? The usual sweater for chilly evening, the windbreaker for a sudden downpour or a scarf and hat for winter or something else?

    Make sure you check the Accessories pages to see how wonderful they are, then ask us questions about each one.

    Since you are in the UK, don't forget to add Nikwax to your order.

    In the meantime look at the Large Cafe Bag picture on its page, the Blog (just do a search) and this forum as well as Flicker and You Tube.

    It should give you a pretty good idea on how fantastic the LCB is!

  7. #7
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    Thank you for all the replies.

    Frank II - your review helped a great deal, especially to see the relatives sizes of the bags and pouches.

    ncb4 - I hadn't noticed the packing lists sub forum, but that was useful too, thanks. You say your laptop case "provides extra structure" for the Imago. Is that a Cordura Imago? Do the Imago and the cafe bags lack structure when they are empty or nearly empty? Do they crumple into a heap when you put them down? The Kindle vertical pouches are a good thought, although I'm not sure what I would put in them (water bottle perhaps?). I guess I would find a use for them so I might add one to my order.

    backpack - 4 LCBs? How do you choose? My camera is quite chunky, so I'm not sure if a padded pouch is the ideal partner, but I'll look again at the sizes. Are they padded on both front and back?

    Just one or two more questions that have occurred to me recently.

    1. Am I right in thinking that the material of the LCB is matte, i.e. no sheen and is silent when it moves?

    2. When empty, can the cafe bags be rolled up quite small as they are flexible to store inside another bag?

    3. What is the difference between the three styles of pouches - dyneema, cordura and ballistic nylon? My thinking is that the ballistic would be least bendy (not bendy at all?) and the dyneema would rustle but be light.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my probably trivial queries.

  8. #8
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    mentos3, I have a Cordura Imago, and I do think it is as bit floppy when empty (and definitely "crumply" too, when empty or partly empty). I don't have a Ballistic Imago, but I understand it stands up a bit better when not full.

    1. The material of the LCB is also Cordura, so it's a little more matte than the Ballistic Nylon, but I think there is still a slight sheen to it, which is lovely. It's relatively silent when it moves.
    2. Yes, cafe bags can be folded (I haven't tried rolling them) and stowed inside a larger bag.
    3. I don't have a Dyneema pouch, but I do have one ballistic nylon pouch, a couple of Cork pouches, a couple of Ultrasuede pouches, and several Cordura ones. I do have two Dyneema shop bags, so I think pouches made of those would be the lightest; and the ballistic nylon does seem a bit stiffer than the cordura ones, but not by much. You have to remember that the piping sewn around all four sides, along with the zipper at the top, add extra structure to each pouch, regardless of what material it's made of. So that the smaller-sized pouches, no matter what they're made of, all seem to be about the same flexibility. You'd see the difference in fabric more with the Medium pouch, I think.


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