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Thread: Help me decide - Cafe bag or Imago?

  1. #1
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    Help me decide - Cafe bag or Imago?

    I'm looking to get a new bag for an upcoming trip and am leaning towards either an Imago or Cafe bag (probably large). The bag will initially be used as a carry-on (9" portable DVD player, 13" laptop or netbook haven't decided what i am taking, Nintendo 3DS, Playstation Vita, Magazines, DVD wallet, and some of my son's toys), but will later be used as a school bag or every day carry bag when I start night classes again. I am leaning more towards the Imago, but my main hang up is the lack of color choices (don't want cork or hemp). The Cafe bag on the other hand has great color choices, but appears it would hold less and a bit worse in terms of organization compared to the Imago.

    Here are my personal PROs and CONs based on research:

    Imago
    + Organization (pockets, pouches, etc)
    + Space
    - Color combinations (this is my personal opinion)
    - Price (compared to the Cafe bags)

    Cafe Bags
    + Color combinations
    + Price (compared to the Imago)
    - Organization (Compared to the Imago)
    - Space (I believe it carries less than the Imago)

    The only other TB bag i've owned so far has been the Ristretto for iPad, but I don't use it as much anymore mainly because I no longer have an iPad . I was hoping to get some thoughts from the community to help me with my purchase.

    Thanks in advance!

    JD

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    I went through the same thing although I don't have as much stuff to carry around. I ended up with medium cafe bag. The Imago is a great looking bag! I wish there was a smaller version of it because I would have bought it. The cafe bag has pretty much the same organization as the Imago. The MCB has 2 interior pen slots and 2 other phone sized pockets, bot big enough to hold my Droid X with a Kraken case (huge). It also has 2 o-rings in the main pocket. The Cafe bag has one large zip pocket under the flap whereas the Imago has 2 pockets, one zip and one open. The Cafe bag then has the open pocket on the back. The Imago has the 2 smaller pockets on each end, butI think they are too small to hold much. I luckily got to test drive the Imago before buying (search travelling Imago or msg me) which really helped me make a decision. I wouldn't say the Cafe bag doesn't provide organization by any means. I think the biggest thing is do you prefer a vertically or horizontally oriented bag? And then what color? My MCB seems HUGE just because of how much it holds, so I can only imagine how big the LCB is. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    I think the biggest thing is do you prefer a vertically or horizontally oriented bag?
    I agree. The Large Cafe Bag was my first experience of a vertical bag; now I prefer it. In use, it seems tidier, less sprawling, than a horizontal bag.

  4. #4
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Well, it does come down to the organization, as well as the form factor -- the Cafe bag is more "floppy" than the Imago, especially with the Cordura Imago phasing out -- but it also depends on how big the electronics will be, and in what cases they will be in the bags.
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black (C) & black/UV & aubergine/UV (B) Side Effects, steel/UV Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive (C) & black/UV (D) LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/UV (C) & steel/UV (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    I went through the same thing although I don't have as much stuff to carry around. I ended up with medium cafe bag. The Imago is a great looking bag! I wish there was a smaller version of it because I would have bought it. The cafe bag has pretty much the same organization as the Imago. The MCB has 2 interior pen slots and 2 other phone sized pockets, bot big enough to hold my Droid X with a Kraken case (huge). It also has 2 o-rings in the main pocket. The Cafe bag has one large zip pocket under the flap whereas the Imago has 2 pockets, one zip and one open. The Cafe bag then has the open pocket on the back. The Imago has the 2 smaller pockets on each end, butI think they are too small to hold much. I luckily got to test drive the Imago before buying (search travelling Imago or msg me) which really helped me make a decision. I wouldn't say the Cafe bag doesn't provide organization by any means. I think the biggest thing is do you prefer a vertically or horizontally oriented bag? And then what color? My MCB seems HUGE just because of how much it holds, so I can only imagine how big the LCB is. Good luck!
    Thanks for the input. I've watched videos and looked at various pictures for both bags and the Imago seems to have more organization (at least to me) than the Cafe bag.

    Imago has:

    2x Small side pockets (zippered)
    2x Small front pockets (one with zipper)
    Main compartment
    2x Internal pockets
    1x Rear magazine/document pocket

    Cafe has:

    1x Large front pocket
    Main compartment
    2x Internal pockets
    2x Pen/Pencil pockets
    1x Rear magazine/document pocket

    Quote Originally Posted by marbenais View Post
    Well, it does come down to the organization, as well as the form factor -- the Cafe bag is more "floppy" than the Imago, especially with the Cordura Imago phasing out -- but it also depends on how big the electronics will be, and in what cases they will be in the bags.
    In your opinion, is the Cafe bag being more "floppy" than the Imago a good thing?

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    I like the structure of the Imago better than the floppiness of the cafe bags, but the floppiness might allow you to fit more in the bag. You have a lot you want put in the bag. I think the size of the toys and dvd wallet will make or break you with either bag. Nothing you have mentioned you want to bring, except the magazines, will fit in any of the pockets on the Imago, they will have to go in the main compartment. The toys might fit in the smaller pockets depending on size. You can do the laptop and two game consoles easy. How thick is your dvd player?

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    I like the structure of the Imago better than the floppiness of the cafe bags, but the floppiness might allow you to fit more in the bag. You have a lot you want put in the bag. I think the size of the toys and dvd wallet will make or break you with either bag. Nothing you have mentioned you want to bring, except the magazines, will fit in any of the pockets on the Imago, they will have to go in the main compartment. The toys might fit in the smaller pockets depending on size. You can do the laptop and two game consoles easy. How thick is your dvd player?
    I don't have to fit all those things in the bag, just the first things that came to mind. Ideally, I will definitely be storing the netbook, 9" DVD player (about the same size as the netbook), the game consoles, and the DVD wallet (which will be small and hold less than 6 DVDs). I think I should be able to fit both the netbook and DVD player side-by-side if placed vertically and then the other items in front of them. The smaller pockets will be used for things like keys, wallet, phone, cables, etc.

    With that in mind, I don't want this one trip to be the sole deciding factor of which bag I choose... I've been continuing to think about it more and i'm pretty sure I am going to go with the Imago. On a day-to-day basis it will probably just carry either a Macbook Air or iPad (with case, and leaning towards getting a new MBA over the iPad), text book, small notebook, Kindle (with case), and a Nintendo 3DS (Waterfield 3DS case). The reason I am looking at either the Imago or Cafe bag over say the Ristretto is that I would prefer a bag that is not a dedicated laptop bag, but can still carry one if needed.

    Deciding on the color has been the hardest part. I tried to get my Wife to help me, but she rolled her eye at me and made a joke that she doesn't ask me about buying purses. What I did get out of her was that she preferred either the Navy/Cork or the Cardinal/Hemp. I just don't know if I can do the cork or the hemp... I've been leaning towards the Cocoa/Wasabi (but not loving the Wasabi part), but may end up going Black/Steel even though I think it's the most boring of the options. Ugh, I'm kind of laughing at myself as I type this...

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    Have them send you a sample of the cork and hemp! Katy will mail you a swatch of each and it should only take a few days at most to get to you. I wasn't sure about the hemp, but after seeing it, I really liked it. She can send swatches of whatever color I think. I really like the Imago, it was just too big for my daily needs. Now you have to decide on which strap!

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    Have them send you a sample of the cork and hemp! Katy will mail you a swatch of each and it should only take a few days at most to get to you. I wasn't sure about the hemp, but after seeing it, I really liked it. She can send swatches of whatever color I think. I really like the Imago, it was just too big for my daily needs. Now you have to decide on which strap!
    The strap is the easy part. Once you go absolute you can't go back!

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    Just to muddy the waters a bit In response to your question, I took a look at the LCB and a cordura Imago side by side...I put a 10 inch netbook in a third party thin case, a Nintendo DS in a padded, zipped case, a regular sized 8.5 x 11 notebook, and a Kindle Fire in the padded TB Fire case, and a small wallet in both of the bags. Both of them will handle this load with no problem. I know the stats for the LCB show it as slightly smaller in capacity than the Imago, but they visually appeared fairly equal. As others have suggested, it appears to be primarily an issue of preference: horizontal vs vertical. That being said, for me personally, these items felt more secure in the LCB- probably because the opening isn't quite as wide due to the vertical nature of the bag. Also, the LCB gives you a little more flexibility because of the lack of internal pockets so it felt like a could kinda squeeze more things, adjust how they are within the bag, to fit more. And the LCB can have the absolute strap as well

    It sounds like you already know you want a messenger bag, but just have to ask, have you looked at the Synapse? I'm not a backpacky type of gal- the Synapse is my very first one!- but it is freaking awesome and can hold your load plus way more while not looking like you're carrying much at all!

    But back to the LCB and Imago...All that being said, I don't think you can go wrong with either bag. They're both awesome bags. If the ol' credit card can swing it, you might consider ordering both and loading 'em up and see what your preference is and returning the other (of course then you run the risk of...wanting both! LOL!). Good luck! I don't think you can go wrong with either bag!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tlacltme View Post
    Just to muddy the waters a bit In response to your question, I took a look at the LCB and a cordura Imago side by side...I put a 10 inch netbook in a third party thin case, a Nintendo DS in a padded, zipped case, a regular sized 8.5 x 11 notebook, and a Kindle Fire in the padded TB Fire case, and a small wallet in both of the bags. Both of them will handle this load with no problem. I know the stats for the LCB show it as slightly smaller in capacity than the Imago, but they visually appeared fairly equal. As others have suggested, it appears to be primarily an issue of preference: horizontal vs vertical. That being said, for me personally, these items felt more secure in the LCB- probably because the opening isn't quite as wide due to the vertical nature of the bag. Also, the LCB gives you a little more flexibility because of the lack of internal pockets so it felt like a could kinda squeeze more things, adjust how they are within the bag, to fit more. And the LCB can have the absolute strap as well

    It sounds like you already know you want a messenger bag, but just have to ask, have you looked at the Synapse? I'm not a backpacky type of gal- the Synapse is my very first one!- but it is freaking awesome and can hold your load plus way more while not looking like you're carrying much at all!

    But back to the LCB and Imago...All that being said, I don't think you can go wrong with either bag. They're both awesome bags. If the ol' credit card can swing it, you might consider ordering both and loading 'em up and see what your preference is and returning the other (of course then you run the risk of...wanting both! LOL!). Good luck! I don't think you can go wrong with either bag!
    Thanks for your feed back... I actually slept on my decision last night and this morning flip-flopped a bit. I am now leaning towards the LCB... I think I prefer vertical profile, personally has better color options, and lower price allows me to add more pouches if needed.

    I've been spending most of the day reading through old forum posts to confirm my decision on LCB vs MCB and color. I had a meeting earlier which caused me to miss today's shipping deadline, but I guess that gives me more time to decide.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD78 View Post
    Thanks for your feed back... I actually slept on my decision last night and this morning flip-flopped a bit. I am now leaning towards the LCB... I think I prefer vertical profile, personally has better color options, and lower price allows me to add more pouches if needed.

    I've been spending most of the day reading through old forum posts to confirm my decision on LCB vs MCB and color. I had a meeting earlier which caused me to miss today's shipping deadline, but I guess that gives me more time to decide.
    Don't you just HATE when work interferes with bag ordering? UGH! That must be the worst!! Have you narrowed it down any?
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    Oh JD, I was in your shoes just 2 weeks ago! I ended up with the MCB and actually just got that LCB off eBay. I'm pumped about both of them.

  14. #14
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD78 View Post
    The strap is the easy part. Once you go absolute you can't go back!
    Well, I'm one of the few who prefers the Standard Strap to the Absolute Strap
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black (C) & black/UV & aubergine/UV (B) Side Effects, steel/UV Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive (C) & black/UV (D) LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/UV (C) & steel/UV (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy View Post
    Don't you just HATE when work interferes with bag ordering? UGH! That must be the worst!! Have you narrowed it down any?
    I'm pretty sure i'm going to go with the LCB and was trying to decide between Navy/Steel or Crimson/Steel, but just noticed that Navy/Steel is not actually available in the drop down... Now just have to decide on some accessories.

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