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Thread: Can't decide between MCB and LCB -- strap/weight question

  1. #1
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    Can't decide between MCB and LCB -- strap/weight question

    Hey there forumers!

    Have been reading through old threads to get some clue about this but need to ask. I'm about to place my first TB order and as I'm ordering it shipped to Europe I'd rather get everything I need at once and hopefully not end up with a need to return or swap anything.

    I have already settled for the Small Cafe Bag. It seems perfect for those essentials when I want to roam the streets with a light luggage but still keep the bare essentials with me (money, phone, a couple of pens, micro four-thirds camera with lens attached). No other small bag I've seen comes with a waist belt / stabilizer strap which I imagine really helps when wearing the bag for hours at a time.

    Now then, I still have a need for a bigger shoulder bag. Daypack on travels that rides snuggly on trains and metros but can also hang on while doing very light hiking on hills and medows. EDC that I can walk and bike with without fear of it flopping around or killing my back. Would fit the above mentioned objects plus a separate zoom lens for the camera in a padded puch, small pen case and small hardcover notebook, a 16 oz / 0,5 L water bottle plus a few small knick knacks -- and yet be able to squeeze in a spare coat or scarf, a spur-of-the-moment purchase and/or something my husband aquires and doesn't have a pocket for (hah).

    I've made paper mock-ups of the Large and Medium Cafe Bags (with a sketch of how much room camera + extra lens would take because that is what I need the bag for mainly) and the size of the medium seems better. Roomy but still so compact that it can't be overloaded above my carrying abilities. Would fit my everyday items and a small thing extra, not a whole lot more though. The large seems huge, at least on paper, and I'm afraid having all that extra room I would just fill it -- and end up with back pains. I have 14 L and 20 L backbags that I use when I really need a lot and the 11 L LCB already gets very close to the lower end of that range.

    My main problem lies with the strap. I get easily tired of wearing a shoulder bag and need something sturdy and comfortable. I imagine the waist strap already helps a lot, as well as the stabilizer. But with the camera equipment and a water bottle I know a bag quickly gets heavy to have on one shoulder (eventhough I always carry my bags cross-body). Which is why I look at the LCB in the first place: the Absolute strap just seems to be what I would need.

    So help a sister out here: how much weight are you comfortable carrying in your Medium Cafe Bag (with or without suede strap wrap)? Does it gets painful when the bag is very full? Or Absolute Strap owners: how big of a difference does it really make? LCB owners: does the bag look gigantic on a skinny not-that-tall lady and how does it work when not filled to the max, can it be scruched down?

    Questions, questions. Making expensive orders from across the Atlantic can be tricky.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rillinki View Post
    Hey there forumers!


    Questions, questions. Making expensive orders from across the Atlantic can be tricky.
    I hear you - I have the same challenge in Australia.

    I have a small cafe bag which I love but recently have been carrying my ipad sized ristretto because the ristretto can take the absolute strap and the A/strap is A/mazing when you have a sore shoulder or two.

    Can't comment on the larger cafe bags but the absolute strap is a must have purchase .. I have two - one permanently attached to my Ego bag and another which floats around whichever bag (TB or other) needs it.
    List under construction ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by daisy View Post
    I have a small cafe bag which I love but recently have been carrying my ipad sized ristretto because the ristretto can take the absolute strap and the A/strap is A/mazing when you have a sore shoulder or two.

    Can't comment on the larger cafe bags but the absolute strap is a must have purchase .. I have two - one permanently attached to my Ego bag and another which floats around whichever bag (TB or other) needs it.
    I guess I thought this would be the case: the Absolute strap seems to be exactly what I need in order to make a TB messenger bag reach the next level for me. I'm picky about comfort while carrying and it does seem superb in comparison to any other small messenger bag suspension system.

    I had also been thinking about the Co-Pilot instead of a larger Cafe Bag which would be able to have the A-strap but .. I just don't think it's pretty enough. :] I wear mostly dresses and like to wear clothes in such comfortable but presentable style that I can wear the same outfit to work, the beach, hike up to a hillside cafe, shopping spree around a major city, exhibition opening or a casual dinner at a restaurant. So basically anything besides formal dress party. The Co-Pilot seems practical but the look to me is more of a travelling businessman and black seems to me to be the best color for it because of all the zippers. However, I would like something with a bit more color. The Cafe Bags attract me also because they seem unstructured enough to be able to fold inside a bigger bag during travel which would be a great bonus. Plus I don't need any padding on the bag itself because my phone and camera equipment move from bag to bag already in their protected cases.

    Hmm.. Perhaps the scale is then leaning towards the LCB. On my paper model it looks so big but maybe I could make it work..

    More ideas and experiences are welcome! (Also, I've gone through the customer photos on the forum and Flickr but haven't really found pictures of too many women wearing and using either the MCB, LCB or the Co-Pilot to be able to imagine the size in relation to by body. If you got one and want to share, it's more than welcome. )

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    I only have are Small and Large Cafe Bags.

    When I ordered my first Large Cafe Bag, It had the Simple Strap which was fine when carrying the Large Cafe Bag from the house to the car.

    After doing my first errands on public transports, which of course involved walking, I immediately swapped the Simple Strap for the Absolute Strap I bought for my Aeronaute.

    Because it is a portrait oriented bag, place one of our mock ups next to you to see where it falls on your body.

    The extra room is great to carry A4 paper in a Large Organizer Pouch (don't forget to order one or more). a hat. scarf and gloves if the weather suddenly turns balmy or could turn chilly in the evening.


    The bottom line is, you don't have to fill up the Large Cafe Bag but, with the Absolute Strap it will feel weightless.

    The rubbery part absorbs the bounciness of the human walk which always transfer to what we are carrying, don't forget to get the Waist Strap for added stability.
    Last edited by backpack; 05-20-2013 at 06:37 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    The extra room is great to carry A4 paper in a Large Organizer Pouch (don't forget to order one or more). a hat. scarf and gloves if the weather suddenly turns balmy or could turn chilly in the evening.

    The bottom line is, you don't have to fill up the Large Cafe Bag but the Absolute Strap it will feel weightless.
    I think you're right. The better comfort while carrying heavier loads is really why I started looking at Tom Bihn messenger bags in the first place so shouldn't compromise on that. I pranced around the office corridor "wearing" my paper LCB and it's true it doesn't seem as humoungus as it does when looking at it. Out of all three, the medium somehow seems like the perfect sized bag, but looking at the facts I know it wouldn't work: too big to be a small purse just for the essentials, too heavy when loaded to be able to house all my EDC/travel daypack items.

    Getting closer to deciding that is. Now just gotta make my mind abour colours..
    And yeah, was going to order a bundle of pouches while I'm at it, thanks for the tip!

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    Here is a post with pics of LCB on a small-ish woman - Large Cafe Bag

    And here is a pic of man with an LCB which strangely looks larger than the previous one on a woman (probably because this second one is filled with more stuff) - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tombihn/4599136191/
    Last edited by myroslava; 05-20-2013 at 06:26 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by myroslava View Post
    Here is a post with pics of LCB on a small-ish woman - Large Cafe Bag

    And here is a pic of man with an LCB which strangely looks larger than the previous one on a woman (probably because this second one is filled with more stuff).
    Thanks! I saw that one but on my dark screen couldn't really tell where the gray bag ends and the gray shirt begins. Which is why I was looking for more references.

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    I have the MCB and the LCB. Honestly, if you already have the SCB, then I would go with the LCB. It really isn't that huge in person and still looks great when not stuffed full. I like having different strap options for it, including the Q-AM and the Absolute strap. It is probably my go to bag when travelling. And I like that I have the extra room if I buy something random when out and about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    I have the MCB and the LCB. Honestly, if you already have the SCB, then I would go with the LCB. It really isn't that huge in person and still looks great when not stuffed full. I like having different strap options for it, including the Q-AM and the Absolute strap. It is probably my go to bag when travelling. And I like that I have the extra room if I buy something random when out and about.
    The strap is the reason I think I'll go with the LCB as well. On my currect bags carrying comfort really makes the difference and as I'm buying a TB I want one that will offer the best possible comfort.

    I don't yet have the SCB but I'm thinking of picking up one of them as well. And that one is a more clear choice as it is one of the only very compact bags I've seen that comes with a waist strap. I like the idea of having a small, bare-minimum type of bag that still is comfortable to carry and can be tightened to my back even when the going gets rough.

    Thanks for the help you guys! It really helps to have such a community of enthusiasts to talk us newbies through our purchases.
    I think I've made my choice. There's no way to know for sure until the bags arrive but even if there are surprises I'll have at that point put so much thought into it that I'll make them work. Now off to flipping back and forth between Steel and Plum!

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    Well you could buy the Large in one color and the Small in the other then get the matching Cafe bag of the size you didn't get in your next order.

    I have a fair number of Large/Small Cafe Bag pairs in the same color.


    Don't forget the Shoulder Straps, the Absolute,,of course but also the the Q-AM strap if you do the "can be tightened to my back even when the going gets rough."

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    Seeing as you have to pay for overseas shipping, it may help you to know that many of us ended up buying all 3 - SCB, MCB, LCB.

    I bought and returned a LCB navy/cayenne over a year ago. I thought that the MCB covers most of my need and that if I carried more than the MCB can accommodate, I will use the Synapse 19.

    I now have a LCB steel dyneema/steel on order. I need it for those times when I need to carry documents in a folder. A folder does not fit in my MCB, gets scrunched in my Synapse 19. I bought a vertical freudian slip to use with my tristar/western flyer packing cube backpack, just to carry a folder with docs. In retrospect, I should have just bought a LCB instead of the freudian slip (nephew loves it in his brain bag).

    I cannot help you with the straps. For my use, the absolute strap on the LCB is an overkill. This strap is heavier than the regular strap. I do not like my bags stuffed and heavy. If my load reaches 7 lbs, it's time to switch to the Synapse 19. I do have an absolute strap to use with the western flyer rolling luggage model. It is great for that purpose.

    Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    Well you could buy the Large in one color and the Small in the other then get the matching Cafe bag of the size you didn't get in your next order.

    I have a fair number of Large/Small Cafe Bag pairs in the same color.

    Don't forget the Shoulder Straps, the Absolute,,of course but also the the Q-AM strap if you do the "can be tightened to my back even when the going gets rough."
    Yeah the Absolute Strap is why I'm looking at buying the Large so would def. go with that one. Have to read more about the Q-AM strap as I didn't really study how that one works yet. True enough about the colors, just gotta toss a coin now about which one on which.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walker View Post
    Seeing as you have to pay for overseas shipping, it may help you to know that many of us ended up buying all 3 - SCB, MCB, LCB.

    ...

    I cannot help you with the straps. For my use, the absolute strap on the LCB is an overkill. This strap is heavier than the regular strap. I do not like my bags stuffed and heavy. If my load reaches 7 lbs, it's time to switch to the Synapse 19. I do have an absolute strap to use with the western flyer rolling luggage model. It is great for that purpose.

    Good luck.
    Thanks!

    It's true many seem to own them all but I thought I'd limit myself to 2 now as I do have backpacks at home that I use regularly and shouldn't go too insane with my order even though the shipping obviously is a big factor. Maybe use 2 of them for a year and then place another order with the missing ingredients.

    The weight issue is why I'm looking at the Absolute strap. My camera equipment + 16 oz water bottle will already weigh 4,5 lbs. On top of that comes other necessities. So if I then want to tuck my coat in there or buy a book while on town, a normally suspended shoulder bag gets too heavy on my poor shoulder. On the other hand as I look at it I should be able to fit just my necessities so neatly into the SCB that the medium would mostly be unused extra space. Not 100% sure obviously, since I haven't tried to load them with my things or even seen in person, but that's the result of my calculations. Still a bit on the fence, as the size of the MCB seems better than the extra on the large.

    ..one can create such a problem just about the choice of a bag. :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rillinki View Post
    Yeah the Absolute Strap is why I'm looking at buying the Large so would def. go with that one. Have to read more about the Q-AM strap as I didn't really study how that one works yet. True enough about the colors, just gotta toss a coin now about which one on which.
    If you will be carrying more, then I'd opt for the Large Cafe Bag just to get the Absolute Strap, as others have said. I like the Q-AM strap for the Imago, which has about the same capacity as the Large Cafe Bag but in a horizontal orientation, although it also works with the Absolute Strap. On an ID bag (also horizontal, but bigger) I'd switch to an Absolute Strap. The point at which you switch between Q-AM and Absolute Strap is dictated by how much weight you are carrying, and some people can use the Q-AM on much larger bags than I'd feel comfortable carrying. Incidentally, the Q-AM, or Quick-Adjust Messenger strap, is a product you'll have to spend some time to play with and adjust before deciding whether it's comfortable for you. The long, padded strap distributes the weight for cross-body carrying against your body, whereas the Absolute strap is really for shoulder carrying, although you can also position the strap across your body.

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    Rillinki, thanks for posting the question. I think I've spent so much time wondering which to get, that I'd be better off just ordering both.

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