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Thread: Questions about Medium Cafe Bag before Purchase

  1. #1
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    Questions about Medium Cafe Bag before Purchase

    Hey all, I've been looking for a replacement for my old shoulder bag for awhile now when I stumbled upon the Tom Bihn Cafe bag, specifically the medium sized version. It seems like it has everything I want: single front clip without Velcro, back slash pocket for magazines, front zipper pocket, and a simple open main compartment with some organizing pocket. However, since I can't preview the bag in person before purchase, I have a couple questions I'd like answered if possible before making my final decision:

    1.) Can you fit a standard size 1" spine binder in the main pocket comfortably (ie, it can lie flat against the walls and not just slanted in and the flap closes over it completely when clipped in without being pulled overly taut)?

    2.) With non-rigid objects inside (or if it's just mostly empty), does the bag flop down or can it sit upright when place on the ground?

    3.) How often are colors rotated? I like a couple of the color combinations in the preview images, but many don't seem to be offered anymore. Are there any secondary retailers that potentially sell those older color combinations?

    4.) Is the standard shoulder strap comfortable enough or would you recommend getting the ultrasuede version?

    5.) Is there a difference of strength and feel between the different construction materials (eg, Cordura, Dyneema, etc) and if so, which would you recommend?

    6.) When it rains, do you find that a lot of droplets make it inside the flap or does it cover pretty well?

    Thanks for the help everyone!
    Last edited by daaarn; 01-13-2014 at 10:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User yohopee's Avatar
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    Hi there, I own the LCB but I can address some of your questions:

    1. The bag will not sit upright when it's set down, it's a soft bag.
    2. TB bags are only sold at this website, the TB store in Seattle but, occasionally, you find them on eBay or through other forum members.
    3. I have worn my LCB in pouring rain and the contents inside the bag remained dry.

    I will allow other members to address your other questions. Welcome to the forum!

  3. #3
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    1.) I happen to have my MCB with me, so I tested out the binder - it fit fine along with the things I already had in the bag (point and shoot camera, coin purse, 2 mini pouches, 1 pocket pouch, mini lint roller, wallet, note pad, pens, sunglasses, etc.).

    2.) My bag stands up on its own with the items previously mentioned.

    4.) The standard shoulder strap is comfortable enough, but I still recommend getting the ultrasuede wrap. The extra cushion is nice, and it doesn't rub against your skin the way the standard strap sometimes can.

    5.) There is a difference in the feel of the fabrics. The cordura is more of a soft canvas, and the dyneema has that nylon feel that seems less fabric-y. I don't have anything in parapack yet, so I won't comment on that. There are some great comparison posts in the forum though. Here are a couple: 420d HT nylon Classic Parapack Photos and Parapack vs Dyneema/nylon All of the fabrics are going to be tough enough to withstand daily use and then some.

    Here are some photos of the binder in the bag, and the bag standing up.

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    Thanks a bunch for the help! Especially for the pictures. My biggest concern was the size of the main pocket. I've bought a couple bags in the past where the listed dimensions seemed like they would accommodate my needs only for the real world size to be a little less ergonomic, so it's good to see that it's true to form. I dont always carry around a binder (I have a bigger bag I use for that as well as for my laptop), but I wanted a bag just big enough to accommodate one in case I needed to in a pinch. At the same time, I wanted a bag compact and different enough from my bigger one so that it could stand on its own merit/uniqueness.

    Also, I noticed that the ultrasuede shoulder pad seems to be an addition rather than an integrated part of the strap. Is there no way to replace that original strap pad? Just seems a little awkward to have both on it.

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daaarn View Post
    Also, I noticed that the ultrasuede shoulder pad seems to be an addition rather than an integrated part of the strap. Is there no way to replace that original strap pad? Just seems a little awkward to have both on it.
    Nope, you'd have to cut the original pad off. I can't think of any reason why this would be a problem unless you wanted the option to sell the bag at some point. From what I can tell, people don't generally find it that annoying since the standard pad is really quite low-profile.

    In regards to colors: if you see one on the website and it's not in stock, you can call TB customer service to see if a) there may be one kicking around in the factory, b) if the color will be made again, c) they can recommend an in-stock color that might appeal to you. Unfortunately, if you want a bag right away, you may have to go with your second-choice color. However, please be assured that all the colors TB offers are rich and distinctive and you'll feel like a million damn dollars when you gaze upon your new MCB and its efficient carrying capability.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by daaarn View Post
    Just seems a little awkward to have both on it.
    Ha! Yes, you're supposed to cut the original off. I transfered the ultrasuede wrap from another bag a couple of days ago and wanted to make sure I was going to use it on the bag permanently before I got rid of the other one. And now, you all get to see my dorkishness.

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    I just want to gush about my MCB! (and the door has been opened!). I can fit an amazing amount of crap in that bag! I was debating between medium and large and ended up ordering medium (thanks to questions asked and answered on Ravelry, a knitting site). But I find the capacity with all TB bags to be more than what it appears. And the bag is not bulgy or lopsided when full, probably because of the shape. I can fit a full-sized clean kanteen, wallet, book, small knitting project, notebook, pencil case, glasses case and small sundry items like a pack of kleenex, gum, candies, lipbalm/lipstick, aveda compact. I'm quite surprised at how much I am able to fit, but a binder would be too tight of a squeeze for my tastes... As far as color, grab what you like when you see it. The colors disappear and may not come back again, or at least soon enough and you might end up sad that you didn't get what you love. For a purse replacement, this is a wonderful choice!
    Moose likes this.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanisol View Post
    Ha! Yes, you're supposed to cut the original off. I transfered the ultrasuede wrap from another bag a couple of days ago and wanted to make sure I was going to use it on the bag permanently before I got rid of the other one. And now, you all get to see my dorkishness.
    Oh cool. So that's what you're supposed to do. Definitely didn't mean to call out any awkwardness on your part, just the way the duo shoulder pad looked on the strap itself

    But dang, the high praise being piled up on this bag is getting me excited. Definitely gonna try seeing if they have any old colors hidden away somewhere, and although I have one or two more bags to check out, I think the MCB is inching closer to being the runaway winner.


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