LCB as PCMB substitute?
As some of you may recall, a packing cube messenger bag (PCMB) (i.e. a slightly larger version of the PCSB that will hold a small laptop) has been on my wish list for a while to use with my TS as my day-to-day bag for conference/workshop travel. This is, in my opinion, THE missing bag in the Tri-Star "system," and while the Pilot does fit in the center compartment, it does take up the vast majority of the center, so it's a no-go for me. (I know um-limey has had similar results with the Cadet).
I was hopeful the PCMB might be one of the new bags, I had no such luck. I had tried a Timbuk2 Packable Messenger bag, but its performance on its first trip was not acceptable. (In fact, it's currently on its way back to Timbuk2 for a warranty repair; the build quality is NOT up to the same standards as TB by a long shot). I ended up using my PCBP for the rest of the conference, and it worked well, but I don't really like backpacks for conferences, and it was far bigger than I needed, making it a tad floppy. It wasn't a major problem, but it's not my preferred solution. I'm an academic, so the level of professionalism required is, more-or-less, "Doesn't look stupid with business casual or like I'm about to go for a hike."
This leaves me needing a bag to use until TB answers my wishes and finally makes the PCMB a reality. It needs to hold an 11" MBA, power supply, conference book, and maybe a few other bits, but nothing huge. Although I can shove the 11" MBA in cache into the PCSB, it really doesn't fit well (which isn't a surprise at all).
So, for the questions:
1. Would a LCB with cheater D straps (so I can use the Absolute Strap from my TS and not carry an extra strap) work reasonably for this purpose? Specifically:
1a. How flat will the LCB lie if I wanted to put it behind a PC of clothes in the TS?
1b. Is the Dyneema significantly better than Parapack for this purpose?
1c. Does this seem like it will work reasonably well? I don't care about having the horizontal cache in the LCB, which I realize is not ideal. I'm just wondering if there are other potential challenges I'm missing.
2. Is there an alternative I'm not thinking of? I'm willing to consider a non-TB bag, though I feel somewhat burned on the Timbuk2 bag. For instance, I've seen the Herschel packable messenger bag, but I would really prefer a removable strap so I could use my Absolute strap. That said, I'm open to anything if you've had good experiences with it! I prefer a TB bag, of course.
Thanks in advance for suggestions!
Oh, and PS, my wife's TS arrived yesterday! In case anyone remembers her making fun of my (slight) obsession with TB bags, and then getting a Swift and SCB and being hooked. Unfortunately, although I expedited shipping to get it in time for her trip, she ended up having to leave for her trip early (family medical problems), so it's sitting in the bedroom rather than with her. Ah well, next trip!
sorry to hear about your wife's family medical issues. hope all works out well.
I think you will need people to chime in about height/torso and how LCB works. I returned a Cordura LCB because - as a person of *modest* stature - I favor the ratio of the SCB and MCB. LCB could not be opened elegantly on me. That being said, I love cafe bags!
Do you mind if I ask how modest a stature? I'm 5'7" on a bad day or 5'8" on a good day. Will the LCB look huge on me?
Originally Posted by GoStanford
Many thanks for your kind wishes! Unfortunately, it's at the stage where "well" is a very relative thing, but kind words like yours mean a lot to her family.
Originally Posted by luvdabags
jmoz, if it helps, I know for a fact that a 13" MBA can fit with no problem into a MCB, even inside a Cache. It pokes up about an inch over the top, but the bag still closes. I think if you are looking for something quite tidy and minimalist, the MCB should work for you; regardless, either fabric will work behind clothes in a TS compartment. It will be easier to get the Cafe Bag out if you tuck the strap inside the bag, but that's the only moderate hassle I can think of. I've carried my MCB to many a conference and no one commented that I looked any stupider than usual.
Badger- That's very helpful! At the same time, I think I would prefer to do the Cheater Ds and use the same strap. As I understand it, only the LCB has a removable strap? Still, that's helpful advice.
I don't have a TS to comment on the fit inside that, but I do have a LCB and I can say empty it is very flat so I can't see any problem packing it behind other items in a travel bag. My macbook pro fits in no problem so I know you won't have an issue with the air, plus you'll still have room for anything else you may need for a conference (notebook, papers etc). As far as personal fit, I'm 5'6" about 140lbs and don't find the bag to be too large at all. I prefer a MCB as my every day bag but that's simply because I have a bad habit of carrying everything I own with me and a slightly smaller bag keeps me in check. I use the LCB when I need to bring my laptop or when I know I'm going to be carrying larger/more items. And yes, only the LCB has a removable strap.
I'm not positive but you may be able to ask them to not put a strap on yours. It's worth asking! Also, if this helps: the load is pretty light so the regular strap could be comfortable enough. I can understand wanting to save the weight, though.
Originally Posted by jmoz
I think it could work. I almost did this for my trip back in January, but I decided I needed the CP more than the LCB and used cubes. The strap of the LCB can be removed. I have been able to take apart the absolute strap from my A45 and put it on my LCB by threading it through the feeds. I haven't tried using cheater Ds on it.
I'm 5'5" and I think the LCB works and looks fine for me. It is definitely more professional than a backpack. It can hold quite a bit too!
Good luck in your choice and thinking good healthy thoughts for your wife's family.
You should be fine, then. You have a good four inches on me, but there are those in my height range who like the LCB. For me, the angle at which I have to bend and/or bend my elbow to reach into the depths of the bag doesn't work. However, much as the MCB is perfect for toting just a bit more than the SCB, the LCB would make a great catch-all and, with appropriate pouches, a very organized bag as well.
Originally Posted by jmoz
I use either my MCB or my Side Effect every day depending on how much I want to carry. But, I recently bought a LCB in black which I love as it holds the large organizer pouches perfectly. These hold massive amounts of 8.5x11 paper each. I use the bag for when I am doing projects and it keeps everything very organized. The only danger is it can get quite heavy if you fully load it, but an absolute strap would solve that nicely! (I am 5' 4" and it does not feel overwhelming on my frame.
@jmoz Other things being equal, if the goal is to find a minimalist option Cafe Bag for use as a conference bag with your 11" MacBook Air, and that easily packs into your Tri-Star, you might just consider getting the Medium Cafe Bag and using it with the existing strap. I understand that the motivation for getting the large cafe bag is so you can use the Absolute Strap from your Tri-Star, and that this is the only size Cafe Bag that lets you change straps. However, if you go to the Large Cafe Bag and install the Cheater D rings, you'll be adding clip-on objects to the sides of the bag that make it more awkward to "flat pack" an empty Cafe Bag. If you intend to use the Cafe Bag as a fully packed "cube" inside your Tri-Star, of course that effect is lessened, but you'll be constrained by the dimensions of your "cube" and willalso have slight (but noticeable) protrusions where the Cheater D-rings are attached.
A better rationale for choosing the Large Cafe Bag and switching to the Cheater D-rings + Absolute Strap is that you may be carrying so much in your Cafe Bag that you need the Large Size and Absolute strap to support the weight, and therefore you want to be able to easily unclip the strap from your TriStar and transfer it to your Cafe Bag. The Medium Cafe Bag can hold your 11" MacBook Air, accommodate paper sizes up to A4 in length, and has room for your accessories. There's only one simple plastic buckle attaching to a side of the bag, and both that, and the attached strap (which fortunately is now the soft strap) easily folds flat. And the built-in strap is adequate to hold the weight.
There was only a very short period of time when it was possible to configure different straps for the smaller Cafe Bags. Although you can configure the straps for all sizes of the Ristrettos, that's because it's assumed you might be carrying more weight, the bag itself has more structure (i.e. separate padded compartment), and even there the default strap for smaller bags is the Simple Strap. I don't use Cafe bags as extensively as some people, and I only own small and medium size Cafe bags, but I have used the 13" MacBook Ristretto, and am familiar with the Cheater D-ring retrofits on my older version ID bag. Maybe someone who has tried the configuration you propose for minimalist carrying can make more comments. I do think you'll get a more packable carry in your Tri-Star if you just use an unmodified Medium Cafe bag
However, other reasons for preferring the large size cafe bag over the medium could be the current color/fabric choice. And perhaps you prefer solid color Parapack over Dyneema as looking more professional.
Last edited by moriond; 07-09-2014 at 12:05 PM.
OK, all- very, very helpful, thanks! I think the LCB wins out.
Now, one more question- Navy parapack/navy or black dyneema/solar? Most of my bags are navy/solar, and while I like the navy exterior, I think I prefer the brighter interiors and the contrast. I also wonder if dyneema is going to pack flatter. But then, on the other hand, navy!
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