On shoulder straps
I have now been using the Imago and the Medium Cafe bag non stop for about 5 months in varying ways. I use the Med cafe bag mostly for conferences and such--carrying conf materials, water bottle, TB wallet, and other assorted stuff. I have been using the Imago for daily campus use--some folders; a fairly thick Levenger Compact sized agenda; a Baggalini clipped inside; and assorted pouches.
My main concern is about the shoulder strap on Medium Cafe Bag. I think it has been posted before--the nubby pad on the shoulder strap is a pain in summer--when you are trying to carry it over thin cotton shirts, or sleeveless...that means for women, at least, this bag is a problem. I like the Imago regular strap; and I also switch it out with the Absolute shoulder strap when I am carrying heavier items in the Imago.
I truly truly wish that Tom would reconsider the straps--and make them all with D rings so that we could all switch out straps as needed according to how we carry them and what we carry in them. I love these bags more than anything I have carried--for their styling; for their versatile features in terms of placement of pockets and kinds of pockets; and I absolutely love those O rings....it makes all things secure. But I am less in thrall of the straps--love the absolute strap and I think if we are going to use that, then a D-ring is a must. the medium cafe bag is just a tad smaller than Imago, and the fact that I can't take out the strap and put something else on it is making me very very unhappy!
The solution is to get a Large Cafe Bag.
It is just a tad bigger than the Medium and has a choice of TB Straps.
I have a Small Cafe Bag filled to the brim. As an experiment, during a shopping trip, I wore the strap on top of a light tee with the nubby part on the shoulder then the hard plastic part finally the strap by itself .
The nubby side on thin cotton is not comfortable, the hard plastic side is stable and doable but I think the best is using the strap as it is.
The fabric is the same as the one used on luxury cars seatbelts, seatbelts are designed to be worn in close contact with the shoulder and chest, they are strong and soft.
Changing the straps would entail a brand new design of the Medium Cafe Bag.
This bag doesn't seem to be set up for really big loads, (it doesn't look out of proportion when Maverick's young son carries it), the Large Cafe Bag is -the- bag for that.
The Absolute Strap availability on the Large Cafe is why I have two.
The bags weighs nothing with the Absolute Strap while I always feel the Small Cafe Bag on my shoulder.
So, I know where you are coming from.
I agree with Shiva. I'm actually in Turkey right now and using my medium cafe bag everyday. It's exactly the right size (if anything, too big) but I really don't like the strap pad. I think I'll be cutting it off because I keep pushing the pad out of the way. The problem though is that it's nice to have an area of friction to keep the bag where I want it.
And I know I don't want to be using a large right now. I own a large and I think it would have been too big. And anyway, my large is old and I can't switch out the strap on it either, but it does at least have a different pad.
I hope Tom and Darcy are following this thread! I realize it will require some re-design of the medium cafe bag--but I think it wd be well worth it. I think the Large cafe bag is too large for me--I have been wanting just the size of the medium (in a pinch it will hold letter size paper folders)--which the small will not; and I like the "vertical" hang rather than the horizontal especially when taking public transit.
I have never bought the Timbuk2 Metro mostly cos it wd not hold letter size; and then most sizes that did hold letter size got too big..so I was thrilled to bits when I found the medium cafe bag....it also passes as a larger purse for airlines--so I like that.
I am not sure what to do--since I can't cut off the strap altogether--and put in new D rings etc., since that will ruin the warranty. Perhaps TB can offer those of us who want it some kind of a wrap around that will go over the nubby part --much like some companies routinely put to hold straps in place??? That would be great.
I'm going to chime in here as another voice preferring D-ring and snap shackle type of strap connectors. I have an assortment of TB bags, all of which have their purpose. I have an absolute strap and would love to be able to easily and quickly move the strap for one bag to another. Sure it can be done with the bags I have but it requires more time and planning than I oftentimes have available. There are times when I just don't want to mess around with threading a strap through a connector, or if moving the strap to the Western Flyer, doing the double threading needed to use the hardware for that bag.
Yes, I also agree. I'd love to use my absolute strap with my Medium Cafe bag, and also my Vertical Brain Cell. I used to have an absolute shoulder strap with D-rings, but I gave it to my brother when I gave him the Empire Builder. I just have an absolute strap with my Large Cafe bag and Imago, but I can't put them on the Vertical Brain Cell since there are no D-rings. I wish my Medium Cafe bag and even my Small Cafe bag had D-rings so I could use the absolute shoulder strap with them. :)
Originally Posted by rabergnc
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I'll first just express that the Medium Cafe is a near-perfect bag. It's small enough to not feel oversized when I fill it about halfway with miscellaneous small items most of the time, but it's also just large enough to accommodate a binder or document folder the couple of days a week I need it to. There are almost no other bags in this size range! Totally ideal.
That said, I agree that the strap is less than optimal if you're carrying anything weighty or substantial in the bag (which, it should be said, I'm generally not). The strap by itself is too narrow to distribute weight well, and the shoulder pad helps only a little (and is uncomfortable under some conditions as others have noted). However, my recommendation is slightly different than those upthread, and wouldn't require much of a redesign at all: simply replace the 1.5" shoulder strap with a 2" one. I have a cheap military surplus messenger bag that features an unadorned 2" canvas strap, and I've at times carried quite a bit of weight in there without significant discomfort. That extra half inch of width makes a big difference.
I agree..it is a near perfect bag in so many ways...which is why I did not return it despite the shoulder strap. Something wider would work well, I think! I hope Tom can figure this out!--there will be lots of very happy customers!
Hey again all. One potential solution that requires no redesigning whatsoever on TB's part is for users to simply replace the shoulder pads on their own. As I just discovered with a quick web search, both Waterfield and Timbuk2 (and probably others, these just happen to be the first two I found) sell shoulder pads designed for this very purpose. They wrap around and secure with velcro, no cutting or sewing necessary. The Waterfield one in particular looks like a perfect fit for the standard Cafe strap. I may order one sometime in the next month or so. If I do, I'll report back once I've tried it out.
Waterfield Shoulder Pad
Timbuk2 Strap Pads
Incidentally, I hope it's kosher linking to other bagmakers' sites like this; my intent is good! However, moderators should feel free to delete this if it's not ok. I suppose this could also qualify as a suggestion for a new product -- a Tom Bihn version of the above!
I agree as well. In addition I think that the eyelet would make it easier to thread wrist straps of say an umbrella through the shoulder strap. The eyelets on the new ristretto tempted me to order it even though I want the interior of a Medium/Large Cafe Bag.
Originally Posted by rabergnc
Count me in...
... as another TB fan who would love to see a detachable shoulder strap or an Absolute shoulder strap option for the Cafe bags. It really does make the load seem much lighter.
I have a smaller Mountain Equipment Coop bag that has a similar plastic wrap on the shoulder, and it's very noticeable after an hour, even if the bag is not that heavy.
I now join the chorus asking about shoulder straps for the medium cafe. I will have to look into something to wrap around the strap on trips because after two days of walking around London my shoulder is aching!
I don't have the bag particularly full but any weight is making me dread carrying it at all. Perhaps a backpack would be better for weight but messenger style lets me keep my hands on my stuff better, I think.
Shoulder Strap Pads
Timbuk2 makes add on shoulder strap pads. Other companies probably do as well.