Yikes! Just, can you weigh in on this, since you're the same size and suddenly all bags are in play again? I don't have a Large Cafe Bag. How would you compare the Imago with the Large Cafe bag according to the lines of this discussion? My own feeling is that the ID bag is on the large side for an everyday bag, but is a great compromise as a light-weight traveler when you want to take laptop, change of clothing, and a few items. The Imago and the Cafe Bag are better everyday bag sizes, and the Imago plus Aeronaut is a great travel combination. The extra 10% volume in the Large Cafe bag might help him, but I would prefer the Imago (personal style preference). The Large Cafe bag has pen pockets, with the Imago he'd have to use Darcy's suggestion.
Originally Posted by dbradford
How does the Cafe Bag travel with the Aeronaut? I'd still be inclined to choose Ballistic Nylon, or a closed design Cordura bag for the rainy conditions he describes. I still love my original design Buzz, but that's with a 12" laptop, smaller carrying load, and Urutek splash-proof zippers (and a water bottle pocket!), and it wouldn't work for him with the MacBook and larger load; the Buzz design doesn't take to "overpacking" and it's basically great for a more minimalist philosophy of carry.
Not to dishearten you, but see this note about the rapidly diminishing availability of the Swift, which you might want to consider in place of the Lux, since there are more color options (if they don't all sell out), and some newer revisions in the interior pocket design (plus you get a black/white stuff sack, which can be useful even if you don't knit ;-).
Originally Posted by dbradford
Well, what do I really think? I think dbradford needs a bag that can magically expand to the size of an ID, and magically shrink to the size of a Large Cafe Bag or Imago. Because really, that's what is being asked for here.
Hands down, for 1) water bottle pocket, 2) MacBook storage, 3) pen pockets, and 4) change of clothes with extra space left over, ID is the way to go. The only negatives the ID has going for it for dbradford is A) form factor, i.e. not so collapsible, and B) size a tiny smidge on the large side.
However, the Imago can do all of these things also. It can't do it particularly well, but I think it's doable. 1) You won't have a dedicated water bottle pocket, but hopefully you can squeeze it in with your 2) MacBook in a soft cell. Note that this is not at all ideal, considering you will lose a significant amount of protection. As far as 3) pen pockets, I clip my pens to one of the inside pouch pockets. It works. I guess that's what Darcy does as well. 4) If you do stuff clothes, it's gonna be t-shirt and shorts, or something similarly packable. You end up with a pretty unwieldy bag, but everything will probably fit.
Personally, I wouldn't do it that way, because for one thing, I don't actually own a MacBook and Soft Cell, so I don't really know if there is all that much room left over. Secondly, I am very much not a fan of the overstuffed unwieldy bag - I'd go with a backpack at that rate.
As far as the Large Cafe Bag goes, I have never had the idea that it was bigger than the Imago. I have always thought of it as smaller. Hence, it is a lot easier to zip around in crowds with the Large Cafe Bag. Hence also, there's no way it could carry all of that stuff. Remember, I'm not even sure the Imago can.
Perhaps if the ID were made in all Cordura - that would be dbradford's perfect bag.
Thanks, Just. I think that the Large Cafe Bag is about the same size as the Imago, but because of the way they measure volume by packing in those packing peanuts, there's no way to adjust for the carrying capacity of the front and rear pockets of the Imago; so cancel the notion of the Large Cafe Bag being roomier than the Imago.
Originally Posted by Just
One of the reasons we're having problems making a recommendation is that I think dbradford is applying a lot of different criteria, and some of them are inconsistent. He's starting from the perspective of what he carries in his current bag, which is estimated at 25 liters. But he's looking at some bags that are less than half the size, and still thinking in terms of being able to carry most of the original content. The ID bag is 20.9 liters, the Imago is 10 liters and the Large Cafe Bag is 11 liters, according to the rough estimates of the product pages. Something has to give.
If we compare the dimensions of the ID bag (15.75" x 12" x 5.5") with the Imago (14.5" x 12.25" x 3.5"), you'll see that most of that extra volume comes from extra depth. That's visible in the second picture from the Pop Wuping photos where the girl is kneeling and the side view of the ID bag is seen. Incidentally, all those shots (and most of the pictures I linked) are old design bags because I was trying to find pictures with people wearing the bag and, in the case of the Pop Wuping photos, people who are about our frame size. That means the side straps are the wider 2" straps of the original design, so the bags are going to look blockier even when empty (and when you could cinch them flatter). That also means that the front panels look more rectangular. If you look at the size comparisons, the ID bag is 1.25" longer that the Imago, and Maverick's picture of the Imago next to the ID bag in the composite bag shots should give you an idea of the relative sizes of these two bags.
The Large Cafe Bag is 12" x 13" x 3". If you relax the requirement of a water bottle pocket, and carry that separately, is it worth it to you to go for the Large Cafe Bag instead of the Imago for the pen pockets and other organizers? (Incidentally, I'd probably use some of the regular or clear organizer pouches clipped to the D rings inside these bags to hold change, passport, etc. or clipped to the D ring and keystrap at the outside pocket of the bag in the case of the Imago.)
Now look at dimensions. With the base Macbook you're talking about 12.8" x 8.9" x 1.1". If you use a size 6 Soft Cell, the outer dimensions are 13.6" x 9.7" x 1.5". Compare that to the (external) 14.5" x 12.2" x 3.5" of the Imago. You might be able to carry a water bottle in the front right pocket (under the front of the flap). A 500 ml bottle of water (2.375" diameter, 8.125" height to top of cap) fits. The 770 ml size you're talking about might also fit, but I'm not sure. Mouse over view b on the Imago product page, and you'll see what I mean. The water bottle that's shown on the inside is taking up most of the width of the inner bag, without a laptop. (You'll have to ask Darcy about the size of the bottle). When I put a 500 ml bottle of water into the front pocket, the cap clears the bottom part of the D-ring on the right hand open pocket.(See the OhGizmo! review of the Imago for the picture of the opened front of the bag, about half-way down the page.) I'd be nervous of having the bottle leak around a laptop. For your purposes, if I got the Imago, I'd probably try to use a closer fitting skin, like the Tucano Second Skin, in place of the Soft Cell, since you're running things very close in your planned usage, particularly with the 13.6" outer length of the Soft Cell.
I think you're envisioning the convenience of having a smaller everyday bag and you like the greater choice of color combinations in Cordura. If that's the priority, you should go with the Imago (or with the Large Cafe Bag if the pen pockets and shape work better for you). All I can say is, the ID bag does work for your size. Other forum members like eristick (same height) use both the ID bag and the Imago; so does Darcy, who is only an inch or so taller. See her post about when she uses the Imago and when she uses the ID bag (e.g., when she's bringing along her PowerBook). Some people use the ID bag with the waist strap. I think it is well balanced, especially the redesigned ID bags with the Absolute Strap.
My sneaking feeling is that you'd rather have a smaller bag in Cordura despite the comments about water bottles, pen pockets, etc. So if you feel that the ID bag too big for you to be really comfortable wearing, only you can decide that -- we're only working from our impression of your listed priorities. I'd still recommend that you consider a ballistic nylon version of the Imago, if what you say about torrential rains is a factor. However, the Cordura fabric is treated to make it water resistent. As I said, I got my first Imago in Cordura, because the colors are great. My main reason for preferring a Ballistic Nylon Imago is because of the sag when I carry a 12" PowerBook or anything smaller and slightly heavy so that the weight is not more evenly distributed along the length of the bag. It's not an issue if you're carrying notebooks or light items like clothing or if your Imago is mostly filled. The other reason is that the ballistic nylon works better in rainy conditions and gives slightly better protection/support to a laptop.
More random thoughts...
An example...Today I went out with my wife to run some errands. I took the Far Flung day pack. I stuck a 770mL bottle of water in the mesh holder on the outside, thinking "Maybe this time it'll work." I had to continually take off and put on the backpack since that's the only way to access papers inside, and while I was changing positions on the pack, while crossing a busy intersection (along with the pre-requisite 500 pedestrians all crossing at the same time), the water bottle chooses this time to go flying out of the mesh holder and onto the street, where I had to stop and pick it up, and then shove it, loose, into the main compartment. Then while getting coffee, up at the counter, my pack slipped off my shoulder and down to my wrist when I reached for the tray. I'm beginning to hate that backpack.
I think that Hong Kong is really a good "acid test" for bags and backpacks. Maybe some people here know how crowded it is, maybe not. We're not talking Mayberry here folks, this is Asia...In the US, imagine a tourist spot in your city, or one that you know of; imagine it crowded with a LOT of tourists, say, like on a Saturday afternoon. Now, imagine that number of people moving around you ALL THE TIME, day in and day out, in the entire city (which is one the the biggest, most densely crowded on Earth) morning, noon, and night. I live on a relatively "quiet" street, off one of the main drags. Even at 9 PM, it's still crowded and busy. Do you think that they came up with "people pushers" on the Tokyo subway for fun? It's fairly cool and temperate here right now, for the season. Wait until summer here in Hong Kong, or the Philippines, and there's not a single breath of wind, and the temperatures are in the 80's to the low 100's, and with high humidity.
I look at people here, at what they're carrying nowadays. I've pretty much seen it all now. I've seen girls carrying bags that you'd be lucky to fit a dime into, and then at the opposite end, I've seen women carrying HUGE fashion bags (where you think, "There's a bag walking down the street with a girl attached as an accessory!") that obviously aren't carrying hardly anything. My favorite are the people carrying HUGE, suitcase size bags, made from cheap recyclable plastic from the mainland, with sort of a loud, busy print, and definitely unpadded handles, usually bound up with twine. I've seen (and had to get past) guys no taller than I am, carrying what has to be "Super Ego" sized messenger bags through the crowds (more or less cutting a "swath of destruction" almost in their wake!). I envy and respect the guys that carry a small, "Large or Medium sized Cafe Bag" pouch or satchel, slipping EASILY through the crowds of pedestrians.
For this trip to Shenzen coming up...I have to go do it. I don't need a full blown Aeronaut for the trip, only an everyday bag will suffice. You go early in the morning, most likely by train (probably crowded, which means standing room only). Twenty or thirty minutes in an immigration line, then you have to spend almost the entire day wandering (on foot maybe) around a unfamiliar city, killing time. You could shop for stuff, prices are lower than they are in Hong Kong, but you'd want/need space in a bag to put the things you buy, maybe along with food that you've brought along, clothes if you're spending 1-3 days, and possibly a laptop (in Asia, you'd be crazy to NOT bring it along for safekeeping. You never leave it where you're staying, too much risk of it being stolen) for those doing business or what have you. Oh, and don't forget the bottle of mineral water! It might be hot and you'll get thirsty, and you can't trust the water supply. After spending the day wandering around, then it's back the way you came, repeating the process in reverse.
The Ballistic Nylon is attractive, since I can already see what the bags will have to go through. I've had to climb multiple flights of stairs in older, cramped buildings, been in incredibly small, cramped flats/apartments, where there's multiple people living there, and they've done their own remodeling as they've seen fit, cobbling together rooms haphazardly, with narrow hallways and walkways barely big enough to pass though, let alone with a huge bag. I've talked about brushing walls, barriers, riding crowded buses, trams, subways, taxis. It will get rained on, splattered with mud (and God knows what else in it's lifetime) dirt, sand. The likelihood of it going through a few typhoons is a real possibility, especially if I live in the Philippines (my friend Carlo was literally flooded out of his house in Legazpi City during Typhoon Ebang, and much of his belongings were ruined by water and mud).
In Hong Kong, because of the small size of the apartments/flats, people have small kitchens, and therefore small appliances (refrigerators, stoves, etc. You often find small refrigerators in the front room of a flat!). The people therefore shop daily for food to cook. My wife will shop daily for the Chinese family she works for. You go to an open air market, typically on a crowded, narrow street. She carry's a 13" x 10" x 5" or 15" x 11" x 4" handbag/tote with a zipper top, one pocket on the inside, and short unpadded handles. In it, she'll carry one of those recyclable shopping tote that stores want you to use now. When she makes a purchase, say meat or fish (remember this is Asia, so the meat is at open stalls, cut right there while you wait, and the fish is often live still, in styrofoam containers at the front of the stall. So you're in narrow, crowded conditions, being splashed with water from the fish, blood from the butcherer's, spray from the people cleaning /hosing down the sidewalks with water to the drains. It might be a hot day, and the smell is definitely "different"!) she'll put the meat/fish (in a plastic bag) into the tote, and then finally into her bag. She's been doing it this way for 10 years. I want to get her a LUX or Tote, and me one as well, which can fit into an everyday bag.
I love my wife...One of my favorite things in the evening is to be able to go out for coffee with her to Pacific Coffee (like Starbuck's), and sit and talk to her for relaxation. It would be nice to bring along a laptop, to share YouTube clips with her, or to look at property online, etc. Maybe it's cold, so I need to bring a jacket. I don't have a TV, or stereo in my room. The owner if the house is an older Chinese man, with a Filipina wife. He always watches programs in Cantonese (the dialect spoken pretty much only in Hong Kong), which I don't speak. For peace and quiet, I'm on my laptop, a 13" MacBook, a lot, either emailing, surfing the web (like now for instance!), watching NASA TV online. So my computer is my lifeline, and my sanity. I need it, and need it mobile.
Last night in desperation I was even looking at the Ego! On one of the review sites (I think it was the Gadgeteer, I'm not sure) there was a picture of a 6' 0" ft. guy wearing one, and it seemed big even for him. I wish I was 6' 4" ft., I could just order a Ego or Super Ego and call it a day...Finished. Done. But I'm not. Similarly, I wish I was in Sheboygan, or Duluth, or even Seattle! (In a old film, W.C. Field's is put in front of a firing squad. Before they put on the blindfold, they ask him if he has a last request. He answers "Yes, I'd like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do.") Hopefully you get it. I can't stand constant rainy weather! But I moved to Asia permanently, to live and work. Maybe I need one of those trick bags, like magicians use, or the bag that Mary Poppins uses, the ones you can pull out full length umbrellas, or floor standing lamps, bowling balls, transmission parts, etc.!
I'm not in a nice, happy, tourist area, staying in a nice, quiet, clean hotel for a week and then flying back to Main Street USA. I actually live day to day here in Hong Kong. I didn't come up with my need/wish list for the fun of it, or because I was bored. This is real for me, this is Asia. I am on this site every day, reading reviews, the forums, looking at pictures, hoping something will "click". So far though, nothing has (I keep waiting for Darcy to weigh in and "magically" tell me which bag I need! I'm still waiting!:-). Maybe it just needs to simmer, or percolate a little. Then in a flash of epiphany, I'll have it!
I want to say thanks to all have responded so far, and given their ideas and advice, I really do appreciate it. That is what a good forum should be all about. Back to trying to decide!
Dave in Hong Kong
Dave, just to make matters worse. I am 5'3" and I carry an Ego. I don't feel like I have trouble carrying it for my size.
Thank you Alicia...thank you ever so !@#$% much! :-)
Dave in Hong Kong
It doesn't completely lay flat, though. It kinda bubbles out in front, so you may want to eliminate it just because of that. It might make it harder to stealth your way through crowds.
One thing that should help you is referring back to the pictures of the relative sizes of bags in this thread that I linked earlier. Maverick's first photo shows the Large Cafe Bag, the (old) ID Bag, and the Aeronaut. But the Size 6 Vertical Soft Cell is the one that would fit your MacBook (you might use a horizontal version for an Imago). And the Size 4 Brain Cell in his picture gives you some idea of the thickness of the Brain Cell, and why AVService (in his earlier post to this thread) said:
The Size 5 Brain Cell for the 12" PowerBook is about as thick as the Size 4 (2.5" vs. 2.4"). The Size 6 Brain Cell for the MacBook is slimmer (2.2" external depth). If I use my Imago (with my 12" PB) I use a sleeve -- I don't use the Size 5 Brain Cell, because it does take up a large part of the available depth of the Imago.
Originally Posted by AVService
Also, the reason that the pictures of the ID bag look wider on the side is that many of the people are carrying Brain Cells inside them, and particularly in the older model pictures, those are for slightly wider Brain Cells (but not by much, probably Size 4 Brain Cells in a lot of cases.) You can shorten the center wide strap (pull down below the buckle) to tighten it up if you're carrying less.
Maverick himself uses the (new) Buzz shown in that picture as an everyday bag. That also works surprisingly well, I think -- better than you might imagine, because you can access the front pocket of the Buzz where the pen pockets are by slipping the bag around while it's still on your shoulder. The inside pen pockets are angled, so that when you unzip the front pocket to get to them this way, they're "straight" (if you know what I mean), and under your hand. I don't have much experience with this because I bought the new Buzz in advance of getting a larger Mac laptop, mainly because I wanted to make sure I had my Tom Bihn bag before they sold out! So I haven't used the new Buzz. But I sure loved this about my old Buzz! I'm not sure that this is the everyday bag for you, because the design is deliberately "flatter" to give a close to body profile that works well in crowded situations, but with the diagonally angled "side" the bag is less "stuffable". (Maverick travels to India, I believe. He has commented on using the Buzz as an everyday bag, but hasn't been back to this forum for a week.)
I think the Ego is likely too large to be convenient for your usage. Look again at the relative size pictures in Mavericks many bags photos and at Just's composite bag photo some posts below it. Maybe that will help. And I guess the Buzz might be another possibility at 14 liters, but it's a "flatter" pack (mouse over views a, b, c).
My suggestion to dbradford was to place an order for the bags he's not able to decide between so he can see them in person and send back whichever (unused) bags don't fit his needs. I think that's the only way all questions can be answered and concerns addressed. A few customers do this from time to time and it works well for them.
Maybe you should get two bags? One for everyday use, and a larger one for traveling, etc. Given all your criteria, I think it's gonna be hard for you to find one perfect bag.
Also, how are you going to be carrying these bags, over the shoulder, or messenger-style, across the body? You can probably get away with a bigger bag if you wear it on your back. My girlfriend, who's 5'3" tried on the Ego and while it looks big when she had it on her shoulder, it looked fine when worn on her back.
I think what Darcy suggests is the best idea, assuming you have enough money to spare. Even after reading every review out there and asking questions here, I still couldn't decide between the Ego and Super Ego, so I ordered both. Comparing them side by side really helped me figure which one was right for me (Super Ego, in this case).