Question - Large Cafe Bag
G'day, I've been lurking around for a while and am quite impressed with the positive response that Tom Bihn bags seem to elicit. So, of course, now I've found an excuse to buy one! However, of course nothing's ever easy, particularly when faced with such a wide range of options...
I already have a backpack that meets my backpackery needs (a Deuter Futura 32 - the mesh back is good for airflow, as it can get rather warm here in BrisVegas ), so a messenger/cafe/sling type bag is appealing to me for use on motorbike & for the frequent long distance airline travel I do. My preference is running towards a Large Cafe Bag at the moment, as I like the more vertical form factor. However I have a few questions that I'd appreciate opinions on:
1. I currently have a 12.1" Dell Latitude D400 (11.6" x 9.6" x 1" dimensions) provided by my company. From the info on this site, it seems that the D400 is a good match for the Large Cafe Bag with the size 5 Soft Cell. Question is, I like the Monolith better than the Soft Cell (more flexible, able to be used on its own) - how well would a size 5 Monolith fit into the Large Cafe Bag?
2. I'm likely to get a 15.4" MacBook Pro (14.1" x 9.6" x 1" dimensions - as you can see, the only difference is that it's 2.5" longer than the D400) in the next six months or so (hats off to the dudes who won the Windows On Mac contest recently!). According to the Fit-O-Meter, this needs either a size 4X Monolith or a size 4 Soft Cell. Methinks both of these are a tad large for the Large Cafe Bag. Question is, ARE they too large for the Large Cafe Bag, or will one of them fit? Even if it means the Soft Cell or the Monolith pokes out the top of the Cafe Bag a few inches - I don't mind too much, as long as the Cafe Bag's flap will still close securely.
I've looked at the ID bag, and whilst it seems pretty flash, I really prefer the Cafe Bag setup. That said, don't be afraid to tell me that I'm a nong and that Bag X is exactly right for me.
I generally would carry the laptop, a paperback or magazine, my iMate Jasjar PDA/Phone, the power brick for the laptop and a few small odds and sods. If I need to carry more than that, it's backpack time.
If the Large Cafe Bag will work, I'll almost certainly also get the waist strap, as a number of bike/motorbike/scooter riders here in the forums seem to recommend it.
I'll be in Seattle over the next couple of weeks - is it worth visiting the Seattle shop and checking things out there in person? I fear for my credit card if I do turn up in person...
Apologies for the chapter of War And Peace, I'm currently procrastinating rather than packing for my trip .
Last edited by Cods; 03-30-2006 at 06:29 AM.
I can't answer your questions, but If you have the chance I'd reccomend going to the shop. If your like me then it's hard to get a good understanding of what the bag is like from pictures and what you can stuff in it.
Thanks renegadeot, I reckon I'll do just that - thanks for the reply!
Just thought I'd follow up my initial post after visiting the Tom Bihn store in Seattle. Up front, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, it was a really pleasant experience. Thanks for being patient and helping me with all my dumb questions!
I ended up with the Large Cafe Bag in Olive/Steel (Olive/Wasabi wasn't on hand in the store), and I've been using it over the past few days - it's brilliant! Construction quality is top-notch, styling is cool - basically, it's a sweet bit of kit.
I took my Dell Latitude D400 (dimensions etc in my earlier post) and checked the fit in a size 5 Soft Cell - perfect. With the D400 in the Soft Cell, the Large Cafe Bag closes correctly with no distortion, and there's still enough room for the power supply, a full size mouse, a size #2 Outdoor Research back country organiser pouch (from their shop underneath Tom Bihn - full of PC cards, memory cards, bluetooth headset, USB cables, headphones etc - roughly the same size as the Tom Bihn Snake Charmer but full of little compartments), full-size MS IntelliMouse, PDA/phone, 5" x 10" x 1" zip up travel folder (passport, airline tickets etc), paperback book, two large magazines, wallet, keys and assorted other odds and ends. It's full, but not at all distorted, distended or fat. Extremely impressive. I also bought the waist strap, which works well.
I also took the opportunity to check out how the Large Cafe Bag would fit a size 4X Soft Cell, just in case I do end up getting the MacBook Pro (again, dimensions in my first post). Using a handy basically-the-same-dimensions-as-a-MacBook Pro sized textbook inside the 4X Soft Cell (thanks again to the friendly staff member working on Tuesday afternoon, sorry I didn't catch your name!), I didn't think it would work, as the size 4X Soft Cell is a full inch taller than the size 5 (although it's not wider nor deeper). However, we were both pleasantly surprised - a fit, just! Remembering that nowhere does this site claim the size 4X fits in the Cafe Bag - this is just my impression.
With a MacBook Pro inside a size 4X Soft Cell, I reckon there would still be room for other gear, but probably not quite as much as with a D400 inside a size 5 Soft Cell. The main reason is that the bag only just clips shut, as the clip on the flap and the clip on the body of the Large Cafe Bag are both fixed length. Hence the bag is slightly stretched vertically, which leaves less depth. A quick mod (not by me, I can sew about as well as I can be succinct...) to either slightly lengthen the short piece of webbing that attaches the flap to the flap clip, or to allow an adjustable length flap clip, and all would/will be sweet. If I end up with the MacBook Pro, I think I would get this minor mod done. Perhaps an adjustable length flap clip strap might be an idea for v2 of the Cafe Bags, but then again I think that most people would be very happy with them as they are.
I also bought a cocoa/wasabi Small Cafe Bag and a medium organiser pouch as a present for my wife - I'm sure she's going to be a big fan. Wasabi is a nice colour.
Anyway, here endeth the second chapter of War & Peace. Suffice to say - I'm stoked with the Large Cafe Bag for my current setup, and am confident that if I upgrade my laptop, it'll work just as well with that. Very nice. Highly recommended.
So glad the Cafe Bag is working out for you!
It's was fun seeing how much we could stuff into the bag, and good to know that the 4x Soft Cell will work in there if need be. I agree that it would be nice to have a bit of an extension on the clip or strap to accomodate a bit larger items. Perhaps a modification for the future.
Thanks for stoppin by and checkin us out! Hope the rest of your stay in Seattle is enjoyable!
TB Showroom Associate
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