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  1. #1
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    Feb 2015
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    Can't decide between small and medium cafe bag

    I currently use a Patagonia MiniMass as my everyday bag, with an REI Sukha wallet that fills all of my wallet stuff and my phone quite nicely.

    I was trying to find a nice, smaller bag for those occasions when I don't want to take my MiniMass with me but I want more than just my wallet (bringing my Kindle Paperwhite while waiting for a movie to start at the theater, having a smaller back that doesn't take up so much room in a crowded restaurant, etc). So my original plan was to get the SCB, which I thought would have room for my wallet, Kindle, and a few other necessities.

    However, I'm starting to worry that maybe I'll like the SCB so much that I'll want to start using it as my everyday bag instead. Problem is, I'm kind of a packrat, and I'm pretty sure the SCB would fill up really fast if I started using it for everyday use. I can't really afford to buy both the SCB and the MCB, so this is what I'm wondering:

    If my intent is to use the SCB for quick errands, and I ended up getting the MCB, would it be too big? Looking at the dimensions of it, the MCB is about the same size as my MiniMass, only not as deep.

    If I'm really looking for a smaller bag, is the SCB small enough while still being able to hold a decent amount of stuff? (If I get a TB bag, I may also consider switching out my wallet for some organizer pouches instead, since I'm really starting to like this whole "clip everything to O-rings" concept, and that may save some space.)

    Any advice would be very much appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Welcome! While the SCB does hold a ton of stuff, it's not that huge, meaning I don't know that you need to worry about it becoming a burden to you if it's full. In my opinion the MCB would be overkill just to run errands; I use it primarily when I travel. Have you considered the Side Effect? It won't fit your Kindle but for errands it's perfect (and is great for organization)! You could always get both the Side Effect and a SCB , that's what I would do!

  3. #3
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    Is it true that the Side Effect won't handle an Kindle Paperwhite? I use mine all the time with my Kindle Keyboard, and it goes in fine, though without a lot of headroom to spare. I don't know how the dimensions compare, but my impression was that the Paperwhite is no bigger and possibly smaller than a Kindle Keyboard.

    I love using the Side Effect as a minimal carry bag and use it almost every day in that way, sometimes tucking it 'marsupial style' into a larger bag, other times all by its bitty self. It also makes a terrific easy-access airplane companion--I bring it onboard tucked in my larger 'personal item,' then take it out for easy access during the flight, worn cross-body or tucked in those new net pouches that have replaced seat-back storage. It holds my wallet, my Kindle, my smartphone and charging cord, my passport, noise cancelling earbuds, my Ipod Nano, a tiny notepad and a couple of pens, and my 'comfort stuff'--lipbalm, a snack-sized baggie of wipes, a pillpouch with my meds, a few coughdrops, etc. It's a tight fit when I'm traveling, but it's so much easier than trying to pretzel myself into position to access my personal item under the seat.

    I have a Small Café bag, too, but the Side Effect is the one I find myself reaching for most often as a mini EDC.
    Last edited by flitcraft; 02-08-2015 at 12:20 PM. Reason: typos!!
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
    Is it true that the Side Effect won't handle an Kindle Paperwhite? I use mine all the time with my Kindle Keyboard, and it goes in fine, though without a lot of headroom to spare. I don't know how the dimensions compare, but my impression was that the Paperwhite is no bigger and possibly smaller than a Kindle Keyboard.

    I love using the Side Effect as a minimal carry bag and use it almost every day in that way, sometimes tucking it 'marsupial style' into a larger bag, other times all by its bitty self. It also makes a terrific easy-access airplane companion--I bring it onboard tucked in my larger 'personal item,' then take it out for easy access during the flight, worn cross-body or tucked in those new net pouches that have replaced seat-back storage. It holds my wallet, my Kindle, my smartphone and charging cord, my passport, noise cancelling earbuds, my Ipod Nano, a tiny notepad and a couple of pens, and my 'comfort stuff'--lipbalm, a snack-sized baggie of wipes, a pillpouch with my meds, a few coughdrops, etc. It's a tight fit when I'm traveling, but it's so much easier than trying to pretzel myself into position to access my personal item under the seat.

    I have a Small Café bag, too, but the Side Effect is the one I find myself reaching for most often as a mini EDC.
    @flitcraft, I use my Side Effect to carry the Kindle PaperWhite all the time -- in fact, it also sits in my Side Effect beside a larger iPad Mini in case. (The picture below is from my old post in the Side Effect is a good match for iPad min thread. This doesn't work using a Ballistic Nylon Side Effect.)



    @dw124, There are numerous threads asking about using the Small vs the Medium Cafe bag. Try taking a look at the pictures in the SCB or MCB for sightseeing? (or another bag?) thread, for example. Or, we can try to do a test pack of your items in each bag and post pictures.

    HTH moriond

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    @flitcraft, I use my Side Effect to carry the Kindle PaperWhite all the time -- in fact, it also sits in my Side Effect beside a larger iPad Mini in case. (The picture below is from my old post in the Side Effect is a good match for iPad min thread. This doesn't work using a Ballistic Nylon Side Effect.)



    @dw124, There are numerous threads asking about using the Small vs the Medium Cafe bag. Try taking a look at the pictures in the SCB or MCB for sightseeing? (or another bag?) thread, for example. Or, we can try to do a test pack of your items in each bag and post pictures.

    HTH moriond
    I'm glad that I was wrong about the Kindle not fitting. That makes the Side Effect an even better option! -- Holly

  6. #6
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    I was occasionally using a Patagonia Minimass (older version) before I converted to Tom Bihn, and I would estimate that the TB MCB is closest size wise to the Minimass. While my first TB bag was a S19, I have been using the MCB as an every day carry bag recently, and I have been extremely happy with the size, though I will admit to being a bit of a pack rat. I appreciate the fact that it can easily swallow a water bottle, empty shop bag, and the miscellaneous odds and ends I have. I just purchased a SCB, and I am very keen on its more streamlined, compact size, but I have found that some of the things that I would normally add to my MCB do not fit as easily in the SCB with the normal daily items I carry (a water bottle is difficult and a shop bag has to go on the exterior pocket). If you are a more minimalist packer, or you really do want a smaller alternative to your Minimass, a SCB may be perfect for you, as it easily fits a Kindle and odds and ends. I like having extra space...just in case. I took a few comparative photos of the 2, plus I added in a bonus photo of my MCB with my older Minimass. The size is almost the same, just the orientation is different. I will admit that this past week I used my Minimass for a meeting, since I am waiting on a dyneema DLBC, and I really, really missed being able to clip my pouches in, and I immediately switched my items back the next day.

    Just my thoughts.

    Can't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2447-jpgCan't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2448-jpgCan't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2449-jpgCan't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2450-jpgCan't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2451-jpgCan't decide between small and medium cafe bag-img_2452-jpg
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  7. #7
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    Hi dw124,

    Here's a photo of my MCB as my EDC. It's big enough to hold a file folder or small binder, which is what I needed. Easily holds an iPad Mini or regular iPad, I'd expect.

    http://forums.tombihn.com/photos-vid...html#post89289

    Maybe that'll help you decide.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2012
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    I was also a regular MiniMass user before switching to various TB bags like the MCB, Pilot, and DLBC or some combination of those for laptop and work papers plus wallet and other daily stuff. Even if the capacity of the MiniMass is comparable to that of the MCB, the MiniMass holds 8.5x11 papers, magazines, file folders, and an 11-inch laptop, none of which I can fit in my MCB without bending (haha not laptop).

    SCB can hold the daily essentials, but if you might acquire stuff over the course of a day/errands - like a scarf, mail, granola bar, or small water bottle, then the MCB would have more flex space. I am curious what you end up deciding.

  9. #9
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    I use a SCB for my EDC. I was torn between the small and medium too, but by your own admission you're a packrat, so the dimensions of the SCB might be a bit of a squeeze.

    I'm not a packrat and prefer to carry only what's necessary, but I find that the SCB can be a bit of a nuisance access-wise if it's stuffed with things. I think the medium sounds like a better fit for you since you can only by one. I would like a medium too, but I'm waiting to see what the redesigned Swift is going to look like first.

    *Forgot to mention, I do use the clip in organizer wallet, and other pouches for things like makeup, coupons etc. I don't use a wallet with my SCB, though there's definitely room.

  10. #10
    Forum Member Ca1i's Avatar
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    I agree with dreamer. I have a SBC and although I love the size for looks/carrying, the inside is difficult for me to make best use of. My problem is that the internal open "pockets" are rather large for the size of the bag and it seems that anything I try to put into the bag gets hung up on them...especially my wallet. So I'm forever having to move bits aside to get the flap to close. I am debating a MCB...or maybe a new smaller wallet :-).
    Last edited by Ca1i; 02-15-2015 at 01:15 PM.

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