View Full Version : Cafe Bag - Initial Reaction and Question

08-13-2004, 05:47 AM
I just got my cafe bag and it exceeds my expectations, which were pretty high after all the nice things I've heard about Tom Bihn's bags. What I really like a lot is that the fabric the bag is made of is relatively soft to the touch -- much more so than most ballistic bags. It also seems sturdy.

One question and this is probably a stupid question but I'm going to ask it anyway ;) Holding the bag with the buckle facing me, on the outside of the bag along the right seam is a small loop. What's it for? How do people use it as a practical matter.

The bag is just the right size for trips to Starbucks with a book, cell phone and small digicam and even an iPod.

And it doesn't look like a purse, which was important to me.

I have other bags on order and hope they are as nice as this little bag. This bag really fits with 21st century needs.

08-13-2004, 07:41 AM
I've been using a Cafe-like bag (Eagle Creek) for the last couple of years, and I just ordered a small Cafe Bag from TB to replace it.

I can't imagine what the small hook or loop is for, but I want to reiterate that guys more and more need such a bag, and that such a need is indeed part of living in the 21st century.

My dad, who is otherwise a nice, computer-literate, industrial engineer in the Midwest, made a crack about my "purse" the other day while we were visiting him. I showed him all the stuff my bag carries--keys, shades, wallet, digital camera, travel binoculars, etc.--and I think he quickly wised up to the need for such a bag. I like pockets, but it gets old feeling all those lumpy things against your body, and how dorky the lumps look. Face it, humans have always needed to carry our tools and objects. Even those frozen guys they chip out of European glaciers now and then carried small bags full of arrow points, wooden toothpicks, wool hats, etc.

Living in the 21st Century in the industrialized coutries usually means carrying keys, plastic cards, and digital tools (and a Swiss Army Knife) at a minimum, and T. Bihn is smart to recognize this and to build a quality bag to carry this stuff.

08-13-2004, 08:51 AM
Interesting post Steve. My Cafe Bag is my first bag for carrying stuff around when I'm not working.

I can really relate to what you said about pockets. I like to have my digital camera with me most of the time and don't really like a mobile phone on my belt all the time. I frequently like having a book or a magazine and my reading glasses (I am at that age -- what can I say). I just kind of held as much as I could at first and then shoved it into my pockets and then got pants with "Cargo" pockets. As you point out the pockets bulge and it really isn't comfortable. The key is having a bag that isn't too big or too small. And it shouldn't look like a purse. I hope others agree with you that the CB doesn't look like a purse.

There was a time not long ago when I felt a man should have just one bag. But this never worked for me and I felt guilty about it. That now seems silly. There are some things I want to take back and forth between my home and my office -- and some days I take more than others. There are times when I travel and I want certain things with me on the plane. And there are evenings and weekends when I need a small bag like the CB for those times. Or am I just rationalizing my love for bags?

I've been wondering why bags seem so important to me. I now think I know why. They carry the possessions I value so highly that I want them with me much of the time. These include my iPod, my PowerBook, a good book, a digital camera, my keys and other things. It's not a long list but daily life wouldn't be as much fun without them.

As the things I want to carry change the type of bag I need also changes. A year and half ago I didn't own an iPod or a computer small enough to take places. I got my first digicam about a year ago.

Companies like TB that make nicely designed bags to carry my most important possessions provide a valuable service.

08-13-2004, 11:17 AM
Perhaps the more interesting question is: Are we what we carry?

As the world turns ever faster and more digital toys are offered for our ever-more or less discriminating consumption, and as what we buy and use becomes more an everyday part of our busy lives, the bags we use to carry them equally become more important. I used to pride myself on my utility, my simplicity, my toughness, and I only carried rrying a Swiss Army Knife and a wallet everywhere. I owned maybe three keys. As time went by, it grew to a PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a fancy pen, and all the necessary chargers, business cards, pieces of paper, etc. (I don't even know what an iPod is!) Now, occasionally, I carry a laptop and all ITS paraphenalia, and even a bunch of bicycle crap. So much for simplicity!

Nevertheless, a well-designed ANYTHING built by well-paid, adult hands is often a thing of functional beauty. Tom's bags seem to be very cleverly styled too so that middle-aged white guys like me can carry them w/o feeling like a damned fool.

08-13-2004, 11:53 AM
Originally posted by dcphotoguy
Holding the bag with the buckle facing me, on the outside of the bag along the right seam is a small loop. What's it for? How do people use it as a practical matter.

There should be two of those loops on both sides, right? Those loops are for the optional waist strap to attach.

Tom was featured in a documentary a long time ago (when he had his store in Santa Cruz) called "Portable Portraits". The filmmaker interviewed a variety of people -- a professor, a bike messenger, a 9 year old girl -- about what they carry inside their bags. It was a pretty cool idea. You can tell a lot about a person by their bags and what they carry in them.

08-13-2004, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by Darcy
There should be two of those loops on both sides, right? Those loops are for the optional waist strap to attach.

Thanks Darcy. There are two loops. Thanks for the explanation.

08-13-2004, 12:04 PM
Originally posted by Steve
Are we what we carry?


That's a great question. I sure hope we're not what we carry. At the same time the inventions I carry and the old (like books) are worth carrying because they add a lot to my life.

I agree with Darcy that you can tell a lot about a person by what they carry and what they carry it in. The outside reflects the inside -- at least that's what I think.

An iPod is the world's best portable music player. If you like having music when you're not at home or in your car the iPod is perfect. Just go to www.apple.com Of all my possessions the iPod is number 1.


08-13-2004, 12:12 PM
The iPod is wonderful.

Especially when paired with the Tivoli Audio Pal (http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/000468.php).

08-13-2004, 12:20 PM

I've never heard the Tivoli Audio PAL. Do you have one? Does it really sound good with just one speaker?


08-17-2004, 02:43 PM
I just got it today. I'd read so many glowing reviews of the PAL that I thought it HAD to be wonderful, but I'm not very impressed with the sound when I hook my iPod up to it.

I guess if you want a fairly weatherproof and very portable radio that sounds great AM/FM but not so great when you hook up an iPod or discman to it, then it'd be a really good purchase.

But I'll probably end up getting some nice speakers for $40.00 less.

Originally posted by dcphotoguy

I've never heard the Tivoli Audio PAL. Do you have one? Does it really sound good with just one speaker?


08-17-2004, 02:50 PM
The PAL looks cool. I listen to a lot of music with my iPod and good headphones. I also use a small portable amplifier (about the size of the iPod) when I am not moving around. The iPod sounds great through good headphones and even better with a small amp. But to equal that sound using speakers would in my opinion cost thousands of dollars -- literally. It's one thing to create great sound through headphones and quite another to create great sound a group of people can hear and enjoy.

Can you send it back?

08-17-2004, 03:00 PM
I have some Monsoon speakers for my computer at work, and the iPod sounds good through them - a lot better than through the Pal, but of course not as great as a proper stereo system, which is beyond my budget right now.

It's just so disappointing to buy a product that's supposed to be that cool and have it not be! I mean, check out these reviews... (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002HA7OK/qid=1092783659/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1_etk-electronics/002-2583191-6407247?v=glance&s=electronics&n=172282)

I will send it back....although I think someone here at the office ran off with the box it came in.

08-18-2004, 06:08 AM
It is disappointing Darcy. The quality of sound is very personal. In the end you have to trust your own ears. I hope you find the box so you can send it back. Unless we try new things we will never know. :)

08-19-2004, 04:01 AM
Darcy --

A new product is coming that allows you to plug your iPod into a boom box. Here is the link:


We'll have to see how it sounds but it looks cool.


09-03-2004, 06:57 AM
Or the JBL OnStage (http://www.jbl.com/home/products/product_detail.asp?ProdId=ONSTAGE&SerId=HMM&sCatId=), which looks pretty neat. Won a MacWorld Best of Show award.