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View Full Version : Which is the best man-bag???



MagicTiki
12-02-2009, 07:41 PM
Fellow Bihn Addicts, I come to you to help me with a problem.

I strongly believe that I need a man bag (or man purse, or murse) for use on a regular basis to carry my day-to-day stuff. I have no issues with carrying one, but my wife and teenage daughter firmly disagree. They claim that most man-bags are too feminine and purse-ey.

I have tried my ID, which I love dearly and serves me well as my work briefcase... but it's a might too big for day trips when you just need the basics (phone, sunglasses, sketchbook, maybe a water bottle, and assorted sundries). I would love to get your thoughts on an appropriate bag for these occasions, and a color scheme that I can convince my ladies passes the "manly" test.

We did order a small cafe bag in black at one point, but my wife felt it looked too much like a purse. I have heard differently about the larger cafe bags, though... and I have seen some recent pics of the Imago that look sharp.

Any thoughts or recommendations? Any suggestions (or moral support) would be appreciated! :)

keb
12-02-2009, 08:30 PM
There was a thread a while back about this very debate. I use a small rugged backpack for those days so I can hang wet board shorts off of it and put a diving watch around a strap to make it look more manly. Got a navy synapse to take its place but it is so neat looking I'm not sure it is even manly enough. The bottom line is that any bag with a shoulder strap that isn't clearly a work/function bag like a large messenger or camera bag, or a briefcase like the Zephyr or EB, is a tough sell...

If I am not mistaken, Maverick will definitely jump in in defense of the large cafe bag, which he always has in pictures. When not on the shoulder it is manly enough. I, like you I am sure, am secure enough with my manliness to use a man bag, of course. Having said that, ("Curb" fans...), I don't have one because I think once I wore it on my shoulder my 15-year old daughter would be, in her text language, LHAO....

dbradford
12-02-2009, 09:03 PM
I've got the Large Cafe Bag in Navy/Cayenne as my everyday carry, and it works for me. The Black is a little boring for me, while the Blue is still a masculine looking bag, but adds a little color. I prefer the LCB, as it has pen slots.

Heidi Jill
12-02-2009, 09:44 PM
How about the Imago in a "manly" color? It's the only bag I've used since I bought it in August. It can hold a lot or just a wallet and it looks fine either way. I think the shape, orientation and slightly larger size make it more appropriate for a guy than any of the Cafe bags.

Then again, I'm not a guy, so what do I know? ;-)

Heidi Jill
12-02-2009, 09:47 PM
Tried to edit my response, but failed!

Wanted to say: No offense intended to all you guys who carry Cafe bags! As long as you are happy and comfortable with your bag, that's all that really matters!

ex machina
12-02-2009, 10:36 PM
Tried to edit my response, but failed!

Wanted to say: No offense intended to all you guys who carry Cafe bags! As long as you are happy and comfortable with your bag, that's all that really matters!

No worries, Heidi Jill. I have both and often carry them together. :cool:

backpack
12-02-2009, 10:38 PM
I think that a Imago would be perfect as would be a Large Cafe Bag.

Both would be most likely to pass the family test with flying color. You might even loose them if the color is found suitable by your teenage daughter.

In France, men used to carry bags that were the size of the Small or Medium Cafe Bag and it looked fine.


It is all about scale, if you are 7 feet tall or slightly under, don't wear a Small Cafe Bag, if it would make you self conscious but, frankly, this is a great bag for stroll biking, (you know the kind you do when the whole family with Toddler and Grandma on tricycle, Mom and Dad on cruisers get passed by joggers) :)

Frank II
12-02-2009, 11:15 PM
I'm going to weigh in on this since I posted a similar question awhile back.

While these bags are popular in Europe, they haven't really caught on here. (Have you seem the Progressive Insurance commercial that makes fun of them?)


Here's what I found:

Very few bags for men are vertical. Horizontal is more common.

Your age matters. Younger men can get away with it more than older.

Darker colors are better.

The bigger, the better. It really needs to almost pass as a laptop case.

I have a bag that's about the same size as the Medium Cafe bag. It looks ridiculous on me (I'm a fairly big guy.) I need something bigger if I want to carry a bag.

For around town use, I got a "Side Effect." Works fine for what I need and I was surprised how much it can hold. (Don't even think of using it as a shoulder bag...not in Philly.) Waist packs are still fine to use in the U.S.

When I have to carry my netbook, I have a different laptop bag or I use a backpack.

BTW, a backpack like the Synapse, in a darker color, would be fine.

maverick
12-03-2009, 02:53 AM
I strongly believe that I need a man bag (or man purse, or murse) for use on a regular basis to carry my day-to-day stuff.

...for day trips when you just need the basics (phone, sunglasses, sketchbook, maybe a water bottle, and assorted sundries).


hi bob!

i think you can definitely use a medium or large cafe bag, as per your preference, to accommodate the items you describe. you could also use the imago if you prefer - the size is similar to a large cafe bag, but in a horizontal rather than vertical orientation.

as far as comments about a purse, there are people who think that way. my personal approach is to do what i am comfortable with, and i am completely fine carrying a cafe bag, imago, and every other bag that tom has designed.

my large cafe bag is plum/wasabi, my medium is navy/cayenne, and my small is black/cayenne.

it's up to you to decide what you feel is right for you. but i personally don't think that any of the bags that tom bihn offers would be classified as being only for women.

rabergnc
12-03-2009, 04:07 AM
While it is a computer bag, you can always consider a Ristretto (and not put a computer in it!). I've used one since it was introduced and have never been challenged on it. (I am an older fart -mid-50s.) I swap it out with an ID depending on my mood and needs.

You might also take a look at SF Bags Musetto - a kind of Ristretto clone using leather. It looks like a nice bag but I prefer the Ristretto. All in all, I do think it boils down to feeling comfortable with yourself.

MtnMan
12-03-2009, 07:57 AM
I hope this isn't too off-the-wall, but if masculinity is at the core of what kind of bag you carry, then maybe the best "man bag" is really a backpack, like the Ruk's Sack or Synapse. Think about it: you have great capacity, you can still wear it on only one shoulder whenever you want to, both shoulders as well, and your other male friends won't snicker when they see you with it. The Ruk's Sack is only $70 to boot. Some people might look upon a backpack as being too studentish, but Bihn offers such a variety that there's bound to be one you'll get comfortable with.

PM4HIRE
12-03-2009, 08:58 AM
I don't give a damn what people think, so my bag is a small TB Cafe bag. My masculinity has nothing to do with what I buy, PERIOD!!!

KarlJ
12-03-2009, 09:51 AM
I don't give a damn what people think, so my bag is a small TB Cafe bag. My masculinity has nothing to do with what I buy, PERIOD!!!

FINALLY!!!

Hear, Hear... pip pip, and right on, Tom! And you put it a little more nicely than I would. Large Cafe bag, here.

MagicTiki
12-03-2009, 10:09 AM
LOL! And thus ends the debate. ;-)

Thanks for your thoughts and comments, everyone! Very helpful! I will take these back to my ladies, and see what they think!

--Bob

Shiva
12-03-2009, 11:35 AM
HeyMagicTiki:

Just saw the thread! I think vertical bags are very popular in Europe...where presumably men are more "sensible" and less "masculine" (I hope you know I am being facetious!)--I just wish men would carry bags so that we women don't have to carry all the excess flow which is what happens in my experience!!! With larger and larger car key fobs, phones, ipods, and all the other gadgetry, it is too much for pockets. The Territory Ahead makes some smaller vertical bags that have a different appeal, although they are simply not as well made or thoughtful as TB bags. Waterfield Designs has some nice vertical bags (called Vertigos) which would do the job too!

shiva

BPritchard
12-03-2009, 06:39 PM
Indicates that one is ready to combat the busy day!

ozone
12-12-2009, 10:09 PM
I too started a thread about this about 6 months ago. I have a large Cafe Bag in green which I use regularly. I also had it pick pocketed in Montreal over the summer, so that was another thread too... (argghhh). My suggestion? Get a smaller bag and lock it to the inside of the Cafe Bag, preferably with the smaller bag's zipper locked shut too in high petty crime areas.

The Cafe Bag will probably serve you in 70% of the situations: going about town, day-to-day work, etc. If you get it in black, you can probably cover about 80% to 90% of your situations simply because black is a bit boring, but it goes better if you're in more formal attire.

But to be honest, if you need a very classic looking man-bag for formal/semi-formal occasions, you might have to up your game to something in leather, such as a satchel from Saddleback Leather Company. I don't own one, but they do look classic in that sense. Of course, they're much heavier and I'm not sure as convenient when traveling as a TB Cafe Bag (which I can always collapse into my Aeronaut).

Good luck, and let us know what you get!

Frank II
12-13-2009, 04:00 AM
That's why I suggest putting a Side Effect inside the large cafe bag and connect it with a key strap. For a number of reasons:

1) When traveling for leisure purposes and you go someplace, like a museum where you are forced to check your "larger" bags, all your ""valuables" can be in the Side Effect. Out it comes and goes around your waist until you leave the museum. No need to worry about your "stuff's" safety while checked;

2) If you should be the victim of a theft, it would be difficult for the thief to get their hand into the cafe bag and steal the Side Effect if it is attached or even open it.Too much work and it will take too long--long enough for you to realize what is happening.

3) If you're in an area where they cut open bags hoping to scoop up what falls to the ground, well, the Side Effect will drop down but not to the ground thanks to the key strap. This could even be doubled in safety by attaching the side effect with two key straps, one on each side.

You might ask what goes in my Side Effect--cellphone, battery charger, camera (If I'm carrying one), Ipod (if I decide to have it with me), Tom Bihn wallet (attached to O-rings inside the Side Effect).

Passport (if overseas), credit cards, debit cards, Id's, additional cash are in a moneybelt under my clothes.

ex machina
12-13-2009, 04:24 AM
3) If you're in an area where they cut open bags hoping to scoop up what falls to the ground...

...It's probably time to move. :P

Another idea is to use a Dyneema Stuff Sack, solid, NO clear bottom, as a liner for the bag. The Dyneema is rip stopped, slash resistant, and you can keystrap it to the bag as well.

pretzelb
12-14-2009, 11:59 AM
This reminds me of a current Progressive Insurance commercial where a man and women ask the agent for insurance and she makes a comment about "no more carrying her purse" to which the wife replies "It's a European shoulder bag" and the husband says "It was a gift" and slightly points his eyes to his wife. I do like that commercial because the poor guy is so beaten down. And I'm sorry, but he IS carrying a purse.

To the question, I would recommend the Imago with a dark color and the cross chest strap. When I wear it across my chest it's more of a backpack. I only wish I mine was in a dark neutral color.

I do think any backpack is certainly a "manly" choice. But I find them better for hauling then I do for quick access.

I also think to be safest you need a dark neutral color. Almost anything in black is manly.

Maybe I'm too closed minded but from my observations on how things look on me the key is having the bag more on the back then on the side or hip, unless it's a briefcase.

MagicTiki
12-14-2009, 06:54 PM
This reminds me of a current Progressive Insurance commercial where a man and women ask the agent for insurance and she makes a comment about "no more carrying her purse" to which the wife replies "It's a European shoulder bag" and the husband says "It was a gift" and slightly points his eyes to his wife. I do like that commercial because the poor guy is so beaten down. And I'm sorry, but he IS carrying a purse.

To the question, I would recommend the Imago with a dark color and the cross chest strap. When I wear it across my chest it's more of a backpack. I only wish I mine was in a dark neutral color.

I do think any backpack is certainly a "manly" choice. But I find them better for hauling then I do for quick access.

I also think to be safest you need a dark neutral color. Almost anything in black is manly.

Maybe I'm too closed minded but from my observations on how things look on me the key is having the bag more on the back then on the side or hip, unless it's a briefcase.

That commercial makes me laugh any time I see it!

I think quick access is the key. I am still up in the air about the imago or large cafe bag, but one of them will be the final winner, methinks! I'm leaning towards the large cafe bag, because I like the look.

Thank you for the input!

pretzelb
12-25-2009, 08:58 AM
I think quick access is the key.

Quick access is a tough issue. I don't have the large Cafe bag but with the Imago I struggle at times between it being very quick access and not at all. How? For me it's all on how it's worn.

With the standard strap it would hang low and was easy to access but it was driving me crazy for walks with the dog. Having the bag loose down low it would bump and move all over the place. So I got the QAM strap to I could cinch it to my back. This was great but when it came time to get a dog treat I found it annoying. The QAM was shorter and didn't fall as low. So when it's loose I find it still too high to access without reaching up or bending at my elbow or raising my shoulder. Now it's not horrible but it is a bit annoying at times. I also find it hard to open the bag and see at the same time with that strap on. Then again my torso is long and I'm normally with one or two dogs at the time so it's awkward to begin with.

Ken
12-26-2009, 04:36 PM
I have an Imago that is all black with no accent color that I like to use. Nobody has ever made any comments to me, but I always seem to have some kind of camera bag or brief with me. Although, when I travel to the midwest to see family, many family members always wonder why I have to carry any bag with me. Prior to my Imago, my grab bag was a small Domke satchel in light gray canvas. Its a great bag, especially for my camera gear, when I want to travel light, and I use it or my Imago, depending on my needs.


--Ken

BJ Nemeth
12-28-2009, 03:24 PM
I use my Ristretto (olive/cayenne) as a daypack, and I've never felt like my masculinity was taking a hit. Of course, it's usually carrying a MacBook Air, but most people who see me don't know that. I think the fact that it looks taller and less square than the Large Cafe Bag makes it a bit more masculine. (I say this only based on the website; I've never seen any of the Cafe Bags in person.)

If the Ristretto isn't your thing, then I'd consider the ID messenger bag or the Zephyr briefcase -- I think both look pretty masculine. (I never had the ID, but I did have a Super Ego back when carried a lot more stuff.)

Another pack I'd consider (depending on your age) is the Buzz slingpack. I think it would look more appropriate on a young person, but I don't think anyone would find it feminine. Seems like it should hold everything you need.

To be honest, most days I go bagless. (Shocking, I know!) I keep my wallet in one back pocket, my Field Notes notebook in the other, keys and Fisher Space Pen in a front pocket, and iPhone in the other. If I have a drink bottle with me, I carry it in my hand. I'm not suggesting this for you, but keep in mind that if you have room in a bag, you'll be tempted to fill it. It might be worth a thought experiment to think in the other direction about the possibility of carrying less with you most days. Could you get by with less?

For example, your sketchbook might be able to fit in a large, zippered Trapper Keeper-like case. (I used to have something like this in my pre-Tom Bihn days.) You could put one or two Tom Bihn pouches inside to hold some of the smaller things you carry. There are two potential problems with this for you: No place for a water bottle, and it will need to be held in a hand rather than by a shoulder strap. Definitely looks masculine though -- you'll look like an artist or a writer. (Which you may already be.)

I've never seen one in person, and wouldn't judge any man carrying one, but the Imago looks feminine to me. That's a shame, because in a perfect world where I could walk around 100% judgment-free, I'd carry a cocoa or olive Imago most of the time. It seems like it would be the perfect bag for those computer-free days.

Ken
12-28-2009, 03:50 PM
I've never seen one in person, and wouldn't judge any man carrying one, but the Imago looks feminine to me. That's a shame, because in a perfect world where I could walk around 100% judgment-free, I'd carry a cocoa or olive Imago most of the time. It seems like it would be the perfect bag for those computer-free days.

This is one reason why I prefer my solid black Imago (it was a prototype without the accent panel) - it looks like a small messenger bag. While I do not know if I would call the Imago's design feminine, my preference is for a solid-color bag without lines. I guess I am just not a fan of the two-tone look and accent panel on the flap of the bag.

--Ken

MagicTiki
12-28-2009, 06:36 PM
I've never seen one in person, and wouldn't judge any man carrying one, but the Imago looks feminine to me. That's a shame, because in a perfect world where I could walk around 100% judgment-free, I'd carry a cocoa or olive Imago most of the time. It seems like it would be the perfect bag for those computer-free days.

I have an ID, and I have been considering the Imago for this very reason: on days when you don't need a LOT of stuff, the Imago still has the same organization and form-function as the ID in a slightly smaller package.

I think color combinations really are a matter of personal style. I love my ID in the black/steel/cayenne combo. I'll have to go look at some of the Imago photos and see what color combos catch my eye...

crpeck
12-29-2009, 08:50 PM
Up until recently I used to tote a bag, I'd carry my kindle, ipod, cell, water bottle and a few other items (small 1st aid kit, granola bars, etc). About a month ago I bought a ScottEVest jacket to try out for a few days - well - no more bag for me - it all fits in the jacket/vest now. You could even fit a laptop in it if you wanted to (that's a bit much though).
Sorry to post a competing product line, but, these things are pretty incredible. I still use & love my Bihn bags for traveling though.

ex machina
12-29-2009, 11:54 PM
Hi crpeck, welcome to the forum. That is an interesting product line, though I don't see it as competitive with the Tom Bihn lines. Apples or oranges will solve your hunger. It's a matter of preference. Very different approach to solving luggage needs. Years ago I used to use a vest with lots of pockets, and the new low profile pockets seem intriguing. But I don't see myself using them instead of my bags. I do see that such a garment could be useful at times, more as a compliment to my bags, not as a replacement. I guess everyone's mileage would vary on this. Thanks for posting the site. :)

crpeck
12-30-2009, 08:56 AM
Hi ex - thanks for the welcome. I agree completely. They are apples & oranges. I still have a few different bags, which I use on occasion (especially when it's warm out), and, I'm not going to carry my Macbook Air in my vest! I think I need a iPhone app to tell me where I put stuff in my scottevest.
I have to admit that I'm looking forward to my next flight, just to see the look on the TSA x-ray folks face when my vest goes through.

Frank II
12-30-2009, 11:08 AM
Scottevest sent me an email yesterday saying that in today's climate of limited carry-ons, use a Scottevest as there is no limit on coats.

(This might be good for people traveling from Canada to the U.S. where no carry-ons are allowed at all. )

KarlJ
12-30-2009, 01:51 PM
Scottevest sent me an email yesterday saying that in today's climate of limited carry-ons, use a Scottevest as there is no limit on coats.

(This might be good for people traveling from Canada to the U.S. where no carry-ons are allowed at all. )

That was a crack up, wasn't it? Scott's no fool.

ex machina
01-02-2010, 08:03 AM
Move over Scottevest , the 'Extrago Sherpa Shirt can hold an entire tripís worth of necessities, including the $20 bill youíll save by not checking a bag.'

http://platform.ak.fbcdn.net/www/app_full_proxy.php?app=192941119219&v=1&size=o&cksum=0f513ad8394cf1641e185e5bf2a96972&src=http%3A%2F%2Fcontent.theflyerscollection.com%2 Fimages%2Fredux_images%2Fextrago_v3.jpg%3F1


Too funny! :p

See the whole collection here (http://www.facebook.com/JetBlue?v=app_192941119219).

ozone
01-02-2010, 10:42 AM
Does it come in red? Ha!

MagicTiki
01-02-2010, 06:25 PM
...or maybe you could send a friend as check-in baggage in one of those?

ex machina
01-03-2010, 03:48 PM
...or maybe you could send a friend as check-in baggage in one of those?

Hmm, or maybe you could mail yourself and have a great deal on the cost! :p

Wait, I have another idea. Why not mail yourself to different countries with a letter asking that people mail you onward to the next place? I read of that happening with a box that was sent around the world. I guess once they got tired of feeding you it would be cheaper to mail you out. :rolleyes:

I liked that it has wheels on it, that just put it over the top. :D

Zephyrnoid
01-25-2010, 09:30 AM
It's all in the carry attitude.
I just made the Large Cafe in BLACK/Steel my latest Man Bag.
I used to own a Maxpedition Fat Boy Jumbo, but got stopped too often wearing that and in truth the Cafe bag is the smartest Man Bag I've owned.

Secret to High Testosterone Carry Method
- Go with Black, OD or Grey exterior- and black or grey interior. Avoid the earthtones , pastels or primaries. Just go with Black.
- Wear it like a Man. Hand carry it by it's handstrap or run the Absolute Strap (not the stock strap) across your chest to the opposite shoulder unless unloading it in photo situation.
- be sure to clip a Manly ID of some sort to it. I use my iReport ID. Beat up airline paper tags are also excellent.
- Never clean it unless the splatter from passing cars really gets bad.
- Pick it up brusquely and throw it down casually.
- Never, ever, adorn it with anything like buttons, stickers or anything hanging from the outside
- Never use the wais tbelt unless you are on a bike, rappelling or can otherwise justify it.
- If anyone gives you funny looks tell them that real men carry their wives' purses while they're using the powder room or trying on lingerie at V.S.

ID bag is also excellent. smaller than that I dunno.

ScottE22
02-02-2010, 03:41 PM
These are some outstanding tips for the man-bag phobics. Thanks for sharing!