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Medium or Large

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    Medium or Large

    Hello Everyone - this is my first post but I have been lurking for the last 2 weeks as I try to work out what my next bag should be. This is a really great forum and I've really enjoyed reading everyone's posts about their bags.

    By way of background, for the last 2 years I have had a sapphire/plum Imago and a black/steel SCB that I LOVE to pieces and use everyday. The SCB is nearly 2 years old and looks like new. In it I have my purse, my iPhone, my keys, an epi pen for my DD, my sunglasses. To this I often add my iPad (and once I even added my wireless keyboard!) and some knitting. I also accumulate various bits of kids stuff, papers, pens etc. Even fully loaded with the iPad, I find this to be my perfect bag. I find that my Imago is just too big and I've only used it as carry on when travelling once or twice a year.

    My dilemma begins with my new MacBook Air 11". While it does fit into the SCB, its a little bit too long to make it realistically workable. My first thought was Ristretto but the colours are quite restricted in 11" and I also decided I would prefer the flexibility of not having the built in padded pocket for the days when I am not carrying iPad or Air or both.

    Then I was (and still am) sorely tempted by Little Swift but worried my Air might not be secure enough and that I wouldn't like the armpit bag configuration. But its so gorgeous and I like that it looks a bit more dressy than the cafe bags especially in cork or hemp. I am open to persuasion here about why I should choose this one

    So now I've come back to my first love - the cafe bag and decided that I just need to upsize to fit the Air and everything will work beautifully. But given that I don't like a bag that is too big, I really want to go with the medium.

    I've found posts on here that say that the 11 Air doesn't fit and also posts that say it does.

    I plan on ordering the cache which sadly only comes in horizontal for 11Airs and I don't mind if it sticks up a little bit so long as the clip will still fasten.

    So what say you experts - can I get away with a medium or do I need a large cafe bag or should I give in to the temptation of the Little Swift???

    Welcome Vanper! I'm not going to be any help here as I do not have a Cafe bag (yet!) nor a Little Swift. My first instinct is usually "when in doubt - get one of each." (Seriously.) As you know at some point you'll want / need both anyway.

    If you like the Cafe bag style, you never know if / when the Ristretto may come out in newer colours too.

    I'm intrigued as to what size purse you fit into your small Cafe Bag too?

    Last edited by Maria; 01-03-2012, 12:38 PM.
    "Buy the best, cry once" - Pasquale


      Hi Maria - getting both is very tempting especially as I live in Australia - one big order saves quite a bit of shipping over 2 smaller ones. My only hesitation is whether I will use both bags since I am pretty much monogamous with my handbag. I don't usually swap from bag to bag. This is one reason why my Imago is rarely used. I've even considered selling it...Then again, one never knows when it might be just the thing. Its been great when we have gone travelling as my carry on and day trip bag to hold my gizmos and the stuff my young kids need.

      Having an MCB for gizmo days when I take the iPad/Air/both with me and for casual days (I'm thinking plum/wasabi) and a hemp LS when I'm out and about and being a bit more dressed up might be worth learning to bag swap for. I am keen to master a set of pouches that will make this easy to do.

      I would love to see Ristretto in more colours - for the 11inch size there are currently only 2 options. However having the dedicated padded pocket probably doesn't suit me in that I don't carry my Air all the time. Today, for example, I went to town and my SCB just had my purse, iPhone, sunglasses. Of course when we arrived, DS handed me his DsiXL to look after and DD handed me her leapster explorer but my SCB took both with ease.

      For a purse I have a pink accordion style with an iPhone pocket that I found on walletbe.com after searching high and low for a purse that would hold my iPhone - this was the best I could come up with. I wanted a purse so I could go bagless just carrying my wallet and iPhone for quick trips to the shops and to gym classes. Its nearly 2 years old and it looks very shabby and my needs have changed a bit as I now workout at home.

      Now I dream of the day when I don't need the purse at all and my iPhone carries all my card details so I can pay for things with just my phone and not need plastic cards or cash. I am hopeless with cash - if its in my purse it just gets spent so quickly and I am forever scrabbling for coins for parking meters. Anyway, as of today I have started experimenting using an organiser wallet solely for my cards with a clear mini pouch to keep my coins and notes. They both fit into the interior pocket in the SCB. It was a bit tricky at the ATM but I think the answer might be to attach them both to a 16inch key strap. Apart from the ATM, most times you either use cash/coins or a card so you only need to access one at a time. I would love a Tom Bihn wallet that had a bit more to it than the current organiser wallet but perhaps this way I can streamline what I carry with me. I have a third mini to keep all the pesky loyalty cards which I don't carry with me unless I'm on a specific shopping type trip. Would love to hear what others use and/or how they organise their purses/wallets.


        Hello Vanper - I hear you on the shipping. When I look into placing an order, and realize the shipping costs would equal another nice item, I too try to order as much as possible in one go. Also, I don't like to switch out my bags, drives me bonkers to do so. Still, having a few options is a blessing as big trips, short travel, carrying less or more may mean another bag would work better - great if it's already in one's collection!

        I'm still looking for the "perfect" wallet. I do carry a Tom Bihn organizer wallet in the cocoa ultra suede, which I use for cards. I like having it clipped to an o-ring so it's secure. In terms of cash, I still have a small coin purse that is over twenty years old. Wish I could combine the two, and I don't carry around a great deal of cash as it's way too tempting. Would love to find an organizer wallet that would hold the above, plus my phone, and maybe a lip balm and compact. (Okay, technically I DID find one...cough cough...but the price is well out of my current budget. It even has a version with a wrist strap. Sigh.)

        A friend gave me a mini wrist clutch which I use for short trips - holds my phone, a few cards in a pocket, keys, tissues, compact, lipstick, tiny bottle of hand sanitizer...but it still drives me nuts when I want to carry just a little bit more.

        So I'm waiting for Tom Bihn and crew to make a little bag like the character Hermione Granger carried in the Harry Potter books....magically shrinks everything she needs into a little evening bag.

        "Buy the best, cry once" - Pasquale


          Vanper, I first purchased an MCB to carry my iPad, and out of curiosity I tried to carry my 11-inch MBA in it, inside a form-fitting felt sleeve that I sewed for it. It will fit inside, but it also sticks up not quite an inch over the top of the bag. You can still fasten the flap over it, but it wasn't something I wanted to do. So I purchased an LCB (besides, I was in love with Azalea and so that was another excuse for buying another TB bag), and I'm much happier with the fit of the Air 11 inside it. But then, you could always get both...


            Don't think I can justify getting an MCB, a LCB and a LS all at once!!! Do you find that your Air 11 moves around sideways a lot in the LCB? I think I am ok with it sticking up a bit over the top of the MCB provided I can still clip the bag closed especially as I won't carry the Air 11 with me everyday but perhaps LCB is the safer option. Its such a dilemma (or maybe I'm just indecisive :-))


              It is tough to make up your mind when TB offers so many wonderful choices! But to answer your question, yes, my Air 11 does have room to move around sideways in the LCB, but I haven't found that it does that very much. I think that may because of the felt sleeve I keep it in. What's the opposite of slippery? That's what felt is, so the Air's sleeve grips the inside of the LCB a little bit, and that helps prevent sliding.


                Hi Vanper,

                I am in the same situation that you are in somewhat. I have been lurking for the past couple weeks. Wish I had discovered Tom Bihn sooner. I too have a MBA 11 size and occasionally travel with it. I am interested in the Ristretto 11 but I agree the colors are very limited. I called yesterday and Katy informed me that they will not expand the colors for the Ristretto 11, which is disappointing. I like the colors for the Ristretto 13 but that is a little to big. I am leaning toward the LCB which can handle the MBA 11 easily from what I read on the forum. I could order the Ristretto 11 and go for a color that is so so, but I may be disappointed. I may order the LCB and pick the color I want. Oh well, decisions, decisions. I appreciate the replies on this thread. Also, this forum is fantastic, I have never seen such an active and helpful forum. Best wishes on your decision Vanper.


                  For whatever it's worth, the MBA11 fits into the Ristretto for iPad. It's really not much wider than an iPad, just a bit taller. The flap still closes and the bag still closes securely, so that may be an option for you as well.


                    Thank you dlg. I didn't realize that about the Ristretto for iPad. I'll have to consider that as well.


                      Hi Marcus

                      I agree about the colour issue - I really don't like any of the 3 colours for the 11 inch ristretto. Dig's point gives a few more options although putting my iPad on top of my air there is almost 2 inches difference and if it's going to be sticking up a bit then I may as well go for the MCB.

                      Aside from lack of color choices, my concern with ristretto is having the built in padded pocket there even when not carrying my gizmos.

                      I am warming to the idea of going with 2 bags - a Little Swift for non gizmo days and then the LCB that will definitely fit everything on gizmo days. If I really want to go light, I still have my small black SCB after all. Of course then the argument goes that I should then go with dedicated ristretto if I'm going to have a LS for non gizmo days...and the dilemma resumes

                      As an aside my Mum got a cork Little Swift delivered today and she is very happy. Sadly I probably won't be seeing her in the next few months to be able to check it out. She reckons that my Air11 would fit but stick out a bit - aaaaargh!!!


                        Hi Vanper,

                        Last night I constructed some mock ups of the various bags. (Has anyone done that before trying to figure things out? Am I odd? Hope not.) I realized just how large the LCB is once I did that. I also constructed a table that had all the LCBs, the Ristrettos, the MBA 11, iPad and their measurements. This was very helpful. I tried to paste into here but the table lost its formatting and it was a mess. How do you share a table like that on the forum? I think I have finally made my decision to go with the Ristretto iPad size, should meet my needs.


                          I will be very keen to hear how you like your iPad ristretto with the air11. I still haven't reached a decision. I didn't make a mock up but I did get out a tape measure and stretched it out to the relevant measurements next to my SCB to get an idea of the relative sizes of the MCB and LCB and it probably made me further worry that LCB is too big. Another issue - the strap. I have the ultra suede on my SCB but on the LCB you get the choice of an absolute. While I have one of these on my imago and love it, dude it's a heavy duty strap!! Again makes me wonder if the LCB is just a little too large...

                          And then there is the just get them all approach - if I get an MCB and find I can't tolerate the way the Air11 fits, I could always get the LCB down the track. Then I would have one of each size and be all set. I may just do this since I am planning on saving up for enough aeronauts to contain the whole family (1 hubby plus 2 kidlets) so I could slip another cafe bag into a not too distant future order.

                          My husband already thinks I am nutty with my obsession over Tom Bihn bags (which is funny given how he loves the empire builder I got him for Christmas last year ;-))


                            I don't have an Air—the 13-inch MacBook is still running—but I do have a Large Cafe Bag (with Absolute Strap) and can't imagine what "too large" means, unless you're short. For me, what counts is that the LCB is lightweight.

                            (By the way, today I made three shopping stops: ethnic food store, for a pound of coffee, a bag of pitas, and some sesame candy; pizzeria, for an eggplant hero; and fruit cart, for a bunch of bananas. Everything went into the LCB.)


                              Just a practical plug for the LCB... I find it far from too big--more like Birkenstocks--spacious enough that things can breathe and not be squashed. On those work days when you don't need the computer, do you carry other items instead? Daily, I carry at least three or four notebooks, at least one book, and an assortment of pouches filled with the little things of daily living. (I'm a school librarian) There is room for snacks, phone, etc... and it all feels quite comfortably situated. Not too much to be too heavy, not too little for it to feel fly-away. Technically, I can get the same stuff into the MCB, but I prefer the feeling of my things being in the bag and not the feeling of my bag wrapped around my things. Just another couple of cents on the matter! Good luck with your decision!