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Is the Cafe Bag too feminine? Looking for day bag for husband, non-backpack

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    Is the Cafe Bag too feminine? Looking for day bag for husband, non-backpack

    We will be going to Italy & we are looking for a day bag for my husband. We did buy a Synapse25 a couple of months ago, but after lots of research & recommendations, we are thinking that he may not want a backpack as his day bag. Seems it may be difficult to deal with in restaurants, trains, & they can be inconvenient to get into, you have to take them off every time you need something.

    So we are now looking at messenger-style bags. We went to REI & saw a few there that are possibilities - also several from PACSAFE, which most people seem to love. We thought about a CoPilot, but not sure. Would a vertical style 'look' better? The Ristretto seems too large, we won't be taking computers/iPads.

    We've bought lots of TB stuff for this trip- A45s, SEs, OPs, COWs, key straps - so we like the idea of all the Orings and organization w/TB. But, we can't seem to find a good day bag for him. We may end up with PACSAFE.

    Do any of the men on this forum carry a CafeBag? I have a FrenchBlue MCB for myself to use as my day bag.

    Any other recommendations? Thanks...
    Last edited by chinalake; 03-21-2015, 08:21 AM.

    My husband carries cafe bags all the time. His is navy, but he'll carry my cocoa one as well. I see them as unisex.

    For day trips, I prefer the MCB, but the LCB would work well also. I use the LCB if I'm out shopping or doing errands in town, but I'm not walking around all day with it.
    EDC: SCB/MCB, Swift for knitting, small shop bags
    TRAVEL: A45
    FAVORITE TB COLORS: kiwi, verde, nordic & black halcyon, viridian, alphaviolet, ursa
    FAVORITE LINING COLORS: wasabi, northwest sky


      Seeing how I'm a guy and I carry a Ristretto (which basically looks the same as the Cafe Bag) I certainly don't think so.


        I have a linen LCB and used it as my main day bag when I needed one. I now use a DLBC. If

        While messenger style bags still aren't that popular in the U.S. with men, they are common in Italy. If he sticks with a dark or neutral color bag, he'll be fine. And hands free.

        I also have Pacsafe bag that I never use. It's definitely pickpocket safe. So safe, in fact, that I even have trouble getting into it.
        Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers.

        Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.


          @chinalake, If you look at @giulof's 1week out of town for work thread, you'll notice that he carries both a Small Cafe Bag and a Daylight Backpack (and @giulof is a man, who works and lives in Italy).

          BTW, I thought his comment on the DLBP was interesting:
          Regarding the DLBP, I noticed it’s getting a lot more use recently than my SCB, so it was definetely a good purchase. It’s still extremely light, it packs small and if I’m going out in the evening it can take a jacket and a small umbrella, which the SCB cannot.
          HTH. But to answer your main question, the Cafe Bag is definitely a unisex bag. I remember reading in very early forum posts like this Cafe Bag - Initial Reaction and Question thread from 2004 how men felt that a specific draw of this bag is that it did not look like a purse.



            You might want to let your husband try on your MCB too. It's just as important that the bag looks nice on him. For most guys the MCB or LCB will be fine. Which of the two you choose will probably depend on how much you guys need to carry.


              Thanks for the quick & unanimous responses . . . a Black/Steel MCB it is!! It'll be his 1st TB surprise! Should be arriving next week with a Spiff, Travel Trays, CQPC, 3D-Clear, Mesh, & Fabric OCs, DOPs, TSSs, & the new QKit.


                I see that the point has already been made, but I'd like to echo and support @Frank II's comments... I live in Asia, and the PLO for men is perfectly acceptable outside the US. In fact, there are more men carrying the Cafe-style bag than women here! Personally, I carry my SCB every day, and would not leave the house without it. Mine is Black/Steel Parapack, and it's just the perfect size for EDC over here.

                Looking over your list, you have some absolutely perfect choices coming for your trip, @chinalake. That'll be a great package to open. I hope you'll post some unboxing pictures!
                Synapse 25; Tri-Star w/FS; Aeronaut 45; Pilot; Small/Med Cafe Bags w/FS; Snake Charmers; Travel Trays; DLBC; DLBP; Side Effect; Side Kick; Empire Builder; Parental Unit
                (Caches; Stuff Sacks; Packing, Mesh & Clear Cubes; Passport & Organizer Pouches)
                Proud to display "Tom Bihn -- Made in USA" no matter where I travel in the world!



                  After the tip from Hannah, I decided to try the SCB in Olive Parapack. My initial reaction was positive on both the look and the size. I was mostly curious about a way to carry my water bottle without a backpack (which is my standard EDC). It can fit:
                  • water bottle
                  • 3DOC or SE
                  • iPad mini (optional)
                  • packable rain jacket
                  • maybe an extra Clif Bar


                    Congrats on pulling the trigger on a Black/Steel MCB. As has been said by others, this style of bag is the norm for men in most of the world. In fact, with that bag he will look like a local Italian as long as he isn't wearing tennis shoes and short pants!
                    DLBC, WF, S19, Pilot, DLBP, PCSB, A30, SA plus other misc goodies.
                    “Not all those who wander are lost.” - Bilbo Baggins (J.R.R. Tolkien 1892-1973)


                      Good choice on the medium cafe bag. It's the size rather than the design that speaks to me most regarding male/female/unisex.

                      I've owned ristretto's and all sizes of cafe bags. In my option as someone living in Europe (just my opinion though) the small cafe bag is more feminine or children orientated. The medium is most unisex. The large is quite masculine as it's more square shaped and wide (too wide in my view). I think the ristretto is also the perfect size shape as a unisex bag.

                      The shape and size of the medium cafe bag is therefore a great bet and the colour you have chosen is a classic combo. Hope he enjoys it.
                      Aeronaut 45 (Navy/NWS), A30 (Black/Island), Tristar (Steel/Island), Western Flyer (Steel/Island), Pilot (Steel/Island), Synapse 25 (Mars Red/NWS), Synapse 19 (Black/Island) & (Burnt Orange/Steel), Ristretto 11 (Navy/Steel), Small Cafe Bag (Navy/Steel) & (Mars Red/Dawn), Daylight Briefcase (Cloud/Dawn), Side Kick (Mars Red/Dawn), Travel Cubelet (Mars Red)


                        So funny, I read the question and thought: I feel the exact opposite, "are the Medium and Large Care Bags to masculine for a women?" In Germany you see guys with this format of bag all the time.

                        “Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there.”

                        By Sir Terence David John Pratchett from The Truth


                          I certainly believe a Cafe Bag is fine for men to carry - think of Indiana Jones's bag he carried for all his adventures!

                          I would say, the key is proportional size. Just like the S19 may look kid-like on a bigger wide-shouldered person but not for a thinner, regular shouldered person of the same size, I think the same applies for the Cafe bag. Also, I think it is more the width of the bag being looked at that makes the difference more than the height.

                          In short, larger cafe bags look better proportionally on wider proportioned people (like me) because they are wider - IMHO. I think they are very unisex styled bags and more about if you want to look stylish but "rugged and reliable" which messenger-style bags say to me.

                          Also, the cultural preferences of the place you are going to play a big part in what looks good or not. Given this, a smaller Cafe bag may look good in a place where "metrosexual" is the main style.

                          Just my 2 cents on bags I do not own but will probably (my requirement is ballistic nylon and black/iberian - as they meet my "manliness" requirement already )

                          Hope this helps

                          Last edited by tpnl; 03-21-2015, 10:02 AM.
                          TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!


                            The products images for the SCB are certainly more girly. However, the bag works great for non-girly items too.

                            Here's the water bottle, iPad mini, and 3DOC:

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                            You could hold two 3DOCs without the water bottle:

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                            I tried to fit in a rain jacket; it was an awkward fit:

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                            I can use a SE to squeeze the rain jacket:

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                            For this picture, I was able to fill the SE with the rain jacket and the entire contents of my 3DOC. (I don't need that much stuff all the time, but I wanted to show that it was possible.)

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                              I have a penis and carry a LCB for EDC often. There is nothing inherently feminine about the bag or its shape and especially in Italy he will not stand out.