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  1. #1
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    Pilot vs Co Pilot or stay with Medium Cafe Bag

    Hello. I currently have a Medium Cafe bag that I have been using for the past year as my every day carry with the Freudian slip. I am finding it too small, partly due to the Freudian slip taking up space. I also have to clip my Nalgene water bottle to the outside as it will not fit inside.

    I am debating getting a pilot or co pilot for more space. I fear the pilot is too big (I am a small frame at 5’ 1”) but there are rare occasions I need to take my 13” MacBook Pro to work.

    I am also debating if I just need to change my organizational strategy to free up space in my Medium Cafe bag. It currently carries:
    - kindle paper white - in back pocket
    - iPad - in back pocket

    Main body
    - 2 sets of keys on two separate straps
    - AirPods on keychain
    - small q kit on key strap
    - clear organizer wallet on key strap
    - pouch for coins
    - small tissues
    - lotion
    - mini comb
    - small pouch for medicines
    - pens and pencils
    - epipen
    - small padded organizer for back up battery and cable
    - front pocket is just tiny odds and sends as other stuff does not fit
    - and a bag of feminine products is sometimes added but barely fits

    I am having a hard time making a decision of what to do. I want to lighten my load, but at the same time maintain the organization and have space for extra things if need be. I will also be using whatever my main bag is as a carry on for a trip in June.

    I appreciate any advice you may have.

  2. #2
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    I love my Pilot. It has enough room to carry my laptop when I need to, and the front has great organization and proper room for a water bottle, and will hold my TC if I need a separate purse. I've even used the Pilot as my only suitcase for a short summer trip. The Pilot might be a bit big for an EDC, unless you think of it as a briefcase. However, I always find the Co-Pilot to be too small and the front pockets too awkward to get into, and the carry to be too cube-like. While the Pilot, though bigger, seems to sit flatter against my body, especially when underpacked.

    As a matter of fact, I'm going to use the Pilot as my day bag this weekend when I go to a conference. It will hold my folders, plus whatever I buy or get for free, plus my wallet, phone and water. The Absolute shoulder strap might be overkill, but I'll be comfy.

  3. #3
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    Among the 3 bags you've listed, I've only got the Pilot, so I can't give you a comparison, but I can attest that as great as the Pilot is as a work bag (or as anybody familiar with my posts can attest, a great minimalist one-bag travel bag for short trips) it's hardly what I'd consider purse-like, if that's what you're after.

  4. #4
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    Have you considered the maker's bag? I use my MCB freudian slip in my maker's bag and swap it back and forth between my MB & MCB (MB is kind of my week day EDC and the MCB is my weekend). It has plenty of room for my 13" Macbook Pro, yet maintains the feel/style of the cafe bags. Additionally, your Nalgene will definitely fit in the MB. Personally, the pilot/copilot don't appeal to me because I feel constrained by the built in organization, and prefer to create my own method with a less "pre-arranged" bag like the MB. I'm 5'2 and don't feel like the MB is too large for my frame.

    HTH!
    A30 - Original Halcyon/UV MB - Aubergine/NWS LCB - Original Halcyon/Wasabi! MCB - Steel dyneema/Wasabi! STT - Wasabi! SE - NORDIC/Solar TC - Viridian/Dawn TT - UV/Sitka/Monarch

    TB Newbie First factory visit - 9/21/2018

    Heart’s desire: a S19 or S25 in original NORDIC.

  5. #5
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    A few years ago, I ordered both the co-pilot and the pilot to compare how well each would carry my things. Before seeing, my first choice was the co-pilot (so cute!). I am 5'2" and do not like bulky bags that project out too far. Turns out, I prefer the access on the front pockets on the pilot and the fact that a file folder could easily go in without wrinkles so I went with the pilot. I ordered the absolute strap and it did seem too big and heavy for the bag size but it was much more comfortable than the one the pilot comes with. However, I did end up getting the mini op tech strap (smaller version of the absolute) on another site and it is perfect! When the pilot is not very full, it still holds a nice shape (black Halcyon). I love this bag and the organization so much and I even realized it makes a great 3-4 day bag (I pack light)! I use the standard spiff kit in one front pocket and the small pilot packing cube (discontinued) on the other side. I also have the medium cafe bag that I can squeeze my 13" MacBook Pro in a cache (its a bit too tall but it works) when I am running out for just a bit and don't need everything. Once I have a water bottle in the equation, I prefer the pilot over the med. cafe bag. I love the water bottle pocket in both the pilot and synapse!

  6. #6
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    I have both a Med Cafe Bag and a Co-Pilot. With the latter, I'm able to carry a MacBook 12 in an aftermarket sleeve, my standard size iPad, two eyeglass cases, keys, pens, a Moleskin, pocket knife, and a bunch of other stuff I won't take the time to enumerate. I'm not sure if your 13" MacBook Pro will fit a Co-Pilot, but the folks at Tom Bihn, or someone here on this Forum, will be able to answer that question.

    The Med Cafe Bag is great for local errands and daily use, but I like both bags and vacillate between them. My only negative about the Cafe Bag is that I'm not enthused about "messenger" flaps. They get in my way.

  7. #7
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    I am leaning away from the Maker bag, as having zipper closure appeals to me while traveling. I guess my biggest fear now is the Pilot being too large for daily use. I also have a travel cubelet that I occasionally use. Does it fit well in the Pilot?

  8. #8
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I think @jessmakes is on to something with the suggestion of a Maker's Bag. It sounds like you like the Medium Cafe Bag you already have, and the Maker's Bag is more similar to a Cafe Bag than either a Pilot or a Co-Pilot is. You could organize it more or less the same way*, and you could even use your current Freudian Slip in the Maker's Bag**.

    * With the caveat that the Maker's Bag's back pocket is on the inside--it doesn't have the outer slip pocket that the Cafe Bags have.
    ** The measurements say that it shouldn't work--the Maker's Bag is officially 10" high and the MCB FS is officially 11.3" high--but I just tried mine to make sure, and the MCB FS fit very nicely at the back of the Maker's Bag.

    I have and love the Pilot and Co-Pilot as well, but I'm not sure you'd like them as much as the Maker's Bag. If you do go with a Pilot or Co-Pilot, though, I would recommend that it be the Pilot because of your laptop. A 13" MacBook Pro can be just squeezed into a Co-Pilot if you put it in bare, but it's not recommended--it puts strain on the zippers and there's no protection for the laptop that way. The same laptop will fit easily in the Maker's Bag and the Pilot, even in a Cache or other protective sleeve.

    You can also look at the bags in terms of capacity:
    Medium Cafe Bag: 8 liters
    Co-Pilot: 10 liters
    Maker's Bag: 12.5 liters
    Pilot: 13 liters

    But given that you're used to the Cafe Bag's open space, I don't think the Co-Pilot will feel two liters bigger. I could be wrong about that, though.

    TL;DR: I recommend the Maker's Bag or else the Pilot.

    Edited to add: I started writing this before your comment about not being interested in the Maker's Bag, and didn't see that comment until I had posted this one. Wanting a zipper is fair! I'm going to go try putting a Travel Cubelet in a Pilot front pocket and I'll let you know.
    Last edited by aedifica; 03-13-2019 at 10:44 AM.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  9. #9
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    I downsized from an S19 to a Co-Pilot for my work EDC. In the front left pocket I have sunglasses and my access badges and there's room for other items. I put my coffee cup in the water bottle pocket once it's empty, it's NOT leak proof! In the right front, I use a cubelet for headphones, phone/kindle chargers and a small power bank battery thing. I use a SE for my purse, and put it in the main compartment. Even after I took the Kindle out, it was too big for the front pocket. The TC is supposed to fit in the Pilot front pockets, but I didn't want to go that big. I've got folding scissors and a small GW with crochet bits clipped to an o-ring and inserted into one of the inside pockets. My Kindle is in the other pocket with other flat stuff. On Mondays, I take a bunch of stuff to the office, but on a daily basis, I don't carry a computer.

  10. #10
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    The Travel Cubelet does fit very nicely in the Pilot front pocket, even when I stuff it very full with dishtowels. When it was that full it did bulge into the main compartment a little bit, but it still slid in easily.

    Pilot vs Co Pilot or stay with Medium Cafe Bag-befunky-collage-tc-pilot-jpg
    1. Demonstrating how full the TC is
    2. TC in Pilot front pocket
    3. Showing that it bulges into the main section a little, but not much
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  11. #11
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I'm having a very Tom Bihn afternoon! I stepped away in the middle of typing my first reply to answer the door (where I found a package with a Sitka Small Shop Bag that had arrived a day earlier than I expected, woohoo!) and then I went upstairs to measure something on another TB bag.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  12. #12
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    Ok. Now I am wavering between the Pilot and Maker bag. I am thinking I do. It need to purchase more internal organization for the Maker bag? Does the Freudian slip make it feel stuffed (as my MCB feels stuffed with the slip in). The CoPilot seems to small for the laptop problem.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saoirse86 View Post
    The CoPilot seems to small for the laptop problem.
    I almost never take my laptop home. However, it's a 12.5" Dell Latitude. It fits into the bag naked, and zips closed easily. However, I'd probably just stuff it in sideways to take it home and pull out my S19 for the return trip.Pilot vs Co Pilot or stay with Medium Cafe Bag-laptop_cp1-jpg

  14. #14
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    Not to throw another wrench in your plan, but how about the parental unit? I use mine as my work bag and it should hold everything you mentioned easily. I haven't tried putting a laptop in it for edc, but I've seen videos of people doing so and it seemed to work just fine.

    I currently carry:
    small umbrella
    side effect with wallet and car keys
    Small snake charmer with cables and battery charger
    3d op for various toiletry stuff
    Nintendo switch
    Cell phone

    There's plenty room for more as well

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    Last edited by nolegrl; 03-13-2019 at 12:25 PM.

  15. #15
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saoirse86 View Post
    Ok. Now I am wavering between the Pilot and Maker bag. I am thinking I do. It need to purchase more internal organization for the Maker bag? Does the Freudian slip make it feel stuffed (as my MCB feels stuffed with the slip in). The CoPilot seems to small for the laptop problem.
    @Saoirse86, you can use your Medium Cafe Bag Freudian Slip in the Maker's Bag, so you wouldn't need to buy another one. I mentioned in my longer post above that I tried it to make sure it would fit, and it did. The Maker's Bag is enough bigger than your Medium Cafe Bag that I don't think you will find it cramped at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by nolegrl View Post
    Not to throw another wrench in your plan, but how about the parental unit? I use mine as my work bag and it should hold everything you mentioned easily. I haven't tried putting a laptop in it for edc, but I've seen videos of people doing so and it seemed to work just fine.
    Oh, I didn't even think about the Parental Unit! That might work nicely. It zips closed, it has plenty of organization, and it can fit a 13" MacBook Pro--I have carried mine that way before. With a laptop there isn't a lot of extra room, but if @Saoirse86 doesn't need to carry a laptop often that might not be a problem.

    Here are photos showing an older-style Parental Unit with a 13" MBP in it. The updated Parental Unit has a longer zipper opening the main compartment, which makes it easier to get the laptop in and out than in the linked review.

    @Saoirse86, if you do consider the Parental Unit it would be useful for you to know that although it has a 13.5 liter capacity, if you use the whole capacity it turns into kind of a football shape (American football). I like mine best when I just use the center compartment and one of the curved side pockets, leaving the other side empty. Even leaving part of it empty like that, it still holds more than the Medium Cafe Bag.
    Last edited by aedifica; 03-13-2019 at 12:37 PM. Reason: fix typo
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

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