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  1. #1
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    Question Using waist straps on Cafe Bag for weight distribution & comfort?

    I've just ordered myself a Dyneema MCB for EDC use. I hope some forum members can tell me if they ever routinely use the waist straps with a Cafe Bag to help stabilize the load for comfort/weight distribution. Are the straps helpful? Do they just hold the bag steady or also take some of the weight off the shoulder? Are they fiddly to use? Can you easily access the bag interior while you've got the waist straps deployed?

    I'm having some health challenges that first forced me to abandon:
    1) my beautiful purple leather Roots Canada handbag, due to weight (and it was about the size of a PCSB, not a huge tote!) and shoulder strain from one-side wearing,
    and then,
    2) my Sherpani shallow/small ballistic backpack, due to difficulty with the required shoulder flexibility to get the thing on and off without pain.

    I'm only early middle aged and actually pretty fit and healthy aside from this new joint problem. I've got a casual lifestyle as I'm a full-time home-schooling mom to two school-aged kids. I do need to maximize my ability to keep getting all my "mom jobs" done in spite of a medical crisis.

    Anyway, as of now, I've got my handbag stuff back in my PCSB, which I typically use as a casual day "purse" when I travel, but it has a small ink stain (black smudge on lovely Wasabi) that makes me feel sad, and it is also a bit too under-organized to meet my preferred level of everyday purse organization. I use many pouches during travel (i.e., nothing would fall out if the bottom were slashed), but those are overkill for the pen or lip balm I'd like to access immediately during my daily activities. My ideal bag has more open top slot pockets and just a bit more structure.

    I will note that I often take several weeks to switch back to my regular bag after a trip, so the PCSB isn't a *terrible* fit for me, it just isn't *PERFECT*.

    I opted for Medium instead of Large in the Cafe Bag first and foremost because I could get Dyneema, even though it had to be black (blah!), and I know myself enough to realize that I very highly prize lightweight in bags, and, with my current limitations (which might be increasing, not abating), weight is more important than ever.

    I even tried wearing all my stuff in a travel vest I bought on sale last year, but that left me feeling like it was way too hard to drop the load, say, getting in and out of the car for a quick errand or stopping briefly in a coffee shop. It also left me thinking too often about "wearing a weird vest because my health is preventing my normal behavior", and I don't need any extra mental strain along those lines. Placing another order with Tom Bihn is definitely more of a "Woo hoo! New toys!" feeling. Smilie

    Now here's hoping I like the Cafe Bag. I've always enjoyed vertical messenger bags, so I'm hopeful.

    Thanks for any insights! I got a lot of help from an older thread about use of the front buckle on a CB by arthritic hands... I can still fasten and open the clips on my A45 backpack straps, so I'm assuming I'll be okay with the buckle on the MCB.

    --willo

  2. #2
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    It's too bad about the backpack. I'm sure the dynema DLBP will return and it's lightweight and imo very easy to get on/off. I broke my back 2 years ago and while I don't have shoulder issues, the DLBP is very comfortable. Mine is in aubergine/wasabi.

  3. #3
    TB Ravelry Moderator Mausermama's Avatar
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    @willo, welcome! I share your condition (poor back) and lifestyle (homeschooling parent) as well. I love the lifestyle, although the back is a big YUCK! Like you, I have had to abandon a favorite bag (I hope it's just for a season), my Navy/Cork/Wasabi Imago, because the weight wasn't being nice to me at all.

    I have found the absolute best bag for me right now is the Daylight Backpack. The straps are easy to maneuver (I have rotator cuff tears and other issues with my shoulders), and the bag is super lightweight. I have it in Burnt Orange. It keeps the load quite centered and close to my bag, allowing my center of gravity to remain relatively neutral.

    I do have a Small Cafe Bag and a Large Cafe Bag. I must wear the waist strap with the Large Cafe Bag if I'm going to be hauling it for any length of time, or I hurt. To accomplish this, I cinch it quite snugly and have the shoulder strap hold some play in it so it isn't pulling on my shoulder at all. It makes it quite easy to access the contents of the bag, although again, I have to be careful to not swivel too much for the contents.

    Tomorrow I'll leave for our annual state convention, FPEA, which is held in Orlando. I'll be walking a massive vendor hall, and at this point I'm planning on bringing the LCB. I'll let you know what my thoughts are about how well it functions in this capacity. I'll be filling it up with some curriculum I need to purchase for the upcoming year. I prefer to bring this bag over my backpack, because that way I can have access to it without having to remove it from my back, although my back went out this morning Mad, and I may be forced to work with the backpack. Either way I'll try to let you know. I have a massage scheduled for 5:00 in a hail Mary attempt to work things out before this demanding weekend.

  4. #4
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    I find that if doing a lot of walking, I like to shorten up the shoulder strap and stabilize the cafe bag on my back. I usually use the messenger stabilizer strap added to a half waist band: 1" Cafe/Ristretto Messenger Stabilizer - Stabilize your bag when riding your bike - TOM BIHN. Think of it as a poor man's Q-AM strap. I find it easier than the full waist strap to use when swinging the bag around to the side to access the contents.

  5. #5
    Forum Member wolpertinger's Avatar
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    My first TB bag was a Ristretto and I also have some back problems.
    In my experience you can get a lot of the weight (almost all of it) on your hip instead of your shoulder with the waist strap, but only if you wear the waist strap really tight.
    It works but by now, if I have anything heavier with me or I have to walk around a lot, I prefer a backpack. It's just better for my back in the long run.

  6. #6
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    Thanks so much for these experiences! You're telling me exactly what I wanted to hear, so, naturally, I love it! Smilie It is really good to know that the waist straps can add so much support if one gives them the chance to pitch in.

    I've ALWAYS preferred a backpack for weight distribution, and I still do... except that it's become a struggle to get it on and off in more "purse like" situations. Getting in and out of the car while running errands, shopping where I need to access my wallet and return it many times, etc. Whereas before, sliding a lightweight backpack to and fro worked just fine, right now, it is a struggle (even to the point of feeling embarrassing while standing at a checkout counter.) Frown

    I have an Iberian Aeronaut packing cube backpack that I'm using in tandem with the PCSB as of today. If I'm walking a distance (taking the train into the city, parking garage in city into large hospital), I use the pack with the PCSB dropped inside the large section. If I'm stopping for a coffee or just jumping out to drop off a kid, I pull out the PCSB and leave the empty pack in the car, smooshed down flat so it doesn't look like anything worth a smash & grab. Wink It's working for now, but I'm eager to get my MCB in hopes I'll feel a smidge more stylish and a lot less inconvenienced by constant switching.

    I learned on my first trip with it that I LOVE the bare bones Dyneema backpack. The DLBP is probably a better size for my daily use, but I was ordering a WF at the same time and my ideal Dyneema color wasn't available, so budget (and/or good sense?) precluded taking a chance on another pack that might become too hard to use in the near future.

    It isn't hard to convince me to buy another bag. I love the very idea of a new, better bag for some specific purpose. Big Grin The hard work I must begin now comes from reducing, perhaps by quite a lot, the weight I carry. I'm already capable of one bag travel (by myself, not with the kids), but it was A45 one bag travel. I'm working on a packing list for WF one bag travel to a warm destination as an amusing diversion right now...

    --willo

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by willo View Post
    Thanks so much for these experiences! You're telling me exactly what I wanted to hear, so, naturally, I love it! Smilie It is really good to know that the waist straps can add so much support if one gives them the chance to pitch in.

    I've ALWAYS preferred a backpack for weight distribution, and I still do... except that it's become a struggle to get it on and off in more "purse like" situations. Getting in and out of the car while running errands, shopping where I need to access my wallet and return it many times, etc. Whereas before, sliding a lightweight backpack to and fro worked just fine, right now, it is a struggle (even to the point of feeling embarrassing while standing at a checkout counter.) Frown
    Have you tried putting just your essentials (wallet, phone, etc) in a small crossbody like the Side Effect (or some people like the 3D Organizer Cubes for an even smaller option) and wearing it with your backpack? That would let you keep all the heavier stuff on your back, while giving you easy access to wallet, etc. I know this is a popular set-up with some people on here, and it's my preference while traveling. It's also pretty versatile - you can leave the backpack in a car/locker/etc and have all your essentials on you and ready to go, or you can stick the smaller bag in the backpack to get back down to one bag, if needed.

  8. #8
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    How tall are you? I'm 5' and the waist strap on the Cafe Bags doesn't work for me at all - it hits me at hip height and so it basically forces me to hobble around, shortening my stride. Smilie I brought the waist strap with me on a 3-week trip, thinking I'd use it in crowded situations for extra security, but I never took it out.

    In practice - my EDC is my S19, the straps are comfy enough to keep cinched down while I swing it on and off my shoulders. But if I had mobility concerns (occasionally I've had neck issues), I would loosen the straps and use the sternum strap to keep it on me.

    When I'm traveling - I divide my load between an SCB (no waist strap), for my wallet and small items like lip balm, and a Small Shop Bag for bulkier things (long-sleeved shirt for cooler moments, camera, guidebook). Not a perfect solution if you want everything in one bag, but I found it worked better for me as I don't do well with a large load on just one hip, I end up with a backache if I'm unbalanced all day. Smilie

  9. #9
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    ClaireJ--
    That's effectively what I'm doing with the (obviously much larger) PCSB right now, but I'm not sure I could comfortably get my current (traditional leather ladies') wallet in and out of a much smaller bag. I'm just leaving the PCSB lightly packed, though the floppiness and disorganization is grating on my nerves. If I carry two separate bags, I tend to start losing one! For example, if I somehow carry one of my kid's backpacks out in the morning, I frequently forget my purse as my body memory says "bag is in hand" and my brain fails to note that it ISN'T MY BAG. Embarrassment At least during hurried transitions, I definitely need to keep my bag(s) consolidated for my own good.

    haraya--
    I'm 5' 2" with a short torso. (I.e., petite sizes fit my torso but my arms/legs are at the short end of "normal" clothing.) That's a good point about where the waist belt hits. I guess I'll just have to try it and see. My package arrives Tuesday. Smilie

    I could get a pair of small Cafe Bags and wear one on each hip like a pack mule, I suppose, to keep things even and balanced. Roll Eyes (Sarcastic) Add this to my now mandatory ugly comfort shoes, weird nylon compression gloves for hand pain, and my already offbeat sense of style, and I'm going to be quite the sartorial sensation on the streets...

    --willo

  10. #10
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    One suggestion is to put essentials into a SE - and I put money in outside zip along with license, debit, and small coyote Org pouch for change. Inside I have OP for other cards (although you could put them in an inside pocket but I carry a thick stack of gift cards there), lip balm, tissue, small brush, phone. The SE will fit into a MCB, so when you just want to run in somewhere you can take the SE. I also have used a "hack tip" and use a 16" key strap as my purse handle. That way a longer handle/strap doesn't get tangled inside a larger bag. I also put the SE in a backpack or swift. Right now there is a black dynema SE on the TB site which is the lightest bag.

    HTH.

  11. #11
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    One month later, and here are my thoughts on the MCB

    After about one month of daily use, I'm happy to report that the Medium Cafe Bag was probably the best choice for me.

    Sometimes (not too often), it gets a little too heavy for my current condition, but it has also felt a little too small (not too often), so I think it was the right size for my usual needs.

    Waist strap experience for 5' 3" petite torso lady:
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I can and do use the waist straps fairly regularly for my typical days. (They work when I'm doing many errands in a row without too much hopping in and out of a car.) Even though I'm short in the torso, the MCB does fit me with the waist straps buckled fairly tight around my waist to keep the weight close to my center of gravity. The bag nestles right up under my bosom, and I feel like I'm carrying a newborn in a baby carrier, but this very effectively distributes weight and eases my day-to-day activities when my hand pain makes it hard to balance a swinging bag on the fly or my shoulder pain makes the weight difficult to bear. It's important to note that wearing it this way looks pretty dorky. Fortunately, I wear a lot of loose jackets (including summer high UPF sun protection cardigans), and putting the drapey jacket OVER the dorky waist straps leaves me looking closer to normal. Smilie

    While visiting my parents in a small town where we often drive just a few minutes to a store (no traffic) and hop in and out, I found it better to take off the waist straps and store them with my luggage. Unlike the crowded conditions of stores and scarcity of parking in the urban NE, in small town Pac NW, I can handle the full weight of the bag on my shoulder for quick store visits and the dangling waist straps become annoying. I would put them back on for a mall shopping excursion or day in the city, however. While traveling by air, I would wear the waist straps around the airport, but buckle them together on TOP of the bag before boarding the plane and trying to slide the bag under the seat. That helped prevent annoying tangles.

    I don't think I like the rubber shoulder thingie. I don't think I've ever put it to my shoulder as I usually minimize the strap length which pushes it down to the top of the bag. It feels wrong to do it, but I guess I'll cut it off as I've heard others mention. EEK!

    Interior organization:
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I think I've read other threads where people wish there was a zipper on the main compartment (me too) or a tiny exterior zip pocket (me too.) I think some of this is "lady's purse" vs. "travel bag" preferences, and it doesn't make me DISLIKE the bag, but I've had to adjust my habits to suit the bag. I stopped carrying my fat leather wallet, and now have several thin wallets subdivided into special purposes. ID/major credit card/"specific travel card needed that day" in a tethered flat case; leather business card flap-over mini wallet for gift cards and membership cards; and a third slip-in style card case for my cards that relate only to being in my home state (in the PacNW) vs the state where I live now (New England.) I simply must have the currency and cards in the zipped pocket to feel secure. This is especially true because I can't always work the large buckle when my hands are sore.

    Biggest trouble with this? I don't have anywhere better to put my lip balm than the same front zip pocket. It is small and will fall out of the open back pocket. It is small and will be annoyingly hard to find in the big interior pocket. Opening the flap and then pulling a tether and then unzipping an interior organizer pouch is WAAAAAY too many steps to grab the lip balm I use many times per day. I'm settling for going into the "money" pocket, but it makes me fear I'll accidentally yank out an important wallet/case and lose it while I'm distractedly applying lip balm on the run. I would LOVE to have a tiny pocket on the front of the flap for lip balm and/or a couple of tissues. I might try hanging some little pouch on the top grab handle, but I hate to make the bag less streamlined. There are a few--very small--items that I want to access immediately. That's never going to change.

    I've found the rest of my things easy to organize inside the bag using a Q-kit, a mini Q-kit, and some other key straps and pouches (probably Eagle Creek) that I already had. I would like the bag better if there were an interior slip pocket to keep my iPad mini separate from the other contents of the big pocket, but that hardly rates as a complaint when compared to my lip balm issue.

    Size note (regarding airline travel):
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    It also fits perfectly in the ridiculously small Alaska Airlines first class aisle seat under-seat area where the electronics box under the seat divides a useful storage area into two less useful ones. My Aeronaut (45) wouldn't have fit there, but the MCB with Western Flyer both could. The person at the window in First Class wouldn't have this problem as there's no obstruction under that seat.

    I hope my thoughts and experiences can be helpful to some other potential Cafe Bag owner. It really is a handy bag, and I love it in Dyneema. I really need a green one, though. Black is my least favorite color to wear!

    --willo

  12. #12
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Ilkyway's Avatar
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    As for you lip balm: I use a micro pouch for that and clip it (without a keystrap, so that it does not end up at the bottom of a bag) to an o-ring. That way it is handy and I do not have to search for it. Sadly (for me that is) the micro and nano pouches for now are only available in coyote. But the size is so great that I use it regardless of the color.

    Great follow up post by the way, thank you for that!

    Ilkyway
    “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

  13. #13
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willo View Post
    After about one month of daily use, I'm happy to report that the Medium Cafe Bag was probably the best choice for me.

    Sometimes (not too often), it gets a little too heavy for my current condition, but it has also felt a little too small (not too often), so I think it was the right size for my usual needs.

    Waist strap experience for 5' 3" petite torso lady:
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I can and do use the waist straps fairly regularly for my typical days. (They work when I'm doing many errands in a row without too much hopping in and out of a car.) Even though I'm short in the torso, the MCB does fit me with the waist straps buckled fairly tight around my waist to keep the weight close to my center of gravity. The bag nestles right up under my bosom, and I feel like I'm carrying a newborn in a baby carrier, but this very effectively distributes weight and eases my day-to-day activities when my hand pain makes it hard to balance a swinging bag on the fly or my shoulder pain makes the weight difficult to bear. It's important to note that wearing it this way looks pretty dorky. Fortunately, I wear a lot of loose jackets (including summer high UPF sun protection cardigans), and putting the drapey jacket OVER the dorky waist straps leaves me looking closer to normal. Smilie

    While visiting my parents in a small town where we often drive just a few minutes to a store (no traffic) and hop in and out, I found it better to take off the waist straps and store them with my luggage. Unlike the crowded conditions of stores and scarcity of parking in the urban NE, in small town Pac NW, I can handle the full weight of the bag on my shoulder for quick store visits and the dangling waist straps become annoying. I would put them back on for a mall shopping excursion or day in the city, however. While traveling by air, I would wear the waist straps around the airport, but buckle them together on TOP of the bag before boarding the plane and trying to slide the bag under the seat. That helped prevent annoying tangles.

    I don't think I like the rubber shoulder thingie. I don't think I've ever put it to my shoulder as I usually minimize the strap length which pushes it down to the top of the bag. It feels wrong to do it, but I guess I'll cut it off as I've heard others mention. EEK!

    Interior organization:
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I think I've read other threads where people wish there was a zipper on the main compartment (me too) or a tiny exterior zip pocket (me too.) I think some of this is "lady's purse" vs. "travel bag" preferences, and it doesn't make me DISLIKE the bag, but I've had to adjust my habits to suit the bag. I stopped carrying my fat leather wallet, and now have several thin wallets subdivided into special purposes. ID/major credit card/"specific travel card needed that day" in a tethered flat case; leather business card flap-over mini wallet for gift cards and membership cards; and a third slip-in style card case for my cards that relate only to being in my home state (in the PacNW) vs the state where I live now (New England.) I simply must have the currency and cards in the zipped pocket to feel secure. This is especially true because I can't always work the large buckle when my hands are sore.

    Biggest trouble with this? I don't have anywhere better to put my lip balm than the same front zip pocket. It is small and will fall out of the open back pocket. It is small and will be annoyingly hard to find in the big interior pocket. Opening the flap and then pulling a tether and then unzipping an interior organizer pouch is WAAAAAY too many steps to grab the lip balm I use many times per day. I'm settling for going into the "money" pocket, but it makes me fear I'll accidentally yank out an important wallet/case and lose it while I'm distractedly applying lip balm on the run. I would LOVE to have a tiny pocket on the front of the flap for lip balm and/or a couple of tissues. I might try hanging some little pouch on the top grab handle, but I hate to make the bag less streamlined. There are a few--very small--items that I want to access immediately. That's never going to change.

    I've found the rest of my things easy to organize inside the bag using a Q-kit, a mini Q-kit, and some other key straps and pouches (probably Eagle Creek) that I already had. I would like the bag better if there were an interior slip pocket to keep my iPad mini separate from the other contents of the big pocket, but that hardly rates as a complaint when compared to my lip balm issue.

    Size note (regarding airline travel):
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    It also fits perfectly in the ridiculously small Alaska Airlines first class aisle seat under-seat area where the electronics box under the seat divides a useful storage area into two less useful ones. My Aeronaut (45) wouldn't have fit there, but the MCB with Western Flyer both could. The person at the window in First Class wouldn't have this problem as there's no obstruction under that seat.

    I hope my thoughts and experiences can be helpful to some other potential Cafe Bag owner. It really is a handy bag, and I love it in Dyneema. I really need a green one, though. Black is my least favorite color to wear!

    --willo
    I agree on the smaller zip pocket wish. I tend to drop mine in the rear pocket. Not ideal, but I don't "dump" my purses often.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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