Tom Bihn Small Café Bag One Year Review

A year ago, I finally received my first major Tom Bihn bag. I was ready to embrace Everyday Carry in a whole new way: a cross-body bag. No more wallet for me; I chose a man-bag for its utility and functionality. My pockets became free, empty of EDC detritus! I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is…in the other pocket.


This annual review is easy because the Tom Bihn Small Cafe Bag is as great now as when I first stared using it. I wear it to Wal-Mart, the mall, Lowes, or you name it. It has even summited Pike’s Peak with me.

Sometimes, the Small Cafe Bag feels a little bit like overkill for my most used daily carry items: phone, keys, wallet. But I like toting a few small extras; my sunglasses and AirPods have become as EDC as my PKW. And I carry a Leatherman multitool among other small items.

There are times when having the large space of the bag is super convenient and comfortable. When needed, I can throw in a water bottle, a book, snacks, or my JBL Go portable bluetooth speaker. It’s big enough to easily hold anything my hands wish to not carry, and it’s small enough to stay comfortably resting across my shoulder for long stretches of time.

The hook-n-strap O-ring tethering system, where various-sized mini-bags easily connect to a larger Tom Bihn bag, is super cool and practical. I’m able to easily pull my sunglasses out every time I need them thanks to the added Small Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch; same goes for my AirPods in the Super Mini Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch. The Mini Q-Kit rests freely at the bottom of the bag since it holds things I don’t need often but am very glad to have when I need them (like Advil, a USB flash drive, nail clippers…).

  • No zippers stuck
  • No buckles or hooks or clasps broken
  • No defects
  • No problems

As for not being able to detach the shoulder strap at either connection point, I’ve never found this to be an issue. It’s easy to simply lift the strap over my head. And I think it simplifies using the bag; there’s one way on and off.

Another upside: I didn’t expect to like the Clear Organizer Pouch as my new wallet as much as I do. I’ve come to appreciate its simplicity and security. It’s big enough to hold my license, a couple credit cards, and the occasional folded bill or two. The zipper secures everything inside, and the clear front panel lets me easily see what I’m reaching for.

The pouch-as-wallet lives tethered to an O-ring within the Small Cafe Bag’s front zippered pocket, which is covered and locked by the bag’s large flap and buckle. So my wallet is super-secured – no way to be pick-pocketed – and the tether is long enough to use at a register without accidentally leaving the wallet behind.


Surely the bag isn’t a perfect fit, right? I’d venture to say finding the “Goldilocks” bag is ever elusive. For me and my EDC, the Small Cafe Bag is probably as close as it can be. There are a few minor things though.

The sliding pad on the shoulder strap is looser than I’d like. Too often or too easily, it slips off my shoulder. I think it might be better if locked in place at the mid-point of the strap. But best would likely be a tighter fit instead so that it can slide when needed but also stay in place otherwise.

There’s room from my iPad in its case to fit inside the Small Cafe Bag. But functionally, it’s not a great fit; it’s a bit tight. Carrying the tablet is fine for transport but not for getting stuff in and out of the bag while the iPad is mostly filling it. I thought I’d carry my 10.2″ iPad everywhere, but that never worked out. An iPad mini, though, could comfortably live in the bag (which tempts me to buy one). Likewise, an eReader (my Kindle!) easily fits in the Small Cafe Bag or even the bag’s rear open pouch.


I don’t regret buying the Small Cafe Bag from Tom Bihn. I love my bag! It’s useful, nice, and I’ve grown accustomed to it. Besides keeping my pockets free of bulk, the bag gives me enough space for a few extra EDC things, and it creates dedicated pockets or pouches for those things so I always know where to find them. When it’s time to go, I grab one thing, the Small Cafe Bag, instead of stuffing several different items into my pockets.

Being invested in Tom Bihn, I plan to buy more bags. I’m eye-balling the Daylight Briefcase for my MacBook Air while commuting. I’d also like the Tom Bihn Luminary backpack. Of course, I want more pouches and such. And as for the Freudian Slip made for the Small Cafe Bag, I’m interested in trying it out. In lieu of the separate organizer pouches I mentioned above, I think it would serve to keep my extras in place.

I’m a happy Tom Bihn customer. I carry the bags, the bags carry my stuff; it’s a good fit.