Shop Tom Bihn
Tom Bihn Forums: Community discussion on travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Ristretto sizes compared to Cafe Bags?

    I would like to know which ones can compare to the Large and the Small Cafe Bag.

    And which one can fit a Large Pouch.

    I suspect the Ristretto 13 is more like a Large and the Ristretto 11 like the Medium and the iPad Ristretto like the Small.

    If you have both, can you tell me the difference the build in insert makes in what can be carried in each bag. Is the capacity so similar that one could transfer EDC items from a Cafe to a Ristretto in a hurry?

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    I don't have my Ristretto 13 anymore but the Large Cafe bag definitely feels more square than the upright rectangle of the Ristretto. I'm pretty sure a large puch will fit in the Ristretto 13 but would be too tall for the LCB.

    The Ristretto is thicker than the LCB so the built-in sleeve in the Ristretto should leave you with a similar amount of space in the main compartment.
    Bags: Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Super Ego, Buzz, Pilot, Large Cafe, {Small Cafe & Synapse - Controlled by Wife!}
    Computer Protection: Brain Cell Size 4Z & 6X, Cache Size iPad & MacBookAir, Cork Pouch for Nook (holds Sony Reader)
    Accessories: Backpack packing cubes (aeronaut, tri-star), Various Packing Cubes, Passport Pouch, Absolute Straps, QAM, Various Other Pouches, Freudian Slip, Side Effect (hanging inside S.E. for computer accessories)

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Honolulu, HI

    It's probably most noticeable that the Ristretto for iPad has more room than the Small Cafe Bag. From the Product page for the Ristretto for iPad:
    Dimensions: 12" x 9.25" x 4.75" / 305 x 235 x 120 mm
    Padded iPad Compartment Dimensions: 10.8" x 7.6" x .9" / 276 x 193 x 24 mm

    Small Cafe Bag:
    Dimensions: 10.6" x 8.2" x 2.9" / 270 x 210 x 75 mm

    I think that if you have an 11" MacBook Air, or are thinking of getting one, then the Ristretto for 11" MacBook Air is probably a better choice, because it should be a pretty good match for both the iPad and the 11" MacBook Air, whereas an 11" MacBook Air would stick up slightly in the Ristretto for iPad.

    Ristretto for 11" MacBook Air
    Dimensions: 13.25" x 10.5" x 4.75" / 335 x 265 x 120 mm
    Padded Compartment for 11" MBA Dimensions: 11.8" x 8.2" x .9" / 300 x 208 x 24 mm

    The Ristrettos tend to be longer (more rectangular in shape) than the Cafe Bags:

    Medium Cafe Bag
    Dimensions: 12.2" x 10.6" x 2.9" / 310 x 270 x 75 mm

    In the case of comparing the Ristretto for 11" MacBook Air with the Medium Cafe Bag, I think you'd find that mostly as a slightly longer bag, but otherwise similar dimensions to the Medium Cafe bag. If you were trying to compare the Ristretto for 13" MacBook Pro or Air with a Large Cafe bag, I think you might find the narrower dimensions of the Ristretto compared to the Large Cafe bag slightly constricting.

    Ristretto for 13” MacBook
    14.5" x 11.75" x 4.75" / 370 x 300 x 120 mm

    Large Cafe Bag:
    13.3" x 12.9" x 3.3" / 340 x 330 x 85 mm

    (Note the 11.75" width of the Ristretto in comparison with the 12.9" width of the Large Cafe Bag).

    I think you should be able to carry a Large Organizer Pouch in the Ristretto for 13” MacBook, but it's close, since the Large Size Organizer Pouch dimensions are:
    Large: External Dimensions - 14.5" x 11.2" / 370 x 285 mm; Weight: 3.6 oz / 100 grams

    At worst, the piped edge would stick up a little bit, but still be covered by the flap of the bag.

    I don't have any experience with the carrying experience of the Ristrettos made in Ballistic Nylon, which would be part of the different usage experience for the Ristretto in contrast to the Cafe Bags, in addition to having the separate padded compartment. In the Cafe Bags, I use the Small Cafe Bags (most) or the Medium. But I use my Little Swift even more, or for larger bag sizes I prefer the horizontally oriented Imago (sorry, don't have a Large Cafe Bag).

    Maybe someone with the current Ristrettos can chime in?


  4. #4
    Forum Member Perseffect's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I have a Ristretto 13 and original style Ristretto 11. I did get a large cafe bag but returned it for the ristretto 13.

    I would say the large cafe bag can fit more than the Riatretto 13 only because it is more flexible and doesn't have the padded laptop insert sewn in. Although I preferred the structure provided by the padded insert, it is a downside to overall capacity I think.

    I can't compare the Ristretto 11 to a medium cafe bag as I don't have a medium. I will say though that the ristrettos seem to be slightly taller and narrower than the cafe bags in general.
    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by Perseffect View Post
    I will say though that the ristrettos seem to be slightly taller and narrower than the cafe bags in general.
    Hope this helps.
    I agree with this. I have an original Ristretto 11 in Cordura and a MCB in Cordura and the Ristretto feels a bit longer. The MCB is floppy and takes shape as you fill it. The built-in Cache does give the Ristretto more inherent structure but also cuts down on free packing space inside. For example, I was able to put a jar of honey and a scarf into the MCB when out shopping, but I don't think the glass jar would have fit in the Ristretto (but I didn't try). I don't have an easy way to post pictures but I agree with what was posted above by @Perseffect.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts