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Cambiata-Created Consternation

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    Cambiata-Created Consternation

    Alright, folks.

    So my Cambiata preorder came in the mail to me last Saturday, and tonight was the first time I was able to test-pack it with my usual “EDC” items.

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    It’s a very different design - it’s not really like anything else in regular production or since retired, and for that, I commend the new designer. Tom must be one hell of an act to follow.

    My problem is trying to make it work as an EDC bag, and trying to not only fit the items inside the bag and it’s compartments, but in places they make sense and are easy to access. I don’t think I’m able, as least not able to organize them as well as I do in my Co-Pilot (which I finally just posted my first full review on tonight).

    Initial thoughts?

    The main compartment is much larger than the Luminary in width and height and I don’t honestly carry enough to fill that volume when I’m using all the built-in pockets. I loved the Luminary 15. It let me keep my keys and wallet within reach inside the side pockets, had a nice inside lid pocket, and a main volume with a footprint just large enough for my camera, power banks, and water bottle with enough room on top to fit a hat, gloves and fleece. And while I didn’t use it often (and unless traveling) it was nice to have the built in laptop compartment. Ironically I use that space most often for storing trail maps flat. But the Cambiata is a much bigger bag than my old Luminary.

    It’s a big bag inside AND out.

    I think the bag is just too tall (even against my 6’ tall frame) to sit comfortably against the body as a crossbody, and the singular shoulder strap is too long to carry the bag as a true tote.

    So the best and really only comfortably carry option seems to be “backpack mode.”

    The new straps feel nice. The sternum strap sits in a weird place if you’re taller and adjusting the straps properly (tight enough the backpack doesn’t hang off your back), but I don’t really ever use my sternum straps unless hiking or walking through downtown Chicago.

    My best possible use case for this bag is for overnight travel, because the main compartment is sized large and accessible enough to fit a pair of men’s shoes, as well as a toiletry bag and change of clothes.

    The two outside side pockets are constantly at battle with the interior elastic-top side pockets and overfilling one will impact how much you can fit onto the opposite side.

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    If my keys and wallet have to be within reach without fully taking off the bag, the only good spot for them is attached to the O-rings inside the top corners of the front open pocket. It works, but it’s disconcerting if I had to carry the bag in rain or snow.

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    More importantly, how is there not a drain hole
    grommet or open bottom corners on an exterior pocket with a completely open top?!? I’m dreading hearing about the first person who gets caught in the rain wearing this bag and the open top pocket becomes a wearable rain gutter.

    I like the mesh pocket on the inside of the zippered top flap! I wish there was another sewn against the front side of the interior.

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    The water bottle pocket is probably the most generous on any TB bag, and I don’t know, shy of an Igloo stadium-sport-sized cooler, how big a water bottle would have to be to NOT fit inside the giant compartment that literally takes up the entire width and height of one of the side panels of the bag.

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    It’s new. Different. Clever.

    Weird problem to have when I empty the entire contents of my EDC and this thing just shrugs by showing me a fully packed bag with an empty main compartment.

    But I don’t know whether to hold
    onto this one and keep it for use as an overnight bag, or to toss it back in the pond because I’m out dating other bags when I still am in love with the bag I’m leaving behind (that treats me well!).

    I haven’t seen a heck of a lot on this bag so far and if nothing else am hoping this might spark some new conversation from others who just got their preorders, and are learning how the bag works best for them (or doesn’t!).

    For now, I’ll keep the tags attached, and I’m interested to hear what others have to say about their first impressions of the same bag. Don’t get me wrong - this is by no means a “PLEASE SELL ME ON THIS BAG” post. You all have better things to do. But maybe someone else has figured out a way to make this work I haven’t.
    Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-20-2022, 07:53 PM.
    I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
    Everyday Carry: CP or SK
    Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
    Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
    Plane Travel: CP and WF



    #2
    Good to hear your first impressions!

    I started with consternation, had several ah-has, and now I'm two solid months in with the Cambiata TB gave me to review... and I haven't switched back to my previous EDC yet.
    ( I do carry way more EDC stuff than you)

    I'm very interested to hear what you think as you play with it more and for a variety of uses. It may not be a good solution for you, but it'll be fun to hear how you assess it!
    Last edited by G42; 09-20-2022, 07:54 PM.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

    Comment


      #3
      I sent mine back. I’m retired, so I don’t need to haul on daily basis. My intent was to use them as personal items for travel. But the way I pack and the things I like to carry made it too stuffed; all of the pockets became unusable. I arranged and rearranged, but no go. Backpack carry felt like I was carrying a large box on my back, shoulder carry felt too big and clunky to be comfortable. I really like the color combos—Aubergine/Mountain Grey Cerylon and Nebulous Grey/Fjord but I set them free for someone else to love and use.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post
        It’s a very different design - it’s not really like anything else in regular production or since retired, and for that, I commend the new designer.
        I think the Cambiata design is still Tom/Nik. This blog post has a preview of it from way back in January and it doesn't look like that shape has changed much for production.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by proximal View Post
          I think the Cambiata design is still Tom/Nik.
          The blog post about Cindy says:

          the Cambiata, a blended vision of a tote backpack designed by Nik and Jose

          Comment


            #6
            I’m curious to see how it accommodates an overnight packing list: namely, a toiletry kit, pair of shoes, and packing cube with a change of clothes.

            Beyond that, the only extra things I really pack for short trips would be a tablet computer, and an organizer pouch with chargers and adapters.

            I’ll probably give those items a test pack tonight, if for nothing else, but to satiate my own curiosity and see if there’s any more justification to keeping the bag.

            At $200, it’s a good deal for the price being charged - the Aeronaut 30 is over a hundred dollars more, has only four compartments total, and just 9 liters larger.

            Does it carry as comfortably as an Aeronaut, either in backpack or shoulder mode? My guess is that’s where the price difference is most justified. I’ll play around a little more tonight.
            I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
            Everyday Carry: CP or SK
            Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
            Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
            Plane Travel: CP and WF


            Comment


              #7
              Thanks, Chicagoan! I would def. be interested in hearing about that aspect of its use (as a travel bag). I really like bags that have multiple carry modes. Please report back!
              ----
              All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
              Edmund Burke

              Comment


                #8
                Great review Chicagoan. I agree with you about the pockets and at first I was VERY skeptical about the Cambiata. For me though, it really works, specifically because I like having all my EDC items filling the small pockets while leaving the main compartment empty/flexible for whatever I have going on that day. I have used the Parental Unit in a similar way, using all the small pockets with a mostly empty main compartment. I never really thought of this as a type of use but it’s the best way I can describe why I gravitate to bags like the Synapse, Parental Unit, and now the Cambiata, so thank you for that clarity!

                I’ve had some items get pretty soaked in the outside open pocket! Aesthetically, the oddest thing about the Cambiata is that the top is almost flap shaped but isn’t a flap. I love how wide the bag opens but that outside open pocket is definitely problematic in any wet weather.

                I am really interested in the idea of using it as an overnight bag. If I were traveling without kids, I can definitely see that as a great use for the bag. It would easily swallow overnight items while leaving my EDC in place, and that’s ideal for me.

                edited to add whoops, pressed post too early!

                I would like to use it as my EDC when I am traveling with a larger travel bag since I can have it as a shoulder bag when I’m wearing, say, a Brain Bag, and then when I get to my destination I can use it as a backpack for day trips. I don’t mind how boxy it is because I like what that boxy shape affords me in terms of contents (as opposed to the Luminary, which I love but don’t use as often).
                Last edited by Cristina; 09-21-2022, 11:41 AM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Cristina View Post
                  Great review Chicagoan. I agree with you about the pockets and at first I was VERY skeptical about the Cambiata. For me though, it really works, specifically because I like having all my EDC items filling the small pockets while leaving the main compartment empty/flexible for whatever I have going on that day. I have used the Parental Unit in a similar way, using all the small pockets with a mostly empty main compartment. I never really thought of this as a type of use but it’s the best way I can describe why I gravitate to bags like the Synapse, Parental Unit, and now the Cambiata, so thank you for that clarity!

                  I’ve had some items get pretty soaked in the outside open pocket! Aesthetically, the oddest thing about the Cambiata is that the top is almost flap shaped but isn’t a flap. I love how wide the bag opens but that outside open pocket is definitely problematic in any wet weather.

                  I am really interested in the idea of using it as an overnight bag. If I were traveling without kids, I can definitely see that as a great use for the bag. It would easily swallow overnight items while leaving my EDC in place, and that’s ideal for me.

                  edited to add whoops, pressed post too early!

                  I would like to use it as my EDC when I am traveling with a larger travel bag since I can have it as a shoulder bag when I’m wearing, say, a Brain Bag, and then when I get to my destination I can use it as a backpack for day trips. I don’t mind how boxy it is because I like what that boxy shape affords me in terms of contents (as opposed to the Luminary, which I love but don’t use as often).
                  Cristina, thank you, and funny you mention the Luminary, because if there's another bag the Cambiata is most similar to, it might be that one.

                  What feels so strange is that the Cambiata is 21 liters while the Luminary 15 is well, you know, and that 6-liter difference is considerable. Like I said, I can fill the Cambiata with everything I pack inside my Co-Pilot, and aside from laying the power banks on the bottom of the main compartment, it still leaves the largest volume in the bag almost entirely empty.

                  Which is exactly why it might work as a great overnight bag, where the extra space would be perfect for adding a change of clothes, shoes, toiletries, and a tablet or laptop. I haven't test packed those items yet (that's on tonight's "to do" list) and while I don't doubt they fit, my biggest challenge is figuring out where to store my quick access items in a dry, secure way where they're also quick and easy to access, and it very well might be that I'm not able to.

                  The elastic top pockets inside the bag are great, and the bottom one fits my digital camera PERFECTLY, but if I had to take the backpack off, set it down, unzip the top flap, and dig through the main compartment to grab it, by then I probably would have lost whatever shot I was trying to take.
                  I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
                  Everyday Carry: CP or SK
                  Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
                  Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
                  Plane Travel: CP and WF


                  Comment


                    #10
                    Chicagoan I totally agree about quick access pockets and also the inner side pocket/outer side pocket encroachment you mentioned in your review. Those small quick-access essential items are, for some reason, never accommodated in the way that I want them to be (with any brand). If I could just sew a matching Side Effect or Side Kick on to the outside of every bag, I would.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Last night I test packed the items I normally carry in my every day bag (a Co-Pilot) and transferred them into the Cambiata.

                      The good news? All my items fit.

                      The bad news? Even after filling the bag with all my things, the main compartment remains almost completely empty.

                      Additionally, I wasn't able to store easy access items in a place that was secure, dry, and within quick and easy access (meaning I don't have to remove the bag to access important items):

                      1.) My keys and wallet only made sense clipped into the o-rings of the front open top pocket, but that leaves them vulnerable to weather and theft.

                      2.) The stretch-top pockets inside the main compartment fit my camera well, but it places the bag at the bottom of the volume in a place that is neither quick nor easy to reach, and the time it takes to grab it would likely mean losing a picture opportunity.

                      3.) Other items I use often - my sunglasses and pocket comb - fit well in the top stretch pocket, above the one I placed my camera in, but in using that pocket to isolate the sunglasses from other items that could scratch them, I underpacking the pocket and didn't take advantage of the full volume.

                      Bottom line?

                      This isn't a bag I can comfortably use as my EDC.

                      Would it work better as a "one bag" solution for short weekend trips?

                      I wanted to give it one last chance and find out.

                      So I set out everything I would take on an overnight trip, but just the bare essentials:

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                      White noise machine in a size 3 TSS
                      SSK
                      All Fabric 3DOC with tablet charger, cords, and adapters
                      x1 pair running shorts (to use with undershirt as pajamas)
                      x1 short sleeve button-down shirt
                      x1 t-shirt
                      Snoring mouth guard (secret to a lasting marriage)
                      Eyeglasses in hard case
                      Tablet
                      x1 pair of boxer briefs
                      x1 pair crew length socks
                      x1 pair business casual shoes (nicer than sneakers)
                      x1 pair athleisure pants

                      I packed these into the Cambiata AFTER emptying the contents of my EDC into the bag first (hypothetically using this as a "one bag" solution that could fit underseat on an economy flight).

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                      The tablet went into the bag first, right into the dedicated back sleeve.

                      Followed by the 3DOC, dropped into the very bottom of the main compartment, sitting atop the small/medium/large power banks.

                      I then laid the bag flat on the ground to make it easier to pack - sliding the items in like it was pizza into an oven.

                      All my clothing was folded, stacked, and slid on top of the laptop compartment.

                      The Spiff Kit was laid atop the clothes, and toward the bottom.

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                      And toward the top, nearest the opening, went the stuff sack with my white noise machine, snoring mouth guard, and eyeglasses.

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                      It all fit EXCEPT for my shoes.

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                      But then I remembered - if the backpack straps are deployed, it leaves their stash pocket open!

                      So I grabbed a pair of flip-flops to see if they would fit in the strap compartment, and they did - you just would have to make sure the bottoms faced your back, otherwise it might be a little lumpy to carry.

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                      Did it all fit? Not quite.

                      And would this packing list work in cold weather or for trips longer than an overnight?

                      It would not.

                      So, with that, I don't think the Cambiata is the bag for me.

                      It's too big for everyday carry, and too small for overnight travel.

                      Why did I order the bag in the first place? It was a crossbody with a top-access large main compartment, a lot of built-in organization, able to fit a water bottle vertically, and came in a really super handsome Ursa/Cobalt color combination. On paper, it checks most of my boxes, but the amount of organization in this bag isn't enough to make up for the placement of the organization in this bag - it just doesn't work the same for me as my Co-Pilot.

                      This isn't to say "this bag sucks!" or "great first swing at bat, new designer dude!" because guess what? Guy came into some mighty big shoes, did something different and was creative enough to come up with something of his own design. But it isn't the bag for me. So, Jose, while this one isn't a winner for me personally, I do respect your work and am excited to see what else you can come up with. Because, folks, let's face it - when we buy out every last color combination and version of our favorite bag, we're going to probably want something new and exciting. This is new. This is exciting.

                      And I'm excited to hear how well it works for those whose lifestyles align with the capacity and organization of the bag!

                      Tomorrow I'm going to pack my Cambiata back up in its box and ship it back to Seattle so someone who legitimately wants this bag can buy it.

                      So what's next? Well, the most recent restock included a Wilderness/Coyote CP I've wanted for some time, and I bought that as soon as I saw it relisted for sale. It's nice to find other dark neutral colors - at present, the only options for the CP are too neutral (black and gray) or too bright (orange, red and purple).
                      Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-21-2022, 05:33 PM.
                      I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
                      Everyday Carry: CP or SK
                      Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
                      Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
                      Plane Travel: CP and WF


                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for walking through that pack out Chicagoan !
                        It's always such fun to see what people carry, how they organize it, and what they think about how it all fits together.

                        I don't remember - have you ever tried an S19? It would be interesting to see if the built in organization in that bag would work better with how you pack and the access you prioritize, even though it's 2L smaller.


                        (and point of clarification - the Cambiata is a joint design from Nik & Jose)
                        I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by G42 View Post
                          Thanks for walking through that pack out Chicagoan !
                          It's always such fun to see what people carry, how they organize it, and what they think about how it all fits together.

                          I don't remember - have you ever tried an S19? It would be interesting to see if the built in organization in that bag would work better with how you pack and the access you prioritize, even though it's 2L smaller.


                          (and point of clarification - the Cambiata is a joint design from Nik & Jose)
                          Sorry, Nik! Must be present to win!

                          (Kidding! Thanks for helping create a fun new design.)

                          For overnight “one bag” travel I usually defer to a SN22 - I also own the SN30, S19, two L15s, and a DLBP.

                          When some more time frees up I’ll do a pack out for that (wrote these posts tonight between loads of wash and tomorrow I’m packing for a couple nights of car camping in Wisconsin this weekend) and thanks for the idea!

                          I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
                          Everyday Carry: CP or SK
                          Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
                          Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
                          Plane Travel: CP and WF


                          Comment


                            #14
                            Mine arrived today, fortunately while I was taking my lunch break. I didn’t have a chance to play around much, but initial impressions are positive.

                            The water bottle pocket will fit my 32 ounce Owala metal bottle or the 24 ounce with more space and slightly more ease.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Talesofyarn View Post
                              Mine arrived today, fortunately while I was taking my lunch break. I didn’t have a chance to play around much, but initial impressions are positive.

                              The water bottle pocket will fit my 32 ounce Owala metal bottle or the 24 ounce with more space and slightly more ease.
                              That water bottle pocket is great!

                              It's a perfect size (width and depth) to keep a bottle upright, and tall enough to fit pretty much any water bottle.

                              Honestly, it's a great pocket, period, and if you took this pack dayhiking, it would be the perfect spot to stash a rain jacket (warm weather) or a hat and gloves (cold weather) where you could dig them out without having to rummage through the main volume.

                              All my experiences using Tom Bihn bags have been positive ones, because even when bags (like this one) don't work out, it helps me better understand why the ones I do use often work so well.
                              Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-22-2022, 11:30 AM.
                              I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
                              Everyday Carry: CP or SK
                              Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
                              Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
                              Plane Travel: CP and WF


                              Comment

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