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2+ weeks with the Ristretto for iPad

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    2+ weeks with the Ristretto for iPad

    I already have a custom Timbuk2 Classic Messenger (Small), and considered getting one of the newer XS ones. Overall, I like the Timbuk2 bag, but my main complaints are that the strap length is too short, and the shoulder pad moves too much (find myself adjusting it constantly). I decided to get something else.

    I ended up going for the Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad (Black/Steel). The bag was smaller than I imagined, but it has a good amount of compartments and looks like its going to carry everything I need.

    I've been using this bag for about two weeks now and I really like it. It's a smaller bag, so it probably can't compete with the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger in volume, but it holds it's fair share.

    The bag is handmade and the quality shows. The material used is excellent and very sturdy. The bag was sent in a UPS box and is not sealed in any type of bag. I mention this because a very minor complaint I had was that the bag was a tad bit dirty since the box isn't air tight and dust/dirt from the truck found it's way in.

    The back has a compartment for a magazine or similarly shaped item. There is also a small nylon like handle, but is placed where it does not stick out over the top of the bag. The bag also comes with an adjustable waist strap, but I have removed it.

    All the parts used appear to be top notch. Part of me is going to miss the velcro sound of the Timbuk2, but snap is an acceptable replacement.

    The accessories compartments:

    The first open pouch right above the clasp is about 7" deep at it's shallowest point and 8.5" wide.

    Right above that are 2 pencil/pen holders, and 2 phone size holders (5" deep by 3" wide).

    Right above that is a little ring you can attach a key tether to. Then above that is the zipper pouch (also about 7" deep and 8.5" wide).

    The next compartment is large enough for a notebook, magazine, etc. It's about 11" deep and about 9+" wide. The back is padded (behind it is the iPad/Netbook compartment) and could be used for a keyboard or other similar type accessory. There is also another ring in this compartment along with a removable key tether. The rings in this compartment and the other are identical so you can place the key tether on either one.

    The iPad/Netbook compartment is padded on the front and back. It also has a padded flap that tucks in. The front inside of the compartment consists of a very soft material, but the back inside is made of the same Cordura material used on the exterior of the bag. I initially thought this was an odd choice, but Tom Bihn assures me that the Cordura fabric may be touch and sturdy, but is soft and shouldn't cause any scratches. This is a non issue for me since my iPad will be in the Apple Case, but anyone considering this bag with a nude iPad may want to put the screen towards the softer side.

    This is just an example of what I am carrying in my bag right now, or at least the past couple weeks. It's a good amount of stuff, and there is still plenty of room for more.

    The pocket in the interior section is perfect for the Overdrive and/or cables.

    Here's a shot of the iPad in the Apple case in the padded compartment.


    If I were to list any negatives of this bag I guess one would be the back sleeve/pocket (seen on 2nd image of my first post). The Tom Bihn site states this is, " ideal for storing papers, a magazine or a newspaper." I don't think it's quite deep enough for an average size magazine. I tried my issue of Maxim in there and it stuck out too much and interfered with the handle. I think it will still be useful for smaller documents, but not average size or large magazine/documents.

    Another negative, and this is kind of nit picking, is lack of color options or custom colors. This is one of the things I love about Timbuk2. Even their stock color options are plentiful, if sometimes a bit odd. If you don't like the stock options you can always custom order from a large variety of colors and patterns. At this time, Tom Bihn only has 4 color options (Black/Wasabi, Black/Steel, Cocoa/Olive, and Olive/Cayenne) and all sold out :p.

    The only other negative that I have noticed, and this is completely IMO, is the back side of the iPad compartment. As I mentioned in my first post, the back side is made of the same Cordura material as the exterior of the bag. It is still padded on both sides, but the back side is not the same soft material as the inner side. I don't think this will scratch a naked iPad, but I found it a bit odd and worth mentioning.


    This bag is sized right to carry the iPad and other essentials, but is not large or bulky. I came from a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger and feel this is a better option for taller (6' plus) people. The strap is plenty long and the shoulder pad does not move around too easily, which were my main complaints with the Timbuk2 bag. The bag is just comfortable to wear, and looks great (IMO) while protecting your iPad. This also being my first Tom Bihn bag, I was not dissapointed! This bag has the superb quality that I have been reading about. This is a great bag for new iPad owners.

    Thanks for a great review JD78.

    Getting the same color combination tomorrow and from reading your review I can tell I'll be very pleased with it.

    Now, if only Apple could bring the iPad to Europe a little faster that'd be just great as well.


      Ok got my Ristretto for iPad - identical to this one - but no iPad until world wide release on Friday.

      Its a lovely bag, really nice design for a go anywhere bag thats small enough to be not be a burden or too bulky, but big enough for the things you need for day trips except perhaps a decent sized water bottle.

      I own Hedgren, Crumpler, STM, Victorinox and High Sierra backpacks and shoulder bags; this Tom Bihn Ristretto edges them all out for design (pocket placement and usefulness, accessory bags to function like easy access pockets) and manufacturing quality.

      I thought I would post my early thoughts for any would be buyers. This is really a list of other stuff to get with the bag order to get the most out of your Ristretto.

      > Get two medium sized clear organiser pouches as they fit very nicely in the main section. I plan to use one as a medicine bag with stuff I like to keep handy and the second for cables (VGA, extended power) and power adapter (which will not always come with me and hence a bag is an tidier way of unloading and loading them - the later only for longer trips).
      > Get some strapeez to held tie up you power and connector cables.
      > Get some 8" key straps. This way you can attach the medium bags from either inside attaching point but face them all the same way to be able to quickly check for stuff. It also gives you extra reach to pull them out whilst the bags on your shoulder to get to stuff when standing.
      > Two mini pouches I have are being used as a business card holder and will be used for my ears phones and a cleaning cloth. Again an 8" and 16" key straps makes it easier to leave them at the bottom of the front section of the bag and pull them out.
      > I have a small clear pouch for the camera connection kit and a spare sync cable for my iPhone.
      > I have also have a spare key strap for my keys :)

      > Apart from that the Absolute shoulder strap is really nice and seems to be well worth the extra cost. I cant say yet what its going to be like with the iPad loaded up but its really nice so far - grippy, comfy.

      Thoughts for Tom Bihn...for what its worth

      For me the only thing that doesn't make this bag perfect is the lack of a side mounted bottle holder or that Tom Bihn dont have a something of their own design I can buy and attach to one side of my Ristretto. In summer DownUnder its pretty hot and I always carry a half litre or more (up to 24oz/750 mil) in a steel or plastic container (bigger and more environmentally friendly than smaller purchased bottles). I am starring at the strap connection points and the four loops for the belt strap I wont be using, wondering if I can get or adapt something that is sturdy, will fit solidly and blends in nicely with this bag.

      Other things that might work more nicely - coloured key straps, so I can easily pull the right strap to get the pouch I want.

      Options to pick the colours of my pouches rather than take pot luck.

      A Tom Bihn iPhone pouch to mount on my Absolute strap...with an iPad cleaning cloth pouch.

      Another shipping option for Australia buyers. The shipping cost me half again the cost of the basic bag. Its a big deterrent. Would love to see an Australia distributor/retailer, even if it was only mailorder to over come this.


        Originally posted by JPP View Post
        Another shipping option for Australia buyers. The shipping cost me half again the cost of the basic bag. Its a big deterrent.
        Agreed. The delivery is dreadfully expensive. I have tried to use the forums to organise a group shipment but that hasn't worked out. I tend to place large orders with extra pouches etc so I don't end up having to pay too much shipping. It is flat rate.



          Great reviews JD78 and JPP.

          JPP: A TOM BIHN iPad cleaning cloth is on its way. Expect to see it in about a month!

          UPS Expedited (at $55) is the least expensive and most reliable shipping option to Australia. We used to ship via USPS Express Mail (which would be $56.58 for an average size package to Australia) but parcels could take up to four weeks to arrive in Australia (UPS is guaranteed 5-7 business days.) Or, via USPS, sometimes parcels would get lost and wouldn't arrive at all - in which case we basically had no way of finding the lost parcel or getting reimbursed for it. If a UPS parcel gets lost, they initiate a trace and investigation and 99% of the time the package is located. If it's truly lost, UPS helps us arrange to get the customer a replacement ASAP.

          If you guys ever want to order really small stuff like Cord Zipper Pulls or a pouch or two, email us and we can see if we can send it Air Mail - assuming you're OK with the possibility that it might take longer to get to you. But we can't risk sending larger items any other way than UPS.
          Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

          Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.