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Cambiata! Pocket talk

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    Cambiata! Pocket talk

    A tote backpack brought me to TB for the first time, in 2016. Nowadays my use case for a convertible backpack is this: I prefer backpacks but I usually switch between a small one and a large one. Instead of swapping all the contents, I could carry a small backpack with essentials on easy days and then convert it and use it as a personal item while the big backpack did the heavier lifting.

    I was so excited to hear TB was releasing one! But then, and I have to be upfront on this, I was really really sceptical about the Cambiata when I saw the pics. I didn’t like that it wasn’t a traditional tote but a shoulder bag. I didn’t like that it had higher capacity than an S19 with no waist strap, I was… pessimistic maybe? Could have been the heatwave getting to my brain. (Topped out at 104F/40C on Tuesday where I live). I was quite surprised when I unpacked it yesterday in cooler temps (TB have sent this to me at no charge to review, and as you’ll see, my opinions are my own).

    I am going to use this bag as my main bag for the next week and update as is appropriate. Here are my first thoughts.

    Constelllation Blue is gorgeous!

    I can find logical pockets for most of my daily items, which is very good (if not THE most important test). It has a cavernous space but also it has built in organization.

    The shoulder strap isn’t annoying, it is fine, but this definitely DEFINITELY isn’t a tote. It’s a sibling of a Cafe Bag or a Ristretto, not a Shop Bag. I wish TB would offer an optional shorter hand or elbow-carry strap, padded or just folded over in the middle like some of the backpack grab handles have been done.

    It is LONG. My 28oz/850ml Contigo insulated water bottle fits in the water bottle pocket so any awkwardness induced by the height of the bag is forgiven.

    For a bag that is so cavernous inside it has a surprising number of pockets. I do think there is a design problem with the side pockets, which is that they are back to back with each other and therefore one side has to have flatter items in it if the other side has 3D items. I am very familiar with pocket encroachment on the Synapse and Synik front panels, but it is amplified here because of the boxy shape and the narrow side panels. I think the back to back pockets takes away from their functionality and that a more 3D shape to the outside pockets would help a lot, though I realise there may be other reasons apart from aesthetics that make this an unfavourable choice. Like, maybe the exterior material is too thick to gusset effectively.

    Here are some first look pics I am adding as attachments because sometimes I struggle with the forum software. Everything in the bag was moved from my Paradigm.

    Cambiata next to Paradigm:

    Cambiata next to paradigm
    28 ounce Contigo in the bottle pocket. The lid does show through the fabric when zipped, because maybe it’s a little wider than the pocket wants.

    28oz Contigo in bottle pocket
    Some things in the inside open top pockets, experimenting with 3D and flatter items:

    Inside open top pockets
    Big bulky UK keys fit in the top outside pocket:
    Keys fit in top side pocket

    Some shopping bags and first aid kit in the big inside open top pocket:
    Inside open top pocket
    The inside of the bag and you can see the lid pocket too (lip balm and pens):
    Inside of the bag

    That exterior side pocket definitely seems to be asking for keys!
    Can't wait to see/hear more about how this might work with the stuff you carry for the family... Stay safe in that heat! ?
    “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
    “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
    “That’s practically zen.”
    -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay


      Hi Cristina! Thank you for these pics and it is especially helpful to see it next to the Paradigm. May I ask a favor- can you fit the Paradigm inside the Cambiata? Does the bag zip easily? I am envisioning travels where I carry a flat empty Paradigm inside the Cambiata (for use as my touring bag at the destination) while a PCSB filled with clothes and a small zippered mesh pouch with toiletries take up the rest of the bag. Thanks in advance (also I understand you may be hot and busy with other things so no worries if you aren’t able to try this out).


        nsh yes an empty Paradigm fits quite easily with plenty of room to spare in the main compartment.

        In this pic you can see there was enough room for my totally overstuffed First Aid Kit in next to the Paradigm.
        Paradigm in Cambiata

        I only have a nighttime pic of the PCSB in there (sorry!) but it does fit.


        It fits better vertically in a portrait orientation rather than landscape, particularly if you are using any of the side pockets. Even in this orientation there is room on top for the First Aid Kit to sit on top, though if you also have bulky stuff in the lid pocket you may see a bump or too when zipped closed. The zipper wasn’t strained though.
        PCSB and first aid kit and paradigm in Cambiata

        Hope this helps!

        Originally posted by nsh View Post
        Hi Cristina! Thank you for these pics and it is especially helpful to see it next to the Paradigm. May I ask a favor- can you fit the Paradigm inside the Cambiata? Does the bag zip easily? I am envisioning travels where I carry a flat empty Paradigm inside the Cambiata (for use as my touring bag at the destination) while a PCSB filled with clothes and a small zippered mesh pouch with toiletries take up the rest of the bag. Thanks in advance (also I understand you may be hot and busy with other things so no worries if you aren’t able to try this out).


          Three additional pics from use, mostly snacks and park items from two after school playground trips. In two of the pictures I have two 1 liter (quart) bottles of apple juice and a bag of apples visible on top of a bag of cups and whatever else I have, and in the other I have a bag of corn chips and my first aid kit sitting on top of other snacks. Uploading as attachments.

          Editing to add: I have found this bag very comfortable to carry as a backpack even full of apple juice and apples!
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Cristina; 07-21-2022, 02:16 PM.


            THANK YOU ??


              Cristina Thank you for the first look and photos! Love the Constellation blue.


                Ok so I hacked the strap to allow a hand carry. I cut the end and made it so that instead of a loop, it has a dangling end that is tidied by a 1.5” slider (I had this in my stash from a previous strap hack). If I love it I could always re-sew it shorter, but this way I can still make it longer if I want to. The looped design of the shoulder straps is tidier but less flexible.

                edited to add:
                The three pics are :
                -a pic of the slider on the strap,
                -a pic of two straps, a 1” gatekeeper strap that would be found on some versions of a Side Kick or FJN and the Cambiata 1.5” strap. The longer 1” strap is set at the shortest length for this style of strap and then the modified Cambiata strap is set at my preferred length for a shoulder and hand carry (I do not need to adjust it to switch between these modes)
                -a pic of the Cambiata with the strap attached.

                I love the silky material of the new shoulder straps and strongly prefer it to the older style (and to the material on the waist straps) so I preferred to modify the existing Cambiata strap instead.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by Cristina; 07-22-2022, 11:33 AM.


                  So I’ve been using the Cambiata for about a week now and I have enjoyed getting to know this bag.

                  For me this bag is a 9 out of 10. I really like it and I will describe what I like about it in detail below.

                  I’ll just get the negative out of the way and say that after a week of use, the only thing I don’t like about it is the flat nature of the outside side pockets. If the bag is full, even if it is full of a soft thing like a picnic blanket or jacket, then it is actually really hard to get things out of the side pockets. The opening is straight across and the pocket is flat so there just isn’t any wiggle room. I’ve put a 16” key strap on my keys so I can pull them out of the pocket when the bag is full because otherwise I can’t even get my fingers in there well enough to grip my keys, and getting my hand sanitizer out of the bottom outside side pocket is difficult every time.

                  Here is the Cambiata with the Solar key strap sticking out of the top side pocket

                  Cambiata with key strap sticking out of the side pocket.

                  I like most things about the bag a lot.

                  I like the size. Any bigger and I would want a hip strap but this is a good medium sized bag. And yet it holds so much! I can fit a TB First Aid Kit, packable rain jacket, and TWO lunch bags inside even with the water bottle pocket occupied. It is pretty comfortable even for me and I’m a bit of a tricky customer in the backpack department.

                  Here is the Cambiata with two bulky lunch bags inside, sitting on a first aid kit and packable rain jacket. No drinks are in this bag, they were in a separate bag:
                  Cambiata with lunch inside
                  Cambiata with lunch inside

                  This configuration with the jacket to the side of the lunch bag I think may have been the one that caused me to struggle to get my keys out. Lesson learned, leave more lateral room at the top of the bag:
                  Cambiata with lunch inside
                  This configuration was just for a short park trip with snacks and water bottles but no full lunches:
                  Cambiata with first aid kit and two water bottles showing

                  I like that there are so many pockets even though most of the bag is such an open space.

                  I love the lid pocket, it’s where I keep my essentials, but do make sure to zip it closed otherwise stuff will fall out.

                  I like that the laptop compartment is there because I will put my iPad in it when I travel, and I even like the magazine pockets.

                  I wish the strap had a smaller minimum length for hand carry but my strap hack works well enough and is easy enough to do that I’ve gotten around it.

                  In conclusion, this bag really fills a gap for me in my bag collection. Traveling always presents a bag problem for me because I want to two-bag it and I want both bags to be backpacks (yet I only have one back!). This is perfect for that problem. I like that I can keep the Cambiata full of daily stuff and snacks and then carry it as a shoulder bag while I have my Brain Bag full of clothes and toiletries. Then at my destination I can use it as a backpack all day. For everyday use it also fills a gap because it is small enough for daily use but I can put some park stuff in it for the afternoon, which I struggle to do in other smallish backpacks. For the past week I’ve been here, there and everywhere with the kids, including the park, and the Cambiata has performed very well. It is a fabulous bag and a great companion bag.
                  Last edited by Cristina; 07-28-2022, 01:37 PM.


                    What a great write-up! Thank you, can’t wait to get mine and give it a test run. This is shaping up to be my one-bag for travel and my edc at school (teacher). I’m bummed it doesn’t have tote handles, that really would’ve been perfect.
                    "Not all who wander are lost"
                    "Love people, use things, because the opposite never works" - The Minimalists
                    Synapse 25 in Olive, Aubergine Side Effect, UV A30 PCBP, Sitka PCSB


                      Thank you so much for this thoughtful review. I’ve been vacillating over canceling my pre order, mostly because I thought maybe I just got caught up in pre-release frenzy, but it looks like I’ll be using this bag for more than I thought.


                        Cristina, I appreciate this feedback. I like the photo with the Paradigm inside the Cambiata.


                          I think it is a neat bag and I almost went for it, but I decided its more shoulder carry than tote/backback. Great post, TY!
                          Last edited by KellsBells; 09-07-2022, 12:15 PM.


                            Just an update.

                            I switched to my Brain Bag over the summer because I needed more stuff for all day outdoor activities, but now that school is back on, I’m back to the Cambiata. I like that I can keep my daily stuff in it but also fit a set of gardening tools if I am headed to the allottment or community garden. Today it was after-school snacks and rain gear. The other day it was three tablets and a bag of apples. And yet I can also use it nearly empty and it works then too. I just really like using it.