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1st-gen Ristretto for 11-inch Macbook Air

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    1st-gen Ristretto for 11-inch Macbook Air

    I threw caution to the winds and bought an 11-inch Macbook Air last month, and I don't regret the impulse for a moment. It's such an amazing little computer, surprisingly powerful and fast, that I could use it as my primary machine.

    But deciding how to carry it around with me has been a pleasant dilemma, and I've had fun experimenting with several of the Tom Bihn bags that I already own and love.

    I use a LittleSwift as my daily purse, but there's already so much stuff in it that there's no room to spare for my Air. (Though I can tuck it in there; it will stick out over the top of the Little Swift, but it does fit. I wouldn't want to do that on a regular basis, however.) I also have a full-size Swift, and the Air in its slipcase will easily fit in that, but that's too big for everyday.

    So like Goldilocks, I've been looking for something in between. I own both an Imago and a 1st-generation Ristretto. Both will readily accommodate the 11 Air, but the Imago has ended up becoming my dedicated camera bag. Maybe it's time to buy another Imago, but my budget is still recovering from the purchase of the Air! (And I'm still waiting for that Tom Bihn camera insert; I bought a small one from another company and I've got that in there along with several lenses and other camera accessories.)

    So for now at least, the 1st-generation Ristretto is it. I sewed my own envelope-style slipcase for the Air after seeing some great designs on Etsy.com. I wanted something that would preserve the slim profile of the Air, but give it some protection from bumps, scratches, and water. By using 3mm industrial felt, I was able to do all that. I had to use Velcro to close the flap, which isn't ideal, but it works. And I sewed an Ultrasuede "grip" on the bottom, to add visual interest, but also as a soft cushy place to hold the case. When the Air is in its slipcase, it adds a little length, so when I place it in the laptop portion of the Ristretto, it does stick up a tiny bit. I'm still easily able to fold and tuck the flap over it, however, and there's no problem closing and latching the outer flap, so it works pretty well. I included some photos so you could see how the slipcase fits inside the Ristretto.

    I'd love to hear how other people are carrying their 11-inch Airs: and if there are any plans from you guys in the Mother Ship (that would be Tom Bihn HQ) for designing a special case for the smaller Air. Perhaps something in Ultrasuede or Cork?
    Attached Files

    Thanks for this, ncb4! I have all the same bags (except for the Little Swift) and have been exploring the best way to carry my MBA11.

    So far, I've been using my Synapse mostly. Your use of the 1st gen Ristretto intrigues me though, since that's the one I have. Love the pouch you made. I love to sew and came close to making my own, too, but ended up buying the Cache for it.

    How well does that camera insert work in the Imago? I just got a new camera and am looking for a way to safely but accessibly carry it and the associated lenses and gear.

    I'm hoping the TB camera insert shows up soon (and that it will fit in a bag I already own!).

    Thanks again for the pics. Very helpful.


      You're welcome! (And about the camera insert)

      So glad this was helpful to you, FoggyMorn. I think putting your MBA in the Cache, and then in the laptop section of the 1st-gen Ristretto, would work really well.

      As for my "camera bag mod" for the Imago, things are a little loosey-goosey in there, but overall, I'm surprised how well everything fits, and how secure it is when I'm walking around with the Imago. I can't remember the brand of insert I bought, but it's a small one, just sized for the camera itself (an Olympus e420). I also have a larger 3-compartment insert that fits into an old Timbuk2 small messenger bag that I had, but it's just a bit too large to squeeze into the Imago. So I got the small insert, and then I've got cases/bags for the lenses I want to carry around with me. There is plenty of room in the Imago for all my camera accessories (memory card case, spare batteries, charger, card reader etc), my photo notebook, pen, keys, sunglasses, wallet, and cell phone. I've got an Absolute Strap on the Imago, so even when the bag is fully loaded, it feels comfortable. And it's easy to swing the bag around in front to access it, then swing it back on my hip when I want it out of the way for walking.

      Still, I eagerly awaiting the Tom Bihn insert; I'm sure it will work even better than what I've rigged up.


        Thanks for the info, ncb4. I'm hoping for the camera insert, too.

        My Imago is waiting on me to send it in for a handle mod, but haven't gotten to that yet. I'd love to use the Absolute Strap with the large café bag I have, but I can't switch out the straps on the one I have.

        I have an old (old) Timbuk2 bag from my OM-1 days, and a smaller camera bag that I may press into service for the short term, but the TB camera insert is probably going to be my long-term solution. (Hope so, anyway.)

        Again, thanks for your pics and info.


          Originally posted by Foggy Morn View Post
          my OM-1 days
          Those were the days ... small light, reliable, fast Zeiko lenses and best of all great pictures! I used an Om-1, Om-2 and even Om-10 (not so great), then FM2's, FE2's and loads of really cheap AI lenses. Just beautiful! Carried four bodies and about eight lenses and a Metz gun, all in a Billingham canvas bag that weighed about the same as a family car! I 'lightened up' by switching to a 6x7 Mamiya RB with 3 lenses.