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Review of my new Ristretto

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    Review of my new Ristretto

    My long awaited new Ristretto finally got delivered 2 weeks ago (it just took a week to get from Seattle to Scotland), and now that I've had a chance to put it through it's paces on a daily basis since then, I thought I'd finally get round to submitting my review. Fair's fair, I carried out a lot of research on this forum (thanks to others who were kind enough to submit reviews) before deciding on the Ristretto so I guess it's payback time, and who knows, perhaps I may be able to influence someone else's research in the future!

    Previously I was using a larger messenger bag from another company as my go to bag. It's important to say that this bag was probably the best one I've ever owned for day to day business (BB - before Bihn ;)), and I had no reason to be unhappy with it. It comfortably allowed me to carry bundles of A4 paper, binders, a couple of books, kindle, phone, notebook, train tickets, lunch box & juice each day and had plenty of small pockets built in. Since I work in a university, I was frequently taking home bundles of paper for one reason or another (mostly reading for the hour long journey to/from work each day). However I was determined to cut down on what I carry on an everyday basis, and to be a bit smarter with regard to my personal organisation and workflow, so the purchase of the new iPad in March and the researching of the Ristretto were both very much part of that process.

    Why the Ristretto? Well after researching the iPad apps that I could use to help with my workflow (I can highly recommend Evernote for notes and thoughts, and Goodreader for reading and annotating PDFs), I realised that I was just about ready to go paperless for the vast majority of time, so the Ristretto seemed to be ideal - enough to accommodate day to day necessities in my new super efficient regime, without offering me too much extra space to encourage me to clutter up once again. It comfortably holds my ipad with gel skin and smart cover in the rear ready made compartment, and as others have pointed out it's really well padded and protected from everyday knocks. I get the feeling that those who may have purchased a thicker folio type cover for the iPad may also be ok as there's still some room to spare in this compartment - worse case scenario is that those with thicker folio style cases could go for the Ristretto for iPad Air since it may offer a bit more wriggle room. I can also fit my small Arkon iPad stand either in this section or in the main section just in front.

    To go with the Ristretto I purchased 5 organiser pouches of various sizes and 3 extra key straps (one of which was the longer 8 inch) to accompany the standard 4 inch strap that comes with the Ristretto. I have subsequently found that I did not need all the key straps I ordered as having all the pouches dangling at the bottom of the bag turned out to be a bit unweildy and unnecessary. Attaching pouches directly on to the supplied o-rings works just perfectly. However I still use two of the key straps: one (with keys attached) in the small front zippered compartment, the other in the main compartment to which I attach both my iPad charger in the small padded pouch and the mini pouch with my iPad cleaning stuff - this means these two pouches rest snugly in the bottom of the bag as I don't need to access them everyday, and I just pull the strap to bring them up when I do need 'em.

    I use 4 pouches attached to the 3 o-rings in the main compartment: 1 mini pouch holds my ear buds; the clear mini holds my iKlear satchets, cleaning cloth and usb pen; the small padded pouch holds my ipad mains charger and shares the same o-ring with the clear mini; and the clear organiser wallet is great for my money, bank card and receipts. There's still space inside the main compartment to throw in a book, and/or an A4 paper file if I have to, but so far there's been no need. Improvements to my personal routine means that I purchase my lunch items for the week ahead on the Monday morning, which has been working out great so there's no need for the lunch box, juice and fruit to be carried on a daily basis (there would be no space for anything else if I did).

    I use the front zippered compartment pretty much as advertised on the website: iPhone; 2 pens; small moleskin notebook; train ticket; hand sanitiser; keys on a chain. I could easily fit another organiser pouch in here if necessary, whether it be mini, small or medium.

    I just love the material the Ristretto is made from. It's been caught in a few downpours yet everything inside remained dry as a bone. Packed for everyday use it remains light and easy to carry, and I find the standard strap and shoulder pad really comfortable. It would be cool if there was a way to stop the shoulder pad sliding up and down the strap of its own accord, but I'm probably nit-picking a bit since it stays perfectly in place when in situ on my shoulder.

    What features do I miss from my old bag? Well, travelling on the train everyday I do miss the small zippered pocket on the outside flap which was just large enough to hold my train ticket and iphone, meaning I didn't have to open up my bag each time I got to the turnstile or when the ticket inspector came into the carriage. I also miss my small umbrella - I could fit one in the inside compartment but wouldn't like to do this if it was wet. Its just struck me when typing this that I could probably place it in the rear open flap on the back of the Ristretto, but a cool feature would be to have a custom holder on the side of the bag, right below one of the straps. There's probably a good reason why Tom's bigger brain has decided to leave this out, but thought it was worth a mention! I was aware of both these issues before purchasing the bag, so neither were obviously deal breakers.

    I'm very happy with my new Ristretto and it really is ideal for those who are determined to carry as little as necessary, but in a structured way. My old favourite bag has only had one outing in the last 2 weeks, and that was because I had 5 books to return to the univerity library. Since there will no doubt be other occasions when I will be required to carry some books in the future, the next TB purchase has already been earmarked, and this will be the ID messenger bag - and man, I'll really have to think about filling those o-rings up as well, so there will no doubt be some more pouches in the box to keep it company on it's journey to Scotland!
    Last edited by davys; 06-19-2012, 04:05 PM. Reason: Corrected original post since I actually use 2 key straps, doh!
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