This post should have been written nearly twelve months ago.
Back in 2011, I purchased a Tom Bihn Ristretto laptop bag. I'd been looking for a smallish "gadget" bag, mainly to use as a separate carry on bag for air travel. When travelling, I have a standard carry on case to go into the overhead locker, but I really wanted a separate bag to carry all the stuff I need to access during a flight - one small enough to push under the seat in front of me.
You know the stuff I mean - my iPad, noise cancelling earphones, a book, styluses, my kindle, all the various necessities for a long haul flight.
The Ristretto was recommended to me by various Twitter peeps and I ordered one.
It was fantastic - amazingly small and compact, but cavernous in its capacity.
I think I tweeted about it just before Macworld last year, and was delighted to get contacted by Tom Bihn on Twitter. They were delighted I was happy with the bag as well as letting me know that the Ristretto was having a redesign. Even better was that they would like to send me an updated design to try out. As I was going to be in San Francisco, they arranged to have one shipped directly to the hotel.
The new bag duly arrived and I've been using it constantly ever since.
The redesign wasn't overly dramatic, so all of the features I loved about the original design remained. Some of the new features included tougher material used on the exterior and interior of the bag, a new zipper to close a small, easy to access pocket on the outside of the bag and a redesigned grab handle on the back of the bag.
I've used the new bag all through 2012 and it still delights me with its functionality and capacity.
On the recent MacMania 15 trip to Australia, we had over 20 hours of air travel to endure, and the Ristretto managed to keep both my wife and I in sufficient gadgets for the entire trip. It actually held:
- 3 x iPad 2 (well they only have 10 hours of battery life)
- 1 x iPad mini
- 1 x iPod touch
- 1 x Kindle Paperwhite
- 1 x Kindle
- 1 x Bose QC 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones (in hard case)
- Spare Batteries
- Apple Headphones
- Various pens and styli
- Spare glasses
- Passports and Travel documents
- Sweets (got to have some sweets)
The Ristretto just swallowed the lot!
There's nothing I hate more than getting on the plane and having to open the overhead bag to retrieve stuff I need for the flight. Even worse is having to pull down the overhead bag during the flight - nightmare.
With the Ristretto, I just throw the bag on my chair, stow my overhead bag and sit down, with everything I need easily to hand.
I would recommend getting the Absolute Strap if you're going to be using it a lot, or packing it with a lot of gadgets - it's a specially padded strap that is really comfortable.
Of course, once at my destination, I don't cram it with as much stuff, so it's really lightweight and easy to carry around.
Before I switched across to the 15" retina MacBook Pro, my main laptop was the 11" MacBook Air and the 13" Ristretto was perfect for carrying both the 11" Air and my iPad 2. It has a padded divider in the main section that separated both devices perfectly, without the need for a case or sleeve for either device.
They do specific versions of the bag for the iPad and the 11" MacBook Air, but I went with the 13" MacBook Air or MacBook Pro version. As an aside, (and they probably wouldn't recommend using it in this way) I can actually fit my 15" retina MacBook Pro in the 13" bag. Ideally you'd want to use a sleeve on the rMBP but at a pinch, it does work - perhaps not recommended for long trips though - best stick to the recommended sizes.
I feel as though I should finish this update off with some negative comments about the bag, but honestly, I can't find any.
It really is my perfect travel bag and thanks to Darcy over at Tom Bihn for not asking for it back!