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Tom Bihn Ristretto Review: An Amazing MacBook Air Bag

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Carrying an ultraportable notebook around in a giant bag defeats the purpose of going thin and light on short trips. Sure, a big bag is as good as the next when you want or need to take the kitchen sink with you, but when you want the essentials and nothing more, look at the Tom Bihn Ristretto Bag.

The Ristretto I reviewed is made for the MacBook, 13″MacBook Pro and 13″ MacBook Air. There is also a smaller version which is designed to fit the MacBook Air 11″ just right.

Tom Bihn Ristretto 13 Front

After using this Tom Bihn bag for a few trips and as a daily driver, I am impressed with the protection, comfort and ability to carry exactly what I want; without tempting me to take along more than I need.

At $120 this bag isn’t cheap, but as I recently told a college, it’s worth every penny. If you want a cheaper Macbook Air bag, check out the Timbik2 Quickie XS which Xavier just picked up at GottaBeMobile.

Protection

The notebook section of the Ristretto offers good protection thanks to a padded compartment, complete with a fold over lid that seals the top of the notebook in and keeps it protected as well. The padding carries over to the bottom of the bag, so you won’t ding up your Macbook Pro when you set the bag down.

Tom Bihn Ristretto 13 with Tablet and Notebook

There is a small amount of space ion between the padded notebook compartment which is just the right size for an iPad or an Android tablet. This area is not as padded, but I felt safe placing my tablet in this small section with the screen facing the padded notebook compartment.

As you move further away, you have a zippered compartment and an open area with pockets. I routinely kept a Macbook Air charger in the zipped compartment as well as a MiFi and a review phone in the other pockets. I was hesitant to keep the phone in these pockets because the top of the Ristretto buckles in place in one spot, leaving an open area, but during my use I didn’t drop anything I kept in these pockets.

The open area was empty for the first few days, but turned out to be just the right size for carrying my Nikon D5100 around town. This section isn’t padded, so I wouldn’t do this on a flight or without some additional layer of protection.

Carrying Power

As you can see, I was able to fit quite a bit of tech in a very small bag. The Tom Bihn Ristretto is one of my favorite notebook bags because it allows me to carry something very small, without feeling like I have to make choices about what I carry. Normally when I pick up a bag that is this size I end up switching to a bigger bag within 2 weeks, but as long as I am taking my Air with me, it’s in the Ristretto.

Tom Bihn Ristretto 13 Open Loaded

As you can see, I was able to fit quite a bit of tech in a very small bag. The Tom Bihn Ristretto is one of my favorite notebook bags because it allows me to carry something very small, without feeling like I have to make choices about what I carry. Normally when I pick up a bag that is this size I end up switching to a bigger bag within 2 weeks, but as long as I am taking my Air with me, it’s in the Ristretto.

Comfort

Tom Bihn Ristretto 13 Super SHoulder Strap

The small Ristretto is also comfortable to carry thanks to the upgraded shoulder strap. This option bumps the price up $150, but is worth it if you plan to carry as much gear as I do on a daily basis.

Recommendation

The Tom Bihn Ristretto for 13″ MacBooks offers a killer combination of size and well laid out storage space. At $120, it is well priced for the value it delivers. I would be hesitant to use the inner pockets for anything important if I had to put the bag flat through a scanner, but for any other situation they are deep enough to keep your gadgets safe. You can purchase the Tom Bihn Ristretto in several color combinations to suit your taste.

Tom Bihn Ristretto 13 MacBook Air 13″ Bag Gallery

Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.

2 Comments

  1. 3d design

    August 10, 2011 at 2:46 am

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