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Joshua Tucker

As the school season approaches, college students, including myself, are scrambling to collect all our supplies and materials in preparation for our upcoming classes. Many times, however the bag we use to carry all our necessities is overlooked. Quality, durability, space, and price are a few criteria of interest when searching for the perfect bag.

TOM BIHN, based out of Seattle, has handcrafted bags since 1972 and has reputation of producing high-quality products. Their slogan “Portable Culture” shows their dedication to making their products part of your daily routine. I’ve had the opportunity to test the Ristretto for 13” MacBook Pro or Air messenger bag over the last few months. The bag has endured the heat, rain, and wind and I have taken it on all my travels. Allow me in the following paragraphs to digress on the exceptional quality of the Ristretto and why I feel it is an amazing bag. If the Ristretto doesn’t fit your lifestyle, peak at TOM BIHN’s website and find a bag that compliments your style and preference – there are so many great ones!

What’s Inside?

Hence the name, this Ristretto bag has space for a 13” MacBook Pro or Air. The bag is designed and handcrafted with the best quality materials that can be found.

The main compartment and outside pocket are covered by the bag flag, which closes with a fancy TOM BIHN buckle. Under the flap is a soft, foamed compartment to place your laptop, a secondary large pocket, and a small zipper pocket. My MacBook Air is always safe and snug riding in the foamed compartment while I keep my iPad and SuperDrive (in a TOM BIHN padded pouch) in the secondary pocket. There are three rings attached inside which are great for hanging my keys on when they are not in my pocket. 

The front organizer pouch has sleeves that are designed to hold two pens, an iPhone, and an item like a wallet. There’s also plenty of space to carry other accessories like a power supply, cables, sunglasses, headphones, and many other items. To keep all my extraneous items organized in the pocket, I use two TOM BIHN Clear Organizers. They are handy pouches and are so useful in fact that if I don’t bring my bag with me, I bring the organizers separately.

The outside is sewn with top quality nylon, which in my travels has withstood extreme heat, pouring rain, and intense winds with ease. Last but not least, the shoulder strap connects to outside rings on the bag to complete the messenger bag experience. TOM BIHN offers two different shoulder straps: the Standard and the Absolute Strap. Both options are great however I would encourage you to consider the Absolute Strap. It’s equipped with a soft and durable neoprene pad and fits snug to your shoulder.

What’s the Verdict?

The features of the bag itself speak volumes, however my personal story with the Ristretto may add another dimension to the many college students out there. I’m a current business student at Sacramento State University and have made it a goal this upcoming semester to go paperless. It won’t be easy by any stretch but this past semester I was able to accomplish a semi-paperless routine. Now that I’m going full on, this semester means no traditional note taking, all eBooks if possible, and limited use of paper unless absolutely required. I will be able to accomplish everything I need using either my MacBook Air or iPad. On a side note, I’m even taking the public train system and riding a scooter to school from the station. Bag and all. 

The Ristretto bag is the perfect fit. Just enough space, comfortable to carry, and highly stylish I might add. It is the best bag I’ve ever owned for reasons beyond what can be highlighted in this review. The Ristretto bag has become part of my everyday routine; wherever I go, I bring it with me. The bag has become more of a companion than just a simple pouch for carrying my electronics and other necessities. I would encourage you to give the Ristretto bag a look or sort through the plethora of other bags TOM BIHN crafts. Once you go TOM BIHN, you’ll never want to look elsewhere.