Sarma Custom Torba Mini backpack review 2018 hip pack classic version comparison

Sarma Custom Made Torba Mini: Review

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Brand Introduction

Sarma Custom Made is a handmade gear manufacturer based out of Haifa Israel. The owner Boris Fridman has been hand making bags for the last 20 years as well as designing armed forces equipment for the source tactical gear team. Sarma makes a wide variety of bags, backpacks and pouches, the most popular being their Torba Mini. It’s a bag I’ve long had my eye on given its small size, organization and functionality. Sarma updated the Torba in 2018, adding features and changing the shoulder strap design in an attempt to make it even more functional and comfortable. After The Perfect Pack ran a Q&A with Boris recently, he gave me chance to test out both the Classic Torba Mini and the new design, to compare the two, as well as the x-straps harness they produce.

Sarma Custom Mini Torba backpack hip-pack review on body over shoulder strap

Quality and Comfort

The shoulder strap is what first drew me to the Torba. I’ve always loved wider thinner straps on most bags and the eye catching strap of the previous design was that to the extreme. The update narrows the strap without losing the comfort or function of the previous design, the updated strap being about 3 inches across (compared to the previous strap which was about 5 inches at the widest). In use it was just as comfortable, with a smaller footprint on the body and sleeker look.

Sarma Custom Made Mini Torba bag review new strap design 2018 versus classic comparison

Designed to be carried in a variety of ways, I found the single strap design worked best for me especially with the thinner updated strap. In addition the lashing points on the Torba are placed in spots that lend its perfectly for a chest rig. You can use the included straps to make it work, but I’d recommend checking out their X-harness. Made similarly to the shoulder strap but in a shape that covers most of the back and shoulders. It’s comfortable and the straps are thin enough to wear a light backpack over the top without discomfort or interference.

Sarma Custom Made Mini Torba review chest pack x-harness

Organisation

The Torba is a small easily organizable daily carry pack.  It offers a rear compartment padded on the back and front with hook and loop field on the rear of the compartment. This has a good size (roughly 2.5L), and I found the hook and loop field worked great for adding another pouch or holster (for candy) inside the bag.

Sarma Custom Mini Torba bag review zippers open detail pals webbing side view
New version of the Mini Torba shown on the right

In the updated Torba, Sarma made a good choice in making the rear compartment an almost fully clamshell opening. In my use the wider opening made finding things a lot easier with bigger hands. Also they added material covering the zipper of the rear compartment which enables wider opening without losing the webbing on the sides – this gives the bag a slightly slicker look than the previous design. In future updates I wouldn’t mind seeing some padding on the base of the main compartment because I think it’s the perfect size for a camera bag, and would only expand the options of the bag.

The front organization compartment is untouched from the previous design.  With so many pockets and elastic webbing most would be hard pressed to be able to use them all.  The added pouch and key ring are both nice touches that can be removed if there is no need for them.  In my use they worked very well and have their own place behind the easy to grab organization slots.

Sarma Custom Mini Torba bag review inner compartment organisation loops

The front of the Torba has two flat zippered pockets that work well for quick grab items.  Ten small lashing points and two duraflex buckets are used for the various straps and webbing that Sarma offers.  As well as molle webbing on both sides of the bag and a well placed grab handle on the top. The Torba definitely has a “hard use” look,  but everything has a function and makes up the very versatile carry options of the bag.

In the updated Torba Sarma has added extra lashing points to the base of the bag for lashing items to the bag or compressing it down, giving the user the ability to add the included straps to the base or the top of the bag. This is a welcome update with the previous design only allowing lashing on the top of the bag, interfering with the main compartment.

What’s Perfect

The Torba Mini is meant to be a minimal, highly functional, highly modular pack, and it accompanies that perfectly.  The high quality materials, robust organization, and the ability to carry the Torba in multiple configurations make it unique to a lot of smaller packs I’ve used.  

Sarma Custom Made Torba Mini bag review 2018 narrow strap over body

It shines as a stand alone everyday-carry pack or a small day hike pack, but it can also work well as a complimentary piece to a bigger set up for more demanding excursions. The updated shoulder strap and clamshell opening alone are definitely pluses when compared to the older design.

What’s not

When not in use the Torba’s many attachment points can look a little sloppy, and most people wouldn’t use them for the majority of the time.  One thing Sarma could considered is using removable buckles that could attach to the webbing loop instead of the permanent strap locks. It would still have the functionality of added attachment points with a sleeker look when it not being used.  

I also think it was a mistake not including padding on the base of the main compartment. The padding on the front and rear of the compartment are great but I’d be cautious having fragile unprotected items in here when the bag makes contact on a hard surface.  With just a little more protection I think the Torba would make a perfect urban and outdoor camera bag.

Sarma Custom Made Mini Torba hip pack review strap on hip mount

Wrap up

The Torba Mini is a unique little bag that keeps giving the user a surprising amount of options or such a small bag.  It won’t be the perfect pack for everyone but Boris and his team have only improved a solid bag with the additions of their updated design.  

Disclaimer: the Torba Mini bags were provided by Sarma Custom Made as a sample for review purposes, the content of this review was not shared before publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy.

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