Riut blog

RiutBag stolen in Bonn. Silver linings in Berlin


From left to right: Neoka and Prinita

From left to right: Neoka and Prinita

Neoka and her sister Prinita are from Cape Town, on the coast of South Africa. They are seasoned travellers who have unfortunately experienced theft in the past. When Prinita saw the RiutBag - safe backwards backpack - she thought it was a great idea. She then read the story of the creation of the RiutBags - Sarah Giblin's idea, leaving her job to prototype and crowd fund it - and decided that she would buy three for her, her sister and other family members.

Climate change traveller: RiutBag theft

Working on global climate change policy, Neoka travelled to Bonn in Germany with her new RiutBag R25. After many trips already this year and two successful weeks in Bonn, she and her colleagues celebrated in a German bar. The group left their backpacks in a large pile, thinking they'd be safe. They weren't. On Friday night (19 May 2017) two backpacks were stolen - one was Neoka's R25.

She was devastated for so many reasons. The RiutBag R25 had held her laptop, work documents, house keys and passport; she was due to travel to Senegal next and still needed a visa. The R25 was also a brand new present from her sister. Alongside the pressing concern about how to get home she even thought: "Oh no! Now I have to return to my rubbish khaki rucksack with zips on the outside. I'll probably get robbed straight from my back now!"

Emergency embassy visit: Berlin

Berlin was a the nearest place she could organise an emergency passport. Her sister Prinita lives there so they met up. When Neoka told her sister about the awful events, Prinita was gutted. She had bought the RiutBag to let her sister feel safe on her travels. And now it was gone. 

In a stroke of genius, Prinita wrote to Riut: "I'm a huge fan of the RiutBag and its story. My sister's new RiutBag R25 has just been stolen in Bonn! We're getting her travel documents sorted in Berlin. I can't afford to buy a second one just now. Do you have any faulty or damaged RiutBag R25s that I can give to my sister at a reduced rate? Maybe we can get it sent here." 

Sarah Giblin, RiutBag designer with her R25 on her way to meet Prinita and Neoka

Sarah Giblin, RiutBag designer with her R25 on her way to meet Prinita and Neoka

How can we solve this?

This bold and unusual request made it all the way to Sarah Giblin, founder of Riut and RiutBag designer. She had just returned to Europe from her factory trip to China and, by complete chance, happened to be in Berlin too. A little jet lagged, she read the email from Claire in the customer support team. "Is there anything we can do for Neoka? And where are you?" Sarah looked down at her own R25 and said: "I'll reply to Prinita. If she'll have it, she can give her sister my personal R25. It's after experiencing theft of any kind that people feel most vulnerable."

It worked. Within an hour the three RiutBag users were sitting together having tea and sharing their best and worst travel stories.

Left to right: Sarah Giblin, RiutBag designer, Neoka who had been robbed and Prinita - the sister who makes bold and brilliant requests :)

Left to right: Sarah Giblin, RiutBag designer, Neoka who had been robbed and Prinita - the sister who makes bold and brilliant requests :)

Sarah Giblin, RiutBag designer, says: "It's true. I can't stop thieves stealing your whole backpack - my superpowers don't go that far. But I can help you feel and be safer when your backpack is on your back." In 2014 Sarah left her job to create the RiutBag: the backwards backpack for secure city travel. With a conventional backpack, the person behind you can open your backpack more easily than you can. That seems wrong in today's mobile, tech-reliant world. Over 2,500 Kickstarter backers came together to help Sarah create the RiutBag and help make travel safer for thousands of RiutBag users all over the world.

Sarah went on: "My mantra is Revolution in user thinking, aka Riut. When I saw that message today, I thought: what is the most decent thing I can do for this RiutBag user? There's not enough time to send a new RiutBag R25 from England and I'm not travelling anywhere that I need an R25 this week. By unbelievable chance we're all in the same place. And out of this miserable event, perhaps I can put at least one thing right."

Neoka can now keep focusing on climate change and travel safe with Sarah Giblin's personal RiutBag R25. A friend is organising a laptop for her and her passport is being replaced. She'll have a lock smith waiting when she reaches her home in Cape Town. It's frustrating, upsetting and causes so many problems when these things happen. But, with the support of her sister and a few good deeds here and there, together we found a silver lining or two.

* * * * 

Sarah's tips: how to keep your backpack safe in busy bars and clubs when your RiutBag isn't your back

1) Don't leave your phone or wallet in your back pocket. It's so obvious that there is the outline of a wad of cash - in the form of money in a wallet or in an easily sold phone. It seems like a classic look, but it too often ends in tears. Put your wallet in an inside breast pocket or a small backpack like the RiutBag Crush.

2) In a group, there's sometimes a feeling than you can leave your backpacks in a pile somewhere. That's fine at a house party but just not in public. Unless your group is blocking the access to those backpacks, it doesn't work. This is precisely how Neoka's RiutBag R25 - and so many other people's belongings - go missing.

3) If you're sitting at a table in a bar, keep your bag by your feet or between your knees, not on the backpack of a chair. You've got plenty of important things in there so keep them near. It's the best way to be able to relax, enjoy the evening and go home with everything you brought. 

4) If you get the chance, try not to bring your important things out. Leave larger items like laptops and work bags at the hotel or int he boot of the car if available. Only take what you need with you in a smaller bag. Now that it exists, I take just my phone, passport, wallet and keys with me and keep it on my back in my RiutBag Crush if I'm in a busy bar.


TEDx Talk by Sarah Giblin: Making my own dent in the universe

Do you need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg to have an idea, build it and have a positive impact on other people's lives when they use it? I used to think along those lines.

I'm delighted to have been invited to speak at TEDx Brighton 2016 so I can share this message with you: the complaints you have with the world, the skills you have now and the things you know are enough to make your idea happen. I found this out about myself as I started my one-person startup Riut to create the RiutBag and start turning the world's backpacks around.

I'm Sarah Giblin, creator of the RiutBag. Here's my story:

This guiding principle is so important to me I named my product and company after it. Riut, pronounced "riot", stands for Revolution in user thinking. Users helped me to shape my prototype, they crowdfunded this idea because they supported it and they continue to support the RiutBag online through feedback and by telling other people about the idea. I call this Revolution in user thinking.

Share this story with friends and family you know who are trying to make their idea happen. The existence of the RiutBag and the peace of mind that RiutBag users now feel is a reminder to all of us trying to make new things that it is possible. We can do it.

Introducing RiutBag Crush 2017: Safe urban daypack

urban daypack safe backpack travel light

Say hello to the newest RiutBag design. All RiutBags are backwards - the only zips are against your back - for safe, simple city travel. If you think the RiutBag idea is good one, please share with people you think could benefit.

It’s called RiutBag Crush

Due to ship 30 May 2017, this is the first ever urban daypack by Riut. It’s so light - under 250 grams - it can be crushed into a single pocket within the RiutBag. (If you're a seasoned RiutBag user, it folds into the D-pocket.) 

Safe daypack for travel

Whilst travelling across New Zealand testing RiutBags, my Crush went everywhere with me. If I’m not carrying a laptop, it has become my go to RiutBag. When travelling, I fold the Crush into its D-pocket and pack it in my main RiutBag R15 or R25 to use when I arrive. It went up mountains, through cities, into cafes, on beaches, on bikes, on the hottest days and the coldest. 

Goodbye pockets?

I've been a big supporter and lover of pockets in the past. Now, I feel like I’ve outsourced the work my pockets to the RiutBag Crush - and more. When I only have keys, phone and a wallet, the Crush almost disappears against my back. And yet, with 10 litres of space, it can happily fit headphones, spare jumper, book and bottle of water in there. Plenty of videos to come to show you how it works in practice.

Features: light and strong

Like the R range RiutBags, RiutBag Crush has a top pocket, main compartment and a D-pocket. This means you can grab your keys or phone whilst you're on the go without removing your Crush. It is made of two layers of light, shower-proof, rip-stop nylon* to ensure that it’s strong as well as light. RiutBag Crush is bright yellow inside to make sure you don’t lose anything in there.

*Rip-stop nylon is more usually found in hot air balloons.

Revolution in user thinking: Riut

I’ve built a new RiutBag with your help. It is such a pleasure to design based on the feedback of RiutBag users and city travellers. That’s how I design all RiutBags. You are kind enough to share the things that are problematic and great about city travel, the things you carry and the things you believe an urban backpack should be.

Read the RiutBag story and check out the full RiutBag range at www.riut.co.uk. Pre-order your Crush - in black or navy blue - here:

PRE-ORDER due to ship 30 May 2017 RiutBag Crush | Super light urban daypack | Black | 10 litre | 230gram
Shipping date:
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PRE-ORDER due to ship 30 May 2017 RiutBag Crush | Super light, urban daypack | Navy blue | 10 litre | 230gram
Shipping date:
Add To Cart





Solo travel for the over sixties: a story for Mothering Sunday, this 26 March 2017 - UK

Sarah Giblin, UK designer of the RiutBag. Read her story by clicking on this image

Sarah Giblin, UK designer of the RiutBag. Read her story by clicking on this image

This story made me think of retired mothers and fathers out there with families all over the world. If you're part of the EasyJet generation, travel can be so easy; you travel regularly and sometimes you end up just staying - far away from home. But is travel as easy for your parents, especially if they are alone? In the UK it's Mothering Sunday day at the end of this month. If you have a mum and she hasn't quite made the trip to visit, you could help to make her feel safe and confident on the journey to see you. Read on to see how.

This moving story came from a RiutBag user. It always comes to mind when people ask me: what kind of people do you design safe backpacks for? Mostly, it's commuters and digital nomads, that's true. But really, I design RiutBags for all sorts of people. 

In her sixties, this RiutBag user lives in the UK and her children are gown up, living in Australia. Sadly, a year ago her husband passed away. This left her alone for the first time in many decades, without her usual travelling companion and, yet wanting to visit her children. As another year went by, the trip became more important and yet more daunting. 

When she heard about my backpack, RiutBag - designed for feeling secure on your journey - she ordered it, it arrived and she tried it on to see if it really works in practice - it did. But how could trying a backpack on possibly be relevant to this important journey?

The RiutBag is backwards. All its zips - the only openings - are against your back. That means when you're wearing it, you know all the entry points are protected. The worry of losing your wallet, cash and important belongings when you travel is no longer a problem. You can forget about those things and travel confidently, even if you're alone. 

It's incredible how something as simple as a backpack was an important step in allowing this RiutBag user to book the tickets and plan the journey as a solo traveller, for the first time in a long time.

Of course, it could be anyone of any age feeling trepidation about the first big trip, whether you're 18 or 80. In this, case, it made a real difference. And that was before she'd even left the house.

She did make the journey to Australia and saw the family for the first time on her own. I was so moved and grateful when I read her message - it let me see what kind of impact a simple design like this can have. Thanks to her for allowing me to share it with you.  

If you know someone who doesn't feel confident travelling alone, please share the RiutBag idea with them in case they can benefit. If it's your mum, then remember in the UK it's Mothering Sunday on 26 March 2017. A RiutBag lasts longer than a bunch of flowers and could make a real difference.

Who loves commuting? Commuters' top eight things about daily travel


On average, at least 10,000 hours - or 416 days - of our lives are spent just commuting. (Assume: we work between the ages of 20 and 60 for 5 days a week, about 47 weeks in the year and we commute just over an hour every day, to work and back. I know many people travel more.) If there's a way to enjoy commuting, then we all need to work it out now

I'm Sarah. I read the feedback from the Riut urban travel survey to make better backpacks based on real city travel. In this survey, over 1000 commuters and travellers took part and here's what their favourite things about commuting are.

Top eight things commuters like about commuting 

time to yourself how to love your commute travel

1) Time to yourself - thinking 

2) Time to yourself - listening to music, podcasts, radio and audio books

3) Time to yourself - reading

Yup, time to yourselves is our favourite thing about commuting. Since 85% of us commute alone, for many people it's one of the rare times that you really get a stretch of time to yourself. In the age of the smartphone, where we carry constant entertainment with us, it's interesting that just "thinking" beats consuming information via audio or visual. Maybe commuters aren't zombies; perhaps they're all in a deep meditative state every morning.

Just freely thinking is often the birthplace of creativity. Having ideas, thinking about what you want to do and how you want to do it. Without the commute to think about ideas every day, there's no way I would have come up with the concept of the RiutBag. Riut stands for Revolution in user thinking. So I'm a big fan of using the commute to let the mind wander.

If these are our favourite things about commuting, it's important for backpack design - backpacks are the commuting bag of choice by 65% of commuters - that supports clarity of mind, so you can think, dream and enjoy that time to yourself with no extra concerns.

4) People watching

people watching on your commute love your commute

Especially in big cities, we are surrounded by people. Millions of them. Unless you have some serious social super powers, it's unlikely we know all the people around us in a city. That means, when we're on the train, bus, tram and plane, we can observe others. See what they're doing. How people react to different situations. It's no wonder office conversations often start with "you'll never guess what I heard this morning...". 

The people around us are what make a city. Next time you get in the train, try to imagine what it is all these people do. You might be sitting next to a doctor, a writer, foot model, opera singer, the voice over artist from a recent film or your favourite blogger without even realising it.

Whilst people can seem annoying on your way to work - too many, too close, too ill, too fast, too slow - without them the city you're in simply couldn't function. Cities are, by definition, places where many people live and work. So enjoy seeing the people around you. They're off to do something today, just like you. 

Again, when I build RiutBags, that means I know my RiutBag users want to be able to think about something other than their zips and whether their wallet is still there. By putting all the RiutBag zips against your back, you need not be suspicious of the people around you; instead, you can be curious about what they do and where they do it.

5) Exercise

using your commute for exercise great idea 2017

Yes, 65% of us still use cars to get to work for part of our journey. However, for those of us who are able to rely on other methods of transport to get around, we can walk, cycle and run (sometimes just because we're late) for at least part of our journey. The commute becomes an opportunity to build regular exercise into our day.

If you're walking or cycling, that means you need a comfortable backpack that can stand up to the changing demands of the weather. I build the RiutBag out of waterproof Cordura and and waterproof/anti-abrasive TPU so the contents of your RiutBag can handle rain. If you're waiting at a bus stop, you can put your RiutBag on the floor even in the snow or a puddle, knowing that the contents is safe. 

When you're cycling, or walking along, you're more likely to need to get something, like a phone, out of your RiutBag. For that reason, I've built a D-pocket into the back/base of the RiutBag so you can access and stow important smaller items on the go.  

6) Seeing the town or city you live in

love the city you live in 2017

When you make a journey every day, it's easy to forget your surroundings. Yet, to a new pair of eyes, your town or city is fascinating. People travel from the other side of the world just to experience what you get to see every day. 

It can be difficult to look at something you've seen every day anew, but have a go. Try and imagine who built all this, when, how, why. I grew up in commuter town Reading, in England. It's often the butt of jokes for being a pretty dull place, being the home town of Ricky Gervais, inspiration for The Office and his film Cemetery Junction. Yet, Reading has a rich history as a transport hub, the site of battles, canalisation of rivers, biscuit factory Huntley & Palmer which employed so many people that the factory owners built an entire new part of the town to support them. Every building, whether it was built in the 1800s, 1900s or the 1980s has a story. So does every train, bus and tram. 

Admiring the town or city you're in is a great way to turn the commuting slog into a interesting journey where you get to pose questions about how all this got to be here. How many hours did it take to build your town or city? Who owns it all? Who are the people around us?  

7) Time to catch up on personal stuff - emails, social media

love your commute catch up on social media

I'm really surprised that this didn't come higher up on the list, actually. When we look into trains of commuters, it feels like everyone is staring at their phone. It could be social media, an ebook, blogging and publishing right there. 

The fact that we carry a block of metal and plastic that plays music, lets us communicate with people and gives us access to almost all written knowledge in existence is surely a reason that we enjoy the commute more these days than we used to, say in the 1970s.

What does this mean for backpack design? Your smartphone is difficult to be without. It's awful when you lose it/drop it/break it. So I have to think about how smartphones can be securely kept in your RiutBag, but still be accessible on the go when you need it. My solution for this is the D-pocket. You shut the double zips against your back when you're travelling alone. When you need something from the D-pocket, you reach back, unzip one half, reach in to grab your phone, zip it back up and keep going.

I design for the reality of commuting, doing the things we have to and want to do today. 

8) Chance to meet new people 

making friends on your commute love your commute 2017

This is the surprise of the bunch for me. 10% of commuters see the commute as a chance to meet new people. Commuting - especially in busy cities like New York and London - can seem like quite a hostile environment. So next time you're on the commute, remember at least 10% of the people around you think you're in a social situation waiting to happen!

I remember when I first created the RiutBag. I tried to think about the downsides of the design as well as the positives, so I really understood what the consequences were of what I was trying to create. I had this thought: one of the things that happens when you're commuting with a conventional backpack is that you leave your zips open and someone says "excuse me, you've left your zips open". This is one of the rare social interactions between commuters. Am I taking this chance to interact away from commuters, by removing the zips from the outside of the RiutBag? I kept this in mind, but decided the good - being safe, feeling calm and confident on your commute - outweighed the possible good of this social interactions when pointing out zips.

Then, when the first RiutBags made their way into the world after the Kickstarter campaign, a few RiutBag Kickstarter backpackers contacted me to let me know something. 1) Someone had been standing in Sydney Airport when someone came over and said "nice bag". These two business people both had RiutBags, they didn't know each other, struck up conversation and were able to pass the time talking about Kickstarter projects they'd supported and other stuff they do. 2) Two people were sitting in a train in London. They both reached up for their backpacks to get off at the next stop and realised they both had RiutBags. They had a brief laugh, talked about the design, shook hands and went on their way smiling.

Yes, it's possible that you won't be making friends based on the fact that your zips are undone. But, by being a RiutBag user, you belong to a select population of people who know about this design, tried a new idea and supported this startup. So, thankfully, other new social connections grow in different ways :)

I'm Sarah Giblin, commuter and RiutBag designer. I survey city travellers to find our what it's really like to commute, to travel, in a city every day or even on holiday because I design secure backpacks to let people enjoy city travel more by given them peace of mind. RiutBags only have zips against your back so you can travel as though you have no valuables with you.

When I build RiutBags, I aim to give you - the user - as much time to do the things you want with your journey: think about the things you want to think about - your next big idea, how you want things to be today, tomorrow and next year, how you're going to tackle that problem, who that interesting person is opposite you or that favourite day dream. By removing all the zips from outside of the RiutBag, there's no need to consider the security of your belongings because you know your belongings are safe.

Travelling this way - confident, calm and secure - makes a big difference over the years we will commute. And, don't forget - when you're not commuting, you could be enjoying a break away to a totally different space. When you're travelling abroad, your commuter backpack RiutBag is about to come into its own. RiutBag is built for international travel, letting you go to the world's busiest cities without a single worry. Explore, experience new things and don't spend a moment of your holiday thinking about where your wallet, your camera or your passport is. It's totally safe, in your RiutBag.