The Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag, a Review (and a little ranting)

Pre-rant Rant

A pet peeve of mine is the overuse of the Albert Einstein quote “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  One, because that isn’t by any means any kind of definition for insanity, and two, there’s no documentation that Albert Einstein said such a thing.  Prove me wrong.

Anyway, doing the same thing over and over again even though you should know better is something we all do. Is it a good idea?  No.  Insanity?  Meh.

For whatever reason, I repeatedly choose to cheap out on things, often to my detriment.  My sanity is questionable at best regardless, so I’m not really a great subject for Einstein’s supposed definition anyway.

I don’t like to spend money.  To a fault.  Recently, while killing some windshield time during a work day drive,  I was reflecting on some of the things I’ve bought where I took the cheap route and lived to regret it.  My “plus size” mountain bike wheels that now sit in my basement because they won’t inflate right.  The cheap internet plan I signed up for that may put me back on blood pressure meds.  Chopped Ham.  Then, I reflected on things that I spent more money on than I wanted to, and regret.  Nothing. I couldn’t think of a single time I bought something really nice and spent more money than I had originally wanted to, and then regretted it.   What’s the moral of the story?  No one pays attention while they’re driving anymore.  Be careful out there.

Talking bout my caffeination

Recently I stopped for a coffee break at Panera and had the realization that the el cheapo laptop bag I bought this summer and I needed to part ways.

This handle reinforcement used to have a plastic tube around it. Now it makes me wonder when my last tetanus shot was.
This bag does have plenty of storage. Even somewhere to stow the broken shoulder strap.

In all fairness, I’m rough on my gear.  I have attention deficit something or other…what was I talking about?  Also,  among other issues, I suffer from generalized over caffeination and a persistent relapsing lack of patience.  I need something durable. I also need to carry a lot of stuff.  I carry a laptop, sometimes two, an iPad, laptop chargers, a phone charger, 2 expandable file folders loaded with brochures, product samples, notepads, pens, binder clips, etc.  As I said previously, a lot of stuff.

So, I was thinking to myself, “who else has these kind of challenges?”  Who needs to carry a lot of stuff and has the type of job where they need something durable to carry it.  Police?  Firefighters? Lumberjacks?   Then it dawned on me:  Bike Messengers.

I watch a lot of Youtube videos.  One of the things I really like to watch is footage of bike messengers zipping through traffic around New York City.  They carry a lot of stuff.  They are also outside in rain, snow and all other elements, and on occasion crash into things.  They must  need something durable also.  I decided I wanted a laptop bag fit for a bike messenger.   After some googling over Panera’s free wifi, and some more coffee,  I discovered Timbuk2.


Timbuk2 is a San Francisco based bag designer/manufacturer.   They offer pre made and made to order bags, primarily for those on the go like bike commuters or messengers.  Founder Rob Honeycutt started the outfit in his Mission District garage in 1989 producing custom bags for local bike dealers in San Francisco.

Timbuk2 has a great website. It is visually appealing but also offers up the information you need without much hunting.  I chose the “Commute Messenger Bag” partly because it has a both a shoulder strap and a handle.  I find a handle useful when I have something else over my shoulder, like my garment bag or gym bag, or to stow it on the back of my passenger seat when the gear explosion in my car reaches defcon 3.  I picked the medium size based on the well detailed dimensions provided on the Timbuk2 website.

They also provide sizing to help you choose your bag based on the size of your laptop.

At first I just thought it looked good, but it’s practical too.

The outside material is a rugged coated nylon.  You have 5 standard color options.  Timbuk2 will also make you a custom bag at their San Francisco plant if you’re so inclined.

The zip out laptop compartment (above) is TSA approved so you don’t have to remove your laptop while going through airport security.  The empty pocket on the right holds an iPad, and the pocket on the left holds a phone.

This is the other side of the bag.  It holds all the stuff I need to carry.  There are plenty of pockets for business cards, snacks, scissors, etc.  There are also mesh pockets for water bottles.  It is lined with waterproof Tarpaulin, and self sealing Velcro “ears” block out all water from entering the bag.

Other features include:

  • 3M reflective “hits”
  • A remarkably sturdy keychain lanyard
  • Roller luggage adapter
  • A slimline cam buckle for shoulder strap adjustment (see video below). I’m still practicing the shoulder strap adjustment move.  It’s not as easy as it looks in the video, but it’s also not really that necessary to do it like that either.

…and this is really cool:

Velcro Silencer closed
Velcro Silencer Open

The Velcro Silencer:  If you don’t like the sound of Velcro unsticking, you can close the Velcro Silencer and use only the buckles to hold the front flap shut.  I don’t mind the Velcro hum and often when I’m meeting with a customer, I’ll need to dig into my laptop bag for a brochure, sample, business card, or pair of scissors, and buckling and unbuckling becomes annoying.  With the Velcro Silencer open, the flap will seal with the Velcro alone, without having to buckle or unbuckle.  That Velcro stuff is something else.  They should really put that on shoes.

Timbuk2 has really nice product demo videos on their website.  You can find the Commute Messenger video here:

These babies sell themselves.

So, something this great has to come at a boutique price, right?  No, not really.  The bag I have currently has a MSRP of $129.  I bought it on sale for substantially less than that and about the same price I paid for my old one.  Would I have paid $129 before owning the bag?  Maybe?  Would I pay $129 now that I know how awesome it is?  Oh yeah.  I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, so time will tell how durable it is, but  Timbuk2 does offer a Lifetime Warranty , and I’ve only read positive things about the durability and Timbuk2’s customer service so far online.

I’m really happy with this purchase.  Supporting a company that was started in a garage and still manufactures products in the USA makes me feel good. The toned down aesthetics may not be polished enough for some upwardly mobile corporate types, but I love it.  I highly recommend the Timbuk2 Commute Messenger bag to anyone looking for a rugged and really cool laptop or messenger bag.  Though I don’t anticipate carrying the bag while cycling, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t, and Timbuk2 also makes more messenger focused designs if that’s more what you need.  It will certainly suit me well for watching bike messenger videos on Youtube over Panera’s free wifi, a couple of which, I’ve linked to below:

Cheat Death NYC

Kelsey Leigh

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