Luggage Week: Timbuk2 Sets the Standard

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2001, 11:08
Category: Any Laptop Computer, Luggage

It should come as no surprise to readers of these pages that your Editor has a thing for luggage. Ok, it is actually a full-blown fetish, but that is a story for another day. That said, good luggage is easy to tell from bad luggage – it is apparent. Look at the construction, the materials and the extra features. Computer luggage is no different than clothes luggage but it needs to be held to a higher standard, after all dropping a bag full of BVDs on the pavement is a lot different than dropping your TiBook.


It should come as no surprise to readers of these pages that your Editor has a thing for luggage. Ok, it is actually a full-blown fetish, but that is a story for another day. That said, good luggage is easy to tell from bad luggage – it is apparent. Look at the construction, the materials and the extra features. Computer luggage is no different than clothes luggage but it needs to be held to a higher standard, after all dropping a bag full of BVDs on the pavement is a lot different than dropping your TiBook.


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Timbuk2 reeks of quality from the moment that you arrive at the Web site. The site features a unique “build your own” configurator that alone is worth the price of admission. The configurator requires Flash but gives a great user experience that is worth the small download. Even if you don’t plan on ordering a bag from Timbuk2, you should try the configurator anyway.
The Timbuk2 Commuter Messenger Bag comes in three sizes: Guapo (L), Mogwai (M) and Sweet Pea (S) with base prices of US$105, US$95 and US$85 respectively. The Mogwai is the perfect size for the PowerBook G4 Titanium at 1600 cubic inches (16.5″ W x 13.5″ H x 7″ D).


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The above picture shows my Timbuk2 Commuter bag in two-lane black, fog blue and hoop white. I chose the waxed canvas material as opposed to the 840 ballistic nylon and was not disappointed, the material is soft yet strong and looks a little different than the traditional ugly Cordura nylon you are used to seeing in computer luggage. My only advice on colors: seek a second opinion before submitting your final choices and be wary that hoop white will get dirty.
Also visible is the optional wide screen Laptop Sleeve [US$40 extra] that fits the TiBook. The sleeve is available in 840 Ballistic, Cordura and waxed canvas fabrics and comes in four sizes to fit most laptop models. The sleeve features one-half-inch foam padding, buckle top closure, and cushioned webbing handles. The only problem I had with the sleeve is that it is about one half-inch too narrow for the TiBook.

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Looking from the top down you can see the deluxe internal pocket including pen, business card, and disk holders, the reflective tails (at top) and the strap pouch [+US$10] at left. I also added the following custom features to my bag:

  • Deluxe pocket +US$12
  • Back file pocket +US$15
  • Water bottle pocket +US$6
  • Bike set +US$7
  • Logo color +US$5

and the following accessories:

  • Strap pad +US$10
  • Ditty bag +US$8
  • Strap pouch +US$10

for a total of US$208.


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Standard features of the Commuter bag include a stand up design, waterproof vinyl lining, cushioned handle, padded back and removable bottom pad, three internal front pockets, six easy-access external pockets, velcro-lined main compartment, removable internal divider, velcro/buckle front closure and adjustable pivoting D-ring shoulder strap.
After using the bag rigorously for over a month, I only have a couple of complaints: the first is the size of the wide screen laptop sleeve, it is just a tad too narrow (the long way) for the TiBook, necessitating the use of two hands to quickly remove the machine.
The other minor annoyance is the configuration of the top handle which appears to be an afterthought. Clearly this bag is designed to be carried by the more-than-capable shoulder strap. Picking up even a moderately-heavily loaded bag by the top handle causes the flap to fell like it is going to open only to be stopped by the velcro and molex buckle enclosures.
The optional external water bottle pocket should be a little larger as the current model will only fit a pint. A quart bottle requires some work to fit here and a simple bungie cord top would probably alleviate this.

All-in-all this is one of the best bags I have used and would probably get a perfect rating if it weren’t for the minor problems with the sleeve and the top handle. Design and construction are top notch and the numerous choices of color, fabric and accessories make the Timbuk2 Commuter bag the most customizable bag I have ever seen. The cool Flash bag-builder and responsive customer service combined with a rugged, well designed product create an excellent user experience all around.
Timbuk2 Designs
Commuter Messenger Bag – Mogwai (M)
Base price: US$95
Price as tested: US$208
Rating: 4.5/5

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