on February 6, 2014
I'll start off by saying that I recently bought last years model of this same bag in medium. Once I saw this new bag with the different features I thought "Sure, lets try it out". However, I found that the medium bag I had before was massive! I had a ton of extra room in it after fitting in all my stuff. I decided on ordering the small this time and if I didn't like it, I would simply return it. But just to be safe, I ordered a medium as well. So here I sit with three different Timbuk2 bags. Here are my thoughts on the small and medium 2014 bags.
The small bag is great if you need to hold a laptop and a few folders. There are plenty of pockets to keep yourself organized and hold your smaller things. However, I found that this size was just not practical for me. I am a first year teacher that does not have a personal classroom meaning that I travel with my laptop, binder, lunch, water bottle, coffee mug, and several folders throughout the day.
With this bag, I was able to fit my binder, laptop, and the folders. It was a tight squeeze though and that bag looked stuffed with all of those things in it. Seeing as I still needed to fit my extras in it, this bag was sadly out of the picture.
Like last years bag, this thing is huge. I can fit all of my things mentioned in the small review with ease. Additionally, I can fit a mini first aid kit, mints, aspirin, post it notes, pens, pencils, and whatever other small things I need. The only problem that I found with this is that my water bottle (32 oz Nalgene) causes one side to bulge. Overall, it wasn't that big of a deal and I can learn to live with it.
When looking at the new features there were some things that I wish they didn't remove.
1) The new single pocket front. The three separate pockets on last years bag I found were more intuitive and had better organization.
2) The inner pockets. Unlike last year where there were several slash pockets, a velcro pocket, and pen spaces, this model has only slash pockets with one large zipper at the top.
3) Instead of the cam buckle, Timbuk2 included a small piece of fabric that you pull to tighten the bag. It feels a little awkward to use at the moment but it make just take some time to get used to.
The new strap is amazing. The air pockets make carrying a heavy bag extremely easy and comfortable.
Again, this bag is great, you can carry a massive amount of stuff in the medium size with room to spare. If you're struggling between the sizes like I was, make sure you read the dimensions carefully. While the small can hold a 13" laptop easily, there isn't much room for anything else. The medium bag will give you plenty of more room to hold your belongings.
EDIT: Added some photos of the bags and their contents.
on February 10, 2014
I'm re-writing this review, because my first go-around sucked. ***After a week of using the bag - newly updated!***
I got the Medium edition of this, the 2014 Classic Timbuk2 Messenger (Diablo). It is my 3rd in a series of Timbuk2 bags I purchased seeking the perfect messenger. Here is the whole list:
1. Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag 2013 (small, night blue/blue/night blue)- This was my first Timbuk2. I thought I wanted it to be small, but I found myself wishing it were bigger every day I carried it. Also, the colors (night blue/blue/night blue) were slightly brighter than I had expected, which was offputting. It was a pretty good fit for my fiance, however.
2. Timbuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag (medium, Red/Gunmetal) - Using what I learned from the first bag, I got this one. It was bigger, which I liked. It was cooler looking, which was good. I would have kept and used it without any complaints; but 1 week after I bought it this new bag was released. So I decided to get the new one and send back whichever one I liked less.
3. Medium 2014 Classic Messenger (Diablo) - the new digs. The rest of this review will be about this bag with comparisons to my two previous purchases.
First off, if you haven't checked out the official Timbuk2 website for the features of this bag, you should. They are more in-depth there, and include a video which was fairly helpful.
The 2014 Classic comes with a number of new features:
- MATERIALS -
> The new Cordura fabric - the new fabric is smoother to the touch and less stiff than the ballistic nylon used on their previous bag. While this is a matter personal taste, I like that this bag feels more like a bag and less like a floppy box (which the other ones felt like at times). The new material is LIGHT, though. The medium 2014 classic weighs less than the small 2013 classic. ***The lightness has been huge. I liked it at first, now I love it.***
- FIT -
> The new Double-Loop CAM Buckle - this is the feature I'm the least sold on right now. It's less intuitive than the CAM Buckle on the 2013 classic or the 2013 Command. Both the 2013 Classic CAM Buckle allowed the bag to be either short or long, but nothing in-between (without adjustment). The 2013 Command CAM system removes the dumb loop that hangs off the side of the Classic, but does so at a cost. When you unbuckle it, the bag will just fall off you if you aren't holding onto it. The 2014 Double-Loop CAM doesn't have a binary "Short" and "Long" mode. Instead you slide it every time. It is much less intuitive than the the 2013 editions, and I haven't figured out how to do it easily just yet. ***CORRECTION: I have figured out how to do it fairly easily. If you hold the strap to your chest and use your other hand to unbuckle/slide/rebuckle, it works really well. I'm making this review 5 STARS now that I've figured out how to properly utilize the updated CAM Buckle.***
> The new strap pad is more comfortable than the 2013 Classic, basically on-par with the 2013 Command.
> The removable cross-strap I haven't gotten to test yet, but I'm really glad the option is there. The strap is indeed very removable. It comes in a plastic sack inside your Timbuk2 bag.
- ORGANIZATION -
> They removed 2 of the 3 zippered pockets found under the flap. I could see why some people would dislike this change, but I'm all for it. The 3 zippered pockets under the flap on the 2013 editions shared the same physical space within the bag. Filling any of the 3 made it very difficult to use the other 2. I always left 2 of them empty.
> Side Napoleon pocket - unchanged, and still awesome.
> The internal organizer on the back side of the face of the bag has been simplified. They say it's about balancing the bag, but I'm guessing it was more of a cost-saving measure. The new organizer has fewer compartments (4 total) and no velcro pouch. I probably preferred the old organizer, but it's nothing I wouldn't get used to. ***While this is still a bit of a bummer, I've gotten used to the new organizer. It holds what I need it to.***
- CLEVER EXTRAS -
> Internal waterbottle pocket - This is an elastic pocket on the left side of the bag. It's too small for a Nalgene. You can't even force one in there, it won't go. A standard Camelbak will fit, but it's still a bit tight. I don't plan on switching back to Camelbaks just to use the waterbottle holder. I'll put snacks in there or something. ***I might use this to hold a personal thermos full of coffee, but it's too small for my water needs. It and the stash pocket are currently holding the two heavyish items I carry every day (a leatherman and a portable external battery).***
> Internal stash pocket - unchanged from what I can tell. Fit's my 15.6" work laptop just fine.
> Corner flaps - They that fold in to keep the rain out. When it rains, I'll be glad I have them. When it's not raining, they can be kind of a pain when taking wide things out of the bag. Overall, I'm glad they are there, though.
> Low-profile grab handle - since it sits on the rear of the bag and not the top, it looks less gaudy. It also makes the bag lean forward a bit when you use it. Definitely meant for a "grab and go" situation and not for extended holds. This bag doesn't double as a briefcase quite like the Command Laptop bag does.
> Partially concealed buckle flap closure - makes it slightly more difficult to close the bag all around. The velcro catches just a little less easily, and the buckles are just a little less easy to get to. I do think it improves the overall aesthetic of the bag, though. ***While this might still be true, it's less of a bother than I originally anticipated. The bag closes very easily.***
> Compression straps - good feature. Two straps now dangle off the front of the bag at all times. They removed the loop from the main strap, but then added two more straps that dangle off the front of the bag all the time. Probably worth it.
---- FINAL THOUGHTS ----
> The new (2014) Classic Messenger is my favorite bag thus far, but it's going to take some getting used to. Is it $30 better than the 2013 Classic? Meh, close call. It's better for my needs than the 2013 Command Laptop bag, and for that reason, I'm glad I bought it. ***After getting used to the new strap and figuring out some of the quirks of this bag, I'm even more glad I bought it. I'm raising my original 4/5 review to a full 5/5. Would recommend.***
on July 12, 2014
I have at least 5 active Timbuk2 bags that I use from time to time. Among them are 3 classic messengers, the old model, the last one and this 2014 one. I wanted to like the bag because I like the improvements I read and saw online. But it was not as I expected to be when I got it.
- Side mesh pockets for water-bottles, harddrives, portable batteries, and more!
- Buckles are now inside the flap (for a change)
- Top holding flaps come free (albeit very thin one and not the padded you get on custom orders)
- Retained the napoleon pockets in front
- Major gripe, less pockets, specially on the inner zipper lining! I use that for personal stuff and now it just jiggles around inside the zippered compartment.
- Straps are now thinner and just smaller than the 2013 and before models. It feels a little 'weak' on my chest. I want the old wide and thick ones :(
- Shoulder pads are now fixed. I have lots of strap pads I orders from Timbuk2.com and I still use it to mix and match from what I wear. I don't know why they didn't made these new ones removable with velcro.
- I'm not sure about the new Cordura fabric. It's much durable and abrasion resistant from what I read but I still prefer Ballistic Nylon just for the the overall heft and thickness.
- The tightening and adjusting system of the straps doesn't work for me yet. It's now smaller and might take me a while to get used to.
For me the older models still has the better build and just the robustness and compartments that I need. The post 2010 and pre 2014 models were the best in my opinion.
Just an update: You can check out a youtube video I did about the comparisons here: http://bit.ly/1YqCIUy
on February 19, 2014
I own many messenger bags, both brand-name and off-brand. The 2014 Timbuk2 fixes every single one of my gripes about my previous model, and, in doing so, makes it my favorite messenger bag.
I own the Medium, which is about the size of a standard cyclist's messenger bag. It holds about as much as a larger student's backpack -- I carried a 1" thick laptop, about 4" thick of papers and paperback books, a water bottle, chargers, and the like, and it even had some give for the compression straps. However, for cyclists, the cargo capacities of the Medium are OK for small trips, but not huge shopping runs like many of your larger bags. It holds six cans of soda, a few frozen dinners, and a couple cans of food, with room for a U-lock/cable combo and small personal items. If you want to use this for shopping, get a Large. I own an old extra-large which I bought at the same time I bought a carbon bike -- it carries as much as panniers used to without the downsides of limited mobility.
The Cordura is lighter and looks better than the old ballistic nylon, which had a tendency to wear a bit poorly. It doesn't seem more weakly made.
The pockets have been made fewer and larger. I don't like the reduction to one front pocket, since I used to use one for change and the other for my wallet, but I think this is REALLY minor. The slash pocket has sufficient padding for me to feel comfortable trucking around a ~$2,000 laptop.
The strap is thinner, while still being reasonably strong. The buckle eliminates the loop but slightly increases the amount of time it takes to "lengthen".
It has more padding than the old stock one. However, it is NOT REMOVABLE FROM THE STRAP. I never did this, but some of my friends stashed a key in a hidden pocket, sewn into the pad. You can't change the color, which some people use to customize their bag.
It sits well on the back, and it seems to have a bit more friction holding it into place. The cross strap still comes in the bag. With the cross strap, even heavy loads seem to sit well without much shifting. The buckles are slightly harder to use, since they are compression straps, but being able to put a skateboard or something on the bottom outweighs that negative.
$100 for a Medium or $110 for a Large makes this a mid-priced bag. For the quality, nothing touches it. If you get something cheaper, it won't be waterproof, nor will it hold up nearly as well. If you're want something better, the only bag I can think of that you'd want to consider is the Chrome Citizen, which works better in the larger sizes. However, this bag is probably the best small/medium messenger bag on the market, while being only SLIGHTLY worse than a bag that costs ~3 times as much.
ADDITION 10 March 2014:
I've been carrying this thing around for a month. There have been a few things that have positively impacted my opinion of the bag, while a few have negatively impacted it.
1) As my bag has begun to fill with the sort of junk that bags accumulate, the one-front-pocket design has gotten a bit more annoying. I've begun to put my phone in the Napoleon pocket with change and keys in the big front pocket.
2) I've gotten a chance to ride ~50 miles on my bike with the bag, about half with the cross strap and half without. Without the cross strap, it holds medium loads well on the back, but shifts when I ride with it full in town. It does so less than most other bags I own, which is nice. With the strap, which has been redesigned a bit, the bag sits perfectly on my 5'11" 140lb frame. The bag is comfortable without getting sweaty; here in Raleigh, NC it got to 70F just today, and riding a lot with the bag over a tshirt saw no sweat stay.
3) The bag cleans well. I was in a bit of an accident and got some of my blood on the bag, and it came off easily with soap and water a few hours later.
4) The bag's plastic loop on the left side (right if it's on your back) has shrunk, making it so that your cable lock can't attach any more. I put it in the bag instead.
The bag has great build quality, has a very nice finish, and is more ergonomic than any bag its size I own. Minor quips with pockets don't detract from a bag that is pretty much perfect for its price.
on October 12, 2015
Bought this for a European trip. Worked perfectly as a day carry bag. Carried a camera, lenses, some notebooks, monopod (I don't think any smaller than the Medium would fit a full sized monopod). In between cities, this was loaded up as my carry on. Even when more fully loaded, the pack wore comfortably.
Water resistant (no rain ever got to my camera or books)
Comfortable even when fully loaded.
Not a fan of the velcro closure. I will have to see how this holds up long term. Fortunately there are also buckles.
Top strap is oddly placed.
Overall I do recommend this. They're very well made and I foresee this lasting me a long time. I'm now using it daily to replace my laptop bag for work so I'll try to update this review with my long term assessment.
Note: I also bought the Xtra Small version. It's much smaller than the pictures lead you to believe. It'd be a great size for only day carry (a bit small for carry on duty) except it will not fit a 15" laptop, which was a deal breaker for me.
on June 24, 2015
The hidden buckles are a nuisance because I have to lift up the flap to get to them and it's nearly impossible to snap them together with one hand. I went to a cobbler and had him move the top buckles back to the outside of the flap like the old messenger bags. The new buckle cinch strap design is useful only if the bag is empty, and will wear through quickly if placed repeatedly on rough surfaces. The new shoulder strap adjustment tap flips up and disengages with the slightest tap so the strap has to constantly be re-adjusted. The position of the tab makes wearing the bag over the right shoulder very uncomfortable, as the tab digs into my right clavicle. The old Timbuk2 messenger bags could be worn over either shoulder, not just the left. The shoulder strap pad in the 2014 and 2015 models is not removable, and again prevents wearing the bag over the right shoulder. I cut the pad off. Such a disappointing design and such a departure from the company's past design sensibilities. I used to be a messenger and this bag would be a pain to use. These bags are obviously designed more for a certain look than specific function.
on May 30, 2015
I got the small size bag to take on a trip to the UK/Ireland with me and then use as a more professional bag during my post-grad job search (replacing my beloved Timbuk2 backpack). Really great bag! The size was perfect. Bag will fit my laptop easily, but I prefer to avoid the extra weight and just take my iPad mini most places instead. The loud Velcro was a plus while traveling abroad (its own alarm system ;)). I was also glad the bag had no outside pockets and I didn't have to worry about pickpockets.
What I have been carrying: wallet, iPad mini, iPhone 6 (in front side pocket for easy access), travel umbrella, water bottle, snacks, chargers, pens, and document folder. This still leaves room to spare for the after work stop the grocery store.
One con: If you don't make sure to press the strap clip down securely or it gets bumped open (which is easy to do), the bag will fall to your knees in an annoying fashion. This happened to me several times in my travels.
Overall excellent bag! I am also fond of the grey with oranges accents. Professional with a little flair :D
on August 25, 2015
I ordered a medium size bag and have been using it for about a month or so. The build quality is fine. The bag is light, water-resistant, can handle heavy contents well without feeling too uncomfortable, and can fit lots of stuffs. The adjustable cam buckle is easy to use once I got used to it. You should shorten the strap a bit if you're not a large person (I'm 5' 10") because the bag tends to slide off your bag while riding on a bike. I use the Napoleon side pocket for my Kindle e-reader, which is quite convenient.
I used the bag to carry:
- a 15" laptop, a pair of size 10.5 training shoes, some textbooks and notebooks, 2 small plastic water bottles.
- a pair of size 9 hockey skates, 2 small plastic water bottles, socks, pant, etc.
- a 15" laptop, helmet, folders and notebooks, 2 small plastic water bottles.
The only problem is when trying to fit tall stuffs like hockey skates, the velcro might not work, so use the compression strap.
on July 30, 2014
We have a bunch of T2 products. I bought this to upgrade to a slightly larger bag from my 2010 XS messenger. While I liked the design changes, I almost sent it back because I thought the materials were less substantial than my little old tank, and I was afraid that it would not have the same durability.
After a month plus of regular use, I am glad I kept it. First impressions were very wrong. It is just as durable and well made as my older version, with some really nice upgrades!
The Good Stuff:
- Really light and comfortable to wear. I love the lighter weight, and the new strap pad is a big improvement. You can wear it all day and barely notice that it's there.
- The pocket design is great. My older version had an ocean of little pockets and pouches that often resulted in my losing little bits and doodads. The new pocketing layout is simplified, and feels just right for sorting my stuff. The divider wall with the firm top makes it easy to separate your big items.
- Love the new cross strap design. The clever double Velcro setup makes sure it stays put when you use it, and that you can easily remove it when you don't need it.
- I also like the little pockets on the inside sides of the main compartment. Neither is especially big, but they make a good place to stash items like a water bottle, cell phone, charger, etc. so that they don't float around in your bag and make use of a rarely used space.
- Pleasant bonus: I never expected to use this bag as a daily laptop carry, but my work-issued thinkpad t430 fits along with an iPad, notebook, water bottle, and assorted bits! I am amazed at how much it carries!
- Workmanship and fit/finish is excellent. I can't find a thread out of place.
The Stuff that Could Be Improved:
- I agree with other comments that pocketing space "shrinks" when overfill it. The pockets do compete for space. Not an issue for me, but may be for others.
- I miss the bike handle zipper pulls. :(
- the Napoleon pocket is nice, but not so easy to access quickly in practice. You kind of have to fish for the zipper to get into the pocket.
Overall, I am very pleased. I am thinking of upgrading for a bit more space to the medium size with the integrated laptop pocket as a daily work bag, I like it so much. I would definately recommend it again!
Once again another great bag from Timbuk2. They make 'em here in the USA and the quality is superb. The strap on this thing is REALLY comfortable and that's a biggie with me. It has storage and pockets galore, but I did knock a star of for a few minor things, none of which are an issue on their own: I would have like a couple more real pockets inside, seems to have a good number of slot-style, more than I need. Zippered real pockets are more useful and a couple more would have been a tad better. Also, the water bottle holder design will probably only work if your bag is fairly full and a bit heavy, otherwise it makes a mostly empty bad list like a ship. Nothing major, still a great and useful bag. HOWEVER, one thing to note: it's called a medium but it can probably fit a private plane in here if you removed the landing gear. Seriously, it's BIG, bigger than what my conception of a "medium" bag would be. If you have a 13" MacBook and a few other everyday things to haul around, go for the small. Medium is more like really-huge-medium.