I was absolutely positive this small-sized Timbuk2 case wouldn't hold my 15 inch MacBook Pro. The measurements on the page indicated that I had an eighth of an inch width to spare but that the computer was several eighths too tall. I was hoping that I'd at least be able to squeeze the computer inside.
My fears were laid to rest the moment the bag arrived. It's an excellent fit, neither loose nor tight, but just right, and the velcro strap that holds the computer firmly in its sleeve is adjustable and forgiving of my slightly tall computer. Most importantly, the case zippers up over the sleeve containing the computer without any problem or hesitation. I would guess most 15" PCs will easily fit this small (but quite large) bag, though you would definitely need the medium bag for a 17" laptop.
Of course, you could always put your larger computer in the main part of the bag, but the beauty of the sleeve is that the bag zips open to lie flat so you don't have to get your computer out in the airport security line. While I only fly a couple times a year, that perk alone is worth its weight in gold.
The rest of the bag is as well-constructed and luxurious as the company claims. There are padded compartments to slip an iPad or notebook in, which work great for cameras, camcorders and other electronics, or old-fashioned paper books. I especially like the flat divided pocket directly under the front flap because I can keep my phone or digital recorder and a compact camera in easy reach. (And while the reaching is easy, you're in no danger of losing anything because the big openings have both clasps and Velcro fasteners, while interior pockets are equipped with Velcro.) There's also a very room flat holder for pens and other office supplies and a net bag built into the interior side that can be used for most anything. I'm thinking I'll pop an apple into it more often than not.
There's a huge amount of room in the main compartment. I'm using this messenger bag in a few days when I fly as my carryon and have no doubt I can easily fit a change of clothes and important toiletries in it as well as the computer, cameras, notepads and books I'll be needing. Not only that, this will slide under the seat - I don't like putting things in the overhead compartment.
On the outside, this is a beautiful, sleek bag with a pocket on one side to hold a bottle of water. There is a luggage pass-through so you don't have to carry it while pulling along a suitcase, but if you do, the removable, easy-to-adjust shoulder strap has a removable padded sleeve to save your shoulder. Without the strap, there's a built-in handle so you can carry it like a briefcase. It's comfortable as well.
From the fasteners that make snapping the shoulder strap off and on easier than I thought possible, to the feel of the zippers and the padded interiors, this bag is both elegant and imminently utilitarian. The company guarantees it and I can see why: I expect to use this bag daily for many years. It's absolutely the best I've ever had.
This review is for the medium sized version of the Commute 2012 (Amazon sometimes combines reviews)
This bag is the updated version of my first Timbuk2 bag, the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Laptop Messenger Bag and is intended to replace the older version. Building on the older version, Timbuk2 made a few refinements that would cause many to prefer this version over the older one.
As a part-time professional photographer, I wanted to carry my camera and a few lenses and flash (Nikon D300s, Nikon 17-35, Nikon 50mm, and Nikon SB-700) back and forth to my main job (office environment). I also needed to be able to carry associated work items such as files, pens, notepads, lunch, etc.... And, I wanted to be able to completely convert the bag between full photo use and straight up work and work travel use (more on that later). This bag, like the older version, is simply incredible in every regard. For perspective, I have owned bags from Lowe, Domke, Tenba, Crumpler, Swiss Gear, Think Tank, and nearly every other manufacturer, particularly those that make bags for photographers.
Every aspect of this bag, like its predecessor, exudes quality. Construction, durability, materials, all indicate this bag will last for many years even if abused. The zippers are among the highest quality I have used. The medium size of the bag was a perfect choice for me (I received it in Black- if that matters). Timbuk 2 bags seem to run larger and can be confusing at times. This bag is bigger than my previously owned Tenba Messenger Photo/Laptop Bag - Small (Olive), which is actually the medium in the Tenba line (they have weird sizing as well). There is an abundance of organizational pockets, interior compartments, softpadded laptop compartment to fit a 14" (projected). I love having the large main compartment. The bottom outside of the bag is rubber coated and the swivel strap joints limit twisting of the strap. The area under the mainflap has a lot of storage/compartment space but for some reason, there are no quick access pockets on the exterior. When fully loaded, weight distribution is perfect and the carrying handle makes a world of difference for short jaunts. I did purchase the Timbuk2 Phoney Strap Pad (I believe it should have been included) to replace the OEM padded strap that came with the bag. In my opinion, it distributes the weight better while providing a place for my Iphone as well as a reflective surface. This bag could easily be used to pack everything for a 3 day weekend.
The newer version incorporates a Napoleon pocket with a zipper. Believe it or not, this feature adds a great deal of functionality to the bag and I sorely missed it on the older version. You can use it to store keys or items you may need to access while on the go, all without opening the bag flap. The newer version also modifies two pockets on the front of the bag (under the flap) with a special soft lining (very soft) that will hold any smartphone device and protect the screen. The inside of the bag also includes a pocket on each side that can hold a water bottle, or loose items, a feature I wish had bene included in the previous version that adds even greater organization.
USE AS A PHOTO GEAR BAG
Now, onto the photography aspect. By itself, the bag probably could be used for photo gear without an insert just as any other bag could. However, for adequate protection, you really need an insert. Thats where the Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert comes in. This is a removable insert that is self contained and is one of the better inserts I have used. Amazingly, it puts most Domke inserts to shame such as Domke Domke 720-250D Digital SLR Camera Insert (Green) and Domke 720-230 FA-230 3 Compartment Insert (Green). The Snoop Camera insert is made of very high quality materials, well structured, well padded, compact, has a handle, and can be zipped closed. The internal compartments are completely customizable and will fit a full size DSLR with a battery pack (rare for a messenger bag), 3 FX large lenses, an SB-700 (or 900), and a bunch of other gear such as remote cord, memory card wallet, spare batteries, etc... Even loaded, the bag is not that bulky (unlike my Tenba). The insert fits perfectly in the medium size Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 and you can still easily fit files or magazines around the bag or behind it. When I get to work and I need to carry mostly work stuff, I simply take out the insert, put it in my large desk drawer and go to meetings or whatever. If I want to travel for the weekend, I can leave the insert behind and just load the bag with travel gear (of course, I then need to carry a separate camera bag). Perfect Solution all around in my opinion.
This bag could easily be used for street photography. However, I still prefer my venerable Domke 700-02A F-2 Bag (Brown Waxwear Finish) for street shooting. This choice is more a matter of pure taste and not functionality (there us no direct camera access on the flap of either bag) and the Domke has less organization. Maybe I think I look like Nick Nolte in Under Fire [VHS].
Either way- this bag is pure winner, and even better than the older version (which was incredible).
As usual, I will edit review if anything changes.
on May 29, 2015
My old messenger bag finally wore out after ten years and I decided on the large Timbuk2 Commute as a replacement. My daily commute involves a train, bus, and a walk so I wanted something that could carry all my gear. My favorite features of this bag is the external and internal water bottle holders and the "Napoleon pocket." My one complaint is there weren't enough small pockets for my cables, chargers, etc. but I found a pretty neat solution that I wanted to share. I bought a "Cocoon Grid-It CPG8BK 10.5 x 7.5-Inch Organizer" from Amazon that now lives in one of the tablet pockets. It was the perfect size and I took a couple of pictures so that you can get a sense of scale. Now everything has a place!
All I can say about the Timbuk2 Commute 2012 Messenger Bag is ......wow! OK, I can say a bit more:
This bag is fairly lightweight, yet very strong. I just took it on a trip and I packed it full of things, yet due to its design it still remained TSA compliant so I could lay it flat on the TSA inspection conveyor.
The bag comes in several colors; mine is basic black with black interior, and silver waterproof lining on the interior of the cover, and red interior in the laptop section. It is constructed of ballistic nylon, and weighs about 2.5 pounds. The bag measures 15.6" x 11.8" x 5.9" with a laptop section that is 14.4" x 9.4" x 1.6". The bag's bottom is also waterproof.
If you aren't sure if the bag will hold your laptop, please see the Laptop/Tablet Fit Guide at Timbuk2's website.
The shoulder strap is very comfortable and may be removed if you want to use this as a briefcase. It also doubles as an actual messenger strap, handy if you happen to be an actual bike messenger! Me, I just use the bag as a laptop/briefcase, and it's awesome.
The exterior has a top handle, two buckle straps and a pass-through for a luggage handle. It also has an outside compartment for a water bottle, etc. In addition to the buckles, the flap secures with velcro, while the laptop compartment closes with two zippers on the outside, while the padded interior secures with a velcro strap. The bottom of the luggage pass-through also secures with velcro to form a pocket for paperwork on the outside of the laptop compartment. Keep in mind to be TSA compliant, you must have NOTHING but the laptop in this side of the bag!
There are numerous internal compartments. On the laptop side, there is another interior compartment intended for an iPad (or two), which also secures with a velcro strap.
When you lift the flap, you will see several pockets on the front of the main compartment. Back to these in a minute. The bag's main compartment is a good size section, which include a pocket divider, as well as multiple pockets to hold wires, adapters, pens, or anything else you can fit in them. Each is a few inches wide and deep, and a couple have flaps that secure with velcro. There are also a couple of mesh pockets on each end of the compartment interior. For my trip I stored some paperwork, a notebook, boarding passes, several AC adapters, my laptop adapter, two shavers, two point and shoot cameras, some pens, along with my laptop in the laptop compartment - and it wasn't not even half full. Now back to the front of the main compartment. This section contains an open pocket where you can fit something the size of your hand. In front of this is a zippered section with a red strap to hold keys. The zippered section is large enough to hold a man's large billfold. There are a couple of other pockets here, each big enough to hold eyeglasses, etc. There are also two areas lined with faux fur. These are very soft and perfect for glasses, or an iPhone. Also in this area is a rectangular pocket which zippers shut. This pocket is accessible even with the bag flap closed, as you can reach in from the side, unzip the compartment and access your items. It even has "vista" loops in case you actually use it as a messenger bag and want to attach bike lights.
This is not an inexpensive bag, but it really is just so well designed and durable, the price is easily justified. I really think this is the best bag I have ever used and I have had some good ones, including some from Targus, Eddie Bauer and a few others. And, oh yeah, it has a lifetime warranty too!
One note - and it has nothing to do with the bag's design. Many airports will still make you remove your laptop from a bag even if its fully TSA compliant. I flew roundtrip between Newark and Orlando in July 2012. Newark TSA let me leave the laptop in the bag, but Orlando made me pull it from the bag. Same bag, packed the same way - so keep in mind if you buy a TSA compliant bag, you may or may not find you can use it as hoped. That's no reflection on the bag.
So, if you want a really well made bag this should be among your short list.
on September 24, 2012
I bought this bag about 1 year ago on sale from Amazon, and I can proudly say that it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. The bag still looks brand new despite the massive amount of punishment I've put it through. It isn't even fraying at the edges.
I've put this bag down in puddles, carried it in storms with my iPad in the laptop sleeve, and taken it on trips. It is definitely TSA approved, no need to take the laptop/tablet out.
Well-thought-out details (such as an extra strip of soft velcro inside the laptop compartment, so that when you open to velcro strap and it falls back down, it doesn't land of the felt lining and fray it)
TONS of pockets that are expertly laid out
Key ribbon. I use this all the time. I'm terrible at keeping track of my keys, so I leave them attached to my bag. It's the perfect length, you can use the keys to unlock doors and the like without any inconvenience.
The water bottle holder is not very convenient, as you have to bring the bag to the front to get at it because of the side it is on.
Size. I bought a small, which is generally okay, except I have found myself wishing for more storage on plenty of occasions. I should have just bucked up and got the medium for an extra $15 or so
The strap pad that comes with the bag is a little thin. I had read plenty of other reviews and bought the extra-padded one that Timbuk2 sells and it was worth it. Especially when the bag is completely full.
TL;DR: Lots of great features and sturdy construction make this well worth the price, but get at least a Medium size and buy the extra thick add-on strap pad.
on March 9, 2014
I bought this bag with the intent of carrying everything with me to school, the coffee shop and work. This bag exceeds my expectations due to what it can carry. This bag has so many pockets I havent even filled them all yet which you can store any cables and your power brick for your laptop. The bag even has a water bottle holder (also can be used be hold a coffee tumbler). The bag also has an advertised TSA friendly section which you don't need to pull your laptop out but you can just lay it on the scanner with it opened all the way. However this varies, and depends on the agent operating the checkpoint. The TSA friendly section which is in the bag also holds your laptop and up to two tablets which is handy.
The bag is toted as water resistant and is made out of nylon meaning it will last a long time. I felt as it would last.
I took this bag on a bike ride to the beach in Fort Lauderdale and again it succeeds in transporting everything I need. I recommend adjusting the strap so the bag is not hitting the wheel.
If you are looking for a bag that carries everything you need then this is the bag for you. Even as a casual messenger bag this is worth the money.
on August 24, 2014
I travel alot for work, planes, cars, you name it. THIS IS THE BAG! I have bought bag after bag, after bag year in and year out trying to find a bag that fits my needs. THIS IS THE ONE. I can carry a laptop, kindle, Cannon EOS 70D with an additional lens, change of clothes, passport, tickets, I phone, I pod, flashlight, you name it it fits in this bag. You will by far outweigh the bag before you can fill it. The quality of this bag is amazing.
on December 6, 2015
Although I'm an IT pro, I'm not an everyday laptop carrier: I have a work-purchased laptop at work, and at home, I use an off-lease HP or Lenovo ultrabook ($200 gets you a lot!). There's just too much risk in damaging a laptop during a bicycle commute, and I like to be unencumbered. Toting around 10 pounds of gear takes its toll on your shoulders. I travel a lot, though: if you count connecting flights, I'm easily on ten different airplanes a year. Sick and tired of pulling my laptop out for the TSA folks, I purchased the 2011! version of this bag (small) before flying off to San Diego for a tech conference. I hoped it would do the job: it's gone way beyond my expectations.
I've run this bag across the TSA conveyor belts more times than I can count. Never have I been asked to remove the laptop from the back sleeve. It's narrower than the conveyor belt opening, so life is good in that respect. My travel documents go into a thin velcro pocket opposite from the laptop; my power adapter and books go in the middle compartment, and various pens, pencils, tools, etc. go in the front. There's plenty of room for me to stash my cell phone and wallet, and I can hook my headphones around the handle. There's a nice loop near the bottom of the bag; presumably it's for a flashing light of some sort (Planet Bike, etc.), but it's the perfect place for me to clip my keys when going through the line. If I stash my belt in my suitcase and put my shoes directly on the conveyor (yes, you are allowed to do this), I can go through security without any bins--there's always someplace with toothpaste and shaving cream at the end of the line.
Check! It lives on the floor and enjoys being stashed under airline or train seats. I can whip it around quickly, and the straps have held up to generous overloading over the years. A slight issue: one of the reflective spiral logos is coming unsewn from its strap--nothing that can't be fixed easily. I've stuffed various large water bottles into the pouch over the years, and it's always ready for another. I question how rain-proof the laptop compartment is--it's not protected by the waterproof flap--but that'd be easily remedied with a 10x14 plastic envelope like you'd use for shipping books. Light rain is of course no problem.
Messenger bags aren't as comfortable to me as backpacks. There--I've said it. Going cross-body with the strap is slightly better than keeping everything on one side, but I'm usually changing things up every 15 minutes or so. It's a travel bag, and when I'm in the airport, it's usually on the handle of my roller bag anyhow. When I'm walking around at a hotel or an airport, or for the occasional consulting gig, it does what I need.
on December 11, 2013
Awesome bag. I have been traveling through airports for nearly 20 years. As a frequent traveller you are always in search of the perfect bag. This is as close as I have gotten. I got the small size. It holds my Macbook Air 13", iPad, and Kindle, all in the TSA unzip section with ease. The main compartment has more than enough room to hold all my file folders, 1.5" 3 ring binder, my portable speakers, Bose headphones, all my connection and charging devices, etc. The other compartments hold miscellaneous items such as business card, gum, other earbuds, and so on. It fits standing upright under the seat in front of me giving me room to stretch my legs on the airplane. Of course, having the Macbook Air helps with space. I looked at the $300+ Tumi. No way that was any better than this. Save your money and buy this thing. You'll love it.
on July 19, 2015
I bought this bag in red to replace my other Checkpoint Friendly bag that was worn out. It is so light but will carry my Dell laptop plus a notebook and a few supplies. It fits over the handle of my roller back tightly and does not slide around the handle like my old bag had gotten prone to do. I would recommend that you go to the Timbuk2 site and research the correct sizing for your particular computer. Mine fits in perfectly but had I not done my research, I would have ordered the wrong size for my laptop model. I love this bag!!! It's been on three trips with me and it's been great! My coworker has a gray one that looks very professional and I like it too!