Review: Timbuk2 Commute [Macbook Pro + Messenger Bag]

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by desenso, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. desenso macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2005
    Official Website:

    My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

    Bags must be one of the most over-discussed topics on these forums.. it seems that every 2 weeks a new thread pops up about which bag is best for their new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and so on. I recently had the same question, and did research all over the internet... I was intrigued by the Timbuk2 Commute, but couldn’t find any detailed reviews and, most of all, any good photos beyond the stock retailer photographs. Because the bag isn’t exactly cheap ($100 for the medium sized version), I decided to write my own little review of the bag based on my experiences so far. Hopefully this will come in useful for someone who has a similar decision to make.

    Let me start off by saying that I’m very happy with this bag. It has a few unfortunate drawbacks (described later), but overall is an excellent choice. If that’s all you needed to know, then good luck with your new Timbuk2. For those of you who’d like to know a little more, read on.


    I chose the navy / gray / navy version from the Timbuk2 website. As is almost always the case with online photographs, the color looks quite different in real life. Even the photo that I’ve provided, taken with the flash, make the bag’s colors look brighter than they actually are. Nevertheless, you get the idea. The material (“rugged ballistic nylon exterior”) seems sturdy. The bag itself looks and feels sturdily made, and appears to be of good quality. I have little fear that this thing will fall apart.


    Opening up the bag reveals a white inner flap. It occurred to me that this might get dirty, but as you can see, there are no pen slots on the immediate interior of the bag. I consider this to be one of the small drawbacks of the bag, but I suppose there’s some logic to it too. In the middle, where the gray band ends and the black material begins, are two pockets - one with a zipper, and the other, just above it, without. These are not large pockets but work well for a video ipod. (In fact, the video ipod fits into the zippered pocket almost perfectly). On the side, where the bag straps are, are two pockets. I was disappointed to find that these pockets are deceptively small. Moreover, it’s easy for whatever you place in here to fall out. I use it for my TI-83, as I’d notice if it fell out, as well as my laptop mouse. However, I don’t quite see the logic behind them. The side of the bag also has two beverage slots. I haven’t tested these as I don’t often carry drinks around, but they don’t look very large. I can’t really comment at this point, though.


    When you open the bag, you notice an adequately padded laptop compartment (not removable), which appears to be lined with some form of corduroy . I use a 15” Macbook Pro and the bag fits it *perfectly* without any additional sleeves (such as a RadTech Sleeve, which I own but cannot use with this bag... I’m not worried about it, because the Timbuk2 compartment feels sturdy enough). I assume that it fits the regular 15” PowerBook very nicely as well, though I can’t confirm. For those of you with 17” MacBook Pros, Timbuk2 make a larger version of the bag, though I’ve never seen one to attest for the laptop fit. For those of you with macbooks, I can’t give you any insight. I assume the laptop would be ok, but I like to feel like my laptop is secured in the bag... I doubt very much that I would get that assurance with such a small laptop with this bag, but I could be wrong. With that in mind, the corduroy-like material doesn’t seem like it would every scratch my laptop, something that I’m very conscious of, and therefore also very grateful for.


    In addition, there is a thin pocket-flap (the best way I can describe it) on the other side of the inner portion of the bag. The pocket flap can swing out of the bag, for easier access, as photographed below:


    I won’t go into too much detail about these pockets since you can see quite clearly what is what. However, I will add that the top right of the flap has another padded pocket - my RAZR fits into this perfectly, and I feel confident that it won’t get scratched. If just it had its own little flap to prevent the phone from falling out, because the pocket isn’t exactly tight. It also wasn’t large enough for my video ipod. There are two individual pen compartments, and a larger area big enough for 2 more pens, as you can see. In addition, there are several larger pockets, all of which should be visible from the photograph.

    Seeing as how well thought out this bag appears to be, I’m a little blown away by the fact that I should have this complaint, but it’s a big one: there’s no good compartment in which to place a power adapter, ESPECIALLY one of the gigantic magsafe adapters. I carry mine in the main pocket of the bag, but this adds a decent amount of clutter to the main compartment. Why, oh why, Timbuk2, would you overlook this very important aspect of a laptop pack?


    As stated, this is the largest flaw... and it isn’t something that makes the bag unusable. I filled it up with what I consider would be an average daily load for a college student, such as myself. Photographed below is the bag filled with a MacBook Pro, the magsafe power adapter, a 5-subject notebook, as well as 3 smaller thin textbooks (what I consider to be the equivalent to one thicker textbook, if you HAVE to carry such a cumbersome book around).


    The photo makes the bag look pretty stuffed, but it’s still perfectly usable. It closes without any problem, and feels comfortable to wear (aside, obviously, from the burden of carrying around that much weight). The back of the case contributes significantly to how comfortable the bag is:


    As you can tell, the back is very padded... and it’s wonderful. I’m not one of those people that carries their messenger bag fully across both shoulders (like it’s supposed to be worn); instead, I prefer to carry it, dare I say it, purse-style, on top of the shoulder where the bag hangs. This is more of a lazyness issue than anything, and certainly doesn’t do anything to make the carrying any more comfortable. Nevertheless, the padding makes carrying the bag any way you desire perfectly pleasant.. certainly as comfortable as you could ever expect from a bag with heavy items in it. If you ride a bike to class, or to work, there is an optional clip-on belt strap that will keep the bag well secured on your back.

    My only other complaint: although the strap is nice and thick, it doesn’t have any padding. I found this a bit confusing and checked on the Timbuk2 website, only to find that padding for the straps are sold as an extra, for $10. I found this a bit outrageous for a bag which already costs $100, but I suppose they have to make their money somehow. I probably won’t buy the $10 pad (+ shipping) unless I start to get seriously sore, or have to walk an outrageous distance to class, but for those of you that are sensitive to this, perhaps you should just buy it while you’re ordering the bag.

    In conclusion, I highly recommend this bag. I hope this review has been helpful, and perhaps it will save the forums from an unnecessary bag thread. I’ve noted a few drawbacks which I find more surprising than limiting given how well thought out this bag is, in general. There’s certainly room for an improved version in the future. Nevertheless, I found no other bag that I would consider trading this one for. I like the look of the bag (particularly in the color that I chose), its sturdy feel, and its comfortable nature. If you’re looking for a perfect 15” Macbook Pro bag, this is certainly a good way to go.
  2. vega07 macrumors 65816

    Aug 7, 2006
    great review, thanks a lot.

    I will now be considering this bag, but it's toooo expensive for a poor college student like myself.

    macrumors should have a sticky with bag reviews.
  3. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Nov 17, 2004
    The Msp
    Great review! I've had one of these bags for a few years now, and I can't recommend it enough. I hold my shuffle in one of the side "drink" pockets for easy access while biking, or my Nano when I'm walking around. And it'll fit a water bottle fine, too.
  4. extraextra macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2006
    I have always been intrigued by Timbuk2 bags. Do they sell them in any stores where I can see them in person, or is it only online?
  5. Moshiiii macrumors 6502a


    Apr 4, 2006
    Sarasota, FL
    Thanks! I own a Timbuk2 Backpack and a Crumpler Messenger Bag. For me I like the Timbuk2 Backpacks the best and I'm not too fond of the style of their messenger bags. I prefer the Crumpler Messenger Bag looks better.
  6. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
    i have owned that bag for two years now. it has served me well. over time. the seams between the back padding came loose, so now the fabric isn't so nice. the inside flap is also throughly marked up from my pens. still a great bag. i'd get another timbuk2 bag in a heartbeat.
  7. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Please note that along with buying a strap pad, you can also buy pockets that attach to the straps that could conceivably fit the adapter, or a cell phone, or an iPod. It adds a little to the cost but I think it's a good idea on Timbuk2's part to allow you to purchase these things in whatever combination you'd like to make the bag work for you.
  8. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    One of my roommates had (has) this bag when I was living with him last year- he had a Dell (*nauseau*), but he had a positive experience (with the bag) as well.
  9. desenso thread starter macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2005
    I've never seen it in a store, unfortunately.
  10. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    They do sell some in stores... REI carries a few (for a big name store). Otherwise, smaller bike stores will carry them and other outdoorsy type stores might have a few. I know a couple of Apple stores used to carry some Timbuk2 merchandise as well.

    But that might just be in this area seeing as how Timbuk2 is based in San Francisco. :p
  11. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2005
    great review, I have been looking for a practical, modern messenger bag. I think ive found one...
  12. Italchef macrumors 6502

    Nov 3, 2003
    Maple, Ontario
    I live in Canada and have ordered 2 Timbuk2 bags online. I was very impressed with the whole process from start to finish. The bags are very well made and in the 2 years that my wife and I have had them, there is no sign of wear whatsoever. The bags are used for carrying books, lunches, gym clothes, etc. I give the bags a 10/10.

  13. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    I bought one of their first-gen Commute bags in I guess 2001, back when I got my 500MHz iBook. Still going strong six years later, now toting my 12" Powerbook and all my assorted extras. It seems to have pockets in all the right places for the stuff I carry now and have carried in the past: good, easily-accessible outer front pockets for quick access to iPods and PDAs, roomy document pocket in the back for carrying file folders and the like, plenty of interior pockets for organizing AC adapters and cables.

    Now I'm kind of casually shopping for a more "grown-up" replacement. Might spring for one of the leather Mandarina Duck Work bags if I can find a decent price on one...
  14. jsgreen macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    Old thread, but I thought I'd share; I just picked up a Timbuk2 Commute bag at Marshalls for $40 - there were a bunch of different colors & styles to choose from.

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