Timbuk2 is a San Francisco-based company that specializes in messenger bags and backpacks. They appeal to hipster bicyclists and as far as I can tell are the chief competitors of Chrome Industries (the “Comcast” of hipster messenger bag manufacturers). Recently Timbuk2 opened their first Chicago store in Bucktown / Wicker Park, only a couple blocks from a Chrome store.
It’s quite a spiffy place where they have a bag for nearly every occasion. One of my close friends landed a job there, so I now end up in there pretty often. Once when my power went out, I spent the day working at the Timbuk2 store on top of some astro turf. Another time I was there and a thirty-something Danish couple came in, and I talked to this very tall and muscular man about Lars Von Trier films while a guy was doing the robot. Timbuk2 has also fed me and given me many cans of Revolution beer at happy hour store parties.
Anyway, my friend owed me some money for a wedding. I needed a new backpack for work, so I decided to get paid back in light duty cargo transport. As a post-college grad who is now purportedly an adult male, I’d ideally like a swanky brief case. On the one day a week I have to go to commute to work, though, it’s two hours from when I leave my Chicago apartment to when I get to the office in Naperville, and there’s a lot of walking involved. I needed something with solid weight distribution and a messenger bag or briefcase wasn’t going to cut it.
Normally I think it would be absurd to buy a $250 backpack, but my friend’s store discount and the money he owed me let me set my sights on the Walker Laptop Backpack. The Walker is part of Timbuk2’s luxury Distilled collection, which also contains a briefcase and messenger bag. They’re the classiest bags the company has.
The exterior of the bag is a thick brown waxed canvas, that looks more like a dark grey to me—that’s lined with brown leather. It’s completely waterproof, which I’ve unwillingly tested a few times now. There’s a fairly substantial front pocked for items you need immediate access to and a side pouch that securely fits an umbrella or water bottle. The back straps seem very thin, but I find them and the back of the pack to be quite comfortable. Even when I have a lot of stuff, the weight never seems that bad thanks to solid distribution.
Access to the backpack is done through a lunch bag-style front flap that’s all the rage now in hipster backpacks, but is rather tastefully done here. There’s also a magnetic part at the top of the sides that lets you seal the pack when closed so water doesn’t get in.
The inside has a classy, striped fabric that gives the bag even more of a luxury feel. The pocket in the back of the bag snuggly fits a laptop. On the Timbuk2 website, they say the bag only fits a 15” MacBook Pro, but it easily accommodates my four-year-old, thick, 17” Asus. The middle section is the biggest and could easily a few changes of clothing for a weekend trip, and it’s wide enough to fit vinyl. There’s also a “secret” zipper pouch in the middle that would probably be best for important documents.
Towards the front of the backpack is a convertible pouch. A button snap can separate it into two distinct pouches for you to organize smaller items, or you can keep it as another big pouch. Overall, there’s lots of storage, and it’s easy to organize and access your stuff.
Really the only flaw with the Walker is the button snaps that close the top flap. There are two sets of snaps and that’s very nice for when you’ve got a bulky load. The problem is it’s hard to secure them, and it requires some feeling around back there. Timbuk2 left room for you to insert a finger under the snap and that helps, but it’s still difficult and you never get the feeling that the bag is securely closed. While it wouldn’t have looked nice for them to use Velcro or a zipper, I’ve seen other Timbuk2 bags with magnetic snaps. That would have been a game changer in this situation.
I don’t think I could have ever justified buying a $250 bag if it hadn’t been a “gift”; however, this is certainly one of the nicest things I own. When I wear it, I feel like a sophisticated man and not like one of those awkward businessmen in suits carrying an elementary school kid’s backpack.
Nice review; I bought a Chrome Barrage Cargo around the end of last year because I needed something a bit bigger than what I had that was also going to be able to last me a while. I managed to snag it on some kind of sale, as I don’t remember paying more than $100 for it and apparently it’s priced at $180 now. While I’m happy with the bag, literally every regret I have about it, from its appearance to its lack of practical pouches/compartments would be solved by this bag here.
Not sure I’d be comfortable pulling the trigger on a $250 bag either, but I went from a cheap but way too small Timbuk2 messenger bag that billed itself as great for a Macbook without actually having room for much beyond the computer and its charger to this Chrome that, while nice, has its fair share of issues. Maybe I should swing by that Timbuk2 shop and take a look around.