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Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Review

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Messenger Bags

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 1 review. Most recent review: October 13, 2011
Street Price:   Varies from $64 - $99 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Spacious, comfortable when biking and walking, good internal organization, available in 5 sizes and 17 colors, waterproof, durable.
Cons:  No easily accessible external pockets, shoulder strap and buckle system is bulky and not as easy to use as others.
Best Uses:  Budget messenger for biking
User Rating:       (0.0 of 5) based on 0 reviews
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ October 13, 2011  
The Timbuk2 Classic Messenger is a well designed, reasonably comfortable, durable, and waterproof bag for those who do a lot of biking and want quick access to their belongings. The bag is constructed of durable, waterproof materials, has logical and easy to use storage for small and large items, and costs only $90. This is the updated version of the bag that kicked off the Messenger Revolution I.E., explosion of messenger bag use by non-messengers. It's a great value.

Other bags, however, are better. The Mission Workshop Rummy ($175) is our favorite messenger bag because it's more comfortable, easier to adjust, has easy to access external pockets, a more versatile roll top closure, and is made of slightly better materials. It's also easier and quicker to get into the bag (which is the main reason to buy a messenger bag). The best messenger bag for laptop and document transport and office environments is the Rickshaw Commuter 2.0 ($150).

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


Timbuk2 just gave their Classic Messenger a serious update. This is arguably the most popular messenger bag in America, and for good reason. It's simple, has great storage for both small and large items, is durable, comfortable for biking and walking, is totally waterproof, and comes in a variety of sizes and colors (we tested the medium).

The Classic Messenger is made of a durable ballistic nylon with a waterproof TPU liner. This material is very rugged, but slightly less than the burliest of bags ( Chrome Buran and Mission Workshop Rummy). A large inner compartment holds everything you need on a typical day without being overly bulky or rigid. The rear of the main compartment has a slightly padded laptop divider with a semi-rigid 1.75" thick plastic upper that supports the compartment. The interior front has what we believe to be the most logical and useful interior storage of any messenger bag reviewed- a medium sized zipper compartment contains two sleeves. The open part of the interior storage has several slots for pens, pencils, a phone, and a velcro pocket. The outside of the bag is fashioned with the same storage system found on the company's Command Messenger and Option Backpack: three small horizontal zippered pockets lie in front of a larger pocket that's accessed from the side.

The main flap closes with velcro that strikes a near perfect balance of adhesiveness (too much is loud and obnoxious, too little is not secure). Two adjustable buckles close the bag tight regardless of whether it's fully or sparsely loaded.

The Classic Messenger's single shoulder strap is angled slightly to make it more comfortable for biking. This is an upgrade from the removable, vertically oriented strap that was on a previous version (and can be found on the Rickshaw Commuter 2.0). The bag comes with a removable padded sleeve and a removable cross strap (see video below) that stabilizes the bag when walking and biking.

The Classic Messenger is available in five sizes and seventeen pre-made color combinations. We believe the Medium is the most versatile. You can also pay extra to customize the bag with fabrics of various colors, patterns, and materials.


The Classic Messenger represents a great value, but there are several ways in which it could be improved. First, other bags- such as the Mission Workshop Rummy and Chrome Buran- have straps that are significantly more comfortable and easier to adjust. Though Timbuk2's adjustable buckle system, which is designed to be unbuckled before taking the bag off, is an improvement over a traditional cinch system (Patagonia Half Mass) our testers found it to be cumbersome, even awkward, when the bag is filled to capacity. Mission Workshop's adjustment system blows the Classic Messenger's out of the water. But, the bag also costs nearly twice as much.

The Classic Messenger could also be improved with the addition of a quick access external zippered pocket. Three other bags (Rummy, Half Mass and Pike) had this feature and our testers absolutely loved it. Another drawback is the lack of a top grab handle. The exclusion of this feature, and external side pockets, positions the bag more in the messenger category and less in the briefcase/ computer bag category.

These drawbacks are offset by the bag's good design and reasonable price. Get it if you bike a lot, want quick access to what's inside, and can't afford the Mission Workshop Rummy (our favorite messenger bag). The best office messenger is the Rickshaw Commuter 2.0.


Like the company's Swig, the Classic Messenger costs $90, a killer deal for a great bag.

Other Versions

Timbuk2 Swig, $100
Timbuk2 Command, $140.
Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack, $180

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: October 13, 2011
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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Timbuk2 Classic Messenger
Credit: Timbuk2
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