Reviews You Can Rely On

Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe Review

This all-star backpack has pockets that make staying organized a cinch as well as padded straps and back for all-day comfort
gearlab tested logo
Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe Review (The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is a great professional laptop pack with a nice assortment of pockets.)
The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is a great professional laptop pack with a nice assortment of pockets.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Price:  $159 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 1, 2023
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 14
  • Laptop Protection - 30% 8.5
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7.5
  • Storage - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7.5
  • Versatility - 10% 6.5

Our Verdict

The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is our favorite laptop backpack for daily use. It has all of the pockets we need to keep our stuff well-organized and comes equipped with comfortable, padded back and shoulder straps. The dedicated laptop pocket keeps precious electronics protected from everyday bumps and knocks. For tech-heavy users, a secondary sleeve accommodates another laptop or tablet. It also comes with small but valuable features, including a luggage loop to slide it over the handle of your roller bag at the airport and a built-in key hook so you never wonder where you put them when you are standing at your front door. This pack is an excellent option for any office commuter or student who needs a reliable, durable backpack to keep their electronics and other supplies protected on the daily.
REASONS TO BUY
Pockets for easy organization
Dedicated laptop pocket
Padded straps and back
REASONS TO AVOID
Narrow
Very small front pocket
Not a great travel bag

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $159 List
$159.00 at Amazon
$109.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$40 List
$25.19 at Amazon
$97.20 at Amazon
Compare at 4 sellers
$40 List
$21.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
76
74
72
69
68
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line A top-tier backpack with an exceptional array of pockets for easy organization, and comfortably padded back and shoulder strapsLarge volume, top-notch organization, good structure, and a massive laptop compartment ensure this pack is well-loved by travelers and daily commutersA pack with a lot of storage capacity and enough pockets for all kinds of tech and accessoriesA pack that can withstand wet and windy weather with plenty of storage capacity for the daily essentialsAn inexpensive and versatile backpack with unique features and a touch of style
Rating Categories Timbuk2 Authority D... The North Face Recon Yorepek Travel Extr... The North Face Bore... Matein Travel
Laptop Protection (30%)
8.5
7.5
6.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
7.5
7.0
7.0
6.5
7.0
Storage (20%)
7.0
8.5
9.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
7.5
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Versatility (10%)
6.5
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Timbuk2 Authority D... The North Face Recon Yorepek Travel Extr... The North Face Bore... Matein Travel
Compatible Laptop Size 17" 16" 17" 15" 15.6"
Volume 20 L 30 L 50 L 28 L 28 L
Number of Compartments 3 3 3 3 3
Number of Large Pockets 3 2 3 2 3
Number of Small Pockets 3 7 4 9 2
External Side Pockets No Yes Yes Yes Yes
External Water Bottle Holder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Additional Features Key clip, sternum strap Key clip, removable webbing hip belt, sternum strap, reflective material, daisy chains Key clip Key clip, removable webbing hip belt, sternum strap, reflective material Key clip
Weight 2.3 lb 2.5 lb 2.2 lb 2.0 lb 1.7 lb
Dimensions 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.3" 19.5" x 13.0" x 7.0" 18.0" x 13.5" x 6.5" 19.5" x 12.0" x 6.5" 18.0" x 12.0" x 7.8"

Our Analysis and Test Results

This 20-liter pack comes with a durable and water-resistant 100% recycled nylon body. Its three main storage compartments can fit multiple laptops up to 17 inches, and its auxiliary pockets are great for small items like pens, keys, and tissues.

Performance Comparison


The Authority Deluxe features various pockets to keep you organized and is one of our favorite laptop bags.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Laptop Protection


The dedicated laptop pocket is everything we need. It has padding on its front and back and is extra well-protected by the thick cushion of the air mesh back. It fits larger, 17-inch computers, so it is nice and deep, but the bottom of the pocket still “floats” above the actual bottom of the pack, keeping electronics protected from drops. If you keep your laptop in a case, it will fit snugly in the laptop pocket. Without a case, smaller devices will sink to the bottom of the pocket, but the aforementioned float space still keeps them safe.


There is also another padded electronics sleeve in the second main compartment. It easily fits a tablet or 13-inch laptop. Though there is no securing mechanism like velcro to seal off the top, the sleeve is tight enough that devices don't really jostle around.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - the dedicated laptop pocket is padded front and back with ample...
The dedicated laptop pocket is padded front and back with ample space for even large computers.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort and Fit


This pack is one of the more comfortable that we have tested. It has thick squares of padding on the back and shoulders. They provide cushioning well enough but we think their real value is that they keep the pack raised slightly off of your back and extend the amount of time you have before you start sweating. This was especially helpful in work settings where we obviously didn't want to show up drenched.


The pack also fits smaller people well. The main body of the pack is compact in all dimensions. Its 5.3-inch depth and 11.4-inch width are some of the narrowest in this category, meaning that the weight in the pack stays close to your body. The straps are fully adjustable with an ergonomic shape that curves around your shoulders, and a sternum strap (with three different height options) also keeps the pack in place.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - with a highly water-resistant exterior and a waterproof bottom...
With a highly water-resistant exterior and a waterproof bottom, contents stay well-protected in light and moderate rain.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Storage


Though the Authority Deluxe has a smaller capacity than most other models in our lineup, it was only the rare occasion when we actually needed more space. In addition to the laptop pocket at the back of the pack, the main compartment has enough space for multiple folders, notebooks, and books. The third large pocket has additional space for smaller supplies like pens and pencils, chargers, gum, and snacks. We especially like the mesh pocket embedded at the top of this compartment. It has its own zipper and is great for items that you want to keep accessible.


Two smaller front pockets round out this pack. The larger vertical-zippered pocket has an attached key hook, which is practical and easy to use. The horizontal zippered pocket at the front is not quite large enough for a pair of sunglasses, and it's tricky to unzip and stick your hand into, so we didn't ultimately use it that much day-to-day.

Packing the Authority Deluxe with the standard load of a laptop, charger, folders, notebook, books, pens, water bottle, and other supplies.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The most difficult feature to navigate is the Authority Deluxe's very narrow depth. This came into play most often when we were trying to stuff a layer like a sweater or fleece into the bag along with notebooks and folders. To avoid bending the paper goods, we pretty much always had to take them out, stuff the clothing in the bottom, and then slide them back in. It's definitely not a dealbreaker, but it's hard to stuff and go with this pack. Also, oddly, there are two pen/pencil sleeves that are basically too tight to actually use. However, there are plenty of other places to put writing implements, so it's a functionally minor inconvenience.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - the mesh pocket in the second main compartment is practical for...
The mesh pocket in the second main compartment is practical for keeping items easily accessible.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Use


This pack has some nice features that make it easy to use. Each of the three main compartments has dual zippers that glide easily and don't get caught on surrounding materials. We also like the zipper depth of each pocket - two of them open about halfway around the pack and the third frontmost pocket unzips all the way around with elastic expanders sewn in, preventing you from inadvertently dumping all your contents onto the ground.


The water bottle pocket is stretchy but extremely small. It does not fit a standard 1-liter Nalgene or anything larger. However, it does accommodate skinny bottles and many travel coffee mugs.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - we like how accessible items are with easy gliding zippers and...
We like how accessible items are with easy gliding zippers and pockets that open up nice and wide.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility


This bag has a distinctive office-ready style, but it could also be used as a school bag. It comes in four pretty dark, neutral colors and doesn't stand out visually. With its laptop pocket and secondary sleeve, it is designed for carrying electronics, so it's not especially well-suited for outdoor activities or a day out with the family.


The luggage loop at the back allows this pack to sit neatly over the handle of a roller bag, and its small dimensions are useful for navigating an airport. You'll want a carry on bag for your clothing, but the Authority Deluxe is great as a personal item for airline travel.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - the timbuk2 authority deluxe has a skinny water bottle holder that...
The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe has a skinny water bottle holder that is fine for tall 16 or 20-ounce bottles.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Should You Buy the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe?


The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is an exceptional laptop backpack and is one of our favorites that we've ever tested. It offers a solid balance of organizational features and open pockets that will meet the needs of most people. Its office-ready aesthetic lets it blend into many workplaces. Though there are a couple of minor head-scratching features like the unusable pen/pencil sleeves and very skinny water bottle holder, the overall protection and practicality of this backpack are hard to match.

What Other Laptop Backpacks Should You Consider?


If you like this pack but need even more organization for a lot of tech, the Incase Icon is the way to go. On the other side, if you need something highly functional but just can't stomach this price tag, the still impressively comfortable, durable, and full of useful compartments and pockets — but a bit more affordable — The North Face Recon is one of our favorites.

timbuk2 authority deluxe - with ergonomic shoulder straps and a sternum strap to keep it in...
With ergonomic shoulder straps and a sternum strap to keep it in place, the Authority Deluxe is a comfortable carry.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch