Hands-on Gear Review

Timbuk2 Command Pack Review

By: Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 8, 2015
Price:  $129 List  |  $74.99 at Amazon - 42% Off
Pros:  Large, lots of storage, good organizational ability
Cons:  Poor water resistance, only average comfort and laptop protection
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2
65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Storage - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 7
  • Water resistance - 10% 5
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Our Verdict

The Timbuk2 Command is a large laptop backpack with multiple storage compartments and pockets. It is a run-of-the-mill backpack that includes everything you would want and has features that work as they are designed to. That said, this is not a bag that makes you go "wow." It received average scores in almost every category, making it one of the lower ranking backpacks in our review. It's not that this is a bad backpack, it's just that it doesn't really get us excited.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Timbuk2 Command is only average when it comes to comfort and laptop protection, the two features that we thought were most important in a laptop backpack. While it looks ok, it doesn't exactly wow in the style department either. What it does do well is carry lots of stuff and keep it organized; however, its array of compartments and pockets are more suited to work or school and not versatile enough for play, in our opinion. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst scorers in our water resistance testing.

Performance Comparison


The Command at the coffee shop.
The Command at the coffee shop.

Laptop Protection


We awarded the Command a 6 out of 10 for laptop protection, our most important metric. It has a separate laptop compartment against the back plate that opens all the way around with two zippers, a feature that allows you to lay open the whole compartment for airport security. In our experience, the shoulder straps got in the way of opening the back the whole way, and we don't think we would want our pack traveling through the airport security belt that way anyway. For us, it was only barely big enough for our 15 inch laptop, although we liked that it had a securing strap. While it does provide good padding, it also failed to secure our small 11 inch laptop or even smaller tablet, and we weren't thrilled with the design which failed to suspend our laptop off of the floor of the pack. This means that if set down upright on the ground or other hard surface, the laptop only has about a quarter inch of foam padding absorbing the shock of the blow, and repeated many times or done even once carelessly, we feel that this is a point of potential laptop damage.

The Command's computer compartment resides right against the back and zips all the folded open. It has two pockets  although only one of them has a securing strap. Documents can also be stored in this extra pocket.
The Command's computer compartment resides right against the back and zips all the folded open. It has two pockets, although only one of them has a securing strap. Documents can also be stored in this extra pocket.

Comfort


The Timbuk2 Command is simply middle of the road when it comes to comfort. While it is preferable to the Arc'teryx Blade 24, it is about the same as the Timbuk2 Rogue, that is, large, square, and stiff. The back plate has lots of foam padding, but is pretty inflexible, and while the shoulder straps attach to the top of the bag decently far apart, we still found that they dig into the shoulders while carrying heavier loads. Lastly, this pack has a sternum strap for stability purposes, but no waist strap.

This pack is tall and somewhat rigid in shape  making it ever so slightly less comfortable than other backpacks  but we still like it.
This pack is tall and somewhat rigid in shape, making it ever so slightly less comfortable than other backpacks, but we still like it.

Organization & Storage


This pack has straps on the bottom for attaching accessories.
This pack has straps on the bottom for attaching accessories.
At 32 liters, the storage capacity of the Command was amongst the best in the review, comparable to the Dakine Explorer or The North Face Surge II Transit. Storage is where this pack shines, it can really hold a lot. Besides the large laptop compartment, it has two other large zippered compartments, along with an assortment of exterior pockets and organizational tools. If you need to carry a lot of things daily, this pack is a great option for you.

The main compartment and second large organizational pocket. The laptop compartment is separate under the shoulder straps.
The main compartment and second large organizational pocket. The laptop compartment is separate under the shoulder straps.

Versatility


Because of its large carrying capacity and many different compartments, the Command is a relatively versatile pack. It also features dual straps underneath the bag which remind us of a sleeping pad carrying system, but in the context of laptop backpacks can really only be explained as coat straps. In general though, its lack of comfort, and the fact that its compartments tend to be really tall and narrow, somewhat restrict its versatility, and we wouldn't really choose to use it for outdoor fun.

Style


This pack includes a beer bottle opener on the shoulder strap  a feature we're not sure is really necessary.
This pack includes a beer bottle opener on the shoulder strap, a feature we're not sure is really necessary.
The Command is not as hip in a stylish way as its brethren the Timbuk2 Rogue. In our opinion, the Command resides somewhere below the professional looking Arc'teryx Blade 24 or the Osprey Pixel, but certainly above the school-bag looking Dakine Explorer or The North Face Recon. But when it comes to something like style, all we can really say is its subjective, you be the judge.

Water Resistance


The Timbuk2 Command was a bit of a disappointment when it comes to water resistance. While it does have a durable water resistant (DWR) coating applied to the outside of it, its zippers do not have flaps to protect against water entry, and in general are very exposed pointing up towards the elements. In our tests, little amounts of water did manage to enter the main compartment in less than 30 seconds of exposure.

This pack has an effective DWR coating that caused water to bead up and be repelled nicely.
This pack has an effective DWR coating that caused water to bead up and be repelled nicely.

Best Applications


This bag is designed as a large and functional laptop carrier. We recommend it for use around-town use and to and from the office or school. We do not really consider it to be versatile enough for outdoor daypack usage.

Value


At a low low price of only $77, the Command is the second most affordable bag in our review. Since the cost is almost the same as the higher scoring Rogue ($79), we would recommend opting for that pack instead.

Conclusion


The Command is a well-rounded backpack that adequately does everything you might want from a laptop carrier - it is large, has good storage and organizational capabilities, and is comfortable enough. However, for any given rating metric there were certainly backpacks that we liked more, and the general feeling when contemplating owning this bag is a bit "ho-hum." It's hard to beat the price, but at the same time if price is the biggest concern, it is probably worth checking out the other affordable Timbuk2 bags as well.
The Arbor and the Command out on the town.
The Arbor and the Command out on the town.

Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: February 8, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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