Hands-on Gear Review

Timbuk2 Rogue Review

The 2018 Timbuk2 Rogue
Price:  $79 List | $40.43 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, water resistant, large internal compartment holds lots of stuff
Cons:  Poor laptop protection, could be more comfortable, not ideal for organization
Bottom line:  This is a military styled design that will suit you better on the trails and on the go than in the office.
Editors' Rating:   
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Volume (L):  25 L
Dimensions:  18.9 x 12.2 x 6.3 in.
Weight:  1.8 lb.
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2

Our Verdict

The Rogue is proof that style and performance don't have to be separate and don't have to cost a bomb. This top-loader with a sleek military look boasts solid performance at a fair price. Made with a haul bag-esque "waterproof tarpaulin" exterior fabric, the Rogue is sturdy and durable. But perhaps its best feature, besides its price, is its unique design. Its Velcro covered fold-over top flap makes it reminiscent of a messenger bag (a category that Timbuk2 takes very seriously), while its myriad external attachment straps make it easy to customize. While it wasn't the top scorer in any of the individual categories we tested, we believe this to be a solid backpack that is worth every penny and ideal for those on a budget.

New Colors
Timbuk2 makes a move toward simplicity, now offering the Rogue in only Black (shown above) and Surplus (a greenish-gray). Despite the new look, this is still the same pack in all other specifications.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Laptop Backpacks of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Katherine Elliott

Last Updated:
Wednesday
June 7, 2017

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The Timbuk2 Rogue is similar in many ways to the Burton Tinder and indeed received a very similar overall score in our head-to-head testing. However, it shines at different things than the Tinder, most notably in exterior features. The Rogue has many external sewn straps which serve as attachment points for customization, given of course that you don't mind dangly things on the outside of your pack. It also has a more rigid foam backplate that provides better laptop protection by giving the bag something stiff to absorb the impact of setting it on the ground. But much like the Tinder, the Timbuk2 Rogue is a single compartment top-loader that is versatile for the outdoors but considerably less so for school or work where you would be carrying a laptop over a long distance. The Rouge is a low-cost and efficient way to transport all your electronic needs and more.

Performance Comparison



The Rogue is a military-esque style laptop backpack that is on the small side if you are looking to carry all your gear for a full day at the office or school  along all the other extra stuff you use.
The Rogue is a military-esque style laptop backpack that is on the small side if you are looking to carry all your gear for a full day at the office or school, along all the other extra stuff you use.

Laptop Protection


This model earned a 5 out of a possible 10 from our testers when it came to laptop protection, which is the lowest score by far. Although the Burton Tinder earned the same score, we felt that it is a better pack for work or school purposes with all the extra storage pockets and features on the inside. The Rogue has a single laptop sleeve inside the pack that is suspended against the back and made of mesh. We like that it resides high enough, and the back plate provides enough rigidity, as there is little chance of the laptop hitting the ground as the bag is set down.


We also liked that there is a securing strap with Velcro to seal the pocket on top. However, the pocket is made of mesh and provides little to no padding to protect it from other items in the pack. While the foam backplate protects it adequately from the outside, there is no foam or any additional padding at all on the rest of the pouch. The sleeve runs the full width of the pack from side-to-side, but like the bottom of the sleeve, there is no padding, only the relative stiffness of the backplate to help protect your laptop. With such a vast and non-compressible interior compartment, this is a concern for us; unless the bag is full, it is easy for items to shift around and bang against the laptop. We found that the pocket fits our 15-inch laptop just fine, but our 11-inch was not secured and moved around inside, with no way to clamp it down.

The Rogue's super thin mesh laptop padding made it one of lowest scoring bags in laptop protection.
The Rogue's super thin mesh laptop padding made it one of lowest scoring bags in laptop protection.

Comfort


Our testers found the Timbuk2 to be one of the less comfortable packs in our review. The backplate of the pack is a soft foam, cut in the shape of a large, semi-rigid rectangle which is neither form-fitting nor the shape of a person's back. The Rogue looks like a haul bag, and we felt that it carries like one too. The bag is taller than we would like, and we found that our head touched it in the back while riding a bike.


It does not have a waist strap, and we found the shoulder straps to bite into the neck slightly. Overall, this pack isn't so uncomfortable that we would not recommend it, but with nine other bags in the lineup, this one was far less preferable than most of the other packs.

The shoulder straps of the Rouge were on the small side and the sternum strap was not as easy to adjust  making this less than desirable for everyday use.
The shoulder straps of the Rouge were on the small side and the sternum strap was not as easy to adjust, making this less than desirable for everyday use.

Storage


Similar to the Burton Tinder, the Rogue is designed around a single large storage compartment that is accessed from the top. While this design allows you to carry a lot of stuff, it does not lend itself well to organization.


The third top-loading pack in our review, the Osprey Packs Flapjack, easily outperformed the Rogue with its incorporation of multiple compartments and document sleeves. That said, the Rogue does include a small internal zip pocket, as well as pen keeper sleeves on its inside. It also has a large external zip pocket and an outer water bottle pocket as well; both of which we liked.

There were two types of designs in our testing lineup  a top loader like pictures above or a more standard design of a multi compartment style backpack.
There were two types of designs in our testing lineup, a top loader like pictures above or a more standard design of a multi compartment style backpack.

Ease of Use


This laptop backpack certainly doesn't suffer in the versatility department, and, unless you are trying to carry unprotected documents crammed in with a bunch of other stuff (and you're expecting them not to get damaged or wrinkled), this bag will serve you well for almost anything. The single large compartment will easily store work-out gear, food, an extra change of clothes, or any combination of books and a laptop and small tablet.


Its multiple clip-in loops on the outside allow you to attach almost anything, provided of course that you have your straps or carabiners. We love that no straps are provided because the lack of strap ends hanging all over the place keeps it sleek. The Flapjack from Osprey is the easiest to use among models reviewed.

Even with its single compartment  there is a small organization pocket with storage for pens and small loose items.
Even with its single compartment, there is a small organization pocket with storage for pens and small loose items.

Style


Except for the Burton Tinder, the Rogue was one of the more stylish and hip bags in our review, though you will have to be the judge. To us, the oddest thing about this backpack was the inclusion of a beer bottle opener sewn into the shoulder strap.

The Rogue's lack of strap ends keep this pack simple and sleek.
The Rogue's lack of strap ends keep this pack simple and sleek.

Timbuk2 says this is for "hydration emergencies and party tricks," but we feel it is out of place, and we never seem to struggle to find an adequate beer bottle opener when needed.


Water Resistance


The Rogue was one of the three most water resistant bags in our review, although it did not perform as well as the Patagonia Black Hole 25 or the Granite Gear Rift 2. The durable "tarpaulin" material shed water excellently, but the felt material on the sides of the bag seemed to absorb water and was lacking a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.


On the inside, we found it odd that one of these felt sides was lined with a nylon fabric, but the other was not. We assume that in a long enough downpour, water could indeed wick through to the inside. That said, in our shower test, nothing on the inside ended up wet.

The durable "tarpaulin" material shed water excellently  but the felt material on the top and sides of the bag seemed to absorb water and was lacking a durable water repellent (DWR) coating  as far as we could tell.
The durable "tarpaulin" material shed water excellently, but the felt material on the top and sides of the bag seemed to absorb water and was lacking a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, as far as we could tell.

Best Applications


This product is designed first as a backpack, and secondarily as a backpack fit for carrying a laptop. This makes it an excellent choice as a day pack, as a general purpose commuter, or even as a travel pack. However, if you are looking for a pack to carry your laptop in daily, we would probably recommend something different, like the Osprey Flapjack, our Editors' Choice winner. If you are very cautious with your bag or using a laptop protector, this bag might suit you.

The Rogue fits into the category of a backpack that holds a laptop pretty well with minimal laptop protection but amble space for gear.
The Rogue fits into the category of a backpack that holds a laptop pretty well with minimal laptop protection but amble space for gear.

Value


The Rogue retails at $79. The Rouge encompasses a highly functional multi-purpose laptop bag while maintaining an affordable price point. If you are looking for a more school oriented type laptop backpack while still keeping it affordable, then check out the The North Face Borealis.

Conclusion


The Timbuk2 Rogue is not the best laptop backpack in our review. However, we do recommend it, and we feel it presents an excellent value. It shines as an all-purpose daypack but does not seem to be designed specifically as a work or school bag. It has an interesting and hip look, is made of exceptionally durable materials, and is an excellent option for those who live in wet climates and need a water-resistant bag.
Katherine Elliott

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Most recent review: June 7, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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