Hands-on Gear Review

Timbuk2 Rogue Review

The 2018 Timbuk2 Rogue
Price:  $79 List | $42.28 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 can co-exist in an affordable package. Made with a "waterproof tarpaulin" exterior fabric, the Rogue is a sturdy and durable top-loading backpack. 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, while its myriad external attachment straps make it easy to customize.

The Timbuk2 Rogue is similar in many ways to the Burton Tinder, our Top Pick for Style, 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 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. While it isn't the top scorer in any of the individual categories we tested, it is 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:
Thursday
June 21, 2018

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This durable and water-resistant bag is affordable, a fantastic option for those on a budget.

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 earns a low score for its lack of protection. 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.

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.

We also like 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. 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.

Comfort


The Timbuk2 is not a superiorly comfortable backpack. 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. It looks like a haul bag and carries like one too. The bag is taller than we like, and our head touched it in the back while riding a bike. It does not have a waist strap, and the shoulder straps bite into the neck. Overall, this pack isn't so uncomfortable that we would not recommend it, but it's the not the most comfortable in this review.

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


The Rogue is designed around a single large storage compartment (25L) that is accessed from the top. While this design allows you to carry a lot of stuff, it does not provide the best organization. It has a few zippered and organizational pockets inside of the main compartment, and an easy access pocket in the front of the pack. It also has an external water bottle container that we like.

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.

Check out the storage and features of this backpack here.

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), it will serve you well for almost anything. The single large compartment will easily store work-out gear, food, an extra change of clothes, or a combination of books and a laptop and small tablet.

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.

Its multiple clip-in loops on the outside allow you to attach almost anything, provided of course that you have straps or carabiners. We love that no straps are provided because the lack of strap ends hanging all over the place keeps it sleek.

Water Resistance


The Rogue is one of the most water resistant bags in our review. The durable "tarpaulin" material shed water excellently, but the felt material on the sides of the bag absorb water and lack a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. On the inside of the bag, one of the felt sides is lined with a nylon fabric, but the other is 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.

Style


The Rogue is a stylish and hip backpack that is great for traveling in the city or around town, though we'll let you be the judge! To us, the oddest (and perhaps coolest) thing about this backpack is the beer bottle opener sewn into the shoulder strap…a fun and handy addition that isn't at all necessary.

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.

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. It's also a great option for wet climates, given its great water resistance. If you are cautious with your bag or use a laptop protector, it's a great affordable option.

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 and has a decent value for the price. If you seek a more affordable option, this less protective yet versatile laptop backpack is great.

Conclusion


The Timbuk2 Rogue is recommended as an all-purpose daypack that can extend to work, school, and even a hike in the wilderness.

Katherine Elliott

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Most recent review: June 21, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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