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Timbuk2 Classic Review

A great messenger bag but has a lot of thoughtful competition in the industry.
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Price:  $99 List | $46.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable
Cons:  Minimal features for electronics
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2
By Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti  ⋅  Aug 21, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 8
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 7
  • Electronics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 6
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Timbuk2 Classic is, as the name suggests, a very classic messenger bag that is easy to appreciate and enjoy. It is at home on a bike and during inclement weather, staying comfortable all the while. Features for electronics are minimal but sufficient, and the price point is approachable. It's an excellent all-around messenger bag. It doesn't stand out for any one user type but is adequate for bike commuting with office and light gym clothes, simple and easy for international travel, and sleek and low profile enough for congested urban subways. Bottom line, it's highly versatile and could be a great fit for many different folks.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Timbuk2 Classic
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $46.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$169 List$169.00 at REI$80 List$120.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizableVersatile, durable, stylish, fun to useWaterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strapCompact, lightweight, customization options, simpleDurable, weatherproof, comfortable
Cons Minimal features for electronicsNot weatherproof, less classic messenger designTips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensiveToo small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separatelyHeavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatile
Bottom Line A great messenger bag but has a lot of thoughtful competition in the industry.Transitions seamlessly from backpack to messenger to briefcase.This sleek, comfortable, and lightweight bag is highly durable and weatherproof with minimal yet thoughtful features.This messenger bag is very small and lightweight, and useful for trips with a tablet and a few items.This is an excellent, rugged, and stylish messenger bag that is on the heavier and bulkier side.
Rating Categories Timbuk2 Classic Mountain Briefcase Arc'teryx Granville 10 Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase Chrome Mini Metro
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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7
10
0
8
Packing & Organization (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Electronics (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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7
10
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5
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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9
10
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6
Wear & Tear (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)
10
0
7
10
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6
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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6
Specs Timbuk2 Classic Mountain Briefcase Arc'teryx... Tom Bihn Daylight... Chrome Mini Metro
Measured weight (pounds) 2.19 2.26 1.15 0.99 2.39
Measured volume (L) 16 13 10 8 14
OGL Volume/Weight Ratio 7.3 5.75 8.69 8.1 5.85
Dimensions (inches) 14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 13 x 11 x 4.5 in 16 x 10.5 x 5 14 x 10 x 4 20 x 12 x 7
Shoulder preference Either Either & both w/ backpack straps Either Either Left
Number of Compartments 2 1 1 1 1
Number of Large Pockets 6 1 2 5 2
Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items) 4 3 0 0 3
Number of Zipper Pockets 3 2 2 3 1
Key Clip? Yes No Yes Yes No
Reflective Material? No No No No Yes on straps
External Side Pocket No No No No No
Sleeve Fits Laptop Yes - 15 inch Yes - 15 inch Yes - 12 inch Yes - 13 inch Yes, not padded
Stabilizing Cross Strap Yes No, has backpack straps Yes No Yes
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L One Size 10L and 16L One Size One Size
Size tested Medium One Size 10L One Size One Size

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Classic messenger bag
The Classic messenger bag

Comfort


The Timbuk2 Classic performs well above average when it comes to comfort. It has nice padding on the shoulder strap, a simple and straightforward design, and is lightweight for its size. The fabric is relatively supple, which helps the bag sit flush on your back when cycling. The clever shoulder strap adjustment system involves a camming buckle and double-backed straps — a design element that helps eliminate the excess strap material that would otherwise dangle in your lap when riding.

The Classic messenger bag is comfortable and stable for bike rides.
The Classic messenger bag is comfortable and stable for bike rides.

The cross strap on the Classic is much easier to adjust than on a Chrome bag, and it allows it to be carried over either the left or right shoulder — though it doesn't easily slide out of the way. If you use it, expect it to get in the way when you throw the bag over one shoulder for a quick jaunt down the hall or across the street to the coffee shop. The reflective tabs hanging off the bag improved comfort in another way: they helped us feel safer cycling on busy roads. Additionally, there is a piece of webbing sewn to the outside of the bag that is intended for a bike light.

The Classic messenger bag has effective and stylish reflective tabs for visibility at night.
The Classic messenger bag has effective and stylish reflective tabs for visibility at night.

Packing/Organization


The Classic has a simple and effective pocket and organization scheme, complete with a pleasing sneak-access side zipper just under the flap that is great for a wallet. The internal side pockets are intended for water bottles, but they're too tight for a liter Nalgene. They are more suited for things like cables or snacks, keeping them tidy and out of the way in the corners of the bag. While there is a sleeve for a laptop, there's not much padding.

The Classic has fun pockets  especially the vertical Napoleon pocket that is accessible (if you know where it is) without unbuckling the main flap.
The Classic has fun pockets, especially the vertical Napoleon pocket that is accessible (if you know where it is) without unbuckling the main flap.

Electronics


The Classic has effective yet minimal electronics-friendly features. There is an internal divider with light padding for a laptop, and several zippered pockets which help organize cords and smaller items like a phone.

The Classic messenger bag has great pockets  but they're not optimized for electronics.
The Classic messenger bag has great pockets, but they're not optimized for electronics.

Ease of Use


The double-loop cam buckle system on this bag is designed to allow quick and easy shoulder strap adjustments while eliminating any excess webbing. It's a nice concept, but it proved to be relatively unwieldy and ironically slow to adjust. Some of our users got used to it, but others found it cumbersome and irritating. Additionally, this design made the cross strap a bit harder to attach and adjust for comfort when carrying the bag on the left shoulder.

The camming buckle and adjustable strap design on the Classic is easy to use  but it's not optimized for both shoulders.
The camming buckle and adjustable strap design on the Classic is easy to use, but it's not optimized for both shoulders.

The Classic has a low-profile grab handle which is set slightly toward the back of the bag. If you grab the bag without the front flap firmly closed, it will tilt forward, and the inner compartment will open, so make sure you pay attention when in a hurry. There are also compression straps which cinch from the bottom to help keep everything compact and secure when not loaded to max capacity.

The grab handle has a low profile.
The grab handle has a low profile.

Wear and Tear


This bag performs very well in the rain. The fabric wets out a bit, but the bag has a robust liner and great side folding flaps that seal the contents from the rain. The simplicity of the Classic makes it exceptionally durable, though the lighter colors do get dirty relatively quickly. Even though the fabric shows signs of wear in a relatively short amount of time, this does not compromise the weatherproofing or performance; it's strictly aesthetic.

The Classic messenger bag is durable and waterproof  and kept our gear inside dry through the rain.
The Classic messenger bag is durable and waterproof, and kept our gear inside dry through the rain.

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Timbuk2 Classic weighs in at a relatively light 2.19 pounds, and with 16 liters of volume, it's a pretty great bag with regards to volume-to-weight ratio.

The Classic messenger bag boasts a decent volume to weight ratio.
The Classic messenger bag boasts a decent volume to weight ratio.

Value


The Classic provides great value for the price point. If you choose to customize it rather than go for the ready-made unicolor version, you'll quickly find yourself adding fun features and kicking up that price, so keep that in mind when considering what you want.

The Classic messenger bag packs a lot for its smal size!
The Classic messenger bag packs a lot for its smal size!

Conclusion


Timbuk2 was born and bred in San Francisco, and they still make their bags in the Mission District. They created the iconic messenger bag look back in 1989 and design their products to last a lifetime. Nostalgia aside, many of our testers now say they prefer to commute on their bikes with a backpack instead of the classic messenger bag, so Timbuk2 offers those too. Increasingly, we see the messenger bag as filling the role of the casual briefcase, the purse (or "man-purse"), or a gym bag. As such, this Classic bag didn't win any awards, though we still really like the design and high-quality manufacturing.

The Classic works equally well for biking or walking. The shoulder strap is super adjustable and comfortable.
The Classic works equally well for biking or walking. The shoulder strap is super adjustable and comfortable.


Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti