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.
Timbuk2 Classic Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable
Cons: Minimal features for electronics
Compare to Similar Products
|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
|Pros||Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable||Versatile, durable, stylish, fun to use||Waterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strap||Compact, lightweight, customization options, simple||Durable, weatherproof, comfortable|
|Cons||Minimal features for electronics||Not weatherproof, less classic messenger design||Tips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensive||Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately||Heavy 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|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|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|
|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
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
— Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti