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Timbuk2 Especial Stash Review

This is a highly impressive ambidextrous bag with excellent features and bomber weatherproofing.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $179 List | $179.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Waterproof laptop sleeve, weather resistant, easy to use, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interior
Cons:  Exterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set down
Manufacturer:   Timbuk2
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 15, 2020
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 8
  • Electronics - 15% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 9
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Timbuk2 Especial Stash is an excellent bag that dominated our testing and easily claimed the coveted Editors' Choice Award. This bag is comfortable, incredibly durable, well-featured, and is the only one in our review to provide a completely waterproof laptop sleeve. Internal organization is intuitively smart, and all straps are fully ambidextrous. Geared toward wearing across the body for longer trips and cycling, the Stash has everything you need and nothing you don't.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $179.00 at Amazon$69.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$169.00 at REI$158.95 at Backcountry$120.00 at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Waterproof laptop sleeve, weather resistant, easy to use, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interiorDurable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizableWaterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strapIncredibly durable and weather resistant, ambidextrous strap, spaciousUnique low-profile shape, secure, expanding compression straps accommodate many load sizes, durable
Cons Exterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set downMinimal features for electronicsTips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensiveStiff when new, boxy shape, buckle on shoulder strap is bulky, very loud to openFew pockets, not very waterproof, can only be worn on one shoulder
Bottom Line This is a highly impressive ambidextrous bag with excellent features and bomber weatherproofing.With a longstanding reputation that it continues to live up to, this staple bag is simple yet thoughtful.This sleek, comfortable, and lightweight bag is highly durable and weatherproof with minimal yet thoughtful features.Stylish, durable, and well-featured, ideal for anyone that depends on a solid bag for everyday use.This sling bag is highly functional, adaptable, and durable - ideal for commuters with more modest storage needs.
Rating Categories Timbuk2 Especial Stash Timbuk2 Classic Arc'teryx Granville 10 Topo Designs Messenger Chrome Vale Sling 2.0
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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9
10
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8
10
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8
Packing & Organization (25%)
10
0
8
10
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7
10
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5
10
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7
10
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6
Electronics (15%)
10
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9
10
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5
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7
10
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8
10
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6
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
10
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6
10
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7
Wear & Tear (10%)
10
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9
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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7
Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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7
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3
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7
Specs Timbuk2 Especial... Timbuk2 Classic Arc'teryx... Topo Designs... Chrome Vale Sling...
Measured Weight 2.18 lbs 2 lbs 1.15 lbs 2.66 lbs 1.74 lbs
Measured Volume 20 L 21 L 10 L 13 L 14 L
OGL Volume/Weight Ratio 9.17 10.50 8.70 4.89 8.05
Dimensions 17.5 x 12.2 x 4.72 in 14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 in 16 x 10.5 x 5 in 17 x 12 x 6 in 13 x 9.25 x 5 in
Shoulder preference Either Either but optimized for left Either Either Left
Number of Compartments 3 2 2 2 2
Number of Large Pockets 5 3 1 3 3
Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items) 4 5 1 1 2
Number of Zipper Pockets 3 3 2 3 2
Key Clip? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Reflective Material? Yes Yes, on bottom straps No Yes Yes
External Side Pocket Yes No No No Yes
Sleeve For Laptop? Yes - 15" Yes - 15" Yes - 12" Yes - 15" Yes - 13"
Stabilizing Cross Strap Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Available Sizes One Size XS, S, M, L 10L and 16L One Size One Size
Size Tested One Size Medium 10L One Size One Size

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Especial Stash is expertly crafted with useful features and bomber weatherproofing. If you're looking for a bag you can trust, this Editors' Choice winner is a great choice.

Performance Comparison


The Especial Stash rose above all the other bags in our review.
The Especial Stash rose above all the other bags in our review.

Comfort


The Stash is well-conceived and comfortable, especially for activities like cycling. It's decently light, ergonomic, and the straps are fully ambidextrous. The attachment for the crossbody strap is confined to one small space, but we typically didn't find this to be constricting or annoying. The padding on the main strap can get folded under and bunched up if you're not mindful, so that's another small thing to pay attention to (and lowered the score a bit).


Not only is the Stash comfortable thanks to good shoulder padding and customizable straps, but it also sets the mind at ease due to several notable features. The weatherproofing means you won't be worried about your things if you get caught in a sudden downpour, the ample attachment points are great for lights, and the bright interior makes it easy to see everything. Comfort comes in many forms, and this bag covers all of them.

Good design and features make the Stash a very comfortable bag for the right person.
Good design and features make the Stash a very comfortable bag for the right person.

Packing & Organization


The Especial Stash has a good setup; it's intuitive and straightforward, and provides lots of options. Pockets are plentiful without being overwhelming, and the brightly colored interior makes it easy and convenient to keep organized in an otherwise all-black bag.


The outside of the flap has a water-resistant zippered pocket with a key clip. Under the flap are two generous drop pockets and another zippered pocket. All of the pockets are lined with brightly-colored material, just like the interior. Inside the Stash, you get more drop pockets: one medium, one small, and two skinny ones for pens/pencils. After that, the main compartment has a padded divider with a zippered mesh pocket and, behind that is a padded, zippered, and fully waterproof laptop sleeve which will fit up to a 15" computer. The exterior of the bag as a mesh water bottle pocket, but don't expect to carry a very big bottle — it's small and best suited to a container no bigger than 16 ounces. Overall, this is an effortless bag, which makes it easy to get organized.

The Stash has a lot of useful pockets. We liked being able to keep a beverages accessible on the exterior and the large front drop pockets are highly useful for napkins  snacks  or a wallet.
The Stash has a lot of useful pockets. We liked being able to keep a beverages accessible on the exterior and the large front drop pockets are highly useful for napkins, snacks, or a wallet.

Electronics


This is the category where the Stash soars above the rest. Not only is the entire bag extremely weather-resistant, but the laptop sleeve is completely waterproof.


The laptop compartment is well-padded and seals completely via a zipper that's housed beneath a burly flap. It fits up to a 15" Macbook, though that size is tight; a 13" is much easier to get in and out of the bag quickly. There's also a nice area in front of the waterproof sleeve where a computer can safely be stowed if you don't want to deal with the zippered compartment. There are plenty of great pockets for all kinds of cords and accessories, and the overall water-resistance means you can feel confident no matter what you are carrying.

The waterproof laptop sleeve on the Stash means you can carry your computer through any kind of weather with zero worries.
The waterproof laptop sleeve on the Stash means you can carry your computer through any kind of weather with zero worries.

Ease of Use


The Especial Stash is an easy bag to use in most respects. There are a few quirky things that require a bit of getting used to and that we'd love to see improved upon in future iterations, such as the padding on the shoulder strap and the small external water bottle pocket.


The brightly colored interior of this black bag is a huge help when you're trying to locate a specific item in a hurry, and the plethora of external accessory loops make attaching things like bike lights a breeze. The clips on the front flap are magnetic, making them very easy to use one-handed, and the webbing tab that assists with quick-release on the front buckle is also magnetic, so it doesn't flop around when you're on the move.

To remove the Stash quickly all you have to do is grab the magnetic tab on the front buckle and pull. Tightening back up is a bit harder - you have to unweight the bag in order to pull tight  but it's easy to learn and becomes second nature in no time.
To remove the Stash quickly all you have to do is grab the magnetic tab on the front buckle and pull. Tightening back up is a bit harder - you have to unweight the bag in order to pull tight, but it's easy to learn and becomes second nature in no time.

There's no Velcro on this bag, which means you can be stealthy and open it silently; it also means that the flap will move around if the buckles aren't engaged. The padding on the shoulder strap tends to catch on the edge of the bag and get folded under if you're not careful. We found ourselves wishing it was attached differently and also that the padding was moveable — although the entire strap can be removed and reversed to accommodate either shoulder. Because of the way the Stash narrows at the bottom, it can fall over easily when set down, and the external water bottle pocket is quite small and not very deep. However, if you're on the move more often than not and you use the outer pocket for a smaller travel mug, all will be well.

The Stash has a lot of features and most of them are very easy and intuitive to use.
The Stash has a lot of features and most of them are very easy and intuitive to use.

Wear & Tear


This is a highly durable bag ready for all sorts of inclement weather. Even after months of our rigorous testing, it looked practically brand new. If the material gets dirty, a quick wipe with a damp rag takes it back to pristine in seconds.


The one area of this bag that isn't bombproof is the mesh water bottle sleeve on the exterior. It's a tightly woven mesh, but over time this area might become ripped or snagged.

Water and dirt have nothing on this bag  it's as adventure-ready as you are.
Water and dirt have nothing on this bag, it's as adventure-ready as you are.

Volume to Weight Ratio


Holding 20 liters while weighing just 2.18 pounds gives the Stash a very good volume to weight ratio. It's not the best in our test suite, but a close runner up.


We found this ratio by dividing volume and weight. A higher number indicates that you'll be receiving more space per ounce of weight carried on your back.

You can carry a lot in the Especial Stash and it won't weigh you down - best of both worlds!
You can carry a lot in the Especial Stash and it won't weigh you down - best of both worlds!

Value


This is not a cheap bag, but if you're looking for something durable and weatherproof, it's in your best interest to spend a little more dough and get something you can trust. The Especial Stash can be that bag for you and last for many years.

Conclusion


The Stash is a highly useful bag with a ton of great features. It's fantastically weatherproof and is the only model in our review to offer a fully waterproof laptop sleeve. There's a lot of variation in pockets from small sleeves for pens to large drop pockets perfect for a computer cord or wallet. The shoulder strap is well-padded and can be reversed for wear on either shoulder, and the interior is brightly colored for ease of use. The front buckle is easy to adjust on the fly and will even help you open a beer bottle at the end of a long day. We wish the external water bottle pocket was larger and deeper, and the shoulder strap padding can bunch up on one end because it's not stitched the whole way, but overall, this is an excellent bag in every category.

Rain or shine  biking or playing in the park  the Stash is a great bag.
Rain or shine, biking or playing in the park, the Stash is a great bag.


Penney Garrett