Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack Review
Cons: Small internal capacity, heavy for its small size
Our Analysis and Test Results
From its built-in rain fly to its easily accessible pockets, the Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack has lots of well-thought-out features that will help make your next trip a breeze. Although we did not find this to be the easiest bag to use (its zippers are annoyingly difficult to pull), this piece is a great option for the super light packer or the traveler who is checking a bag.
The Timbuk2 Aviator can be carried as either a backpack or by one of its burly side handles with the backpack straps tucked away. This bag is super easy to convert, thanks in part to Timbuk2's clipping system; however, user beware, it's much easier to tuck away the backpack straps when the bag is empty. Technically, we think that this bag might just be small enough to go under the seat in front of you and serve as a personal item, but if you do go for this option, you will definitely have no foot room. It's also worth noting here that we biked around with this bag and found it to be a little boxy and difficult to see around. If you are looking for a smaller backpack-style carry-on the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon may be a better choice.
If there's one place where this bag excels, it is in its features. It has a built in rain fly, which makes it easier to double this bag as an everyday around town piece as well as a carry-on. Both its vertical zipping pocket on the back of the bag and the pocket on the lid are accessible from the interior and exterior. Additionally, the Aviator features an ultra padded drop-in laptop sleeve that our testers completely trusted. Several other bags, including the daypack on the Osprey Meridian 22 offered this feature, as well.
Ease of Packing
This was one of the smallest bag that we reviewed, but we were actually surprised at how much we could jam in there. When packing this bag, we generally find it easiest to pack up the top pouch first because the bottom of this pocket sits within and takes up space in the main compartment. We did find this to be a bit annoying, especially when trying to fit larger items into the main compartment.
Made of 600D nylon and non-phthalate fabric-backed tarpaulin, the Timbuk2 Aviator held up very well even after months of testing. Our biggest complaint about this piece is that the zippers are quite difficult to use because they are blocked by the bag's stylish flaps. This hides the zipper from plain sight and gives the bag a distinctive look, but the zipper placement just isn't very practical.
Even though this bag is fairly light, it earned our lowest weight score because it is the heaviest per liter held. This is likely due to its heavy duty materials and construction.
The Aviator is best saved solely for extreme light packers or used as a complement to a checked bag. From an aesthetic standpoint, we really liked the design of the the Aviator, so if styling is important to you, this is a good choice.
At $179, the Aviator Travel Backpack is much more expensive than your typical backpack. With this bag, you're paying primarily for Timbuk2's quality and style (and getting several travel-friendly features as a nice bonus). This bag does have some everyday applications, but as a carry-on we only think it's a good value if you generally travel with a checked bag or take one-night trips.
A hip bag with some cool features, the Timbuk2 Aviator easily converts into a backpack and can be used as both a carry-on and around town. Unfortunately, the zippers are difficult to use and its applications are limited, but if it suits your needs and style, this bag is well-made and has many features.
— Amanda Fenn