Timbuk2 cycling bags reviewed

Timbuk2 bags review  

Timbuk2 Classic messengerTimbuk2 Q bag  

There is no brand so synonymous with messenger bags as Timbuk2, and the original San Francisco company have a wide array of bags – not just messenger – on the market. We’ve put two of them to the test.

Classic Messenger bag review

Visit Timbuk2’s website and you’ll see that they have many messenger bags available, with numerous sizes and styles available, not to mention a very impressive array of colours.

Until getting this bag to test out I’d not ridden with a messenger style bag before – it had been rucksack all the way. It’s obviously clear why couriers choose to use them, as they are incredibly easy to access while cycling along and they are deceptively spacious as well.

I’ve been trying out the Medium Classic Bag, and it has a lot going for it:

  • It’s bulletproof (seriously!)
  • Easily access your belongings through a side entry pocket
  • Numerous internal pockets
  • Loads of compartments for those who like to travel organised

I’ve previously thought that messenger bags look a little bit uncomfortable to cycle with, but I’ve been proven wrong. The strap is sturdy and well built, and pretty much non-slip, which is what I used to think would happen if I used one.

But it’s the sheer space that makes these bags so impressive. As you can see from the below picture there is room for your helmet, a pair of shoes and plenty more besides, so for commuters, these are a great alternative to a rucksack. I’m a sweaty cyclist unfortunately but the ‘sweaty-back-syndrome’ that I experience with a rucksack wasn’t seen with a messenger bag.

Timbuk2 Classic messenger2

Other points

  • Buckles for lights, cameras
  • Truly high vis
  • Even a loop for your keys

At £70, the medium bag isn’t all that cheap, but it’s clearly durable and will last. What’s more, Timbuk2’s range is so vast and some bags are as little as £20. 5/5.

Q Laptop bag review

Timbuk2 aren’t just about messenger bags though. I’ve also been trying out their Q Laptop Bag, not as a laptop bag but as a rucksack for commuting. It seems clear to me that this is marketed as a laptop bag purely for the padding around the bag – which is excellent – but it’s an equally strong rucksack for commuting.

Timbuk2 Q bag 2

There are signs of inspiration from the messenger bags, as a side entry zip shows, but the bag also has lots of other compartments to help keep you organised, including a pocket that is purely for power leads. The side entry zip is, really, for your laptop, but it’s equally handy as a commuter.

Clips and compartments galore

As is fairly standard with other commuting rucksacks nowadays, there are external clips for lights to keep you seen, although it must be said that as with Timbuk2’s messenger bags, there are some impressive colours available.

A separate ‘net bag’, on the rear of the main compartment, can be used for many thing, but for me worked well as a place for my wet towel.

I mention above my suffering from sweaty back syndrome, and while this bag doesn’t alleviate that problem entirely, the vented back panels do help keep perspiration fairly minimal in that area.


At £70, the Q rucksack is another pricey bag, but it shares the Timbuk2 qualities of robustness and rigour. It’s clearly durable, so will stand the test of time.

Other pointers

  • Loads of space, whether carrying a laptop or not
  • Plenty of compartments to keep things organised
  • High vis, and made from durable ballistic nylon
  • 4/5 (price the only slight downpoint)


Timbuk2 have a wide array of bags available for sale and if the two that we’ve tried out are anything to go by, then you can expect similarly high quality from the others.

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5 Responses to Timbuk2 cycling bags reviewed

  1. Ross Burton 15/10/2013 at 9:53 am #

    My Timbuk2 classic messenger is ten years old this year and still going strong: no damage apart from the red/orange/yellow colour panels being rather more subdued than they originally were.

  2. Donny 15/10/2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I’ve been cycling for about 8 yrs in London and i usually carry a suit with me. I would recommend the Overboard brand as keeps your stuff dry.

  3. theconvertedcyclist 21/10/2013 at 3:30 am #

    I use a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger and it’s a great bag. Fits my laptop and other essentials while remaining sturdy and comfortable. The stabiliser strap is awesome for cycling too.

    My only reservation is that the strap is a bit stiff, compared to others I looked at (eg. Osprey). The side entry pocket is also pretty hard to access if the bag is quite full.

    Overall though, I agree that it’s an awesome bag!

  4. Fritz 25/10/2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Been using my Timbuk2 bag for over 6 years now and its totally intact, the bag is built like a Tank!

  5. david 01/12/2014 at 8:03 pm #

    As a side note, all Timbuk2 bags are guaranteed for LIFE… I recently returned my 1994 Messenger Bag to San Francisco as it was beginning to fall apart at the seams. It was returned within a couple of weeks not only re-stitched but with a full new lining and accessories- I had lost the reflectors etc. Customer Service was quick and friendly (dude). Amazing fantastic company and products- BUY ONE!

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