Timbuk2 Custom Eula Messenger Review


Phil Wenneck: You’re not really wearing that are you?
Alan Garner: Wearing what?
Phil Wenneck: The man purse. You actually gonna wear that or are you just *****’ with me?
Alan Garner: It’s where I keep all my things. Get a lot of compliments on this. Plus it’s not a purse, it’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.
Phil Wenneck: So does Joy Behar.                  The Hangover – 2009

Hokay, confession time. I love my gadget bags.  Call them what you will, man-bag, satchel, man-purse,  murse , there’s nothing more useful when you’re out an about, even as a bloke.  My three teenage boys give me hell over my satchels all the time, but I like the messenger  concept as you don’t actually have to stop, take it off, get something out, put it back on like you do when you use a backpack. You can just swing it around to access things, even on the move. This is especially useful during photographic expeditions.

Let’s see how the customizable Eula Messenger from Timbuk2  works out.

While I’ve owned bags by  Crumpler, STM, Saddleback Leather and others,  my currently used bags are all Timbuk2.  But with 2 ( larger )  Medium Classics that basically do work duty and travel duty where I need that extra bit of space  and one X-Small Classic which is basically my camera bag, I needed something a bit smaller. Something to just chuck my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″, Kindle, Panasonic G2, Moleskine Cashier notebook, Fisher Bullet Space Pen, Leatherman Squirt PS4,  Saddleback Small Wallet, Hohner Blues Harp ( in Key of A ) and HTC Desire Phone in when I’m out and about. I can also just throw the bag  in the car ready packed so I can amuse myself while I’m waiting for the boys to finish their tennis, soccer, dancing, cricket, drama ……( the list just goes on and on ).

The Eula is a customised bag only, so no stock colours or materials. The Timbuk2 customiser works really well, and while it does cost a little more to do a custom build, you can personalise your own bag for that unique blend of materials and colours.   It is worth noting too that most of the  stock bags or products they sell are manufactured and imported from Asia, but any custom product you design and purchase is manufactured in their San Francisco factory.

With the Eula you’ve got a choice of 5 options:

  • Front Flap Material and Colour
  • Base Material and Colour
  • Binding Colour
  • Logo Colour
  • Inside Liner Colour

While I know that ballistic nylon is the ruggedest and best-wearing material, in my old age I’ve started appreciating more classic materials like waxed canvas or leather. I really like the way that these materials “age”.  My two medium messengers are in Olive Green and Dark Brown canvas respectively so I figured I’d go for the Black Canvas for both panels, with Potrero logo and Grey liner. Surely this will result in a nice neutral and  “manly” bag. :)

So how does the Eula differ from their standard X-Small Classic Messenger ? (  Click on the photos for larger images )

The Eula (on the left) is a bit more refined and looks a lot less “urban adventure” than their classic messengers primarily because there’s no clips or straps to close off the front flap.  Size-wise the XS Messenger is 12.8″ X 8.9″ X 5.1″ compared with the Eula at 12.0″ X 8.5″ X 3.5″ ( W X H X D), so slightly smaller.  It is worth noting however that the XS Messenger actually tapers width wise down to 10.4″ at the base while the Eula is consistently 12.0″. Why’s this important ? It means you can fit an A4 size magazine/pad/brochure ( 8.27 × 11.69 ) without having to bend the bottom edges like you do on with the XS messenger.

You can see the difference between the ballistic nylon (top) and canvas (bottom). To me the canvas is much more “old time” and  appealing.

The strap doesn’t include their signature quick release buckle or memory-adjust True Fit cam buckle (on the right) and is  made of a much lighter webbing.

No external pockets at all, and you can see here the closing mechanism…..more Timbuk2 Velcro heaven :)  The bag has Timbuk2’s standard TPU waterproof liner ( my other bags have kept stuff like my camera gear dry even through tropical downpours many a time ), and this coupled with the flat bottom means the bag stands by itself even when empty.  You can see here I’ve added the optional matching waxed canvas strap pad.

Inside the front is the Timbuk2 standard organizer, which by my count has 14 seperate pockets.  A couple of them are also lined in a soft grey material to stop scratching. Great to organise all those little bits and pieces.

There’s also the option to have a center divider pocket built in.  You can see that this gives you 3 discrete areas in the main bag ( albeit small discrete areas ) .   In reality it’s just two additional pieces of fabric sewn in to create the pocket.  Normally I use these to seperate out magazines, brochures or paperwork from the rest of the stuff in my bag.

Above is the stuff I’d normally carry around with me. ( Note: there’s 3 pieces of Saddleback Leather there…another of my obsessions….or if it’s leather should that be another of my fetishes ? :P )

 You can see everything fits in pretty well into the bag. I was a bit worried originally given the smaller depth to the bag, but it’s pretty much perfect.  The wallet, phone, notebook, pen,  Leatherman, and harp are in the front pocket. There’s still quite a bit of room for a water bottle, small umbrella, or similar.

And here she is all closed up.

So far the bag’s done me well. It’s discrete, fits everything in it, and (hopefully) doesn’t look too girly :)

In terms of criticisms:

  •  It appears that the waxed canvas seems to catch dust and hair a bit, you can even see it in some of the pictures. My other bags don’t have this issue so it might just be the black. I’ll see how it goes as the wax coating wears down a bit more.
  •  Having only the Velcro closure may be an issue for some noise-wise but there’s not much you can do about it since it’s the only mechanism to keep the bag closed. On my other messengers I’ve used more Velcro  to cover over ( at least one of ) the closures so you don’t get ( so much of )  that RIPPPPPPPP sound when you open your bag, but that’s fine because on the Classics you can close the bags with the clips. I think the old Velcro sound is something you either love or hate ( or at least tolerate ).Perhaps a magnetic closure might be better (or at least quieter).
  •  You can see in the photos that on the front flap you can see lines where the Velcro is sewn in underneath. I’m not sure if this will get worse as time goes on, but again just have to wait and see.
  • It’d be nice if it had the single pocket organiser with Napolean pocket on the front like their XS Messenger so you could have some storage you could get to without having to open the flap.

One of the biggest “issues” for International customers is that Timbuk2 charges a flat $30 base rate for International Shipping  ( then $5 per additional bag ) which can make it a bit expensive and often uneconomical if ordering single, smaller, and cheaper bags. But Australians ( and I’m sure other Internationals ) are used to this, and this time I ordered a few other things as well so the shipping “evened out” a bit.  I realize that vendors have to use reliable and safe methods of shipping, but I’d be more than willing to wait a bit more time for a lower shipping rate.  Using their standard UPS is fast and trackable, so you are getting extra value for the extra money. I must admit though that so far I’ve never lost anything on the long 12,500+ km trip from the US to Australia using USPS, which normally takes about 2 weeks, but then I’ve also had to wait up to 6 weeks for packages to arrive. ( Timbuk2’s  UPS expedited took 4 days. )  :P

Just as a final note on Timbuk2 , they’re a small company that still has an old-fashioned philosophy of supporting the products they sell. I had an issue with my existing bags, and even though I’m 12,500 kms away, they managed to solve my issue to my satisfaction in a quick and timely fashion, at a ( not unsubstantial ) cost to themselves (that’s how I ended up with the Eula :) ). It really does make a nice change from the way a lot of companies treat their customers these days.

No matter how much I’m ridiculed by my kids and wife ( guess where her shopping normally ends up when we’re on holidays…yep in my ridiculous man bag ), I find the use of a messenger both convenient and useful and the Eula looks like it’ll be just right for my EDC.  Anyway who knows, your satchel might just save your life one day when you have to  free your hands of that stolen idol so you can run properly while a giant boulders comes at you down the tunnel :)

 

Edit: With the Eula I purchased a XS Snoop Messenger Insert to go with my XS Classic Messenger.  The insert actually fits into the Eula as well.  I can swap the insert between the two to give me two different camera bags :)

 

Product Information

Price:From $49
Manufacturer:Timbuk2
Pros:
  • Personalise your own colour and fabric scheme
  • Timbuk2 quality
  • Waterproof liner
  • Good organiser at the front for bibs and bobs
Cons:
  • Personalise your own colour and fabric scheme ( way too many choices )
  • No external pockets for keys or wallet.
  • Velcro closure
  • International Shipping Fees
Posted in: Gear, Reviews

9 comments… add one

  • Julie October 30, 2011, 10:18 am

    I don’t think this bag looks girly at all… Especially since you had it made in the standby man color – Black :)

    I still haven’t pulled the trigger on an extra small classic messenger, but after reading this review, it has me prompted me pull up the Timbuk2 customizer in another browser tab. My Visa card thanks you…

  • Anson October 30, 2011, 10:44 am

    I have the original timbuk2 messenger-bag that I’ve used since ’96? And it’s still holding strong!!!
    I agree with your Con: re international shipping. Many US-companies lump Canadian-shoppers as “international” which I don’t think is fair and I’ve had to reconsider many gadget purchases ;(
    Show us canadians some
    Brotherly love ;)

    • Julie October 30, 2011, 11:00 am

      Well, I did it. I ordered an x-small classic messenger in Army Green/Spinach/Army Green. Can you tell that my fave color is Green? I think this bag will work out better for me than the Waterfield Muzetto (small size) when I need to carry more than my wallet, phone and a notebook. I love the Muzetto, but it’s not convenient to use when you carry more than those few items.

  • Ian Lim October 30, 2011, 4:21 pm

    @Anson as I say I can understand having to use a reliable source but it is a pain. I’ve ordered a couple of pieces from Amazon because their normal price with their cheaper shopping was cheaper than Timbuk2 on special and their shipping but then I think Amazon probably ships more stuff and can get a better deal with couriers than Timbuk2 :)

    @Julie finally after all these years of reading your site and HAVING to order stuff (often from the US) that you review i’ve done the opposite. One down, many to go :P

    Oh and the Eula did a “tour of duty” this weekend showing our French Exchange student some of the “wilderness” of Tasmania ( e.g. http://adventureforests.com.au/tahune ). Pana G2, Pac-lite Goretex jacket, 750ml water bottle, couple of snacks……..comfortable, easy access to my camera and perfect size :)

    • Julie October 30, 2011, 5:03 pm

      @Ian my bags haven’t been on adventures like yours. They are jealous ;)

  • Anson October 30, 2011, 5:46 pm

    @ Ian, nice gear-trek!
    The only adventures My timbuk2 has endured are some cdn winters, the Odd rainstorm, and a couple flights to Tokyo…

  • Ian Lim October 30, 2011, 6:03 pm

    @Anson, one of my medium LE canvas messengers recently survived 3 weeks in Vietnam. Shoved under plane seats, into bus lockers, into bicycle baskets, on motorbikes, on boats, caught in tropical downpours,nightclubs, beaches, mudbaths, used as a pillow on the Reunification Express ( gives you some idea how comfortable the bed’s are :P ) ……….. They really are good stuff !

  • Tom Welch July 9, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Just ordered this bag today before reading your review. You validated my purchase.

    Thanks,
    Tom Welch
    Mesa, AZ USA

  • Ian Lim July 9, 2012, 6:21 pm

    Good to know Tom. Mines still used as an EDC when I’m in “minimalist” mode :)

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