Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag

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Besides being functional, comfortable and practical, my perfect gear bag must also be unique. You’ll never see me carrying the same bag that one of my friends has. I like being different (no comments!) and having the ability to easily create a custom bag is very appealing to me. Over two years ago, I reviewed Timbuk2’s
Bag In A Box option. I still have the bag that I created for that review. In the two years since that review, they’ve added some new materials and asked if I might like to take a second look. This time around, I decided to create a custom laptop messenger bag. Let’s take a look…

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

Back when I did my original review, creating a messenger bag was the only option. Now, you can choose from a messenger bag, laptop messenger, market tote, Eula (small messenger) or LEX Pack (backpack). I picked a medium sized laptop messenger bag to fit my 15″ Macbook Pro.

Small – 14.5 x 9.8 x 5.3 (fits a 12″ laptop)
Medium – 18.8 x 10.5 x 7.8 (fits a 15.5″ laptop)
Large – 22.5 x 12.5 x 8.5 (fits a 17″ laptop)

I wanted to use one of their new fabrics for this bag, so I chose the outside flap panels using Black Under Pressure fabric. Then the middle panel, I chose Leaf Green Ballistic Nylon. A logical choice for the interior color was Moss, and a light Green logo for the flap seemed to fit in well with my Green theme for this bag. I also decided to go for an optional padded strap pad. I really like the way it turned out, what do you all think? Now let’s check out the details.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

This laptop messenger has the classic wedge shape that you can see by the side view shown above. What I like about this design is the fact the bag stands up without falling over… even when there’s a laptop inside.

On the Right side of the bag, there are two connection points that can be used to attach the included cross strap. The cross strap is something that bike riders will appreciate as it helps keep the messenger bag secured on your back.

The image above also illustrates the wonderful texture to the Black Under Pressure fabric that I chose for the body and outside panels of this bag. I really like the look.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

If we flip around to the opposite side, you’ll notice the plastic buckle that you can use to adjust the length of the shoulder strap. If I had the ability to change something about this bag, I would probably want to use removable / changeable shoulder straps. The wide woven strap that Timbuk2 uses works fine, but would like the ability to swap it out with something more comfy like the Skooba SuperBungee.

You will notice that Timbuk2’s messengers all have a feature that is always a must-have on my favorite gear bag checklist… a grab handle. I love the rolled woven and padded handles that they use. Very nice and handy.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

Now it’s time for a pocket tour! Lift the flap (which is held closed by four strips of Velcro and two plastic buckles) and you will find and open topped 6 x 6 inch pocket with a 6 x 5 inch flat zippered pocket on top of it.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

The flap buckles have reflective tabs. Great for bike riders.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

Now for a tour of the interior of the bag… On the back wall of the bag is a very nice open topped laptop sleeve. It is generously padded on all sides, with a wide Velcro strap to keep you laptop from falling out.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

The interior of the laptop sleeve is lined in thick corduroy. I should mention that the sleeve in the medium sized laptop messenger fits the Macbook Pro like a glove.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

The main storage panel is attached to the front wall of the bag. The outer section has a clear plastic slot for an ID card, a zippered pocket behind it, three pen / pencil slots with an open topped vertical slot pocket behind them and next to that is a flannel lined vertical cell phone pocket.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

A large zippered pocket with two open pockets is located behind all of the pockets just mentioned. Lots of storage!

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

To give you a idea how much gear the medium sized laptop messenger can hold, I’ve laid out my current daily gear collection. There it is outside the bag…

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

And now, here it is all inside the bag. As you will notice, there is still considerable room for more gear. This bag is generously sized and I have yet to feel constrained by it.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

Here I am wearing the bag. As a point of reference, I’m about 5’6″ tall.

I could find no faults in the materials and workmanship on this bag. I think it will serve me well for years to come.

timbuk2 laptop messenger bag

The price to configure a custom Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag will vary depending on what size and options you chose. Above you will see the tally for the bag I built for this review. No, they are not cheap… I could have saved $46 by not choosing the new fabric for the outside panels and just going with the Ballistic Nylon or Cordura. The base price for this bag in medium is $140 (small is $130 and large is $150). Each special fabric panel is an additional $23. I also added the strap pad for $10. You can get this same bag in your choice of six color combinations for $100 (small), $110 (medium), $120 (large) respectively. But for me, having the ability to make it ‘mine’ by picking my own colors is really what makes this bag unique.


Product Information

  • Lots and lots of pockets
  • Nice laptop sleeve
  • Many color and fabric combinations available
  • Grab handle
  • Can't remove / replace shoulder strap

41 thoughts on “Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I like the liner for not scratching the laptop. However, over the year, I grow fond to the buckles instead of zipper or velcro for securing the flap. I often find myself in libraries and the velcro or zipper are just too lound.

  3. Haivu:
    I know what you mean. I’ve never been a fan of Velcro either… I cringe a little every morning when I get to work and rippppppppp the flap open. I guess I’ve just learned to live with the necessary evil of it. That said, I would not want to open the flap in a library. 🙂

  4. Just put some tapes over the velcro parts and you are set: no more ripping sound that can make the have-too-much-coffee guy nearby jump.

  5. thank you very much, your detailed review and pictures game me the information i needed to buy me one for my brand new and first ever laptop computer!
    the thick corderoy used for the laptop slevee gives me peace of mind when carrying my laptop arround, thanks again!! also im gonna have my laptop in like…. 2 weeks with timbuk2 laptop messenger bag all black with white logo.
    now i know how many pockets this one haves…

    thats all for now, ill let you know whats up with my bag and laptop

  6. Hi Julie–I came across your reviews while I was looking into Timbuk2 bags–they’re some of the most useful reviews I’ve seen on the web. Long story; end result is that I don’t like the colors offered for the style of the bag I’m replacing and I was pondering the Lex backpack. Do you have any experience with that one? I like my bags to be on both shoulders, and I don’t wear a bag when I cycle, just when I bus and walk.

  7. Megan:

    I’ve not had the opportunity to review the Lex backpack, so I can’t offer any comments other than I’m still using their messenger bag as my every day gear bag for four months now. :o)

  8. Hi Julie,

    When you customized the bag, did it matter which side the plastic buckle was on? The Timbuk2 website asked if I was left/right-handed (i use the right).

    Thank you,

  9. Julie–

    Thanks for this great review. I’ve been looking for a new laptop bag that weighs less than the Tom Bihn Empire Builder bag I got a while ago. Love all the features but it’s quite a load for me to carry comfortably. So many of the really well-made bags are better suited to someone bigger than my 5’4″.

    That’s why your review of the Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag with the comment of your height AND a picture of you with the bag was so persuasive. I just ordered my Timbuk2!

    Thanks so much for sharing your “favorites”. I’m off now to get the small gear bags for a friend. But I’ll be back. You’ve become the “go-to” resource for this 57-year old geek!


    1. @Karen: Please do come back and let us know what you think of the Timbuk2 after you’ve had a chance to try it out for awhile. What color did you go with?

  10. I ordered black on either side, kiwi green in the center and a kiwi logo. Don’t laugh but I was very disappointed that they no longer offered the great Black Under Pressure fabric you got for yours! I definitely will come back and let you know what I think.

    BTW I ordered some of the Waterfield gear bags for my friend (and the iPod gear bag for me). Can’t wait until all my new gear arrives.


  11. i see in your picture you can wear it at your hip, does the strap allow for you to position it to hug your body and ride up high on your back so you can bike properly with it?

    also i saw your chrome bag review, would you say these bags are better (price vs utility vs style)? i love the buckle feature of the chrome, the water tightness, but i fear you cannot wear it at your hip like in your picture for the tb2 because the buckle will be on your shoulder and it will hurt..

    thank you

    1. @Don Eval: Yes, you could adjust the Timbuk 2 to wear it like a bike messenger would wear it. As for the Chrome bag, You can’t wear it on your hip like a shoulder bag due to the way the strap is attached.

  12. alright; one more question.

    how water proof are these bags? is there any room for anything to get inside (water, bugs)?

    im really tough on my bags, from -40 to plus 40 rain snow sleet whatever, in your experience how have the materials of the bag held up?

  13. Back again Julie with an update on my Timbuk 2 bag. Just had back to back trips–NYC and then to San Diego. Carried my Timbuk 2 from one end of the country to the other and loved it. The padded strap was very comfortable and the hand grip worked well to carry the bag down airplane aisles.

    Got my laptop in my Timbuk 2 with lots of other things including toiletries, a few book and my iPod (in its new Waterfield case). Had some rain in San Diego and nothing got wet inside, Don.

    The only change I’d make is to have an outside pocket somewhere to stick a phone in and some change. I had to open the bag, velcro, clips and all to get any little thing out. This isn’t really a complaint, just an observation.

    Thanks again Julie for your review. It was very helpful.


  14. Thanks for the Sling suggestion. For now I think I’ll stick with my Tom Bihn Cafe bag–serves the purse purpose and I can roll it up and pack it in the Timbuk2. Have to save resources for a few gadgets to go with my new MacBook 13″ arriving on Friday. I’m a Mac mom!!!

  15. @Julie: Thank you very much for you very detailed review. I have been looking for something that will serve me, my 15″ Unibody MBP, and my love for going every where on my bike well. I was unable to decide on a messenger style bag or a backpack and your review definately made it very easy for me. Thanks you very much again.

    @Karen: They now have add-on pouches for the Timbuk2 bags. You will find them at the follwing links:
    for change: http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/accessories/slider
    for Phone: http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/accessories/2way

    Hope this helps.

  16. I recently ordered a medium-sized bag, but I am concerned about the amount of space inside. I didn’t have luck with the small one (I ordered it and it had very little space on the inside, so I am out that money…) so I am hoping the medium one will work for me. I am at school about 12 hours a day. Does anyone know if it will hold a couple textbooks and a notebook at least?

    I didn’t get the large one because it is just too huge, but with little more than .5″ more depth than the medium.

    1. @Jamie I’m still using the medium size of this bag and it will easily fit a laptop along with a few books. I don’t think you’ll have any problems at all.

  17. That makes me feel better about the bag, even after buying the custom small one and not being able to use it. Thank you for your quick reply.

  18. I have a blue Timbuk2 very similar to this and flat out love it. I cringe when I see the standard company issue laptop bags. Timbuk2 is rock solid and takes the abuse. It’s a reliable tool I need to do my work and can carry some serious gear.

  19. Just got a D-lux today, am very pleased with its looks. I have had a classic messenger for 2 years and was pleased with it as well. The D-lux is different in that the laptop section is no longer corduroy, rather now its a rubbery padding material. The interior is also a rubbery material, and you need to buy attachments for storage. Its MUCH more roomy inside. My only disappointment however is there is no top handle. Im looking for suggestions on how to attach one. Thoughts?

  20. Hi Julie – great review. I have a medium CMB no frills empty bucket, I’m wondering what’s the best way to carry around a white 13 inch MacBook in the bag since I didn’t order for a partition or a loveglove. I’m worried that my MacBook will get scratched and bumped if I carried it without some kind of a sleeve in my CMB. Any suggestions would be welcome.

  21. Hey, well I just got my first ever laptop and I am going to be using it for school. I am not an avid biker but I love the look of the timbuk2 bags. I will definitely always carry my 15″ Macbook Pro around in it as well as a few books my wallet, keys, cell phone and cables. I am wondering if I should get this bag or another since I am not a biker. Also does this bag come with the easy to get-to pocket that is under the main flap that timbuk2 advertises about?

    1. @Jeffrey There is a pocket under the flap. I’m not sure if it’s one that timbuk2 advertises about. I didn’t know they advertised about a pocket 🙂 I’m not a biker either, but I love Timbuk2 bags and still use one as my everyday gear bag.

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