This little series of posts looks at the most efficient way to travel with your Apple devices. I am on the road often, flying across Europe and doing the odd trip to the US. When I travel I like to keep things light, but functional. Over the past 10 years I have learned many lessons and have incrementally improved by electronic travel setup. These posts cover aspects of my setup and those of fellow nerds.
Before I am finishing off my small blog post series about ‘Traveling with a Mac’ I need to write an ode to the most important part of the my personal travel setup: My Timbuk2 Commute Laptop Messenger Bag.
While I cannot remember when I first came across Timbuk2, I know for sure that I have developed a nearly unhealthy addiction to their products over the last 10 years or so. The quality of their bags and luggage is unmatched and so is the unique design. Originating from San Francisco, Timbuk2 not only says they do top quality, they also commit to it by providing a lifetime warranty on their bags.
Since availability of their full product range in Europe is limited and oversea shipping costs are not necessarily inexpensive, it became a habit for me to drop by their retail shop in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighbourhood every time I am in the Bay Area for business. A new store is set to open in Seattle this week. By now my family and I own nearly a dozen Timbuk2 messenger bags, backpacks, duffles and suitcases.
With its heritage in bike messenger bags, most of Timbuk2’s bags are made for urban, mobile and cycling lifestyle. Choosing the right design still allows you to also carry the bag with suite and tie – which I do – but for many the California bags might be to a tad to casual or sporty looking. For those I recommend the bag reviews Shawn & Stephen did on the Tools & Toys blog.
The Commute Laptop Messenger Bag is the second laptop bag from Timbuk2 I own. It is not because the previous one was kaput - Timbuk2’s ballistic nylon fabric is pretty much unbreakable - it is simply because I felt I needed a change in design.
Everything about this bag is well thought trough and compared with previous generations also shows how good the Timbuk2 folks learn from customer feedback and come up with incremental improvements to an already nearly perfect product.
You’ll find plenty of pockets to store and organise your stuff: Some fit your pens, some your extra battery or external hard drive and the mesh pockets inside the big compartment hold your power supply and cables in place.
I personally love the small details that really make the difference when it comes to usability:
- There is a pocket which Timbuk2 calls “Napoleon Pocket" and you can access it without opening the front flap. I keep my wallet and badge in there so I can have them handy without much hassle
- The two front pockets have extra soft linen perfect to protect and even clean your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera
- The front flap is waterproof and saved my gear from various rain showers I faced waiting for taxis and so on
The big trick about this bag, however, is the laptop compartment. Depending on which size of the bag you chose, it can fit any Apple laptop from the 11” MBA to the 17” MBP (and other brands, I suppose) plus a tablet (7” or 10”) plus another iPad, Kindle or a simple notebook.
When going through airport security you can open the laptop compartment so that all your gear lays flat and ready for x-ray without taking it out. It perfectly works with TSA in the US, but as European airport security has its own procedures, I personally do not benefit much from this feature. Still the laptop compartment has plenty of space, is well organised, protective and allows for quick access to your devices.
The bag is really made for business travellers since you also have the nearly mandatory luggage pass through so you can stick it on your trolley handle. The strap can also be removed and you can carry it briefcase-style.
Although you will find some of the “biking” features of Timbuk2 on the Commute Messenger, I personally would not recommend it for biking to work unless you have a relative short distance to cover. Other Timbuk2 models offer more features that improve fit and stability of the bag when riding like the additional, removable cross strap and also use materials that better deal with sweat and air circulation around your back.
If you like it a little special you can also get your bag custom built with a nearly endless choice options.
While this reads like a raving “to good to be true” review, it is only because I truly swear by Timbuk 2 bags, their quality, design and attitude and the Commute Messenger is indeed the most important aspect of my travel setup. Like for any other post on my blog, I did not even receive the little pouch I use for cables for free.