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Published on September 11th, 2012 | by Greg


Timbuk2′s Customizable Commute: Darn Near Perfect

Mes­sen­ger bags aren’t just for mes­sen­gers any­more. Once main­ly the bag of choice for de­liv­ery drivers and couri­ers, folks who biked around ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, they have now be­come in­creas­ing­ly com­mon in even fi­nance and law of­fices, where ev­ery­one needs to car­ry a lap­top and the old-school leather brief­case has giv­en way to some­thing a lit­tle less con­spic­u­ous and stuffy, bet­ter suit­ed to sub­way trips and more flex­i­ble.

Tim­buk2, the San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny that makes some of our fa­vorite lug­gage- like the pre­vi­ous­ly-re­viewed Wing­man car­ry-on- has of­fered a wide range of mes­sen­ger bags in a va­ri­ety of sizes for a very long time. In fact, they’re one of the orig­i­nal pop­u­lar­iz­ers of the style. And now, their Com­mute Mes­sen­ger bag has been up­dat­ed for 2012, and is avail­able to cus­tomize us­ing their cool sys­tem. This re­sults in a bag hand-made in San Fran­cis­co, in their very cool fac­to­ry that we got a chance to tour last year.

We took to the in­ter­nets and as­sem­bled a cus­tom bag on­line (you can see our de­sign here), pick­ing col­ors and fab­rics from their fair­ly ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion. Op­tions in­clude Per­for­mance fab­rics, like re­flec­tive, re­cy­cled, and poly­bond, as well as spe­cial­ty de­signs like pea­cock and ze­bra pat­terns for that per­son­al touch. Each of the three pan­els can be ad­just­ed, and their nifty sys­tem al­lows you to see an in­te­grat­ed view of how your bag will look when com­plete. Lim­it­ed body and strap op­tions are the on­ly re­al lim­i­ta­tions; the lin­er, lo­go col­or and even the bind­ing (edges) can be ad­just­ed.

Ours took on­ly a few days be­tween pur­chase and ship­ment, and the en­tire pro­cess is easy and seam­less. The bag ar­rived in per­fect con­di­tion, and we im­me­di­ate­ly took to the streets- it’s now been to five coun­tries and four states. Com­par­ing this one to oth­er mes­sen­gers is a bit sil­ly- there are so many fea­tures that it leaves most any oth­er bag that we’ve test­ed in the dust. Sol­id straps and con­struc­tion, ex­cel­lent zip­pers, and the ex­cel­lent lap­top or tablet in­ter­nal padded com­part­ment are just the ba­sics; a TSA-com­pli­ant sep­a­rate ad­di­tion­al lap­top sec­tion that un­zips and folds out wasn’t even no­ticed dur­ing the first few trips. We great­ly ap­pre­ci­at­ed the car­ry-on lug­gage pass-through, al­low­ing it to sit on the top of your wheel­ied suit­case.

The Tim­buk2 Com­mute 2012 in­cludes a wa­ter­proof front flap and wa­ter­proof bot­tom, pro­tect­ing your gear from the el­e­ments, and it has so far held up to sev­er­al fair­ly se­ri­ous storms. Two in­ter­nal mesh pock­ets keep your pow­er cords and ca­bles con­tained, and there are pock­ets lay­ered atop pock­ets, mean­ing that you can de­vise a scheme for hid­ing your keys, wal­let, pass­port, ex­tra cred­it card, cash- and keep each of these things in an in­di­vid­u­al pock­et if you so de­sired. It’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly lightweight- but it’s a fair trade for dura­bil­i­ty. And with sev­er­al thou­sand miles on it so far, we can at­test: Tim­buk2 bags hold up to even the most hard­core tests, whether it’s tak­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in elec­tron­ics out in the rain or hold­ing up when load­ed with gear and swung around by the shoul­der strap (do no try these at home).

Avail­able now, on­line on­ly, and start­ing at $120- ours end­ed up at $194 in­clud­ing our cus­tomized fab­rics and op­tions. Why set­tle for a bor­ing bag, or one that ev­ery­one has, when you can make your own, one-of-a-kind ver­sion thanks to Tim­buk2?

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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