Published on September 6th, 2011 | by Greg0
Timbuk2 Wingman: A Perfectly-Sized Carry-On
Through a few trips recently, we’ve had a chance to put some new luggage to the test. Between taxi rides, car trips, BART/subway treks, a fair bit of walking, and about 2000 miles in plane travel, we took the latest from Timbuk2 with us. Though we’ve long been fans of this local company- their factory is actually within easy walking distance of our offices- we recently were invited to see some of their upcoming wares as well as tour their fairly new facility. One of the bags we heard about caught our attention, as it seemed an interesting take on a large non-wheeled carry-on.
We prefer to call it the Wingperson, but the official non-gender neutral name is the Timbuk2 Wingman Suitcase. It’s listed as “medium”, but isn’t available in any other size. And though Timbuk2 might best be known for their ultra-customizable messenger bags- they practically invented the concept, and we still use the one reviewed on a near-daily basis- the Wingman comes in a limited number of options (specifically, three). We have on-hand the Portrero/Violet/Portrero model, which feels a bit neutral compared to many Timbuk2 color schemes, but is thus likely to be more of interest to corporate types.
And it’s definitely business and regular travelers who are the target market here. This isn’t a good fit if you’re checking a suitcase, or if you just need a small backpack for a couple of days. Instead, this is about the maximum legal carry-on size, and can hold enough for several days of clothing changes and gear. We managed to fit in a suit, extra shoes, toiletries, two paperback books, an iPad and various chargers, a swimsuit, and about four days worth of clothing (to the fairly warm climate of Hawaii, to be sure). And that was without making much use of the compression straps- they can tighten everything up, but weren’t required (and might have wrinkled things a bit more). Though it ships with the extremely durable messenger strap attached, we quickly ditched it for the backpack straps and use it that way for travel.
In fact, it’s a bit large to use as a messenger for most people- at 3.3 pounds, a bit heavy even on it’s own, much less when fully packed. But there are several other convenient grab straps that made it easy to get out from under seats or overhead bins, and it fit nicely everywhere we tried. The laptop compartment wasn’t really big enough for our purposes- a 17-inch model made it awkward and seemed a bit exposed- but the external pocket it perfect for magazines or books and a tablet. Two side zippered compartments are good for shoes and perhaps toiletries or wet items, and we loved that the main compartment opens up completely, allowing you to unfold it for easy access and visibility. No more reaching inside of a tiny duffel and unpacking or squishing everything to find that one item on the bottom.
In short, this is a perfect soft suitcase for those who want to travel fairly light but without compromises. The lining might not impress, , but it’ll fit in any overhead bin or under the seat, and looks sharp- neutral, but definitely with a touch of Timbuk2 style. Quality is excellent- zippers are big and hefty, and the material is a “refined weave” ballistic nylon that was tough to scuff and easy to clean. At $150, it’s a decent deal, and Amazon lists it for even less at $122.