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Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag, Two Months Later

In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on the Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag. It was about two months ago that I tweeted that I bought a new bag:

@scott_lowe: I picked up a new @timbuk2 messenger bag yesterday. Looking forward to seeing how well it works on my next business trip.

The bag I ended up purchasing was the Timbuk2 Commute in black. Since I bought it in early September (just after returning from San Francisco for VMworld), I’ve traveled with it to various points in the US, to Canada, and most recently to Barcelona for VMworld EMEA. Here are my thoughts on the bag now that I’ve logged a decent amount of travel with it:

  • Although it’s a “small” bag—the smallest size offered in the Commute line—I’ve found that it has plenty of space to carry the stuff that I regularly need. I regularly carry my 13” MacBook Air, my full-size iPad, my Bose QC15 headphones, all my various power adapters/chargers/cables, a small notebook, and I still have some room left over. (If you have a larger laptop, you’ll need a larger bag; the small Commute only accommodates up to a 13” laptop.)

  • The default shoulder pad that comes with the bag is woefully inadequate. I strongly recommend getting the Deluxe Strap Pad. My first couple of trips were with the default pad, and after a few hours the bag’s presence was noticeable. With the Deluxe Strap Pad, carrying my bag for a few hours is a breeze, and carrying it for 12 hours a day during VMworld EMEA was bearable (I can’t imagine doing it with the default shoulder pad.)

  • The TSA-friendly “lie flat” design doesn’t necessarily lie very flat, especially if the main compartment is full. This can make it a little challenging in the security line, but this is a very minor nit overall. The design does, however, make it super easy to get to my laptop (or anything else in that compartment).

  • While getting to my laptop is easy, getting to stuff in the bag isn’t quite so easy. (This is probably by design.) If you have smaller items in your bag that you’re going to need to get out and put back in frequently, the clips+velcro on the Commute’s flap make this a big more work. Again, this is probably by design (to prevent other people from being able to easily get into your bag).

  • The zip-open rear compartment has a space on one side for the laptop; here my 13” MacBook Air (with a Speck case) fits very well. On the opposite side is a pair of slightly smaller compartments separated by a velcro divider. These smaller compartments are just a tad too small to hold a full-size iPad, though I suspect an iPad mini (or similarly-sized tablet) would fit quite well there.

  • A full-size iPad does fit well, however, in the pocket on the inside of the main compartment.

  • The complement of pockets and organizers inside the main compartment makes it easy to store (and subsequently find) all the small things you often need when traveling. In my case, the pockets and organizers easily keep my chargers and charging cables, pens, business cards, and such neatly organized and accessible.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the bag, and I would recommend it to anyone who travels relatively light and is looking for a messenger-style bag. This bag wouldn’t have worked in years past when I was doing implementations/installations at customer sites (you invariably end up having to carry a ton of cables, tools, software, connectors, etc. in situations like that), but now that I’m able to focus on core essentials—laptop, tablet, notebook, and limited accessories—this bag is perfect.

If you have any additional feedback on the Timbuk2 Commute bag you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it (and I’m sure other readers would as well). Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

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