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Old 09-18-09, 01:36 PM   #1
gatechie291
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Which Timbuk2 bag?

So I'm a college student in Atlanta and I bike to my classes. For the past few days it's been raining pretty hard, and water seems to seep into my North Face backpack. Even when it's dry out, but hot, the back panel of my backpack makes my back very sweaty. (An alternative reason, backpacks don't look good with suits.)

Anyways, I've been looking around and I think I'm settling on getting a medium Timbuk2 messenger. A few sites have certain colors & models on sale, and I've narrowed my search down to the Classic Covert (essentially a Classic bag with reflective panels) and the Commute 2.0

Classic Covert (http://bit.ly/iFbpV)
  • Orig. $150, on sale for less than $50 shipped
  • Reflective matrix panels are great for night time biking and walking around the city
  • Available in black, a nice, basic color that will go with anything (including nicer clothes)
  • Essentially has one all-consuming, cavernous pocket; no laptop specific pocket.

Commute 2.0 (http://bit.ly/1GmwLG)
  • Orig. $100, on sale for about $70 shipped
  • Has a padded, separate, zippered laptop compartment in the back of the bag
  • Available in only Navy/Blue (not a terrible color) or black for $75
  • From pictures I've seen, it seems like it has more pockets/compartments for organization.

I don't have any experience with either of these bags, but I know that Timbuk2 is a very popular choice for messenger-style bags. Both feature a water proof interior with a waterproof flap and bottom. They both are supposedly durable and well made.


If any of you have either of these, it would be great if you could give me your opinions!

EDIT: One more thing, I have an Incase sleeve for my 13" Macbook, so it wouldn't be COMPLETELY unprotected in the Covert, but I like the idea of having a separate compartment and a few extra compartments... (but I also like the idea of reflective panels)
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Old 09-18-09, 02:22 PM   #2
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I have a plain old regular Timbuk2 bag (which is probably closest to the Covert), but in a large. Its a great bag and held up really well to some serious punishment. Not the best bag in the world (strap could be better), but certainly not the worst ... and for the price, it is hard to beat. My concern with the Commute is the zipper on the laptop pocket, which probably will not be waterproof in a heavy downpour. The main compartment of either bag will be essentially waterproof (assuming you don't throw it in a lake). My laptop has stayed bone-dry in the main compartment of my bag in some serious storms.

Last edited by dr_bovine; 09-18-09 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 09-18-09, 02:33 PM   #3
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Keeping anything on your back will make you sweat. Plus, messenger bags aren't meant to be carried where the models at the Timbuk2 link are carrying them. They carry better higher on the back, more like a backpack.
A better solution might be to put a rack on your bike and bungie the backpack to that or zip tie a milk crate to the rack and put your current backpack in there. for a cost effective solution, can't beat the milk crate!
Now if cost isn't an issue, check out the briefcase panniers by Axiom, Arkel and Ortleib. There have been a couple threads about them recently. I'm openly an Arkel fanboy and if I had to do it again, I'd save the money on the Timbuk2 Commuter bag I got from REI last fall and purchase the Arkel Briefcase.
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Old 09-18-09, 02:52 PM   #4
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I like the classic better
I have a small - almost too small more like a purse
and I have a Large- very nice and big holds everything!
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Old 09-18-09, 03:47 PM   #5
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I have both, I used both for years, with and without a laptop. Then standard bag is more versatile all around. That one with the built in laptop thing was better for the laptop, but not as everyday useful.

But ulitmately I can't recommend either. Eventually I realized I hated having stuff on my back and shoulders. I went to rack and pannier and I've never regretted it.
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Old 09-18-09, 04:05 PM   #6
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Thanks for the heads up. Just ordered the black black classic covert medium from REI. $45 with CA tax, shipped to store.
I've always used a rack attached bag for long bike hauls. I figure that this is a more versatile briefcase type bag that is bike-worthy and walk-worthy. A good compromise for someone doing a little of both.
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Old 09-18-09, 04:50 PM   #7
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I have the classic messenger which i use all the time on and off the bike. I used to have a rack, but i noticed putting things on there degrades handling by a big a enough margin for me to want to change.
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Old 09-18-09, 07:19 PM   #8
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Here's the win-win solution. This + rack + milk crate/basket of your choice. Depending on what all you have to carry, the bag might be overkill though it will keep your stuff dry.

Your back will thank me.
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Old 09-18-09, 07:42 PM   #9
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Yeah, the others are right. You will sweat just as much with a messenger bag. I love my Chrome but it's no solution for sweaty back. Either get the bag off your back or change shirts when you get to your destination (my plan).
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Old 09-18-09, 08:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
I have both, I used both for years, with and without a laptop. Then standard bag is more versatile all around. That one with the built in laptop thing was better for the laptop, but not as everyday useful.

But ulitmately I can't recommend either. Eventually I realized I hated having stuff on my back and shoulders. I went to rack and pannier and I've never regretted it.
Let me say this first: I love backpacks. I think they're an awesome way to carry things, and I usually have mine with me.

I used to wear a messenger bag at my hip on occasion but recently adjusted a laptop bag to fit the small of my big; it was definitely more comfortable. What I might end up doing is asking for the Topeak DXP for christmas, and I can stuff the messenger bag (or my backpack) in a pannier while I ride.

I know this will solve my sweaty back problem, BUT I have two gripes with only having a backpack. The first is the rain; on Wednesday, it was down pouring. For the most part, my stuff stayed pretty dry, but water seeped in at the bottom, and got my chem textbook and a few notebooks pretty wet at the bottom. Not a good thing if you're planning on reselling textbooks. One solution would be to get a rain cover for my backpack, which is always a possibility; however:

The second gripe is that backpacks and business clothing DO NOT MIX. I've seen plenty of people with suits and a backpack, but it just does not work! There are a few job fairs coming up where the dress code is business formal (suits), and I plan on interviewing for co-op/internship positions as well.

Anyways, has anyone used the Classic and put a laptop in there? I mean I"m sure my sleeve would add some protection, but I do really like the idea of having a separate padded compartment...

dr_bovine, I would probably throw my laptop in the main compartment if it was heavily raining outside, but definitely a good point.
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Old 09-18-09, 08:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by gatechie291 View Post
I used to wear a messenger bag at my hip on occasion but recently adjusted a laptop bag to fit the small of my big; it was definitely more comfortable. What I might end up doing is asking for the Topeak DXP for christmas, and I can stuff the messenger bag (or my backpack) in a pannier while I ride.
This probably won't work. I have the DXP and the panniers are fine, but they're nowhere near big enough to fit a messenger bag or backpack that actually contains anything. They're probably 10"x15"x4" or so.
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Old 09-18-09, 10:15 PM   #12
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Thanks for the heads up. I guess I probably won't be doing that. The main reason I use a backpack (or messenger bag) is because I can carry things to class. Unfortunately, with a trunkbag and/or panniers, I can't easily do that. I can sacrifice being able to carry a bag in the DXP but I still like the convenience of not having to put a two gallon milk jug in my backpack.

Anyways, any more input? I see tons of people with these Timbuk2 bags, and I've heard really good things about them, but I still need a little more help picking between the two...
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Old 09-18-09, 11:30 PM   #13
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I wouldn't count on a Timbuk2 bag to save your stuff in heavy rain... they are water resistant, but not one of the more waterproof bags you can buy.
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Old 09-19-09, 05:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by gatechie291 View Post
Thanks for the heads up. I guess I probably won't be doing that. The main reason I use a backpack (or messenger bag) is because I can carry things to class. Unfortunately, with a trunkbag and/or panniers, I can't easily do that. I can sacrifice being able to carry a bag in the DXP but I still like the convenience of not having to put a two gallon milk jug in my backpack.

Anyways, any more input? I see tons of people with these Timbuk2 bags, and I've heard really good things about them, but I still need a little more help picking between the two...
Maybe you could get a pair of grocery panniers instead? Or maybe the Wald folding rear baskets? Either would be more likely to fit a backpack/mess bag.
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Old 09-19-09, 12:30 PM   #15
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Thanks for the heads up. Just ordered the black black classic covert medium from REI. $45 with CA tax, shipped to store.
I've always used a rack attached bag for long bike hauls. I figure that this is a more versatile briefcase type bag that is bike-worthy and walk-worthy. A good compromise for someone doing a little of both.
Damn! Just checked REI's website and they're sold out of the black/black. Missed it, you must've grabbed one of the last ones. I think I might grab one of the old gold before those get sold out too. (Old gold is one of my school's colors anyways...)
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