Founded by a cycle messenger in San Francisco in 1989, Timbuk2 is perhaps better known for its messenger bags. Its Q laptop backpack is equally well designed around a rider's actual needs , and is a pleasure to use.
This backpack has loads of features. Let me take you through them.
There's a dedicated laptop compartment that sits closest to your back. That makes sense, as it's likely to be the heaviest thing you're carrying. It's accessed from the side - Timbuk2 call this 'Swing around access' – which means you can get to your laptop without taking the backpack off completely. Might be handy for people who get into Justified-style quick-draw contests with laptops, but I never used it like this.
The quilted tricot fabric padding is excellent and wraps around at the bottom, like a little laptop hammock, keeping it from touching the ground. It will fit up to a 17-inch Macbook.
The main compartment is big. Big enough to fit enough lunch; you know what I mean. And a jumper. And a jacket. Or big enough to take a change of clothes for an overnighter. It's got a zipped mesh pocket near the top that's big enough to fit an iPad mini.
Then there's a front compartment for organising your stuff. Pens, charger, business cards, phone. And a novel; one of those big ft ones you're supposed to read on the beach. In front of this compartment is another zipped pocket which is handy for keys and a wallet.
There's also a pocket at the bottom of the pack. Perfect for a waterproof jacket that's got a bit wet, or if your laptop charger is a big one.
There's a carry strap on top and on the side opposite the laptop compartment opening. These straps are in the right place; the bag feels well-balanced when using them. You also get two shoulder straps; it wouldn't be a backpack without. There's a chest strap too. The right shoulder strap has a metal bottle opener.
There is, of course, a fabric loop to clip a rear light on to.
I really enjoyed using this backpack, but mostly for journeys that involved a short amount of walking or cycling. I tried it once on my 12 mile hilly commute and went back to using a pannier. The backpack is comfortable enough to wear, but because your rigid laptop is on your back, it doesn't conform to the shape of your back when you're lower down on the handlebars.
£70 isn't particularly cheap for a backpack, but it's not outrageous either. This one is really well designed though, and it carries a lifetime warranty. Timbuk2 as a company treat their employees well and try and manufacture responsibly. I personally don't mind paying a little extra for that. You can find it for as low as £40 online, which makes this backpack a steal.
Great laptop backpack for short journeys on foot or by bike. Recommended.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Timbuk2 Q Backpack
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Q is a cleverly designed daypack for students and commuters. Swing Around access makes it easy to dig without taking off your pack and the built-in laptop compartment protects your machine.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ballistic Nylon fabric
Padded, low profile internal laptop compartment for full protection without the bulk
Timbuk2's trademarked Swing Around Access; grab your laptop without taking off your pack
Custom-fit strap design for a truer, more comfortable fit
Ventilated back panel to give your back breathing room
Solid internal volume for carrying your daily goods
Super easy-access internal organization area for pens and such
Small external zip pocket for keys and change
Smart power adaptor pocket remembers where your cords are so you don't have to
Multiple grab straps for easy lifting
The quality of construction is good, but the material is not massively thick. Great to keep the weight down, but might compromise longevity. No signs of wear whatsoever after three months of use.
Comfortable to wear walking and for cycling short distances.
You can get much cheaper backpacks than this one that will do the job. Having said that, it works well, and the Q can be found cheaper online. Also, Timbuk2 treat their employees well, and try and manufacture responsibly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It works great for taking a laptop, a waterproof and a bit of lunch to work.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The design of the backpack is really well thought out; it just works.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Didn't really dislike anything.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
If you're looking for a backpack that's just the right size to swallow everything you need for a day at work or at Uni, then the Timbuk2 Q comes recommended
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,