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Verdict: 
Great laptop backpack for short journeys on foot or by bike. Recommended.
Weight: 
1,030g

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.

Verdict

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

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

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.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10

Comfortable to wear walking and for cycling short distances.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

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

Overall rating: 9/10

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,

 

3 comments

Avatar
Sidi 700c [42 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I clicked on this because i saw the name Timbuk2 which is not a well know brand here in the UK. Sadly.

I bought one of their messenger bags when i was living in santa cruz, california. This was 1994. I have used this bag nearly every single day of my life. I have lived out of this bag.

I do not drive so have to do everything with this bag. I am so in love with this bag i wish i could take a picture and show you what it looks like 20 years later.

The stitching has held. The rubber lining inside still has it's waterproof quality. Even the velcro on the pockets still works. Ok not as good as day once but when i need it to stay shut it does as long as there are no forces prying the sides of the pocket downwards.

Just last month i was thinking of giving this bag back to the company when i die to show them what it went through and how well it has aged. Everything works still and the only wear it shows is in the flap from being sunbleached as i chose a solid black model.

200.000 miles is a conservative estimate since that is just a little short of half my life having done close to 400.000 now. That bag is unbelievable and quite possible the only bag you will in your lifetime.

I just noticed a file attachments pointer down below so gonna try to take a picture now of this bag i love so much.

If the above mentioned bag is of the same quality as my bag then you have years and years of use out of it and it will be a very good investment. Very good value for money. That was the best 150 dollars i spend in 1994. I think it was 150.....

Avatar
jmaccelari [254 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I can only agree with the review.

I have the Timbuk2 Especial Tres - a 40l monster when fully expanded and loaded, but configurable down to a more modest 20l or so for 'normal use'. I have managed to fit all my Wiggle orders from the local Collect+ shop into it - along with my normal office load - including laptop. It is well manufactured, waterproof enough to go scuba diving and as hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.

I've had it for two years and it still looks brand new. It was a tad expensive at about £140, but worth every penny.

These bags are obviously designed by someone who cycles because everything works for a cyclist. The key pocket, the side pocket for the D-lock and/or cable lock, all the things are in the 'right' places...

Avatar
axa2wa [1 post] 4 years ago
0 likes

Having read this review, and the comments associated with it, I decided to go over to the Timbuk2 site ... a sale meant it was reduced by 50% off so I was very quickly £35 the lighter.

The rucksack arrived today and now that I've packed it with my laptop etc, ready for the commute tomorrow, design-wise there are a few design oversights which I feel I should point out.

First off there is no key ring. Every other rucksack I own (I have a few too many) has a key ring; I find them far preferable to rummaging about in pockets, and also handy to hang my Swiss army knife off.

Also, if you are either carrying the rucksack briefcase/landscape style, or just retrieving your laptop, the outer compartment with the contrasting stripe and L-shaped zip opens the wrong way. You effectively have to rotate the rucksack 180 degrees to get proper access to it. Carried like this:

http://images.timbuk2bags.co.uk/images/products/zoom/1395393146-38009900...

The upshot of this arrangement is that your bits & bobs could fall out/away from you. If the compartment was orientated the other way it would mitigate these risks and just work better.

Oh, not a biggie, but the "laptop hammock" is also not applicable in landscape mode.

While on the subject of this outer compartment, the multitude of pockets contained therein are all black on black. Some contrast stitching/piping would've helped with visibility here.

Lastly, you don't see it in the photos above since they are still wrapped up in the elastic bands in which they are shipped, but the pull straps for adjusting the harness are quite long and there are no proper bands supplied in which to tuck them away once the rucksack is on, adjusted and you're ready to roll. As such, you're left with them dangling down, and flapping about in the wind...

On the plus side it is a very comfortable rucksack to wear. Frequently rucksacks need to bed in, but this is very comfortable from the get go.

I'll probably get used to its little foibles but presently, despite being the new kid in the cupboard, it is lagging behind the Osprey, Haglof and Vaude neighbours.