I just ordered a size small Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag that I plan to add their Snoop Camera Insert into. I’ve got a sling style camera bag for my Canon Rebel T3i already that I’m not thrilled with – it’s uncomfortable, and screams “tourist! expensive camera in here!” I’m much more familiar with the look and feel of the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger, which to me screams “look! she’s using a book bag for a purse!” or “college student!” Being 30, I’m not so sure about looking like a college student, but it beats looking like a tourist! (don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist… but blatantly looking like one seems to attract the attention of pickpockets and purse snatchers more than looking like a local does)
I bought my first Timbuk2 bag in college – a size medium, I think around 2004 – and I’ve been very impressed with the quality. The tag inside says “made in USA.” Over a decade later, it’s dirty but still completely intact, which I find impressive because I’ve murdered standard messenger bags before in less than a month or two with regular use. After several years of daily use, and several more years of sporadic use, all seams are still completely intact – no seams have pulled, and I haven’t found any torn stitching or holes in my bag. The design has changed a bit over the years – some updates I like, some I’m not so sure on. It worked fabulously as a school bag in college, as well as a carry-on bag when flying. My old laptop fit inside it in a padded sleeve, but the size is a bit excessive for everyday use, and I no longer have a full size (functional) laptop… just my little Asus Chromebook with a 12″ screen.
A few years back, I bought an extra small bag in black to use as a purse. The “slash pocket” they’ve added to the bags is the perfect size to slide my Kindle or any notes I want to keep flat. The buckles and straps on this bag were still more or less the same as my original bag. The tag inside this bag indicates that it was made in the Philippines. The velcro closure was changed a bit, making it more convenient to close – instead of needing to line up four strips of velcro across the front of the bag, there are two “hook” strips going vertically across the front of the bag, and on the inside of the flap, is a strip of the “loop” side going horizontally. The corners are wearing a little on this bag, though I suspect that it is due to this bag having more structure than the medium – at some point between the two bags, they changed the waterproof lining to a stiffer material, which makes the bag a little easier to use and less floppy.
I just purchased the 2014 model in size small, and so far I’m… hesitant. The color of the bag that I was so excited about when I looked at it on Amazon.com and Timbuk2.com is several shades darker than their stock photos, and I thought I was getting a bag that was mostly such a light gray that it was nearly white. The very top photo in this post is closest to the true color of my new bag. The tag inside this bag indicates that it was made in Vietnam. Collect all the countries? Where my two other bags are made from Cordura nylon, this bag is made from “polyester canvas” that seems sturdy enough, but shows several scuff marks already just from creation and processing. I do like how the buckles have been moved to under the flap for a cleaner look, and that the straps actually anchor to the back of the bag’s bottom instead of the front, so they can be used as compression straps for a less than full bag. The shoulder strap is slightly narrower, and they’ve changed the cam buckle system so you don’t have a loop of 2″ webbing hanging from the side of your bag. As a part of this, adjusting the shoulder strap is different from what I’m used to – and once I get used to it (we’re talking eleven years of training to re-learn) it should be easier. Unlike my original bag, this one came with a shoulder strap pad that matches the bag. It’s not removable, but it seems comfortable enough. They’ve added two water bottle pockets to the inside of the bag – one in a solid nylon, one mesh – and I’ve already stuffed the cord for my netbook in the solid water bottle pocket. The inside pockets have been simplified – no more velcro or zippered pocket, and a few other pockets sewn into the large inner pocket have gone missing – so I’ll see after some use what I think of that.
I love that Timbuk2 listened to the outcries when they released their Snoop Camera Messenger Bag. The camera portion of the bag was removable from the get-go, and fans wanted the insert available for purchase separately, since most of us already owned at least one messenger bag. Timbuk2 delivered, and tomorrow I’m off to Seattle to check out their store to see if my camera will fit in the extra small insert to leave me room for other goodies in my bag, or if I’ll have to go with the size made for my bag – small. I’m excited to go pick it up, and I’ll be posting a review of it after I get it – though I may wait until the whole kit has seen an outing or two.