Comparing the Top Timbuk2 Messenger Bags

Durability and style don’t often meet, but Timbuk2 seems to have found that magic combination.  I think it’s the practicality and rugged functionality that draws so many quality hunters like me.  Their line of commuter bags and backpacks have a mature yet youthful flair.  If you’re a younger working professional, Timbuk2 might just be right up your alley. So, in comparing the top three Timbuk2 messenger bags, lets find out which is the best fit for you.

My Experience

My faithful Timbuk2 Commute

I picked up my first and only Timbuk2 bag 4 years ago. It’s called the Commute.  Timbuk2 has since updated the design for the better.  I’ve used mine every day since I bought it.  Not a single thing has failed on it: Zippers, clasps, stitching, velcro closures, liners, not even a loose thread.  I’ve overstuffed it regularly.  My kids and dog jump on it and it protects my macbook inside.  It has served me so well in return for all my neglect and abuse.

Timbuk2: The Company

Timbuk2 clearly makes product quality their number one priority.  A couple  of their taglines are “Make it well, or don’t make it” and “Built to Last a Lifetime- While not the most profitable way of doing business, it’s the right way.”    

All of their bags are hand sewn in San Fransisco, Vietnam or Taiwan.  They’re pretty picky about the threads and materials they use which is good to hear.  It shows in their products too.  As I mentioned, I have never even seen a loose thread on my bag in 4 years of heavy use.


While not the most comprehensive warrantee I have ever seen (check out Darn Tough Socks for that!) Timbuk2 offers a fairly standard Lifetime Guarantee on workmanship and defects excluding things like wear & tear and stains.

What Makes Timbuk2 Messenger Bags Better?

  1. They’re rugged as heck.  Timbuk2 over-engineers their bags well beyond reasonable wear and tear expectations for luggage.
  2. Water Proof liners:  So if you’re caught in a down pour at a bus stop,  No worries. Your laptop and documents will be safe and dry.
  3. Quick Cam adjustable shoulder strap.  Cinch it up on the fly, sling it and be on your way. It’s super convenient.
  4. Style:  Timbuk2 liberates professionals from the tyranny of stuffy briefcases.  They absolutely nailed the sweet spot between functionality, youthfulness an a proper professional look.
  5. Multifunctional:  Every day office, air travel, sales visits, vacation, bike commutes…check, check, check.

The Top 3

Comparing the top three Timbuk2 messenger bags is a very pleasant exercise.   Everyone of these bags are rock solid buys that will last you a long, long time. They all have been heavily reviewed by thousands of buyers across the web and they consistently rate 4.5-5 out of 5.  Its also worth noting that they all come in three sizes to match your storage needs with the exception of the Classic which offers a fourth extra-small size option. All of these bags are sub $150.

Timbuk2 Command Messenger BagThe Command

This is a dressed up, all occasion bag.  Its strengths are air travel, easy access side pockets for passports, phones and tablets as well as a flip open laptop sleeve for expedited TSA clearance.  It also has a pass-through so you can slide it over handle of your roller carry-on as you run down the concours for your flight. The Command, I think, is the most stylish of Timbuk2’s Messenger bags. I like the buckles too, they communicate authority.  The quick-adjust straps are super comfortable and distribute weight nicely without hot-spots.

Timbuk2 Commute Messenger BagThe Commute

My personal experience with the Commute has been very satisfying.  Its quite similar in functionality to the Command.  It trades a few minor features for a more affordable price. The air-travel features remain, but it does not have quick access side pockets. It does have one smaller outer pocket on the front flap.   The Commute has a large mesh side-pocket for your water bottle which is handy for cyclists.  The quick adjust shoulder strap is comfy and works great.  As with the Command you have plenty of organizational space and room for both a laptop and tablet in its dedicated zip-open sleeve.

The Classic

Probably Timbuk2’s most popular messenger bag by volume of sales.  The Classic gets lot of credit for building Timbuk2’s excellent reputation over the years.  Its simple, functional and includes a waterproof liner like all the others.

The Classic Messenger XS
The Classic XS is a perfect alternative to a purse

The Classic is the only one to come in an extra-small size as well as far more colour options. Many women use the small classic as an alternative to a purse.  The Classic messenger bag is the most affordable bag on the list and its definitely the best entry level messenger bag out there.


Timbuk2 messenger bags compared

My Recommendation:

The Command Messenger Bag:  I’m not motivated enough to ditch my Commute bag for it just yet, but if I were starting from scratch I’d definitely go with the Command.  The main reason would be for the quick access side pockets which are super handy for air-travel.

Another reason is that my older Commute bag didn’t come with velcro silencers that cover the velcro when silence is needed in meetings.   I’m constantly interrupting meetings with an awkward loud ripping sound as I dig out a document.  These newer versions solve that problem.


Overall the Command is Timbuk2’s best messenger bag with the Commute coming in a close second.  The Command wins out with a bit more style and extra pockets.  The Classic is a great “buy it for life” option on a budget, but I wouldn’t us it if you fly often. The Command and Commute messenger bags really make air travel much easier.  The roller luggage pass-throughs save your shoulder on the long concourses, and the flip out laptop sleeves make TSA security checks a breeze. No matter which bag you choose, they’re all top-tier quality.  You’ll be proud of your choice and even more satisfied with their practicality. Check out Amazon’s current pricing here for the  Command, Commute, and Classic.

Happy travels!



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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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