Timbuk2 Especial Messenger Bag Review
There was a time when Timbuk2 was the only brand of messenger bags you would see on a daily basis. But times have changed and there are more bag manufacturers than you can count. Hence, the old dog has had to learn some new tricks, so to speak. In order to stay competitive in today’s market they’ve had to innovate with design, materials and customer service. With the Especial series Timbuk2 set out to showcase their best materials and workmanship, and the Especial Messenger bag may very well be the best bag they’ve ever created.
As you might imagine, Timbuk2 went with tried and true Cordura ripstop nylon construction. They also made significant use of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane laminate) inside and out. The result of the black on black fabrics is both subtle and striking at the same time. What’s more, the entire bag is highlighted with black reflective trim.
The Especial Messenger is available in two sizes, and I had a chance to try out both the small and the medium (pictured). The small bag measures just under 14 x 16 inches, and is a great size for a laptop bag, airline travel, etc. It will work as a commuter bag, but I definitely prefer a bit more cargo capacity. At 18.5 x 16.1, the medium bag suits my needs pretty much perfectly. I can fit a change of clothes, shoes, tools, spares, etc. It’s big enough to do handle light grocery shopping, and yes, it can hold a case of beer (cans).
I think I’m still discovering all of the pockets on the Especial Messenger. Suffice it to say there are a number of external pockets with waterproof zippers, a handful of internal organization pockets and a padded laptop compartment.
The Especial Messenger is loaded with features, so many that I’m bound to forget one or two. The most obvious are the magnetic buckles on the flap. They aren’t as big of an improvement as they are when used on a bike helmet, but they’re pretty cool. On the more elemental side, the flap has nice gussets and the main compartment is topped with a unique stiffener that helps make the closure extra water resistant. Like most good bags, the liner is fully floating, so you can ride in the rain with confidence.
The main strap is completely reversible (for left or right shoulder) as is the removable stabilizer strap. The main strap features an awesome pad that extends well beyond the upper connection for superior comfort. You can also adjust the angle of the strap thanks to some slick use of Velcro on the back of the bag. And Timbuk2 took pains to provide various clips and such to keep the excess straps from flapping around erratically.
The back panel of the bag features molded pads that both cushion the bag against your back and provide some air flow. And while I don’t often need them, the Especial Messenger has three handles.
My only real criticism is actually more of a suggestion: There should be a size large, and maybe an extra large. No professional bike messenger (that I know, at least) would use a small or medium sized bag. And if I could only own one bag, I would want one that’s just a hair bigger for true grocery shopping and such. But as I said earlier, for daily use, the medium size suits my needs just fine.
The medium sized Especial Messenger retails for $199, the small for $179. All Timbuk2 products carry a lifetime warranty. Check out www.timbuk2.com