Timbuk2 Commute XL messenger-style computer bag review

Timbuk2 Commute XL messenger-style computer bag review

Timbuk2 is famous for the high quality and three-panel design of their bicycle messenger bags. You have most Their Commute XL bag was made for owners of 17″ and 15.4″ widescreen notebooks, and follows in that tradition. It has a cool, clean look but is also functional as well. This is the big brother of their Commute bag, which has similar features but is made for smaller notebooks.Specs:

  • Ballistic nylon exterior
  • Waterproof vinyl lining
  • External dimensions 18″ x 11.25″ x 6″
  • Sleeve dimensions 15.4″ x 10.5″ x 1.25″
  • Weight 3.25 lbs.


The Commute XL comes in a variety of colors. On their website it only lists one at the moment, but mine is all black with yellow accents and interior, which looks really badass. It has a good style and is not overstated. It cost me $120 at a local bike shop. I also got a strap pad which was an extra $10. Why did I buy this bag? I’m a college student and I wanted to try a messenger bag for my laptop for the capacity and style. I wanted something that was light and high-quality, without being too expensive. Other bags I looked at were Crumpler and Chrome. After seeing some around campus I decided Crumplers look a little feminine, but they are of high build quality and look good on you if you’re a girl. Chromes are also high quality – their messenger bags are the best but I was concerned about how much effort they put into designing their laptop bags judging from their website. Other bags like Targus and Swiss Army have that overstated laptop bag look that I don’t really like and don’t work if you will be taking it into a professional setting. As a side note I’m a pretty picky person and want to point out everything about this bag, so don’t get put off if this review seems overly negative since you probably won’t notice these small things anyway. Overall I like the bag a lot.The Details

First of all, this is a bicycle messenger-type bag. It has reflector tags and a loop for a safety blinker. Included is an optional strap that steadies it around your ass so it doesn’t swing around when you’re pedaling. Note: The main strap does not connect to the bag like their regular messengers – it has a ring and hook system much like regular laptop bags. Because of this, it will hang much more like a regular laptop bag instead of across your back.The exterior is made of a high-quality ballistic nylon. It gives off a nice shine and looks clean when you’re walking around/ The stitching seems also very strong. The handle is also very nice – it is stiff and is made of nylon webbing, great if you need to take the bag off and haul ass. The bottom of the bag has a thick, non-slip rubber which provides good protection.It has two waterbottle pockets, one on each side. To my dissappointment they are not big enough to hold a Nalgene, but they do hold a normal small bottle. I mainly use them to hold my cell phone and usb flash drive for quick access.

The Quick-Adjust strap mechanism

strap attachmentIt comes with a quick-adjust mechanism to change the strap length, which works well. This and the j-hooks are made of a heavy duty plastic. This is my biggest beef with this bag – when it is really loaded down with a lot of weight, these plastic parts begin creaking when you walk, which gets really annoying if you are walking in a quiet area. I think if they were made of metal this problem would be eliminated.

I got an optional shoulder strap with the bag. I think this accessory is more suited to their normal messenger bags, because I’ve actually found that the strap is more comfortable without it!

The back panel has non-absorbent padding and has a timbuk2 logo. Good protection if you have a boney butt and are concerned this might damage your laptop as you walk. It does tend to attract lint and hair as you can see.

There is a big zip pocket between the back panel and the bag littler pockets for pens and calculators and such, but I wouldn’t use it for anything other than something soft because the padding on the back panel is the laptop’s only protection on this side.


The best feature of this bag is the waterproof vinyl lining. If you live in a rainy or snowy area like me, this is essential. the flap is also gussetted so that water does not get in the sides when it is closed. The bright yellow of the lining contrasts with the black, making it look really good.

The interior is very spatious. The laptop is separated with its own compartment. This compartment has thick padding and is lined with a terrycloth-like material so it won’t scratch your computer.

my z70va in the bag

the bag with a bunch of stuff in it

Here the bag is pictured with the notebook in a 15.4″ Sumdex ImpactGuard sleeve. This bag was not meant for use with a sleeve, but if you want to, you can. I find that it adds a lot of bulk if you do this.

The bag can be held shut with two velcro pads, two clasp thingies, or you can just leave it open if you have a lot of stuff. There is an inside flap in the inner compartment with more pockets for your accessories and smaller items. It has an ID window and a leash for keys. Outside the main compartment there is a pocket where you can put pencils and a journal as pictured here, flanked with two huge pockets for larger stuff.

how it looks when hangingIn all I think this bag is great. It is made very well, and this is reflected throughout the entire bag in every detail. When I bought it I couldn’t get out of the bike shop because all the people who worked there kept stopping me and talking to me about how they love their timbuk2 bags and how they have had theirs for years and years.Pros:

  • looks really sweet, nice style
  • good build quality
  • good weather protection
  • lots of pockets


  • plastic hardware creaks under pressure
  • waterbottle pockets small
  • make sure you are comfortable wearing messenger bags

Bottom Line:Solid pack, would recommend to anyone. Their website is www.timbuk2.com





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