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Computerized Investing > January 2011

Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

A roomy, TSA approved messenger/ laptop bag.

In the September 2010 CI E-Newsletter, I reviewed the BBP Expand-It Messenger Laptop Bag. This month, I take a look at another messenger bag, the re-designed Commute 2.0 given to me by Timbuk2. San Francisco-based Timbuk2 was started in 1989 by a bike messenger, and over the years the company has developed a reputation for cutting-edge design and styling. The Commute 2.0 is an upgrade of the original Commute Messenger Bag and adds a lie-flat compartment for going through security checkpoints without having to remove your laptop.

The Look

As it was founded by a former bike messenger, you would expect Timbuk2 to have designs that are bold at the least, and even a little aggressive. Whereas the BBP Expand-It Messenger Bag tries to balance styling and functionality, Timbuk2 places a premium on functionality and convenience. While I wouldn’t say that Timbuk2 neglects style, the look of their bags is definitely a product of the bike messenger culture. For this reason, their bags are not for everyone.

The bag comes in six different color schemes. The front flap has three panels; the two outer panels and the rest of the exterior are all one color, and the middle panel is a secondary color. The bag I was given was blue/black/blue. While the colors are bold, I didn’t find them gaudy or unprofessional. I also respectfully disagree with some other reviewers who say that the bag draws undue attention to itself. I think Timbuk2 has done a very good job of creating a bag that doesn’t scream “I am carrying a laptop!”

The Design

The bag also comes in two sizes—medium and large. The medium holds a 16-inch laptop, and the large will handle a laptop up to 17 inches. I tested a medium and found that my 15.6" Dell laptop fit very snugly into the laptop compartment. I was a little dismayed by the seeming lack of padding around the laptop. The rear laptop compartment also has a second flapped pocket, but I am not sure what it is intended for. The laptop compartment was just big enough for my laptop, and there was no more room for anything else in that rear compartment. Therefore, you are forced to put peripherals and accessories in either the front compartment or the middle compartment. Also, with the laptop in its sleeve, the roller bag handle pass-through wouldn’t fit over the handle of my roller bag.

While I thought the laptop compartment was a bit lacking in space, I can’t say that for the rest of the bag. In some ways, I think the bag may be too big. On more than one occasion I packed the bag with so much stuff that it was uncomfortable to carry. There is plenty of room for your computer accessories as well as books, binders and much more.

The front flap has adjustable straps with clip closures, as well as Velcro for extra security. There is a side pocket that works well for a cell phone.

The bag itself is waterproof, right down to the rubberized bottom of the bag. This means you can carry your laptop and important files around in the rain or snow and feel confident that everything is protected.

TSA-Compliant Laptop Compartment

One of the updates with the Commute 2.0 is the TSA-approved laptop section, which allows you to put your bag through a security scanner without having to remove your laptop from the bag. I find this more frustrating than having to take off my shoes and belt to go through security. It is also nice not to call attention to yourself by having to take out your laptop.

The Bottom Line

For someone who never travels lightly when it comes to work-related “stuff,” I love the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0. The bag allows me to carry pretty much anything I need for a work-related road trip, and not having to take my laptop out of the bag when going through airport security is a huge plus in my book. My only real complaint is what I consider to be thin padding around the laptop compartment. However, I have yet to see where this is a detriment to my laptop. Until I do, I highly recommend the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0.

Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag

www.timbuk2.com

$110 (medium), $120 (large)

Pros:

  • TSA-compliant external laptop compartment
  • Waterproof front flap and rubberized bottom
  • Plenty of internal space

Cons:

  • Laptop compartment tight on space
  • Luggage pass-through handle all but useless if carrying a laptop
  • Laptop storage could use a little more padding

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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