My love for Timbuk2 is no secret. I own many different bags, from backpacks to messenger bags to duffle-style bags. Of all of these there are only two brands from which I own more than one bag, Nike (during my time as a competitive runner, they served me very well) and Timbuk2.
Recently, I found a great deal on one of the Timbuk2 bags that I’ve had my eye on, so I figured I’d jump on it. The Q Backpack arrived just in time to join me on an adventure trip this past weekend (the package was delivered two hours before I left). I spent the weekend camping and hiking around Lake Spaulding and the Yuba River. As a side note, if you ever get the chance to do it, go for it, it’s a great place to go, and if you like hiking off the trail, a perfect place to test your stamina, since there are almost no marked trails around the lake. I decided to use the Q as my day pack for our big hike along the side of the lake and up the river. Long story short, it worked amazing. I also used the backpack for a few days commuting to and from work in San Francisco. Now for the long story.
Big Things in Small Packages
The bag fits quite a lot despite it’s small size. On my hike the main compartment was able to hold a small towel, a large sandwich, half a dozen granola bars, two large bottles of water, and two large bottles of Gatorade; on a normal day it can hold a sweater (comes in handy up in the city), a water bottle, a few snacks, and have plenty of room for whatever else I might need that day. The side-access laptop pocket wasn’t much use on the hike, but it is very well padded and works very well in normal use. I haven’t had a moment yet where I’ve needed to swing my bag around and whip my laptop out, but I imagine that if I ever do, it was go off spectacularly. Oh, and it has a nicely placed handle on the side of the bag that makes carrying it super easy. The front pocket is the perfect size for carrying an iPad and has plenty of pockets to carry whatever peripherals and cables you need for your day.
A feature that I really like in a bag is a separate pocket for my laptop charging cable. I prefer to keep this separated from the rest because I often need quick and easy access to it, and stuffing it in a pocket with 6 other cords tends to make that process messy. The Q has the perfect pocket in the front bottom, it takes up some space in the main compartment, so if you’ve got a full load, things are going to be tighter than usual, but under normal circumstances, it should be more than fine.
Wear and (no) Tear
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t treat my bags gently, actually the same could be said for pretty much anything I own. I like to put things through the ringer a few times just to warm up. I’ve had bags that have literally fallen apart at the seams, and when I used to live in LA, I got to know the bag repair guy at the local mall pretty well. It’s also worth noting that the hike I did last weekend was a rough one. While it’s not worthy of a commercial for rugged outdoor sports, there were times that I tested the bag. Climbing up cliffs, sliding down hills (ok, fine, I tripped), and a very hot sun all made for a rough day.
First and foremost, the ballistic nylon fabric Timbuk2 uses is amazing. I probably roughed up the bag enough to tear open most bags I’ve used in my life. A few times I slid down a rock face or a twig and branch strewn hillside lying on the bag, and there wasn’t so much as a scratch after I patted off the dirt. My other Timbuk2 bag (made of the same material) has held up just as well and I’ve owned it for the better part of a decade.
Second, it was a pretty hot day on my hike, somewhere in the low 90s. Most of the hike was in direct sunlight and when we took breaks to jump in the lake or the river, I tried to stash my bag in the shade, but that wasn’t always possible. Yet the bag was able to keep the contents insulated very well, at the end of the hike (almost 10 hours in) what was left of my water and Gatorade was still refreshingly cool.
Stylish and Functional
Having owned as many bags as I do, I’m always seeking the perfect bag with the perfect functionality for any situation I encounter. I’ve spent months at a time switching bags every few days because I had differing needs depending on the day. Sometimes I needed to carry a large load, others I only needed my laptop and charger, and sometimes I needed something in between. It makes no sense to own a large bag and use it for a catch-all, because then you’re just carrying around dead weight. Generally I like to pick a bag that has the tightest form for what I need to carry, and most days that isn’t very much at all. The Q backpack is a really nice compromise between slim profile and large carrying load. I can fit clothes for 3 days inside the main compartment, and it doesn’t stick out from my back like a growth.
It also looks great. As I said, it doesn’t stick out too far from my back, which is really important to me. There are lots of great color options available, I got the red/cement/gunmetal combination, but I also like the one in gunmetal/blue/black. And the modern look works great for lots of situations, from commuting to and from work to trekking over a river and through the woods. I might not walk into a black-tie affair with the bag, but I have others that will do the trick there.
While the $109 price tag might seem steep, most quality bags now-a-days are at that price, and after just under a week with the Q, I definitely think it’s worth the cost for such a great bag.