Timbuk2 Command Messenger (2011) Review

I travel to different locations with an Aluminum body MacBook Pro and tools, cables, documents, etc. daily. So, I needed something that can hold all my various cables and a small computer/laptop toolset in addition to headphones, a mouse, a book on occasion, and nic-nacks suck as adapters, medicine and the emergency energy bar for when I don’t have time to eat. I bought the medium Command Messenger bag to replace a backpack with tons of pockets, but with about the same amount of capacity. I knew it didn’t have as many pocket, but figured I would make do.

Unfortunately, the lack of pockets is a bigger negative than I thought. Finding and organizing things in this bag is a bit of a pain. Things tend to collect at the bottom making them difficult to find, because the inner pockets are not very accommodating which discourages use and thus better organization.

Every inner sub-compartment is made with no ability to expand at the bottom and shallow nylon walls. This causes wider things in the inner pockets to ride in the middle of the bag, not the bottom. This, in turn, leads to everything pressing against each other if you use the inner pockets. That energy bar I mentioned earlier ends up smashed most of the time because of this.

There is a separator and a Velcro organizer that is semi-rigid, but it is designed to hold small thin things like pens, small USB hubs, and maybe a thin portable mouse, but anything thicker than a few inches causes bowing and pressure mentioned below.

If I put bulky things in the main compartment, then when I try to put my laptop in, I have to push the stuff in the other compartment out of the way. Also, when I take my laptop out of the bag and open it, the screen routinely has imprints from the keyboard. This never happened with the backpack unless I consciously pressed on it or forced things in it that were very wide. This means the laptop has a good amount of pressure on it when I am carrying it around even though there is plenty of capacity left in the main compartment.

The inclusion of a semi-rigid divider between the main compartment and the laptop compartment would alleviate this problem by spreading out the pressure evenly. The funny thing is I put my papers and other large flat flexible things against the laptop wall, and they still cannot protect it from the content inside the bag.

The other compartments suffer from this lack of form and storage design as well. If I put my bluetooth headphones in the Napoleon pocket, sometimes they are squished and bent by things on the inner compartments. So now, I usually just wear the headphones instead of stowing them. The pockets in front of the Napoleon pocket also interfere with placing things in it quickly and smoothly thanks to the same problem of thin walls that offer no separation aside from nylon fabric.

I have cut down on the number of things I carry with me (the full size multi-driver, LED AAx3 flashlight, a Leatherman, a magnetic extension rod, etc), because of this inefficient use of space. But I still have problems even though the old backpack and the Command Messenger are about the same size.

But being the same size as my previous bag with less practical carrying capacity and additional pressure on my laptop makes it so I cannot give this bag anything higher than 3 stars out of 5.

On the plus side the storage compartment under the bag for the power supply and related cables is easy to access once I remove the latches. The construction is solid, but the design was not “play-tested” for demanding pros. The bag looks great and much more business like than my backpack, but it is no where near as utilitarian. I really want to love this bag, but form does not trump function in my book.

I am probably going to add custom large semi-rigid bags to separate the contents (cables, files, adapters, etc.) and fix other problems if I keep this bag. Although there is a chance I will switch back to the backpack, or just buy another bag.

FTC Disclosure: I bought this bag for myself and have received no compensation for this review.

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