If you’re looking for a pack designed specifically for commuting, Timbuk2 has your back. The company specializes in making packs with durable materials and features an assortment of pockets to help organize everything from your iPad to swag. But this review isn’t about the brand or what makes it great — we’ll save those details for another time. So instead, we’re here to discuss whether this bag is right for you!
Timbuk2 is noted for its urban-inspired bike messenger gear. The Parker Commuter Backpack from Timbuk2 is no exception. This 30L expandable pack is perfect for EDC (daily carry), but it may also be used as a travel bag for short trips.
For the last two weeks, we’ve been putting the Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack through its paces on the streets of Detroit, Michigan. So, how did it turn out? Let’s have a look at what we’ve got.
Aesthetics & Materials
The Parker Commuter Backpack is available in two colors at this review: Olive and Jet Black. Several Timbuk2 packs have only been available in black, so don’t get too excited about the possibilities. We’ve been trying the black hue, which we believe looks very sleek in a Matrix-like sense.
Regardless of color, the backpack incorporates a highly reflective strip at the bottom that contributes to the techy atmosphere and improves visibility. And when we say “very reflecting,” we mean that this thing has the potential to burn your eyes. Okay, not really, but it can be seen from quite a distance. Reflective panels are also included on the backpack straps.
In terms of branding, there’s a white Timbuk2 on the front with the words “San Francisco” underneath it. It’s a minor detail that, in our opinion, only adds to the pack’s overall mood.
This bag’s primary shell is made of polyethylene vinyl acetate. We go deep into this content in our evaluation of the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel. So, if you’re looking to get down to the nitty-gritty, we recommend going there. However, unlike the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel, the Parker Commuter Backpack omits a ripstop. The cloth is exceptionally thick and pleasant to the touch. While we usually find this kind of plastic-y material swishy, the fabric’s thickness mitigates this.
Overall, this material is rigid, albeit it is prone to scuffs. It’s also very water-resistant. However, the rain will bead up on the pack and runoff. Welted fabric also covers the main compartment’s zipper for further water protection.
Parker Commuter Backpack Zippers by Timbuk2. The Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack is finished off with rugged YKK zippers throughout, as well as Duraflex and Woojin buckles and hardware.
Components from Outside
We previously noted how water-resistant the Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack is. But, if that built-in water resistance isn’t enough for you—say, if you have to ride your bike to work in the rain or if your existence consists of visiting waterfalls and rafting rivers—you’re lucky! A rainfly is included, and it tucks into a zippered pocket at the bottom of the pack. It also contains a reflective surface and reflective decals, ensuring that visibility is not sacrificed for water resistance.
If you don’t want or need a rainfly, it simply detaches using velcro and can be removed from the pack. The rainfly pocket may then be used as an additional storage pocket.
Now we’ll move on to the harness system. The shoulder straps aren’t particularly thick and don’t offer a lot of cushioning. They do, however, have a great, breathable mesh. We would have liked a little additional cushioning to make carrying the bag more pleasant.
All of the cushioning is located on the rear panel. Seriously, there are two blocks of cushioning that are pretty dense and substantial. We weren’t lovers of the design when we initially began evaluating this bundle. The rear panel was stiff and unappealing. But, we’re delighted to say it’s settled in wonderfully since then. It’s oh-so-comfortable now that it’s been two weeks.
The cushioning is porous and breathable, and the back panel has a large air channel running down the middle. Of course, all of this is to imply that the dreaded swamp back should be avoided at all costs.
A sternum strap can be adjusted and closed with a magnetic clasp that’s simple to use with one hand. It also offers considerable elasticity for added comfort and an elastic strap keeper for that desired #DangleFreeExperience (there are strap keepers on the backpack straps as well).
Unfortunately, the way this sternum strap connects to the pack isn’t to our liking. To begin with, the hook burrows into the cloth of the backpack strap, causing a small divot to develop. Of course, this divot will only become worse with time. Second, it is not entirely secure. We haven’t lost this sternum strap (yet), but it has happened on other packs with a similar connection technique. As a result, it’s something to keep in mind.
The Parker Commuter Backpack also includes a velcro-attached hip belt that may be removed. It isn’t very thick, and there isn’t any padding—simply it’s a plain strap. While it may assist spread the weight of the pack a little, we don’t believe it does so effectively. Of course, a pack with a 30L capacity doesn’t need a large hip belt. Plus, if you discover that it is getting in the way more than anything else (which is what we’ve done for the most part), you may delete it. However, we are grateful for the choice.
Apart from the harness system, the pack has compression straps on both sides. They’re more for keeping the bag clean while it’s inflated and not entirely packed out—to avoid floppiness—than for compressing it completely. (We’ll go through the pack’s expandability in more detail later.) The compression straps do get in the way of the main compartment zipper and side access to the laptop sleeve, which may be annoying since it slows down access. It isn’t, however, the end of the world.
That takes us to the pockets for water bottles. We like the fact that there is one on either side of the pack. We don’t enjoy having to pick between carrying a water bottle and carrying a coffee thermos (because let’s be honest, we’d select the coffee thermos and wind up highly caffeinated and dehydrated at the end of the day). In addition, the water bottle compartments are quite good. They have elastic in the pockets to hold them close to the pack when not in use, yet they can accommodate most water bottles. The pockets do reduce the main compartment’s capacity slightly—especially if you’re hauling big bottles—but not much.
Finally, there are a few nylon loops behind the fluorescent screen for hauling goods outside.
Inside the Bundle
This pack has three quick-grab pockets, not one, not two, but three. While we first considered three quick-grab pockets to be excessive (after all, who has so many quick-grab items? ), we rapidly found that three quick-grab pockets are really rather useful.
The top pocket has a beautiful, soft cushioned inside, making it excellent for delicate things like your phone or sunglasses.
The second quick-grab compartment is underneath it, and it shuts with a flap kept in place by two magnets. We were first apprehensive about this because we were concerned that our belongings might fall out if the magnets disengaged. The interests, on the other hand, are powerful, and we’ve never had an issue with them coming undone on their own. Also, the magnets don’t cover the whole length of the aperture, leaving a little space in the center that isn’t sealed. That, too, hasn’t been an issue. So what we’re saying is that our belongings are safe within this pocket.
You’ll also locate the key clip in this pocket. It’s made of metal, which we love. Plastic key clips are often a source of complaint since they seem like they’ll break after a short period of usage. As a result, we’d want to highlight when a firm does it right. The clip is fastened to the bag through a bright red leash for maximum visibility. # It’s a little detail, but it’s significant. It’sTheLittleThings.
We like the fact that the key clip is not located in the same pocket as your phone. (We all know that a scratched phone equals a scratched phone… It’s just basic math.) It’s a really considerate gesture.
The third and final quick-grab pocket is hidden underneath the reflective surface. We enjoy how these three compartments may be used to organize your quick-grab goods. For example, put your phone and sunglasses on top, keys and munchies in the center, and your wallet with a pocket-sized picture of your dog on the bottom. (With the exception of the key clip, none of these pockets have any internal structure.)
Parker Commuter Backpack Zipper Cover from Timbuk2. It might be difficult to get inside the main compartment. In any case, we’ve been experiencing some issues. To properly release the main compartment, you must unclip the compression straps, as previously stated. Additionally, if the water bottle compartments are zipped to the bottom, the water bottles restrict access to the zippers. As a result, we suggest that you maintain your zippers on the top. Finally, the zippers might catch on the welting that covers the track and get trapped. It shouldn’t be an issue if you make sure the welting is out of the way while zipping this thing up.
Parker Commuter Backpack from Timbuk2 has an inside Velcro pocket. There isn’t much going on inside. A velcro divider pocket is located against the compartment’s front flap. It’s a handy place to store larger electronics like headphones or a computer mouse. We would have appreciated a few additional divider compartments to aid our organization. As things are, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands and employ accessory pouches to stay organized. (Of course, pouches aren’t required; we discovered that they worked nicely within this compartment, which is mainly open.)
The primary compartment is the one that extends when it comes to open space. You’ll need to unzip the inflatable area in front of the main room to gain that extra space. One criticism we have is that the expansion does not extend to the bottom of the pack, making the bag top-heavy when fully extended. We understand why Timbuk2 built it this way—access would be exceedingly difficult if it were large at the bottom and little at the top—but it’s obvious and a little inconvenient. We haven’t required the additional capacity as an EDC bag, but it’s wonderful to have for weekend trips or other short travels.
A dual-access laptop sleeve is located against the rear of the main compartment. It has a velcro flap that shuts firmly and keeps your laptop safe within the sleeve. However, accessing your laptop is sluggish. For us, it’s too slow. So, to make it easier to slip the laptop in and out, we tucked the flap inside the sleeve.
The laptop sleeve is accessible through an exterior zipper on the pack’s side, which is handy. The compression strap, as previously indicated, does, however, interfere with this zipper. Therefore, before you may unzip this aperture, you must first undo it.
Timbuk2 claims that the laptop sleeve can accommodate computers up to 15 inches wide. We were able to put a 16-inch MacBook inside the sleeve. However, it was difficult to slip the laptop into the sleeve from the side access point (although it easily slides out). However, this should not be an issue if you have a smaller laptop.
The sleeve is cushioned and provides excellent protection. Without a case, we’ve had no trouble fitting a laptop inside.
Testing & Durability
We tested the Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack in Detroit, Michigan, for two weeks. Overall, we’ve had a lot more fun trying it than anticipated. It’s a good pack for EDC and travel (at least short-term trips) if you don’t expect a lot of internal organizing. Access might also be enhanced, albeit it isn’t too inconvenient as it is.
We’ve also been impressed by how well the pack has held up. So at this time, we have no severe durability concerns to report. We do, however, have a little problem to disclose. On the front of the pack, there are a few little scuffs. They’re apparent, but they’ve not to affect functioning.
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