Timbuk2 is a name most people recognize from its premium quality travel bags. However, the company took it a step further with their newest backpack model: The Tech Roll Top Backpack. This durable and versatile bag performs high-performance functions for all your needs.
Timbuk2’s first messenger bag was created thirty years ago, the brainchild of a “freethinking, freewheeling” bike messenger in San Francisco. Timbuk2 has made its distinctive urban, technological atmosphere, which has gained a passionate following of backpack enthusiasts, digital nomads, and city residents alike after years and various totes, travel packs, and camera bags.
The Tech Roll Top Bag is not marketed as a travel backpack with a capacity of 28L. It was created with “the daily grind” in mind. However, if you’re a minimalist, you may use it as a full-fledged travel bag and take it on little outings.
After a month of testing, we have a lot to say about this bundle. So let’s get started with the review.
Aesthetics & Materials
At the time of this review, the Timbuk2 Tech Roll Top Backpack in Jet Black is available for purchase, and that’s all. Fortunately, we like black backpacks since they blend in with the crowd and don’t reveal stains quickly.
The black color scheme and black-on-black elements, such as the zippers, buckles, and branding, scream “tech.” This has a future, Matrix-like air about it, which we can get behind. If you put on a trench coat and aviators, you’ll be ready for some slow-motion backflips.
The sparkle of the polyurethane fabric adds to the sci-fi vibe. It’s also swishy, unfortunately. Some individuals like swishy cloth and the scratchy sound when brushed together, while others cringe just thinking about it. You already know which camp you belong to.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, check out our review of the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel, where we discuss the polyurethane material. We’ll merely say that this material is very weather-resistant and long-lasting.
We’re big proponents of having weather resistance on a backpack designed to carry valuable items like your laptop. So you won’t be bothered if you are caught in a thunderstorm on your walk from a coffee shop to your accommodation. In addition, the bottom of the bag contains even more weather-resistant material, which is fantastic.
This material is prone to scratches and scuffs. (We’ll go over this in more detail in the section on Durability and Testing.)
For even better weather protection, the exterior zippers feature YKK Aquaguard®. Finally, the sturdy buckle, which completes the materials, comes from DURAFLEX, a name we trust. Overall, if you don’t mind minor damage, this pack should be enough for all of your excursions.
Components from Outside
Let’s start with the harness system, which is undoubtedly one of the most critical parts of any backpack. The Timbuk2 Tech Roll Top’s straps are tailored to follow the curvature of your shoulders. They’re cushioned as well, as is the back panel.
Air passages are also included on the rear panel to aid with breathability. It is a must-have for an all-black pack, especially if you’ll be wearing it on hot days.
The rear panel, however, is lacking in structure. There seems to be a thin frame sheet, which does not prevent it from being floppy at times. This is particularly true since, as we’ll see later, your belongings will most likely tumble to the bottom of the main compartment, resulting in a messy overall carry. One of the most vexing aspects of this bag is its frumpiness.
There’s also a sternum strap that can be adjusted. We enjoy that we can alter it; nonetheless, we wish Timbuk2 had made it to be more secure. It might simply slip out without you knowing until it’s too late as it is now. We haven’t lost the sternum strap on this pack, but we have lost sternum straps on other packs with a similar shape.
The ever-important bottle opener is located on one of the shoulder straps. You never want to be caught off guard when confronted with an unopened bottle…or anything along those lines, as the Boy Scouts say. We’re not sure whether a bottle opener is essential on a pack—okay, that’s not quite accurate. We’re certain that it isn’t required. However, if you don’t possess a multi-tool, it’s a great feature to have around. During testing, we haven’t been complaining at all.
There are laser-cut daisy chains on the front of the pack for attaching a light, a carabiner, or anything else you choose. We haven’t used them much, but we like how useful and attractive they are.
The unassuming top handle is one of our favorite features of the Tech Roll Top Backpack. Yes, it’s a little detail, but it’s so beautifully crafted that Timbuk2 deserves praise. It’s incredibly soft, a wonderful size, and we love the Timbuk2 insignia debossed on the front.
The roll-top strap and clasp are other features we like. We’ll go through some of our gripes with the roll-top in the following section, but for now, we’ll just note that we like the looping mechanism, which keeps the strap looking neat. It’s what a #DangleFreeExperience is all about.
You may wind up with a decent-sized loop depending on how much you fill this bag and how tight you choose to tighten the strap. But we don’t mind since the loop is attractive and may be used to tighten the strap more.
When you need to, the strap comes free simply, providing you with faster access.
Inside the Bundle
Prepare to have the fun of your life if you like backpack pockets. There are a lot of zipped compartments on this item, as is characteristic with Timbuk2.
Water Bottle by Timbuk2 Tech Roll Top Backpack. Let’s start with the hidden water bottle compartment with a zipper. The purpose of this compartment is not to hide your water bottle from inquisitive eyes, but to keep the pack looking elegant. We were able to accommodate the 26oz Yeti Rambler in this area, however, packing the backpack out becomes difficult. It’s not a major problem, but it’s worth mentioning.
We’re also huge lovers of water, so having a plain ole water bottle pocket for convenient access would be ideal. Of course, it’s important to remain hydrated. But we understand that it’s a personal preference. Fashion is a pain in the neck and all that.
There are modest zipped pockets on the right and left sides of the pack with no more organization. They’re little enough that they won’t fit in your hand completely. These compartments are for your little accessories, to state the obvious. Wireless headphones, compact keys, dongles, a good luck charm, and other items.
There’s another little zipped compartment on the right side of the pack, behind the roll-top. We didn’t discover it for the first few days of testing since it’s not a concealed pocket. It’s a little devious, if you will since it’s buried in plain sight. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to keep your wallet, phone, passport, and other valuables. It’s our personal favorite of the lot.
In keeping with the motif, there’s also a front-and-center zipped pocket. However, this one is enormous. We’ve discovered that it works best for flatter goods since it has no structure and just a little amount of dimension. A book, granola bars, and so forth. It’s also big enough to fit a packable jacket if you need to.
The laptop compartment sits on the other side of the pack, which is convenient since you don’t have to remove the roll top to get to your laptop. It also has a false bottom and heavy cushioning on one side (the side that touches your back), which is fantastic. While we would have liked more cushioning on the opposite side, the fact that there isn’t any isn’t the end of the world. In any case, it should keep your laptop safe.
It will accommodate a 15-inch laptop, but it will be tight. It takes a little effort to line it correctly and gently slip it in.
That leads us to the main compartment, which has a roll-top closure and is the source of the pack’s name.
It’s fastened with a zipper and velcro, which is excessive. You don’t need the velcro because you already have the zipper and the roll-top. However, it’s still beneficial if you intend on stuffing the pack to the gills, and it offers some weather resistance.
You can fillet it open and get a decent view of what’s going on up there if you untie the velcro and zippers. You may alternatively keep the velcro in place and unzip the zipper for easier access, which is what we’ve done for the most part. If you don’t feel like working with a zipper or the pack is complete, you may leave it zipped and access your belongings from the top.
When you open this chamber, you’ll see nothing. We don’t imply there’s nothing there; we mean you won’t be able to see it. That’s because the pack’s jet black exterior and the top-loader opening style make it very impossible to see what’s going on within. So, seriously, good luck locating whatever you stuffed into the black hole.
While undoing the zipper and velcro will make it easier to access your belongings, you won’t be able to see the bottom of the bag very well. This is because the zipper barely extends about a third of the way down the pack.
It’s also hard to see what’s happening in the other areas. It’s just that they’re smaller, so it’s not as big of a concern.
A colorful pack lining would be beneficial. Other packs have had excellent success with this strategy. For the time being, we guess you might get around it by packing just oversized items or utilizing colorful accessory bags.
A gigantic zipped pocket may be found within the main compartment. It’s the pack’s most secure compartment, so it’s ideal for storing your passport or anything else you want to keep safe. For example, we used it to hold a notepad and left it unzipped so we could quickly get it from the top of the bag. The exterior of this pocket is similarly a muted green tint, which may help you view your belongings a little better, but only a little.
A massive bucket takes up the compartment’s remaining space. And you can cram a lot of things in here.
Any items that aren’t placed in the zipped pocket will tumble to the bottom of the main compartment, resulting in a tangled mess. This may be aggravating, particularly given the restricted view within the Tech Roll Top. You’ll probably have more fantastic results if you pack strategically, taking advantage of the exterior zipped compartments.
Testing & Durability
A handful of our team members have been using the Timbuk2 Tech Roll Backpack as a daily driver in Detroit, Michigan, for a month at this review. While we like certain aspects of this pack, such as its futuristic, black-on-black appearance and weather resistance, we don’t want others of its features. How tough it may be to view what’s going on within the main container.
We also dislike how simple it is to scuff up the pack. The scratches and marks aren’t significant, and we haven’t been treating this pack with special care, but after just a month of testing, it’s still not something you want to see. However, excellent weather protection comes at a price. There’s nothing more to say about durability beyond a few loose threads.
If you don’t mind minor blemishes, this pack should last you a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are rolltop backpacks?
A: Rolltop backpacks are backpacks that have an opening at the top to store items such as books, laptops, and other devices. They tend to have sturdier frames than regular backpacks because they require more material for their construction.
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