Review: Timbuk2 Command TSA-Compliant Laptop Bag

Timbuk2 has long been the bag of choice for the bike messenger. But what happens when designers adapt that street-ready platform for the jet-set form?

You get the Command, Timbuk2’s carryall that conforms to the Transportation Security Administration’s new carry-on baggage rules. Built from heavy nylon, the sack is only a half step away from the spartan messenger bags you probably toted in college. And, just like those outdoorsy tanks, the Command remains both strong and water-resistant. Underneath the front flap hides an ecosystem of organization with color-coded pouches for change, keys, gadgets and pretty much anything short of a six-pack. Rounding out the convenience is a roomy main pocket, outfitted with a couple of smaller pouches and a detachable organizational hub for storing additional gadgets, pens and even water bottles.

The backside hides a dedicated laptop pocket with its own sleeve. Unfortunately, the studded interior of this sleeve is more middling than muscular. With no real cushion on the bag’s backside, the bubbly foam padding is intended to offer support from everyday shunts and bumps. However, the studs themselves are surprisingly thin and appear to be full of air. This doesn’t necessarily make the feature pointless (it’s better than nothing), but it’s clearly a half-assed whack at sturdiness.

What’s well-executed is the Command’s TSA-compliant conversion. All it takes is a single zipper and the bag splits in half, ready to lay flat on an airport X-ray machine. The resulting look is inelegant — almost as if the bag committed seppuku and collapsed prostrate — but the precious minutes saved by not having to remove the laptop is totally worth it. With one more zip we had everything reassembled and ready to move.

Make no mistake: Tthis bag is still much more at home on a hipster zipping around on a fixie than at the airport. But if urban laptop-schlepping is your wish, this is most definitely your Command.

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