Carry On

Drive By | Timbuk2 Copilot Roller

by , June 3, 2011

Drive By | Timbuk2 Copilot Roller

We give a quick once over to this fairly large cabin wheelie…

In the world of maximizing your carry-on, personality is hard to come by. Black and square dominates, which can leave you feeling like just another one of the sheep being herded.

Timbuk2 try hard to inject a little personality back into this space. They play on the whole bikes and San Fran thing, bringing a bit of the messenger vibe into airports of the world. They recently sent us one of their carry-ons to have a look, and so before we start hauling it through dodgy third world airports, we figured we’d share a few initial impressions…

The back

While we normally start a review looking at the front of a carry piece, it’s the back we’re digging most with the Copilot. There’s some pretty trick hardware that’s on full display, sporting fancy anodised tubing and some industrial allen-head bolts. It definitely has the feel of a fancy mountain bike.

The back’s secret ingredient

Externally mounted telescoping handles can be a nightmare on luggage. If they get a ding, the mechanism jams up and the handle won’t extend. The Timbuk2 folks have got around this by using extrusion with a little rib running down it, something which should radically improve resistance to dents. This lets the handles stay outside (for space and base integrity), which is otherwise a good thing.

They’ve also spec’d some pretty soft skate wheels, which quiet the ride, jump more easily over bumps, and reduce scratching of nice floors (when a pebble jams under harder wheels).

External pocketing

A good carry-on can’t just be about internal space. Because it often serves as your only bag, it needs some nice external pocketing for work bits, food bits, and travel related bits. The Copilot deals pretty well with these, even adding an externally accessed shoe pocket at the base*. For the general vibe of the bag, we thought it might have a water bottle pocket, but there is a front pocket that can be hijacked into that if need be.

*Ed’s note: Shoe pockets are a weird one. They are always designed at the base of bags (because shoes are ‘dirty’ and belong low down). But if you’re not using the shoe pocket, all the contents inside slip down and squash the pocket flat. So while they really should be designed higher up, we think it would wig crew out, so we understand why they are low down. Wow, did I just confuse you like I did myself?

The insides

Not much to report here, other than they’ve followed all the good conventions (mesh with neoprene expansion bits), and avoided most of the bad (loads of useless contraptions that just add weight). They could probably do with an elastic for holding down your shirts/suits, but it’s pretty solid overall.


Size and weight

We have the smallest of the Copilot series (20″ vs the 22″ or 27″). At just over 3 kgs (almost 7 lbs) this is still not a lightweight bag. If you live in Australia, Europe, or any of the countries that have pretty restrictive carry-on limits, you’ll only just be scraping through with this one. However if most of your flying is done around North America, you’ll be laughing.



The looks of this are not going to suit everyone. But if you’re into your ultra cool carry craft, you won’t have bothered reading beyond the first image, so we can ignore you. For everyone else, what you see is what you get. It’s unapologetically borrowing from bikes, it’s using contrast colors to make a statement, and it generally goes for function over beauty. In other words it’s pretty classic Timbuk2, which has a very loyal following.


This is a solid carry-on that will find an appreciative audience. It’s size and weight shows its North American roots, but it then adds some big doses of fun in their approach to the hardware.

The Copilot feels fairly well made, with key wear areas getting the rounded treatment and everything spec’d pretty thick and solid (and Timbuk2 have a pretty reasonable warranty if things do go wrong). If anything, the whole bag feels a little chunky, but that’s the way lots of people like to roll.

Now, back to planning our next trip where we can really try it out…



  • Gardeniashoegirl

    Do you know any Aus retailers stocking Timbuk2 – $180 for international shipping is a bit costly.

    • ando

      I couldn’t find any either. I’ve sent an email to them to check though, so hopefully we’ll hear back soon.

      • Timbuk2

        We’re not yet distributed in AUS (or NZ) but we’re working on it!

        • Timbuk2

          Regarding retailers in AUS, a limited assortment of Timbuk2 products will be sold @ Anaconda ( stores in AUS later this year and a full assortment will launch @ more stores in AUS in 2012.

  • Timbuk2

    Awesome feedback guys. We can’t help but be big and loud in America but the need to lighten up is duly noted.

    Design Note: Placing the poles on the outside of the bag creates slightly a smoother finish on the inside and importantly, enables us to replace the pole system is anything gets rocked (which it shouldn’t). The skate wheels can also be replaced (or upgraded for color reasons).

    • Lucas Putnam

      Hello from Germany.
      I lost a wheel on a flight from Venice to Berlin.
      When it came out of luggage compartment the wheel was gone.
      Bearings still intact so somehow it got pulled off.
      The airline had not help for me.
      I’ve contacted Timbuk2 customer service, but I also tried to pull the pin off so I could look for a replacement at a skate shop (conveniently there is one down the street).
      However, I heard the fastener drop into the chamber… I am guessing my only recourse is to pull the whole system off and put the wheel on first?
      Cheers for any info.
      It will make it pretty difficult to get from Berlin to London to SF to Oakland without that second wheel.

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  • Robert

    I don’t usually overused expressions like awesome, cool or even incredible. But I have to use all three for Timbuk2. I have several of their bags, a laptop cover, an IPad cover, rainbow strap produced especially for Pride celebrations and now the Co-Pilot carry on luggage. Everything I have used is top notch, first class, beautifully made. The workmanship is unsurpassed. You will not have any problems purchasing from Timbuk2. As we can all easily check prices on-line, I checked the price of their 20″ Co-Pilot rolling carry-on. All prices were from $160-220 web wide. On Timbuk2′s site, their sale was $84. I don’t know how many they have at that price but I got one. Granted I didn’t get to choose a colour but the colour I bought is fine. Even though I had to pay $10 shipping (though they show free shipping over $75 but not for Co-Pilot) it was still much cheaper than other sites. Treat yourself to anything Timbuk2. You will be very pleased

  • Timbuk2

    Robert – So stoked to hear you’re a big Timbuk2 fan and that you grabbed the hottest deal of the year — an $84 Copilot. We personally travel with the Copilot all over the world and it won’t quit. It’s tough, not borring black, and packs a LOT of gear inside. Thank you again for your kind words and for supporting Timbuk2. Cheers!

  • Kunal

    I got the copilot at the Black Friday sale for $84 too, which was a great deal for a nice bag. However, the welds at the bottom of my bag are really ugly – much more so than the pictures here. I’m considering returning it just because those welds are atrocious…

    • Ando

      Yikes, that doesn’t sound normal for them. They usually run a pretty tight quality ship.
      If it still works really well though, consider keeping it so it doesn’t end up in land-fill. Often that’s the only option for returns, so I always try to keep that in mind.

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