Road Tests :: Timbuk2 Copilot Roller
A couple of months ago we gave our initial impressions of the medium sized Timbuk2 Copilot wheeled bag. Since then, one of our resident bag designers Hadrien has had a chance to haul it through various parts of India on business. Here are his more considered thoughts…
I’ve just returned from a business trip to India. It was only a 5 day trip, and so the Copilot could easily accomodate my stuff. It was perhaps a touch large for just 5 days, but I was quite excited to test the trolley concept and see how the aluminium tube would cope.
The base of the bag and its aluminium telescopic structure is the most obviously attractive part of the bag (more shots in our Drive By review). The lining texture and color was also a very nice touch.
The best part of using nylon is its lightness and durability when used with the right weave and thickness. The main outer fabric uses about a 2 times coated PU (Polyurethane) backing. This is better than a thicker PVC, as the nylon is already reasonably water-resistant in itself and so this light backing keeps the weight down (and is better than PVC backing for health and the planet).
Big rounded corners and robust parts team with the fabric to make for a pretty durable bag.
It’s surprising how many soft shell travel bags still fail to stand upright when loaded (an issue that needs clever work arounds when designing sandwich construction luggage). Thankfully the Copilot does this well.
The molded base gives good structure and is not too overwhelming or big. You have to love these molded bases over the cheaper fabricated flat sheets of PE creating sharp angles that tear. The internal compartments are large and the sandwich construction make sense for the medium size of the Copilot. It is a great way to divide a travel bag.I used the internal mesh pocket a fair bit for extra paper and small stuff, as they limit the random movement of your stuff around the bag.
Personally I loved the shoe compartment. Even though I didn’t have extra footwear, I loved having a separate compartment for socks and underwear. You can access it from the inside when the bag is open, or you can collapse it if you need more room. The versatility is a win.
Wheels & Handle:
The wheels and telescopic handle were by far my favourite features. Very silent and smooth to roll around, so I wasn’t getting tired using it. I wished I had it during my stop over instead of lugging my messenger everywhere.
The aluminium telescopic handle was fantastic. Usually telescopic handles quickly develop some play and wobble after their first trip. Not this one. The trolley structure didn’t show any dints or damage, which is quite the achievement when travelling through India.
Sorry, I went to India, and didn’t get a drop of rain.
The Fabric is good enough, however it lacks a little in the charm department. While not enamoured with the colors, the benefit to having a grey and purple bag is that I was able to spot the travel companion miles away on the carrousel.
The design uses a lot of foam padding to control the front shape of the bag. The downfall of this is weight. There is not really a right or wrong, just a choice between look and pure efficiency. My take on this is that if the pre-shaped look is important then the size and weight of the bag needs to counterbalance the added amount of foam in the product.
Unresolved Front Pockets:
The front pocket didn’t work for me. It looks and feels a little awkward to use. As a single carry on bag I wouldn’t be able to fit a 15” laptop. And I wasn’t sure how to use it. Either there is not enough pocketing for small stuff that needs quick access, or not enough for bigger stuff like a laptop. When I put in my headphones, note books and toiletry clear bag, the pocket bulged out and was hard to close.
I had the medium sized Copilot, which on most airlines just fits the dimensions required to be a carry-on bag. However even when only half filled, the weight was already over the 7 kg maximum for Australian airlines.
The bag itself weight around 3 kg. So by the time I wanted to take around I only had 4 kg for my stuff which unfortunately wasn’t enough as I had about 9kg total without the laptop. The bag suits better the American airlines as we can take on board much heavier bags.
So I haven’t had a chance to see if moving the bag through the aisle of the plane is comfortable or not. My feeling was when I looked at it that it is a fraction too big for a carry on. Its little brother would have been better for me.
Best suited to:
US market, as the airline would allow the weight of the bag as a Carry-on when full, or as a check-in bag. Great bag if you are looking for compact bag with some character.
Not suited to:
Frequent traveller that only use one bag around in other countries. A secondary laptop bag would be necessary.
I would have loved to see more classic/elegant colour combo from the Fixies Bike world inspiration. Personally I can see the idea behind some of the design features but I’d love to see the evolution of the front pocket design to be more elegant and efficient.
Overall the Copillot is a good travel bag. Lacking a little charm and elegance, it still shine by the aluminium telescopic handles and base structure. It will get you some attention for sure. As a check in bag the Copilot is a very compact efficient bag, extremely nice to roll around. However if you aren’t in the USA and looking for a single carry-on bag may be check the small version of the Copilot.