- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Timbuk2 Prospect Laptop Backpack
Timbuk2 was founded in the heart of San Francisco by a bike messenger named Rob Honeycutt. They’ve done a good job staying true to quality craftsmanship and their bicycling roots. The Prospect doesn’t disappoint in these regards.
I must admit when the latest (and highly customizable) Timbuk2 Prospect Laptop Backpack landed on my desk I was a little underwhelmed. As you can see in the picture it’s all black, and besides having a roll-top enclosure it looked pretty similar to the last Timbuk2 model I used, the Swig Laptop Backpack. However, as I put it to work I soon realized they’d made some changes, most of which were improvements.
Who It Suits
It’s an ideal pack for your bicycle commute, a less sweaty commute on the train, or a day hike out on the trail. With its waterproof design even bikers in Portland will be confident riding all winter long. The Prospect is obviously made to withstand nature’s wrath and anything else that might get in its way.
Who It Doesn’t
If you’re not planning on being exposed to the elements any time soon you can probably find a lighter or more fashionable bag elsewhere. Also, if you find yourself carrying boxy items on a regular basis you should probably look for a larger volume pack.
The first thing I noticed design-wise in comparison to the Swig was the more rigid structure of the fabric. Where the Swig always felt a bit overly-pliable, the Prospect has a resistant shape. This is a byproduct of using a waterproof TPU liner on the inside of the fabric, making it weatherproof and easy to clean in case you spill some wine on your way to that romantic picnic in the park. The outside of the pack has that tough Timbuk2 feel that inspires confidence in their lifetime warranty offer.
The second thing was the roll-top enclosure. Throw-back roll-tops have become all the rage for their style and function. They’re more waterproof and offer a level of volume expansion that can be handy in a pinch.
“The outside of the pack has that tough Timbuk2 feel that inspires confidence in their lifetime warranty offer.“
Timbuk2’s version on the Prospect is clever and well thought out. There is a firm plastic card on the inside of the Velcro lip that provides a natural start when rolling it closed. It leads to naturally rolling the top down in a single smooth motion. Most roll-top bags have a floppy lip and take four to six rolls to close; the Prospect takes only two.
It has two straps to hold the roll-top in place, but if you’re carrying a bit extra and need the space, the straps can be stored in the front flap and the roll-top will stay closed with just the Velcro on the lip.
Internally they’ve put a tricot lined (soft) laptop pocket and a sleeve in front of that for your tablet. Those two pockets are against your back where there’s a zip access to the laptop without undoing the roll-top. Internally, opposite the tablet sleeve, there are organizer pockets for pens and personals.
On the front of the pack there is a pocket with a Velcro flap. That pocket easily held my laptop charger, sunglasses case, spray deodorant, and a set of swimming goggles.
“…if you’re carrying a bit extra and need the space, the straps can be stored in the front flap and the roll-top will stay closed with just the Velcro on the lip.“
The bag I used also has a small mesh water bottle pocket at the bottom of either side. I found out after that it’s one of the customizable features.
That brings us to the real strength of this bag, customization. Many manufacturers try to do the custom order option but not many do it as well or as extensively as Timbuk2. This bag is customizable down to the color of the logo. Custom colors can be chosen for the top, the flap, the body, the boot, the sides, the binding, and the logo. And finally you can choose whether or not to have mesh water bottle pockets on the outside.
“Many manufacturers try to do the custom order option but not many do it as well or as extensively as Timbuk2.“
Currently, there are literally 11,353,937,920 variants. You read that correctly, there are more Timbuk2 color/style combinations than there are people in the world. With that many combinations you’re bound to find one you love, the challenge is narrowing down what you’d like.
The Not So Good
The main thing was that it didn’t hold as much as I wanted it to. It has a thin profile and doesn’t accommodate bulkier items quite as well as my older Swig did. It’s a trade-off I wasn’t impressed with when I needed to get a small box home from work on the bicycle and it wouldn’t fit in the bag. I ended up strapping the box to the outside which was less than ideal.
“It has a thin profile and doesn’t accommodate bulkier items quite as well as my older Swig did.“
If you often need to carry bulky tupperware containers or shoe boxes or anything boxy in nature you may want to look elsewhere.
Others To Consider
Check out the customizable Barrage pack by Chrome. I haven’t seen one of these first hand but they look pretty cool and come with 200,000 color combinations, not too shabby.
If you like to customize your bag’s looks then look no further. If you want a rock solid waterproof commuting backpack for your bicycle or wet walk to work then worry about your laptop no longer. If you want a bag that is on the bleeding edge of innovation and style then best keep surfing the site. 😉