I’ve had a Timbuk2 TSA-friendly messenger bag for a couple years and kept my eyes open for an updated version because I like what they’d done to it. After sniping a deal on one and taking it on a few trips, I can say that it’s lived up to expectations. I’ve gotten a number of compliments on it, I’ve actually demoed the thing, and at least one colleague has bought one. Here’s the lowdown.
This is the Timbuk2 TSA-Command Messenger bag. The black one is the older version and the gray bag is the new one.
The first thing you’ll probably note is the material is a lot nicer. I forget if there were other options when I bought the black bag, but the new version’s fabric feels and looks a lot better than the utilitarian black nylon. The next thing you’ll notice is the closure straps. The black bag had them slung underneath and the hooks always dangled when undone. That was a pain to reach on a plane or in a rush. They newer setup has similar hooks but they hang from the bag’s flap and are always in position. There’s also a Velcro option if you’d rather us that for closure.
The old strap setup made grabbing your charger difficult as well. It was at the very bottom of the bag and those straps were always in the way of the zipper. The gray bag has the pouch on the side. Your charger is a quick zip away at all times. I put my laptop charger there plus a plug-in charger for USB-powered devices and an Apple Lightning cable. Very tidy and big enough to get the job done. This shot above shows the strap hooks and that gray strip peels back to reveal the Velcro closure option.
Both bags have what Timbuk2 calls a Napoleon Pocket and it’s freakin’ brilliant. when you’re hustling through airport security, you always need your phone and ID handy then instantly have to stow them to run the bag through the scanner. The Napoleon Pocket has you covered. It’s a zipper pouch at the end of the closure flap. A smartphone, ID, passport, office badge, etc. slip in there quickly and securely without opening the rest of the bag. I use this thing every time I go through an airport. Beneath there on the main bag body is a pouch for stowing a water bottle or sunglasses.
Timbuk2 actually went one step further. There is another Napoleon Pocket on the bag’s body. It fits a full-sized iPad or a book with ease!
The main pouch has plenty of pockets for pens and other things. Here I have a pen case on the left and very far to the left there’s a Bluetooth speaker. There’s a zippered pouch to the back and a Velcro one towards the front. Plus, that open area is convenient to slip some earbuds into. I’ve got a few books in here but it’ll fit a hat, hoodie, lightweight sweater, or the like for a flight.
Most of the time, I use the back pouch for my laptop and iPad. The medium messenger bag fits my 13″ MacBook Air with ease and should fit a 15″. The divider makes it easy to slip each device in and out.
Lastly, that pouch which holds the laptop and tablet has a zipper which lets it unfold for scanning in airport security. It takes only a few seconds to open up then you can just pick it up by the handle on the other side. Note the strip which works great for roll-a-board suitcases. There’s a hidden patch of Velcro to keep it from flopping loose. There are some clips there for a strap which helps when bike commuting if you do that.
There you have it. The Command Messenger Bag is a terrific product if you commute or travel for a living. It seems extremely durable and looks sharp with anything from jeans to a suit. It’s also perfect if you need to have a spot for everything.