Timbuktu’s Messenger Bag for your Camera

The classic Timbuk2 messenger bag. I’ve got one, it’s in Rasta colors because, dude, I rode a bike everywhere and I live on the West Coast, man. It used to be all I needed to carry around with me (before I went mainstream with actual income and a car and a phone with a data plan) was my driver’s license, a pair of Chuck T’s, and some beer money. (If you think I’m making this up, you didn’t live in Seattle in the 90s. What? I’m old.)

I loved that bag, though I stopped carrying it when I needed to drag around a camera with a big-ass lens and a laptop everywhere I went. The husband kind of took it over and would use it when we went rollerblading down at the beach, tossing in a water bottle and the car keys and, so we could call 911 if I broke an elbow, that same phone with the data plan.The bag. The bag. It’s been redesigned as the Snoop Camera Messenger. that’s where I was going. It works great for all that stuff your modern life makes you carry around and it doesn’t look life you’ve cashed in all your urban cred for a lawnmower. Though I totally have, even if our mower came from Craig’s List. The bag. I was talking about the bag.

To keep your photo gear safe, there’s a padded velcro insert like any classic camera bucket. You can move the dividers around to organize your kit the way you like it. I had no problem stowing the camera with the 28-300 telephoto, the compact video camera, a pocket camera, a removable flash, and the netbook. There was still space for things like my phone, the Moleskine notebook, business cards… you get the drill. And that was all in the smallest size of the Snoop. So, yes, it does hold all your gear. All of it.

There’s a shoulder strap with an adjustable pad, plus, a waist belt to add on if you’re really going to cycle with this thing — that helps keep the bag in place when it’s fully loaded. There’s a clear pocket in the front, maybe for your transit pass or your press pass. There’s a “photoggy” thing I’d not even considered before: silencer tabs on the Velcro that keep the noise down when you’re opening the bag to switch lenses (or whatever).

I had to fuss with the strap and the shoulder pad to get it to fit right but that’s easy enough to do. I really liked the quick release buckle that adjusts the strap length, and once I had everything set, carrying all that gear around got a lot easier. It’s all secure, it doesn’t slop around in the bag, and it doesn’t look like a camera bag at all. Nope, it looks like a messenger bag from my bad-ass days of riding a bike everywhere.

Any downsides? I wanted a handle on the top so I could move the bag around when it’s not on my shoulder. The front pockets seems like they’ll hold a bunch of stuff, but that’s only true if it’s all fairly flat. An interior pocket for your valuables and a D-ring or clip for your keys would be a nice addition. Other than that, no complaints. It’s good looking, holds a lot of electronica securely, and it’s totally messenger chic. I like that.

Get your own from Timbuk2.

5 best lightweight travel bags for under $40

When it comes to traveling with a lightweight bag, not all bags are created equal. Canvas totes that many people use for grocery shopping are often too bulky to pack as a spare travel bag, and many don’t have zippers to keep your valuables secure.

Consider packing one of these lightweight bags on your next trip — each bag costs much less than LeSportsac’s $98 classic Travel Tote, and all of these nylon bags are compact enough to fold up until you need them. Let the souvenir shopping begin.

The Reisenthel Mini Maxi Carryall ($15.95, www.reuseit.com) is the most stylish — and affordable — of the bunch. To close the bag, use the zipper or the drawstring. Best of all, the bag folds flat into a zippered pouch for tidy storage.

Timbuk2‘s Hidden Messenger ($30, www.timbuk2.com) is much lighter than the company’s signature ballistic-nylon messenger bags. This version, which launched in July, is mostly made with materials from recycled plastic bottles. Stylish, rugged, and good for the environment — imagine that.

Sea to Summit’s Ultra-Sil Sling Bag ($29.95, www.seatosummit.com) debuted this month. The bag (also with a zippered top) has a strap that’s long enough to wear diagonally across your body like a messenger bag. When not in use, the bag balls up into its own pouch and can be attached to a key chain or tossed in your suitcase to help corral those last-minute purchases.

The RuMe ALL ($26.96, www.rumebags.com) has simple yet thoughtful touches — a zip-top closure, outer pockets for a water bottle or an umbrella, and an exterior zippered pocket for stashing a cell phone or subway card. Whether you’re putting your bag on the conveyor belt to go through airport security or you’re sliding the bag under an airplane seat, the zipper helps ensure that your stuff doesn’t go flying.

The North Face‘s Flyweight Map Bag ($39, www.thenorthface.com), which can also fold up into its own pocket, has an adjustable shoulder strap and its coated nylon fabric can withstand light rain. Perfect for sightseeing, the bag will be available until February, when it will be replaced by the new Flyweight Shoulder Bag ($25).


5 days 5 bags – day 1: Timbuk2 Patrol ballistic fabric

For the next 5 days, I’ll be reviewing one piece of luggage a day. Today’s bag is the Timbuk2 Patrol ballistic fabric.

The Patrol is a nifty multifunctional bag which can be converted from a regular bag to a backpack in about 20 seconds. The bag features 2 main compartments – one for your clothes and other items, and one internal padded compartment for your laptop. The design is quite brilliant as the laptop portion “hangs” in the main compartment, which means it can be protected not only by its own padding, but also by whatever clothes you pack in the bag.

On the outside of the bag are 4 compression straps, which make it ideal for “overstuffing”, a packing method that has often saved me.

The Timbuk2 Patrol has pockets everywhere – 2 storage pouches on the outside, 2 waterproof zones on the
inside, a separate folding pouch in the main compartment and a very well hidden compartment on the back.

The shoulder straps can be unclipped, and packed in a pocket in the back portion, keeping them out of the way. This also makes it easier if you need to check the bag (ugh) or when you want to carry it using the top or side handles.

The back of the bag has thick foam pads to keep you comfortable. Each foam pad also has air circulation channels.

All in all a real travelers best friend – all the components feel sturdy, zippers are the highly rated YKK brand and the ballistic fabric feels like it could stop a bullet.

The price is a little steep, but very much in line with other premium luggage products. The version I tested here is the “brown/flame” version, which stands out a little, but it really does make for a cool looking color combination.

Dimensions (W*H*D): 14.5*19*8
Weight: 4.1lb
Colors available: Black, dark brown/flame, spinach/army
Warranty: Lifetime, no hassle
Price: $225
Product page: Timbuk2.com

Daily deal – up to 65% off Timbuk2 bags

My daily deal for today is another fantastic bag sale. Timbuk2 makes some pretty stylish messenger and laptop bags, and they are currently holding a clearance event for some of their popular items.

In the sale, you’ll find products like their classic messenger for $48.75 (was $75), or this smartphone case for just $10 (was $20).

Shipping is pretty steep at $9.95 (on orders $25-$199) so try and add as much as you can to a single order. Timbuk2 charges sales tax in CA.

Before you hit “purchase”, compare the Timbuk2.com prices with the prices on Amazon.com; some of these bags are also on sale at Amazon, and I actually found several of them for about $20 less than on the Timbuk2 site. As always, it pays to research before you buy! No matter where you buy the bags, you’ll soon become the new owner of a very highly rated bag, which should last for years.