capsule review

Timbuk2 Freestyle Netbook Messenger

At a Glance
  • Timbuk2 Freestyle Netbook Messenger

    Macworld Rating

    Timbuk2's venerable build quality and smart design are present in this scaled-down version of the company's classic messenger.

If you live in an urban area, unless you’ve never stepped outside your house you've surely seen a Timbuk2 messenger bag. The Freestyle Netbook Messenger is essentially that venerable messenger, but put through a couple dryer cycles to shrink it down for iPad and netbook dimensions.

I could leave the review at that, but there actually is plenty to say about this bag. Even though it’s a “netbook messenger,” an iPad doesn’t feel like it’s swimming in the built-in padded sleeve. A flap with a Velcro-strap closure keeps your iPad securely in the sleeve, the bag's main flap secures with Velcro and—if desired—buckles, and the bag has a waterproof liner for ambitious commuters.

The rest of the interior compartment offers room for magazines, a book or two, and a bike lock. An array of accessory pockets on the inside holds pens, small gadgets, and credit cards. A couple of small pockets on the outside offer convenient storage for small items and provides a red key tether that’s long enough that you don’t have to actually unclip your keys. And the Timbuk2 logo strap at the bottom front of the bag also serves as a handy place to clip a bike helmet.

The bag's shoulder strap features Timbuk2’s adjustable clip system, as well as the company's standard, removable shoulder pad. This pad is one of my few complaints about the bag, however. The pad is quite thick, and depending on how I positioned my bag when walking or riding a bike, at times it felt as if it was cramping my shoulder and neck area. I’d like to see Timbuk2 slim down the shoulder pad in future versions, especially since the bag's small size means you're unlikely to carry enough weight to make such thick padding necessary.

As is my experience with other Timbuk2 gear, the Freestyle Netbook Messenger offers solid construction and good design (save for the shoulder pad), and the waterproof liner will especially appeal to anyone whose commute might get them caught out in the elements. And unlike some older Timbuk2 bags I've used, which featured large, ambiguous-purpose internal pockets, the Freestyle's various internal pockets offer a useful variety of storage options. I’m impressed with this Timbuk2 messenger bag, especially at its great middle-ground price of $65.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Timbuk2's venerable build quality and smart design are present in this scaled-down version of the company's classic messenger.

    Pros

    • Quality construction and good design
    • Ample accessory pockets
    • Waterproof lining protects from the elements

    Cons

    • Strap pad is thick, clunky
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