Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 Review

Updated February 28, 2014
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Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1
Bottom Line

The Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 has just about everything you could ask for in a laptop messenger bag. It's sturdy yet lightweight, with good protection for a laptop. The interior is well organized, with lots of little touches like discreet magnetic closures that users love. As for the styling, it's almost infinitely customizable, with over 70 fabric and color choices. Its only downside is that it's not the most comfortable case for bicycling.

Durability

Light yet sturdy. The Commuter 2.1 is made mainly of Cordura nylon, with a waterproof vinyl interior and a waterproof rubber boot on the bottom. It offers good protection for the laptop in a padded removable sleeve with a Velcro closure. Reviewers are consistently impressed with the quality of the Commuter's construction. Charlie Sorrel at CultOfMac.com predicts confidently that the bag will wear well, saying he's been carrying a Zero messenger bag from the same company for years and it's "pretty much as good as new." He also notes that there aren't many zippers and other moving parts that can break, and the few it does have are sturdy.

ProsDurable, Good laptop protection, Good interior organization, Magnetic closures, Customizable designConsUncomfortable for biking

Comfort

Better for walking than biking. Most reviewers, including owners who review the case on the manufacturer's website, describe the Commuter 2.1 as comfortable to carry. Sorrel speaks approvingly of the bag's light weight, saying that this is one of the few "pockety" bags that isn't too heavy when empty. Both Michael Zhao of TheWirecutter.com and Julie Strietelmeier of The-Gadgeteer.com say it's comfortable to carry a fully loaded bag messenger-style (with the strap worn across the body) and the padded strap is easy to adjust. The only detractor is Max Neale at OutdoorGearLab.com, who finds the Commuter 2.0 (a nearly identical predecessor to the 2.1) uncomfortable for biking.

Appearance

Infinite variations. The Commuter 2.1 comes in a huge variety of color and fabric choices. The main body of the bag is always black, but you can select your own colors for the outer flap, the binding and even the Rickshaw logo. Zhao says approvingly that the bag's "clean lines and customizable appearance make it clear that the wearer cares about style." He also says the "briefcase-in-disguise form factor" is versatile, suitable for both professionals and students. His only concern is that the messenger style might not be quite formal enough for "a more serious work place."

Features

Little touches make a big difference. What reviewers love most about the Commuter 2.1 is its wealth of details. Sorrel describes it as "incredibly well thought out": it has two front pockets with a soft lining ("perfect for storing glasses" according to Zhao at TheWirecutter.com), a key fob, an internal slash pocket that can hold a tablet computer, and a rear organizer pocket with slots for pens and other accessories. One touch that every reviewer mentions is the discreet magnetic strip closures, which can be used as a quieter alternative to the bag's standard Velcro closures.

Value

Unbeatable warranty. Most high-end laptop cases come with a lifetime warranty, but Rickshaw Bagworks has the best one we've seen. While most warranties specifically cover only manufacturing defects (as opposed to normal wear and tear), Rickshaw Bagworks has a policy of "no reasonable request denied." Consumers who are dissatisfied for any reason, at any time, can return the bag to the company for repair or replacement. In addition, there's a separate 30-day money-back guarantee, with no questions asked. Those two promises, combined with the case's exceptional durability, make its $180 price tag seem a lot more reasonable.

Our Sources

1. CultOfMac.com

Rickshaw Commuter 2.1 Bag Is as Well Designed as Apple Gear You'll Put Inside, Charlie Sorrel, Jan. 3, 2014

This review of the Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 is fairly concise, briefly summing up features, pros and cons. Reviewer Charlie Sorrel says its advantages include light, durable construction and customizable design, and that the Commuter 2.1 is "incredibly well thought out." In conclusion, he "literally can't find anything wrong with this bag."

2. TheWirecutter.com

Rickshaw Commuter 2.1, Michael Zhao, Updated Jan. 17, 2014

Michael Zhao, an assistant editor at TheWirecutter.com, personally tests the Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 and reports his impressions. Zhao says it's "among the few bags that manages to strike a balance" between style and functionality, though it may not be formal enough for "a more serious work place."

3. OutdoorGearLab.com

The Best Messenger Bag Review: Rickshaw Commuter 2.0 Review, Max Neale, Oct. 17, 2011

In this head-to-head matchup of eight messenger bags, the Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.0 (the predecessor to the 2.1) wins a Top Pick award. Editors say it offers good protection and storage options, and they like its features. However, they find it boxy-looking and uncomfortable for biking.

4. The-Gadgeteer.com

Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 Laptop Bag Review, Julie Strietelmeier, Jan. 27, 2014

Strietelmeier takes an in-depth, hands-on look at the Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1, including lots of pictures to show its various features. She concludes that "If you're in the market for a laptop bag, you can't go wrong with this one," but she doesn't directly compare it to competitors.

5. RickshawBags.com

Commuter 2.1 Laptop Bag, Contributors to RickshawBags.com, Not Dated

We found over 450 user-written reviews for the Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter 2.1 at the manufacturer's website (the only place where you can buy it). Owners overwhelmingly describe the bag as attractive, comfortable, easy to use, spacious and lightweight. Only a few find it too heavy or too small.