Timbuk2 offers a small mountain of custom options with its Custom Laptop Messenger bag, including a wide array of fabric, vinyl and leather choices. Reviewers say building your bag is a lot of fun, although you have to be careful, since it cannot be returned unless it's defective. They find the bag roomy, with lots of pockets and an included laptop sleeve. If you want a fairly standard fabric combination, consider the identical (and less expensive) Classic Messenger instead.
Reviewers like the durable fabric options of the Custom Laptop Messenger bag, its waterproof lining and its metal buckles and fittings. The only reviewer to experience a problem said that it appeared the bag's buckles had been broken by getting caught under the conveyor at her local airport.
The Custom Laptop Messenger bag includes a quick-adjust for the strap that's intended to make it easier to get off once you have it on. One reviewer notes that this actually makes it harder to adjust the strap once it's on your body. That aside, reviews are generally unanimous about the bag's comfortable ride.
There are a ton of choices for what materials you want to include in your Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger bag, and as a result there are hundreds of different looks, all tailored to your tastes. Some users and reviewers feel that all options are not equally attractive (and none can be returned unless defective), so choose carefully.
Most high-end bag manufacturers will attempt to make things right if you receive your bag and don't like the look, but custom bags are another matter entirely. Timbuk2 has a limited lifetime warranty in case of defects, and users say there rarely are any. But the manufacturer will not take returns of bags that you design and then decide are unattractive or not the right size.
The custom version of the Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag is more expensive for three reasons: the company is building it as a one-off; the company builds them in San Francisco instead of Asia, like its premade bags; and you're likely to tack on a bunch of extras that drive up the price. Still, for a custom bag, this is in an acceptable price range, and build quality is high.
Reviewers love the build process for this bag, and in general report a very good experience with the outcome. Prices are higher than for similar premade bags, but you're very unlikely to run into someone carrying the same bag design you are. The messenger bag's thoughtful details, high-quality construction and roomy pockets win fans.
The-Gadgeteer.com's reviewer compares the custom version of Timbuk2's Laptop Messenger Bag with previous versions of the bag she has carried for years. She likes the 21 pockets, sturdy construction and thoughtful design. The included laptop sleeve could be a little thicker, she says, and the vinyl she chose is shiny, possibly scuffing over time.
Review: Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag Review, "Julie", June 29, 2010
Buzzillions.com provides customer comments for consumer sites in exchange for the right to aggregate those comments -- and in this case, that results in a stunning 4,000-plus reviews for the Timbuk2 Custom Messenger Bag. The overall average is 4.5 out of 5 stars, with users generally raving about their bags' construction and design. Those that rank the bag down do not like the bag for some reason (usually the material or size is different than they expect) and are unable to return it because it is custom-made and did not have a defect.
Review: Timbuk2 Custom Messenger Bag, Contributors to Buzzillions.com
In this undated review, About.com mobile office technology guide Melanie Pinola collects what she considers to be the seven best laptop messenger bags, including the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag, which she praises for the variety of fabrics available, the multiple sizes, the foam laptop enclosure and the organization pockets. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: 7 Best Laptop Messenger Bags, Melanie Pinola
The more than 4,000 reviews gathered here are for both the custom Timbuk2 Messenger Bag and the classic version, since the construction is the same. Users award an overall average of 4.6 out of 5 stars, with more than 2,500 people giving a perfect score. About 97 percent of respondents say they'd recommend the bag to a friend. As with other user reviews, those that rank the bag down typically had a complaint (size or fabric not what they expected) and couldn't return custom bags.
Review: Timbuk2 Classic Messenger, Contributors to Timbuk2.com
Marziah Karch's GeekMom column for Wired reviews the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger. She likes the waterproof lining, quick-adjust strap and tough nylon, and recommends the shoulder strap pad and a wallet-sized shagg bag that can be attached to the shoulder strap to store your cell phone and other small items.
Review: Review of Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger, Marziah Karch, March 8, 2012
The reviewer at EnthusiastPhotographer.com enjoys the customization process for the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger bag, including choosing fabric and options, though he finds the price adds up fast with extras. The bag's construction is beefy, the pockets well thought out and the hardware easy to use. The review suggests that the optional strap pad should be included.
Review: Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Review -- Part 2, Editor of EnthusiastPhotographer.com, Jan. 2, 2012
Jeff Guerrero likes the ordering process for the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag, the large number of pockets and well-balanced load. He thinks the optional strap pad is pretty much a requirement, and says the laptop sleeve is probably not beefy enough to truly protect your electronics in a dropped bag.
Review: Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag -- Part 1, Jeff Guerrero, June 27, 2011
In this short review of the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag, PracticalHacks.com praises the placement of pockets, the hardware including the quick-adjust for the strap and the selection of material for the custom bags.
Review: Quick Photo Tour: Timbuk2 Custom Small Classic Messenger Bag, "Kevin", May 10, 2011
The cofounder of Carryology.com compares the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag with the Timbuk2 Custom Swig Backpack, identifying pros and cons for each. The messenger bag wins for look and feel, ties for space, loses to the backpack for laptop sleeve access, wins for laptop transport and accessibility of other stuff, and loses for comfort on the go and price/value. Overall, the review finds that the messenger bag wins, earning 4.5 stars to 3.5.
Review: Head to Head: Backpack vs. Messenger, "Ando", Dec. 19, 2011
DirtRagMag.com is a mountain-biking enthusiast site and evaluates messenger bags from that angle. In this undated review, editors praise the Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag's metal hardware, plethora of internal pockets, solid construction, wipe-clean waterproof lining and comfortable strap. Despite the lining it is not waterproof, and items got damp in the rain, the review notes. This review is for the premade version of the bag rather than the custom.
Review: Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag Review, Editors of DirtRagMag.com