I can’t make your travel bag decisions for you, but when I’m looking for one that combines style, functionality, and city-commuting appeal, I’m all in!
Over the summer, I had the pleasure of trying out Timbuk2’s Jet Set Convertible Travel Backpack while I worked as a Production Assistant for the Stern Grove Music Festival in San Francisco. Full Disclosure: Timbuk2 provided the bag for my review gratis.
While the bag is currently sold out online–– further proof that the demand for great all-in-one bags is still alive and well–– I hear there’s already an effort underway to release another Timbuk2 x Phoebe Dahl collaboration. Dahl is the granddaughter of iconic British author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, Matilda) and American actress Patricia Neal (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
I wanted to make sure I put the bag through real-life scenarios so I could give an honest review. After all, how can you really know how a bag works out if you don’t put it through daily wear and tear so you know it’s worth your money? So for two months, it was shoved into a cabinet with 30 other backpacks, walked throughout the Bay Area without the ease of a car, and traveled to and from San Francisco to Detroit underneath the shrinking legroom and undercarriage of domestic airline seats.
What I loved
Versatility: Timbuk2 says the bag can be worn eight different ways–– as a backpack, tote, purse, shoulder bag–– with two detachable pouches that can be worn crossbody style or around your waist as a stylish fanny pack.
Style: I loved the luxurious leather and metal hardware of the bag. The seatbelt-style straps were also perfect for city adventures and traveling. The bright blue color is very eye-catching and bright but I can see how the olive/tan (leather) and black (leather/nylon) would be great neutral-colored options as well.
Space: With all the things I was able to fit into this bag–– giant 40 oz. Hydro Flask water bottle, eco-friendly bug spray that didn’t smell like gasoline, band-aids, sunscreen, wallet, makeup, lotion, handkerchiefs for all the physical labor, hat, extra clothes and jacket, sunglasses, phone, chargers, protein bars, Shinola planner, employee badge and concert maps–– it can also fit up to a 13″ laptop with an internal padded pocket.
Comfort: I was pleasantly surprised to find the bag didn’t weigh down on my lower back when I used it as a backpack.
What Could Have Been Better
Closure Snaps: The two snap-closure buttons were often tough to secure when the bag was full, and I had a hard time keeping the bag closed. I don’t think the next version of the bag should make it lock up like Fort Knox but unless you use the snap closures AND the front belt loops to keep your stuff inside and out of view, you’ll likely find it difficult to control.
Options: I would also like to see more versions of the bag with the leather/nylon combination. While I love the beauty of all-leather, I understand the needs of people in the city who want the bag to be a little lighter and more affordable (the leather/nylon combination is $50 less).
Interior Compartments: I love extra storage space for things you’d like more secure and out of sight. This bag didn’t come with a zipper compartment where I like to keep my keys and wallet for easier access, and I did end up using two of my own makeup bags to keep things from getting lost and/or buried in the main part of the bag. A nylon zip closure bag would be a nice addition for smaller accessories.
Water Bottle Holder: While I loved having a detachable leather pocket for my passport when I travel, I couldn’t help but miss Timbuk2’s popular mesh sleeve for water bottles the company usually includes with its backpacks. Perhaps an interior mesh pocket could work if Dahl is not a fan of having water bottles displayed on the outside.
Own this bag? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!