The Timbuk2 Robin ($179) recently hit retail as part of the company’s new spring line. Like the Turdus migratorius (American Robin), it is a beacon of hope of warmer cycling days to come. It is also a reflective, weatherproof, roll-top-style commuter backpack with a magnetic closure and a flock of enchanting features designed specifically with the cyclist in mind.
Sturdy construction and materials. Those materials would be 600D PVC coated fabric coupled with 940D Cordura nylon. You could crash on your bike and skid down the pavement on your back for 100 feet and not even come close to compromising the pack’s integrity.
Outstanding reflectivity. As an avid bike commuter, this is what I like to see—because a lot of times, drivers don’t see us. On the back is a wide reflective mesh panel at the lower third of the pack and a prominently-placed logo on the top flap. The result is really terrific when hit by the lights of passing vehicles.
The side pockets have reflective striping and the shoulder straps have a long and wide swath of the same reflective mesh, as well another prominently-placed reflective Timbuk2 logo. And if you have further doubt or faith in a driver’s ability to see you in the dark morning or evening hours, there are two vista loops to which you can attach blinkie lights as well.
You’re even covered in reflectivity in inclement weather in low light conditions thanks to a detachable, stashable rain fly that has even more reflective elements.
Dual-stretch side pockets. They’re not huge but they hold my Abus bike lock and Camelbak Podium Chill squeeze bottle with the grip of life. They also have grommeted drain holes although for the life of me, I can’t imagine their purpose. To let rainwater drain through if you choose not to use the integrated rain fly when riding in the rain?
Narrow, streamlined silhouette. I’m on the smaller side so the Timbuk2 Robin is a comfortable, stable, well-positioned pack for my frame and does a great job with load distribution.
Ventilated back panel. It’s called “Airmesh” and it is comprised of two three-inch wide strips of heavy, closed-cell foam covered in breathable mesh that runs vertically down both sides of the spine. It conformed nicely to my back and it was quite comfortable, even with a laptop inside.
As for how well it mitigates back sweat, I can’t say just yet. I tested this pack in January and I live in Minneapolis. Not exactly the best time and place to test a back panel’s breathability. But it does have all the signs that it will be a comfortable pack in warmer weather too.
Suspended laptop compartment. Why do I like this? Because I have dropped packs before and this feature helps protect my laptop in falls. The suspended laptop compartment ensures that your precious computer doesn’t end up a shattered mess if the bag hits the pavement.
Storage is just right. There are packs that have pockets in the double-digit numbers. I don’t think they’re necessary. All they do is encourage me to fill them, which only increases the weight on my back. A pocket for an iPad, you say? Hang on while it grab one! Pen and pencil holders? Don’t use them but they’re there for a reason! Instead, the Timbuk2 Robin offers a large internal compartment (with a separate padded, Velcro-flap-secured laptop compartment) and two smaller exterior pockets—one of which is secured with a magnetic closure and one of which is secured with a sturdy zipper. It doesn’t encourage you to fill the pack with everything from your home office. Just what you need for the day.
Heavy. An empty Robin weighs in at 2.8 pounds. This is not disc-bulging by any means. But when you add a laptop, clothes, shoes, phone, lunch, etc. the Robin can tip the scales in the double-digit range. Weight, sadly, is the collateral damage of sturdy construction and materials. It’s just a choice the cyclist has to make. Heavy pack = durable construction. Light pack = not so durable construction.
Velcro flap that secures the laptop compartment. Yes, I realize this makes the laptop extra secure but I also found that it’s an extra (cumbersome) step to get to my laptop. Especially because the Velcro is so thick and durable.
The Timbuk2 Robin is easily the most impressive pack I’ve seen from the company in a while. Its $179 price point certainly reflects the thought, design, and purpose that have gone into this bag. It is an outstanding pack for the commuter cyclist because it’s highly reflective while not overloaded with extra pockets and features that simply aren’t needed.
Plus, it’s Timuk2 so it comes with a lifetime warranty. This is a pack that will be with you for many years of bike commuting to come.