Timbuk2 cranks out bags to order from this San Francisco factory. "This is where the magic happens for all the custom bags," says Noel Kopp, the company's social media manager. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Michael Chan, who has worked at Timbuk2 since 2000, listens to Chinese radio as he precuts the fabric for custom bags using an Eastman Blue Streak II machine that works like a saw. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Timbuk2 CEO Patti Cazzato points out that manufacturing in a city like San Francisco is expensive due to higher real estate and labor costs, but it's part of the company's DNA. "We own our factory," she says. "We operate our factory. It's part of our corporate headquarters." Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
A large gong hangs in the front section of the Timbuk2 complex in San Francisco. It's used to signal the start of all-hands meetings, birthday parties and mealtimes catered by the company (every Tuesday is "make your own sandwich day." Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — Twenty-five years ago, a bike messenger sat in his garage and used an old-school Singer sewing machine to stitch his mark on the world.
That bike messenger was Rob Honeycutt, and the bags he made in 1989 were called Scumbags. They were designed for use by the city’s notorious two-wheeled delivery riders, whose fashion sense tended toward crude cutoffs, T-shirts and hoodies.
A year later, Honeycutt changed his operation’s name to Timbuk2, and the company’s been crafting an increasingly ambitious line of bags ever since, expanding far beyond the world of tattooed dudes on fixies.
“Timbuk2 wasn’t going to the office 25 years ago,” CEO Patti Cazzato told Cult of Mac during a recent tour of the company’s Mission district factory, where all of Timbuk2’s custom bags are made.
With a seriously rugged style, the Intrepid Journeyman messenger bag is nothing to be trifled with. The soft brown leather exterior enfolds the utterly solid yet flexible abilities of this cross-shoulder travel bag, which will become an asset in almost any travel situation.
Journeyman Messenger Bag by Intrepid Bag Co. Category: Messenger Bags Works With: Things you need to carry Price: $369
Unless, of course, you need to carry a whole lot of things with you. In that case, the minimalist design of the Journeyman may not perfectly suit. What it contains, however, it contains well, and it meets an even more important criterion: how it carries.
A cross-shoulder messenger bag must be able to sit high up on your back without crushing your chest or killing your shoulders. You should be able to carry the thing all day long without starting to feel that mid-shoulder ache that a poorly fitting shoulder bag tends to invite.
The Journeyman was designed with this sort of wrapping fit in mind.
You know how it is; as a brimming young tech-savvy hipster, you need to carry a lot of gear with you as you cycle from the coffee house to the park bench, writing your magnum opus and staying in touch with your iPad, Macbook Air, and iPhone.
The thing is, that gear usually comes with a ton of support gear, with all sorts of plugs, wires, battery packs, extra mice, point-and-shoot camera and the like. You’ll be awash with the detritus of your modern monadic life in no time without some sort of organizational system that you can strap to your back while on the go.
Kastel thinks it has the answer with a Kickstarter project to fund a new line of functional, good looking bags for your gear, soon to be available in three savvy material choices, including leather and blue and grey linen.
No one but actual, honest-to-God bicycle messengers had the authority to wield a Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you were an iron-assed hard case living life on a bike, you’d probably earned the right; though you might still have found yourself the target of diluted messenger disgust.
That was the pervading vibe 15 years ago when I bought my first Timbuk2 bag, a Bolo (back then, each size had a name; the Bolo was the large version). Make no mistake, these were Messenger Bags: simple, voluminous, virtually indestructible black holes, able to swallow an inordinate amount of awkwardly dimensioned deliverables, specially stabilized for use on the bike exclusively. The only grudging nods to civility were a couple of pockets sown onto the outside of the bag and an optional padded shoulder strap.
And apart from a few minor changes, it’s stayed that way. Like the coelacanth, the Classic Messenger has remained a living fossil, unchanged, while other Timbuk2 species have evolved and developed around it. Until now.
Curious (and completely unresearched) fact: Bike geeks are often photography nerds, too. And so it makes perfect sense that Chrome — the messenger bag company — should put out a camera bag. So if you have been looking for an overprotective, heavy camera backpack with a U-Lock holster, the Niko Camera Pack could be for you.
This is my favorite bag. I have many (too many) bags, but this is the best. I doesn’t have any fancy features. It has no padding, and there’s no way to lock it securely shut. But unless I have a special task requiring a special bag, it’s the one I always grab. I’m so used to it that every piece of junk I carry with me has its place inside.
And even after more than a year of solid use, it’s as good as new. The bag is the Zero Messenger from Rickshaw, and here’s why it’s so good:
I’ve had the pleasure of using the HEX 13-inch Recon Messenger Bag ($80) for the last couple of weeks. We at Cult of Mac love bags, and I was excited to try such a good-looking messenger bag for my MacBook.
The HEX Recon differs from many bags in its class by offering a pouch specifically designed for holding and offering quick access to an iPad. With it’s top-notch build quality and minimal design, the Recon bag is an attractive option for everyday use.
SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD / IWORLD 2012 — It’s one thing to have your favourite photos sitting on your iPhone or iPad, giving you the chance to show off your kids or places you’ve been with others quickly and easily. Snaptotes is taking that one step further — by letting you put them on the cases and bags that you keep your devices in.
Snaptotes has a small booth at Macworld/iWorld 2012, but they made an instant impression with me when I saw the photos of kids making up part of their display. I’m on the road and I miss my kids, so I decided to check out what they had to offer.