The Timbuk2 T-Pack is a great option for an iPad bag. It’s versatile enough to be both a bag and a case/sleeve, allowing you to buy just one accessory to travel with. I used it as my only case for several weeks and look forward to coming back to it in the future.
Two things came to mind upon receiving the Timbuk2 T-Pack:
- this could be really good
- I’m not sure about the foam/neoprene material
I was right about the first, and I’ve mellowed on the second – I’m still not a fan of the neoprene but I’ve generally been won over by its excellent utility.
The T-Pack is an extremely flexible bag. It can be used as a shoulder bag or as a sleeve inside another bag. It is not designed specifically for the iPad, but is sized beautifully for it and can carry a few extras for you as well.
The T-Pack can function as a standalone shoulder bag or as a protective sleeve to be placed in a backpack or messenger bag. There is a main compartment that holds the iPad, and can also fit a few other small items. A few things I have put in there with my iPad include a knit hat and gloves, a cable accessory bag and a couple of granola bars. I put the iPad in facing the back of the bag with the screen towards my body, and put the other items on the outer side against the back of the iPad. No concerns about scratching the screen, etc.
On the bottom half of the bag is a smaller compartment. This is extremely handy. I’ve used this to carry my iPod touch, a pair of sunglasses, a cleaning cloth and even my Canon G10 (which is not a particularly small camera). Being able to pack these things separately from the iPad is very convenient.
The strap configuration for the T-Pack is quite clever. There are connector straps at all four corners of the bag, allowing you to set this up as a sling bag (configured for either shoulder) or as a more traditional shoulder strap bag. I mainly used the bag in a sling configuration, which was comfortable and held it pretty close to my body.
The zipper pulls have nice extended tabs on them, making it easy to find them when you’re reaching around your body.
Design & Fit
The look of the bag is a little odd. The ballistic nylon zipper compartments are attached to the foam/neoprene body of the bag in such a way that they don’t completely feel like they belong. There’s something off about the balance of these elements to me.
The main complaint I have about the T-Pack is that the zippers for the main compartment and smaller pocket go in opposite directions. It may sound like a minor issue, but it was a constant annoyance to me. I often went into both areas when packing up, unpacking, etc. and it always felt wrong that the zippers went in opposite ways.
Also, the way I configured the shoulder strap so that it was a sling bag over my right shoulder meant that the smaller pocket was open and facing downward when I unzipped it. I was a little concerned about things falling out. I could have reversed the bag to go over my left shoulder instead, but my configuration was more appropriate for someone who is right-handed.
A touch that I really like is a small handle at the top of the bag along the bag. This is very handy for grabbing the bag when getting in and our of the car, picking up the bag from the floor, etc. It means you don’t have to grab the bag by the strap (which will typically swing it around a bit, possibly bumping your iPad into things) or by grabbing the case itself (where you would put pressure on the iPad screen). It’s a minor thing, but a nice touch nonetheless.
The T-Pack is a netbook case, it’s not designed for the iPad. That said, it fits the iPad quite nicely. It’s not too snug or too loose. The fit is very functional.
Material & Protection
The ballistic nylon parts of the bag and strap will feel familiar to anyone who has owned a Timbuk2 bag in the past. The neoprene area will be a new experience. The neoprene is definitely a higher grade that what you may be accustomed to with cheap neoprene sleeves. It is also tailored with piping along the seams.
I’m not a fan of the neoprene, but it does provide a decent amount of padding for the iPad. I felt comfortable that my iPad was protected, and never really thought twice about it. The interior area is lined with a light gray soft mesh that did not leave marks on the iPad screen or body.
I’ve had a half-dozen Timbuk2 products and never seen a stitch out of place – the T-Pack is no exception. The workmanship is excellent here. My main complaint about Timbuk2 bags is that they never wear out so I don’t have an excuse to get new ones.
Order Process & Delivery
I ordered direct from Timbuk2′s website – the process was smooth. Local retailers that carry Timbuk2 products may also have this bag if you want to try it out. REI calls it the Small Fry for those of you that need to spend your dividend.
The bag was received in good condition, in a timely manner. The packaging was fairly standard – wrapped in plastic with a few tags.
For $30, this bag is a tremendous deal compared to the prices for similar competing models. Timbuk2 is famous for quality, so there is certainly no trade-off there.
Though I haven’t had a chance to get too many reviews up yet, I’ve been evaluating a number of iPad bags and cases and the T-Pack is one of my favorites. It’s extremely inexpensive for everything it offers, and is versatile enough to be the only bag/case you need. Highly recommended.