timbuk2 spire review feature

Timbuk2 Spire Review

TL;DR
The Spire is a great city bag is versatility is the name of your game, but it lacks the comfort and security features to give it heavy travel consideration.
Build Quality9
Layout9.2
Compartments7.5
Style7.5
Comfort5
Extra Features5.5
The Good
Roll-top is great for varied carrying capacities and rainy climates
Many attachment points for whatever you need to carry
Dual electronics pockets
The Bad
"Meh" carrying comfort
Tough to secure
7.3
Final Rating

Timbuk2 has is a well-known San Francisco-based manufacturer  since 1989. With build quality and functional design at the core of products, most of their bags are aimed at urbanites frequently on the go by foot or bicycle. The Spire may be the most “San Francisco” of any of their bags, as they claim the bag has been “designed exclusively for Apple”.

Now I’m not sure what exactly “designed exclusively for Apple” means as there’s nothing about that bag that is incompatible with all types of devices and no Apple logo or branding I can find, but it’s provocative marketing – get’s the people going. Regardless of the consumer devices you obsess over, I’ll show you around the Timbuk2 Spire to find out if it might be just what you’re looking for.

Timbuk2 Spire Specs

Capacity30 Liters
Exterior Pockets2 zipper, side waterbottle
Laptop CompartmentYes
HipbeltNo
Carry-On SizeYes
Weight2.4 lbs
Dimensions18.7 x 12.4 x 5.1 inches

Style

timbuk2 spire style

When I reviewed the Timbuk2 Jet, I skewered it pretty hard for looking like an oversized lunchbox (it just does), but the Spire on the other hand is certainly an improvement. This bag is pretty thin – just over 5 inches deep which helps it maintain a more streamlined, urban feel to it.

The various loops and straps that run all over the bag also help break things up into interesting patterns and give the bag some visual depth and textures that keep it far from boring. The roll top can be pretty functional (this bag is billed as being waterproof), but I think it also gives the bag a really cool, urban feel. Here’s a picture from the Timbuk2 website imaging a typical setup –

timbuk2 spire example

This bag is definitely aimed at those frequently traveling around city centers, especially if by bike, and I think the bag really nailed that look. The bag looks very non-intrusive and streamlined when worn which is great for a city bag.

timbuk2 spire worn review

Colors

spire colors

The Spire is currently available in 5 different styles/colors, though it seems some of these may be on their way out judging by their clearance prices. The black bag with red stitching, Merlot (dark red), and Surplus (greenish-blue) colors are all coated polyester, whereas the New Black is nylon, and the Grey is a less glossy coated polyester.

Carry and Comfort

The Spire is best suited for an on-the-go bag when traveling around the city as it’s not built the best for all-day comfort. The straps are minimally padded and offer a removable sternum strap.

timbuk2 spire straps

The backplate has some relatively thin padded mesh with some small channels to try to keep airflowing around your back on a hot day, but the mesh itself is so soft and thin that I wouldn’t expect too much out of it. The back of the bag itself it somewhat rigid which is nice and should keep your laptop safe while in the laptop compartment.

There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about the comfort of this bag other than it’s really just average at best.

Layout and Design

Now we’ve come to the strongest section for the Spire, and that’s the versatility that the bag affords you. Starting on the outside of the bag, there’s a ton of loops you can attach carabiners to to hold whatever you might need. One unique feature of this bag is the massive velcro strap that runs across the front. The thick strap has velcro on the outside that you can attach patches or anything else too, and then on the inside there’s also velcro lining that would be great for securing even heavy items. A U-Lock would certainly work well.

timbuk2 spire velcro

On the left side of the bag you have even more straps and loops to utilize and on the right side is a water bottle holder, a must-have for city bikers.

timbuk2 spire sides

The most visible external pocket of the Spire opens up to a pretty basic pocket. There’s a mesh liner that gives some separation within the pocket, but nothing else.

timbuk2 spire external pocket

On the right side of the Spire there’s a less obvious side pocket that unzips. This pocket runs the width of the backpack, so it’s actually quite large. A good place for anything you may need to access frequently (boarding documents, sunglasses, etc).

timbuk2 spire side pocket

Before we dive into the bag, lets take a look at that opening. The top flap has velcro running the length of it and two velcro strips run down the front of the bag for it to latch on to. This gives the bag a lot of versatility for however you want to securely close it depending on how stuffed or empty your bag is. Down the center of the front of the bag is a series of hoops that you can connect the bags hook to after rolling the top (if you wish).

The big is rated as being fully waterproof in the main compartment (in the event of rain, not submersion) which by all accounts works great.

timbuk2 spire opened

Main Compartment

Once you fully unroll this bag and get it open, you realize how deep it is! This bag is a deceptive 30L for sure.

On the backside of the main compartment, you have two electronics pockets which are both nicely lined to protect your valuables. The though process here is one compartment for your laptop and another for your tablet. I think anyone who needs to travel with both would really appreciate the separation these two pockets provide and should eliminate any worry of scratches. Devices are secured into these pockets by a large, velcro strap.

timbuk2 spire review inside

On the other side of the bag you have a zipper pocket which seems like the safest spot to keep your wallet and passport if you were traveling with this bag.

There’s one other zipper on this bag you may have noticed that I haven’t mention until now, and that’s the zipper on the back of the bag just below where the top of the straps attach. This zipper actually gives you direct access to the inside of the bag, directly above the electronics pockets.

I could see this design feature being both good or bad depending on your situation and view on security. The good is it makes getting out your laptop or tablet a lot easier than most roll-top bags. No need to shuffle stuff around or mess around with velcro and hooking, just one zipper and you can easily access most contents of your bag.

If security is a concern, then it does seem like this zipper does make things simply too easy to access the most valuable devices you’ll be carrying around. As always, it’s a convenience vs security decision you’ll have to make.

timbuk2 spire zipper access

The Verdict

The Spire is a fine bag for jetting around the city, and many of the features could make it your ideal bag – the rainproof roll top design, countless straps and loops to hook things on to, and multiple electronic compartments being the biggest selling points. It also looks right at home in the city from a design standpoint.

timbuk2 buckle

On the negative side of things, this bag doesn’t really offer much in terms of carry comfort or security features. No easy methods of securing zippers plus that back zipper than gives anyone instant access to the electronics makes this a bag I would leave at home when traveling, especially if I’m planning on doing a decent amount of walking/hiking or being in areas I’m unfamiliar with.

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