Timbuk2 Showdown Laptop Backpack Review
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The Timbuk2 Showdown Laptop Backpack offers many of the great features you expect in a Timbuk2 messenger bag, yet in the balanced-load bearing backpack format.
The Showdown Laptop Backpack is roughy 12 inches x 19 inches x 8 inches with a carrying capacity of 1,342 cubic inches (specifics listed below). The backpack can accommodate up to a 15″ MacBook Pro, with the laptop sleeve dimensions of 11.4 inches x 16.3 inches x 5.1 inches. Timbuk2.com provides a Laptop/Tablet fit guide that allows the user to select from pretty much any manufacturer of a laptop or tablet, and allows the user to select their specific model to help determine if the Showdown Laptop Backpack will work for them. That is pretty awesome in my book; meaning that you are guaranteed to get the right fit the first time.
The laptop sleeve features a padded tricot lining to keep your laptop/tablet protected. The sleeve is also 2 inches shorter than the length of the backpack, which means that if your backpack gets dropped, the bottom of your laptop is not making impact with the ground. The laptop sleeve features what Timbuk2’s trademarked Swing Around Access, which translates into a large zipper that runs along 2/3rds of the backpack and allows you to remove your laptop without having to take your backpack off completely. For example, you can leave your right arm in the strap and swing the Showdown Laptop Backpack to your right to unzip the compartment and remove your laptop. If you are a frequent air traveler, TSA will still require that you remove your laptop from this compartment as it does not meet its’ “Checkpoint Friendly” criteria, meaning that the laptop sleeve is obstructed by the center or main compartment of the backpack.
In terms of everyday use, I have been packing the Timbuk2 Showdown Laptop Backpack with my laptop, gym/running clothes, running shoes, lunch, and other everyday essentials such as iPhone, wallet, charge cords, sunglasses, etc. The Showdown Laptop Backpack carries all of this with ease. On days that I have to shower at work or the gym, I do have to bring a small bag to carry my towel and shower essentials. I found that the capacity of this bag would be ideal for both work and school use.
External Organization of the Showdown Laptop Backpack
The external organization pockets are my favorite feature. I no longer have to open the main compartment in order to get important or highly used items out thanks to Timbuk2’s placement of 3 external pockets. The top right pocket features a super plush and soft lining, making it a perfect place to stash sunglasses. The long vertical pocket on the left features a mesh compartment that is 1/3rd the length of the entire pocket. I typically put my car keys or work badge here because the pocket is deep enough to keep the items secure. Timbuk2’s Skinny Wallet goes in this pocket nicely. The bottom right pocket is perfect for a cell phone, charge cords, headphones, etc.
There is a external pocket on the left side that is ideal for a water bottle or to hold a bike lock. On the outside of this pocket their is a loop to attach “blinky” bike light. I’ve also used this loop to attach my bike helmet when it is not in use or to dry out my running hat.
I often bring a Stanley coffee mug or Camelback water bottle with me to work. I found that the pocket was a bit shallow and these bottles would pop out of the pocket if the pack was filled to the brim. I think that making the pocket about 2 inches taller would help avoid this problem.
If you have more gear with you that you can’t fit in the bag, no sweat. The Showdown Laptop Backpack has two adjustable straps that you can slip your jacket through to carry it on the outside and save the inside of the pack for other cargo. These straps when pulled tightly can compress the backpack if you are carrying a lighter load.
Internal Organization of the Showdown Laptop Backpack
The organization does not stop on the outside. The main compartment includes a multi-pocket organizer for your pens, pencils, etc along the front lid of the pack. The main compartment is otherwise un-structured and thankfully Timbuk2 has provided the Showdown Laptop Backpack with two two-way zippers that allow you to open the pack as little or big as you want. In order to really see the entire contents of the pack, and eliminate the fumbling at the bottom of a backpack that often occurs, the zipper track runs in a u-shape along 75% of the pack and allows the user to open the pack up, similar to a butterfly design.
Fabric and Features
The Timbuk2 Showdown Laptop Backpack is composed of fine weave ballistic. There is a reinforced bottom panel as well and after 3 months of regular everyday use, it still looks like new. If it doesn’t hold up to its’ reputation, Timbuk2 features a lifetime warranty.
The backpack features a ventilated back panel that is flexible, soft, and offers some padding in high contact areas, including at the low back and upper shoulders. The shoulder straps feature mesh padding and are easy to adjust to get the right fit. The shoulder straps feature a sliding sternum strap to help distribute the weight. There is also a fun extra on the right shoulder strap, a bottle opener. You never know where you will find yourself after a long day at the office or school. Despite not having a waist belt, I found that this pack was comfortable on the back, even when packed to the gills due to its’ slim back hugging design.