Quick Take Review

We’ve been Timbuk2 fanboys for a while now at GearGuide. We swap bags quite regularly but Timbuk2’s bags often find their way back into our personal gear rotations. In fact, we just pulled the Timbuk2 Commute Messenger — originally reviewed back in 2012 — out of retirement for a trip to Chicago. It performed as we expected, still breezing through TSA checkpoints with ease. One of the newer and less messenger-bag-traditional briefcases in the Timbuk2 lineup is the Alchemist. We banged a medium-sized Alchemist around the streets of San Francisco for a month or so and here’s what we learned.
Timbuk2 clearly designs the Alchemist for urban pursuits. It’s built from a combination of tarpaulin, nylon, webbing and a little aluminum thrown in for good measure. We liked the tarpaulin and water-resistant zippers used on the Alchemist. It stood up to a number of very wet storms recently with almost no infiltration, keeping the laptop and other contents nice and dry. Weight-wise, the Alchemist comes in around three pounds.

Material: Tarpaulin and nylon
Hardware: Aluminum
Size: 1648 cu in
Weight: 2.5 lb

Inside, the Timbuk2 Alchemist boasts a unique combination of pockets. Under the lid, Timbuk2 places two large hook-and-loop sealed pockets that provide perfect homes for laptop chargers and other bigger items (one of them also has a zippered side entrance). A larger zippered pocket is just behind those two serving as a spot for loose items, keys and the like. Smaller pockets for pens, the necessary MiFi and other accessories sit just inboard from there.

Also inside the Alchemist, Timbuk2 locates the cavernous main compartment, two stretch water bottle holders and sleeves for a tablet and laptop computer. The laptop is also accessible via a zipper so you can remove the device without opening the main compartment and spilling its contents on your way through security. Overall, the layout of the Alchemist is excellent and well thought out. It’s not quite as TSA-friendly as the Commute Messenger — which folds flat and doesn’t require the laptop’s removal for a ride down the x-ray machine — but is pretty hassle-free otherwise.

Hefting the Timbuk2 Alchemist is pretty straightforward too. The wide strap includes a padded shoulder guard and a couple of different adjustment points for customizing the fit. Timbuk2 includes a bunch of additional webbing for attaching luggage tags and other accessories, a loop that allows you to securely attach the Alchemist to your rollaboard, a handle and padding to make transportation easy.

Pretty nice bag overall and one we’d recommend if you’re looking for something that shows a little more unique style than the ubiquitous messenger seen around the streets these days.
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