I have been toting around the Timbuk2 Swig Laptop Backpack for many (~6) years now. It’s great for hauling around a laptop and a few other bits of EDC (every day carry).
The Timbuk2 Swig has a lot of nice extras like a bottle opener and a stash pocket but at its core it is a small backpack with a messenger bag style flap. The other major departure from other backpacks is the Swig has a side zipper that allows for quick access to the padded laptop compartment.
The main compartment is a bit on the small side but for most EDC type items its perfect. The front pouch is great for smaller items. It has some nice organization features too but it is only accessible when the main flap is open. This means that even if all you want is to fish out your sunglasses the main flap has to open.
The padded shoulder straps are comfortable and the bottle opener is handy in a pinch. The side pocket is good for a bottle of water or a small umbrella. The one I have is made from ballistic nylon which is tough but not all of that attractive.
Who is this bag for
Do you love messenger bags but hate carrying the weight on one shoulder? This is the bag for you. It has the capacity of a large messenger bag but the weight distribution of a backpack. It’s great for people who need to carry a laptop and some odds and ends.
Who is this bag not for
If you need to carry a lot of stuff then this is not your bag. It’s single flap access and two compartments may be a turn off for people that want more modular access.
The Fjallraven Rucksack No.21 is a great alternative. It is also a top load backpack with a main flap to keep the elements out and a laptop sleeve. Its made of leather and waxed G-1000 (a cotton poly blend).
The Rucksack No.21 has a great style and comes in many colors. Not as many as the Swig if you go the custom route but I am confident that at least one of the colors available will work for you. It also comes in 3 sizes so you can select the one that will satisfy your needs.
The North Face Borealis Backpack
The North Face Borealis Backpack is another great option. It has a lot more organization and tech in it. Like the others it has a laptop sleeve and main compartment but the front pocket is almost as big as the main compartment and it has more internal pockets. It also has a stowable hipbelt and bungie system to strap things down.
At 29 liters it is a bit larger than the Swig and that is going to appeal to people who have more to carry.
Conclusion – Timbuk2 Swig Backpack
The Timbuk2 Swig is a fantastic commuter backpack. It’s smaller capacity keeps it svelte and it’s design is focused on giving you just what you need in organization and comfort.
I do recommend that you choose a less garish color. It will allow the bag to be appropriate in more situations and will prevent the schoolboy look that backpacks can cause. I chose black to give it a minimalistic feel.
Its construction is rock solid as is it’s ballistic nylon fabric. This bag should last you a very long time.