Timbuk2 and Chrome are both manufacturers of great backpacks. But unlike some of the more popular brands like Osprey who mainly focus on packs for hiking and biking, these manufacturers mostly focus on backpacks for everyday and travel, and that’s exactly what we’ll be checking out today.
If you are looking for this type of backpack, then you’ve come to the right place. And what’s even better is that these brands usually make very affordable backpacks, so there will be something for everyone’s budget. In any case, you can always get a great deal on any one of these packs on Amazon – the key is to shop smart.
To help you with that, I’ve gone through hundreds of different backpacks and found 8 that are the most interesting. We’ll check them out in detail, in this review of the best Timbuk2 and Chrome backpacks!
It might seem that buying a backpack is pretty straightforward, but the truth is that you have to consider a lot of things. If you don’t want to make a mistake and end up with a backpack that is completely unsuitable for your needs, that is.
So, check out the following section and consider all of these points carefully. That way you will be sure to get the pack that is perfect for you, and that you will use on a daily basis.
Do you need a pack for a sporty activity or just for your daily life? Or maybe you need one for travel? You know, backpacks with different purposes are designed differently, and so there is not one single pack that can be perfectly suitable for all of those things.
For example, if you need a pack to carry your stuff in every day, you would make a mistake by getting a traditional hiking backpack. And vice versa. That is why I am going to divide this review into two sections – backpacks for travel and for daily use. Depending on the type of backpack you need, you can use the quick navigation above to jump to that section of the review.
Also I’m sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping to get some info on a good sturdy hiking backpack. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Kelty Redwing is a good, affordable hiking backpack, and the Osprey Exos is also definitely worth checking out.
So let’s say again that you need a backpack for everyday use, and that the main thing you are worried about is a laptop sleeve. Wouldn’t it be a huge mistake to get a pack without making sure that it has a sleeve that will fit your laptop?
The same goes for any other feature that you know you are going to need and use. So, when you see a pack you like, be sure to carefully read about its main features. I will do my best to make them stand out, and show you some photos if there are any.
However, if a pack lacks a feature that most other packs in its range have, then I will also be sure to let you know. So, always check the pros and cons section below the images, so that you can have a good idea of what the downsides and upsides of a particular backpack are.
You probably know how much money you would like to spend on a backpack, and I will do my best to help you stay within your budget. Therefore, I will make a note in the cons section if I think that a particular backpack is pricier then you might expect.
But, be sure to check out the prices of these backpacks on Amazon, as they are usually much cheaper there then on the manufacturers’ sites. And you can often get a better deal if you opt for a color that is not as popular, which is not the case if you shop for them in stores.
We’re going to kick off this review with some of my favorites – travel backpacks. And to be clear, we are going to be taking a look at backpacks that are suitable for some shorter trips, or to be used as carry-ons.
In this review, we will not check out any large backpacks that you could use for trips that are several weeks long. If that’s what you were hoping to find, I advise you to check out a few Osprey backpacks for travel instead.
Note: Chrome focuses more on your everyday backpacks, and I was able to find only one bag that is really suitable for travel in their range. So, you will se a little more options from Timbuk2 in this section.
This backpack has a very sleek design that successfully hides how versatile it actually is. What really helps with the versatility is the fact that you can hide its shoulder straps, so that easily transforms from a huge travel backpack to one that you can carry to your office everyday.
However, the clamshell opening of the pack might be a little awkward for carrying around your files and pens. But the separate laptop and electronics pocket isn’t, and it your laptop isn’t larger than 15”, then you can most certainly get the most out of it.
The Macheto pack is made of 1680d ballistic nylon, which a very sturdy and durable material. And it means that you don’t have to be gentle with this bag, because it was made to endure all kinds of torture – including the treatment of airport baggage handlers.
There are two zippered dividers in the main compartment that will keep all your clothes in one place. And there is a pocket on one of the dividers for some smaller items that you don’t want to get lost in between all your shirts and pants. Apart from that, there is an electronic compartment that I mentioned, as well as two separate quick-access pockets on the front.
Overall, the Macheto pack is definitely worth a second look. The only thing about it that it might be off-putting is its somewhat high price tag. But if you can afford it, I would highly recommend it to you.
The pack that puts wander in wanderlust. The pack that you can wander away with anywhere and have everything you need for a while. And the pack that will make you wonder why you didn’t buy it earlier.
But seriously, it’s a great bag for short trips because it has a capacity of 40 liters. It opens up duffel-bag style, and has a single packing compartment for your clothes. But it also has a separate bottom compartment, which is great for storing any bulkier items, such as your shoes.
There is also a separate top pocket, for all items that you want to have handy – a passport, a wallet and maybe a phone. And there is a padded compartment that will fit laptops of all sizes, even 17” ones. Additionally, there’s also a slim pocket on the very front of the pack that you can store some other stuff in.
The multiple compression straps will keep all of those things in place, and make sure that the Wander doesn’t burst open even when it’s fully packed. In addition to that, the padded shoulder straps should keep you comfortable throughout your adventures, as well as safe from any soreness or pain.
However, it lacks a sternum strap, which would certainly be useful, since it is a pack of large capacity. But it does have several different carry straps, so that you can carry it like it’s a suitcase or a duffel bag. And the ventilated back panel will keep you cool and dry if you do decide to wander away somewhere in the middle of July.
The Blitz is smaller than Timbuk2’s Wander, so it’s perfect for you if you thought that you don’t need a 40L capacity bag. In fact, you’ll love the 28-liter capacity of this backpack then. And just like the previous bag, it has a padded laptop compartment that will fit even 17” laptops.
As for the main compartment, it also opens up duffel bag style. But there isn’t a divider inside; instead there are compression straps in the main compartment, similarly to those you see in a suitcase. And there is a mesh pocket on the closure flap that is perfect for storing all of your smaller items.
Just like the Wander backpack, the Blitz also has a separate compartment for your shoes or wet items. It also has several external compression straps that will make sure everything stays in place, as well as a ventilated back panel that guarantees to keep you cool and dry no matter how hot it gets outside.
But unlike the Wander, the Blitz is equipped with a removable sternum strap. It will help keep the shoulder straps in place, and ensure that one of them won’t slip off.
Overall, if you are looking for a backpack that you can take with you for a weekend away, then this is a great choice. And if you really pack light, you could also use it for some longer trips. And I haven’t even told you the best part – its price is under $120! On Amazon, naturally.
This is another versatile pack from Timbuk2. It’s a great everyday backpack, but at the same time it has plenty of features that also make it an awesome travel backpack. So, if you are looking to kill two birds with one stone, this just might be the pack for you.
For one thing, the clamshell opening of the backpack is what makes it a great travel backpack. You then get a big packing compartment with a mesh divider that can store a lot of your clothes, what with its 30-liter capacity. And there’s also a large pocket on the top part of the backpack, for any smaller travel necessities.
This backpack also has padded shoulder straps and back panel that will ensure your carrying comfort. And there’s also a sternum strap, so that you never have to worry about one of those shoulder straps budging an inch.
Overall, I think the best feature of the Jet Pack is its versatility. Yes, it’s great for travel, but you can also use it for daily commute, since it’s not really that big. And the large main compartment with a divider is also convenient for carrying around gym equipment. If you want to know more about it, you can check out the detailed review I did earlier.
It’s time to check out some backpacks that can perfectly fit into your everyday life. And to note something; since we focused more on Timbuk2 backpacks in the previous section of the review, we are going to focus more on the Chrome ones in this section.
And since I already did a detailed review of the Timbuk2 Authority Pack, there’s no need to go into too much detail about it again, and that is one of my favorite Timbuk2 backpacks for everyday use.
If you don’t want to blend in with the crowd then I think this is the pack for you. It has a unique, somewhat vintage design, but its features are very modern.
Ti begin with, it has a padded laptop sleeve that is essential to a good day-to-day backpack. But there is a catch; you will be able to utilize this sleeve only if your laptop is not larger than 13”. Otherwise you could use the sleeve to store your tablet or phone, or any other smaller electronics.
The overall capacity of the pack is 14 liters, which is more than enough for your daily adventures. The main compartment of the pack is pretty spacious, and it features several neoprene pockets inside, that will help you organize your things.
On top of that, there are also two pockets on the sides of the backpack, for any items you would want to access more easily. But I honestly wouldn’t advise you to keep your phone or wallet inside these, as everyone else can also access these quite easily.
But the main compartment will stay safely closed, since the front flap also features snap closure, in addition to the internal drawstring closure. Your stuff will be safe, and you will stay comfortable when this pack is on your shoulders, with the padded air mesh shoulder straps.
If you commute ultra-light, then I’ve found the perfect pack or you. The Fathom pack is exactly what it sounds like – the phantom you won’t even feel on your back.
But that ultra light weight comes hand in hand with small 13 liter capacity. And funnily enough, a 13” laptop is the largest electronic device that you will be able to fit in this backpack. So, you can definitely notice that it isn’t a bag for everyone.
But, who is this bag for then? I would say that it would be a perfect fit for someone who is looking for a small, light backpack for everyday commute, or to use as a carry-on. It can definitely fit all the in-cabin essentials, and then some. And even though it might sounds like it, I’m not talking only about airplanes.
Don’t you hate it when you get on a bus after a long day, and someone keeps bumping their humongous backpack into you? Or when their backpack takes up the entire seat next to them; what could they possibly be carrying around that they need a backpack the size of a child?
With the Fathom, no one will ever think that about you. Because what more do you need, apart from your phone, laptop, a few chargers, passport, wallet and a good book? And it can fit all of that inside its main compartment, as well as the two large pockets on its front. And it will barely take up any space next to you.
If you generally like messenger bags, than you are probably going to fall in love with this backpack. It is designed just like a messenger bag, but it has a backpack harness that will fit people of all shapes and sizes.
The Soma bag has a 22-liter capacity, which is plenty for your everyday use. Its main compartment is pretty spacious, and it features flap closure – just like a true messenger bag. There also buckle straps that will secure the flap in place, and make it very difficult for anyone to mess with your stuff.
However, since the bag doesn’t have drawstring closure, there is a chance that stuff will fall out if you turn it on its side. But if you avoid turning it on its side, you shouldn’t have any issues with this.
There is a padded laptop sleeve in the main compartment, and it can fit laptops that are up to 15”. In terms of your carrying comfort, the Soma has a padded and ventilated back panel, as well as padded shoulder straps. And there’s also a sternum strap that will help make sure that this bag stays upright on your back.
What I don’t like about this Chrome backpack is the lack of exterior pockets. Yes, there are two smaller ones on the side, but these are good for maybe a water bottle or something really small. Also, they can’t be closed off completely, so you can forget about putting your phone in them. And these are the only exterior pockets on this pack, so you might experience some organization issues.
If comfort is your one and only concern, then I think this backpack is the one for you. That’s not to say that the rest of the backpacks are uncomfortable; just the opposite. But with the Hondo pack, Chrome has really taken it up a notch, with the ergonomic design of the EVA foam padded back panel.
The shoulder straps are also padded, and they can be adjusted to fit basically anyone. And the sternum strap is there to make sure that the pack stays in place while it’s on your back. You also don’t have to worry about sweating with the Hondo, since the back panel is ventilated and breathable.
As for the organization, there are plenty of pockets on the backpack, both on its exterior and inside it. And there is also a padded laptop sleeve that will fit all laptops up to 15”. To further protect your electronics, Chrome also included a padded bottom into the design of this backpack.
The main compartment has zippered closure, as well as a 21-liter capacity. And it has wide opening zip top, so that you can have easier access to everything inside it. Gone will be the days when you have to squeeze your arm inside it and blindly feel for the item you need. If you get the Hondo backpack, that is.
That highly depends on what type of backpack you are looking for. In general, I we saw that Timbuk2 makes better backpacks for travel. But that is also because Chrome barely makes any, and so Timbuk2 did have a huge advantage there.
The Jet Pack from Timbuk2 is one of my all time favorite backpack for travel, because of its incredibly practical design. And not to mention how versatile this backpack is – you can use it for basically anything, which means that you will get great value for money.
On the other hand, we only saw one travel backpack from Chrome, but it was enough to make me want to see more. The Macheto is equipped with everything a good pack for travel should be, and you definitely won’t regret buying it.
In terms of backpacks for everyday use, I have to say that the Hondo is by far my favorite. For one thing, it is designed to keep you comfortable throughout the day, which is very important. We are talking about a pack that you are going to carry around all day, every day, and sore shoulders or back are not an option. And wait until you see its price tag!
The Timbuk2 Lug Knapsack also made an impression on me, because of its unique design. It’s perfect for people who are looking for something different, other than your typical zippered backpack.
And there you have it; those are my favorites. Maybe you agree with me, maybe don’t. In any case, you should have over to Amazon – maybe the price tags on these packs will change your mind (if you don’t already agree).
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!