Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack Review


 

The Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Backpack offers a compelling set of features. Marketed as a travel backpack, the Aviator is ideal as a secondary carry on item (perhaps in partnership with the Aviator Wheeled Backpack). Like all of the Timbuk2 bags we’ve taken a look at, we find thoughtful design elements on this backpack to make it easy to use while helping it disappear into the background as you travel with it. It’s a tempting overall package but is it our first choice when shopping for a travel backpack?

Like all of our bags, we’ve made a video review for this Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack that you can watch on our YouTube channel Tekuben Prime or below:

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Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack 2015 Review

The Timbuk2 Aviator has sleek styling and one that lends its appearance well to a specific environment. We’re thinking urban. It’s trendy and hip. The material is hardy but it felt more restrictive than rugged. Maybe it’s this Black color and Polyester material of our backpack, but the aesthetics of this bag don’t quite work for us. This is a good time to mention that like other Timbuk2 bags, the color you choose corresponds with a material type. The Black color for this back has a Polyester material while the Carbon/Fire color is a Coated Ripstop fabric. The Black color is not available with a Coated Ripstop fabric just as the Carbon/Fire color is not available in Polyester.

Appearance aside, the Aviator has a fairly spacious main compartment, a well-padded tablet/laptop sleeve and well placed side pockets for small belongings. The shoulder straps and padding on the back of the pack are thick and feel fairly supportive. Wide, hide-away waist straps embrace you to offer additional support. The shoulder straps are easy to pull out and put back into the bag when you want to store them. The waist straps, on the other hand, were a bit more fussy to place back into where it hides.

To offer the amount of space that the Aviator does, the designers opted to make the Aviator tall instead of stretching the depth or width. If you’re not used to a big backpack, it will take some time to get used to wearing this one. It took us a while, and we still don’t find it to be entirely comfortable.

We value the versatility that this bag offers, allowing the user to choose if they want the backpack straps to be exposed or not, waist straps to be exposed or not, and the main compartment to be the entire length of the bag or split into two sections. We like the fact that there are two access points to the main compartment, however it’s configured – top of the backpack or front of the backpack. If you’ve read or watched our Timbuk2 Co-Pilot review, you’ll know that we’re big fans of the front loading option.

If we travel with this bag, we would separate the main space into two compartments, using the bigger, bottom compartment to pack clothes while using the smaller, top compartment to pack toiletries and small gadgets.

There are two external zippered pockets on the backpack located on the front. The first one is on the top. Timbuk2 designers, not ones to waste space, created a pocket in the top flap of the backpack (similar to what we saw on the Timbuk2 Tahoe Duffel). This space is great for thin and small items you’ll need quick access to, like tickets, maps or receipts.

The second external pocket on the front of the Aviator is on the front of the bag and accessed by a vertical (up-down direction) zipper from the right hand side (when facing the backpack). In keeping with not wasting space, this pocket is also built into a flap – the front loading flap. The pocket is easy to miss as it blends in well with the bag and makes it ideal perhaps for a battery charger to sit in. We find the placement of both pockets to be smart and usable.

One thing that is not easy to miss is the fact that this backpack has a lot of straps. Spin the bag around and you’ll see a lot of straps and clips flying around. Yes, they may serve a function, but to us, it looks and feels too busy.

What we like about the Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack 2015:

  • Configurable main compartment with front panel access
  • Well placed external pockets
  • Lined and padded tablet/laptop sleeve

What we don’t like about the Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack 2015:

  • Clunky and busy while looking like it only belongs in the city
  • Waist straps are fussy to store back into hiding
  • Hefty asking price and weight

The Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Backpack may be attractive to some, but not to us. It wouldn’t be our first choice if we’re shopping for a travel backpack. The benefit of having well placed pockets, configurable main compartment and a well-padded laptop sleeve are not enough to overcome the busy appearance, cumbersome carry straps and overall weight for us to pick this backpack for ourselves. If you have a particular need for a big backpack that looks good in the city to serve as your secondary carry on item, then this might work for you. It’s just not for us.

Specs

Model: Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack 2015

Size: Medium

Color: Black

Style Number: 522-4-2001

Similar Styles: 522-4-1269 – Midway; 522-4-2119 – Carbon/Fire; 522-4-7744 – Under Cover

Dimensions (As provided by Timbuk2)

22.8″ Tall x 15″ Wide x 9.4″ Deep  or 58 cm x 38 cm x 24 cm

Capacity: 1,831 cu.in or 30L

Weight: 4.4 lb or 2 kg

Warranty: Timbuk2 Lifetime Warranty

Rating (relative to other bags in its class)
  • Weight
  • Carry Capacity
  • Handling
  • Organization
  • Appearance
  • Warranty
  • Value
3.1

Summary

The Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Backpack may be attractive to some, but not to us. It wouldn’t be our first choice if we’re shopping for a travel backpack.

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