Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack Review
The Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack has a sleek design and ample space for gear; however, some design choices make it challenging to get your items.
- The exterior is sleek and professional-looking
- Its comfortable harness system is easy to adjust and use
- The materials and hardware are very durable
- The materials attract hair and dust
- Gusseted main compartment makes it hard to get to the bottom of the pack
- The metal G-hooks make it tough to access one pocket
2.6 lb (1.2 kg)
11.4 in x 18.9 in x 5.91 in (29 x 48 x 15 cm)
CORDURA Eco Fabric, Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware
Tablet Sleeve Size
Laptop Compartment Size
The Never Check Expandable Backpack departs from Timbuk2’s typical, more playful commuter packs; however, the materials are just as durable and water resistant. Plus, it’s expandable for travel. How well does it work, though? Let’s dive in.
The primary pack material is CORDURA® eco nylon, which is durable and does well to handle precipitation while on the go. That said, it picks up hair and dust easily, which is noteworthy if you live in an older home or have pets that shed. Even if your animals aren’t actively shedding, it adds up to enough to be noticeable. It’s easy to clean with a lint roller or tape, though!
The YKK zippers are AquaGuard models, adding an extra layer of security from Mother Nature when it rains or snows while you’re traveling. These are some of the best in the business—there isn’t much negative to say about them. They slow you down a little, but not enough to consider it a con.
However, while the zippers might be fabulous, the pulls aren’t our favorites. They’re YKK’s standard pull, which we don’t have an issue with. However, they have a small piece of textile on the end wrapped in heat-shrink plastic. It makes the pull a little longer and stops it from jangling as much, but it makes it hard to hold onto and offers nothing extra. This might be a personal issue, but it’s worth noting as testers who get their hands on hundreds of bags a year.
The hardware is from Duraflex, which, again, is the cream of the crop as far as hard-plastic adjusters go. Seriously, there are no issues here, either!
There are handles on the top and side of the pack, which are handy for stowing your luggage, carrying it on public transit, or moving it around the hotel or Airbnb. Between the handles, there are small attachment loops where you can attach a carabiner or strap to add additional gear to the pack. These stay out of the way when you aren’t using them, which is ideal for maintaining the sleek look of this pack.
We’ve got one water bottle pocket to work with. It’s crafted from the same material as the pack and attached with elastic. You can’t fit big travel bottles inside, like a 32-ounce Nalgene, but smaller ones will do okay. Think skinnier 16-to-24-inch ones!
A zipper runs around the outside of the pack so you can expand the main compartment. Without engaging the zipper, the bag is 24.5 liters, and with it, the pack is 27.5 liters. It isn’t a ton of space, but when you want to fit a few extra souvenirs or snacks into your bag on the way home, those three liters go a long way!
This isn’t only handy for adding extra gear. Once you arrive at your destination and remove the bulk of your equipment, you can compress the pack back to its standard size and use it as a daypack. For most travelers, switching between a daypack and a travel backpack takes more than three liters, but it’s helpful.
There’s a Timbuk2 logo on the front face of the pack that looks sleek but sticks out a little, which might annoy some travelers. However, we dig its Hypalon-like feel.
The back panel is well padded, with mesh and a large channel to promote airflow throughout the pack. It’s pretty comfortable, even wearing it for hours walking or on a bicycle.
The shoulder straps have padding and mesh for airflow, similar to the back panel. They have a slight curve, which does well, forming to most body shapes. They almost look like a boomerang, which is fun. There are strap keepers, which are handy to keep the pack looking sleek and extra material out of your way, no matter where you’re going.
The sternum strap is adjustable, which we dig. There are four slots where you can secure it, but you can’t make micro-adjustments, so you might not be able to find the perfect fit that you’re looking for.
Overall, this pack is a comfortable carry that breathes better than you might think it does looking at it. Considering the commuting gear we know Timbuk2 for, it’s nice to see some of their typical features, like comfort, in play here.
Inside The Pack
The first secondary compartment we’ll cover is the vertical pocket hidden by a fabric welt on the pack’s front face. It isn’t huge but has enough room for a few pieces of quick-access gear, like a phone, minimalist wallet, glasses case, map, or packable jacket. It’s a nice inclusion that doesn’t take up much room, which we dig.
There’s another secondary compartment on the front that isn’t as hidden but is more challenging to access. Its zipper curves around the right side of the pack’s front face, and there are two metal G-hooks that you have to undo every time you want to get into this pocket. It isn’t super slow, but it takes more effort than we’d like.
Inside, there are two liner pockets on either side, which makes four in total. There’s a zippered mesh pocket, too, which we dig for smaller items we want to lock down. If you are the kind of person who puts your phone and wallet away most of the day, this isn’t a bad spot for them. However, for quick access, the G-hooks make it hard. However, we have to admit, they do look nice.
The laptop compartment is accessible from the side, which we aren’t a massive fan of, but that may be more of a personal preference. There’s no organization or feature to hold your laptop inside, so you’ll want to make sure that every time you place it inside, you close the zipper right away. If not, it could tumble out. This hasn’t happened to us, but if you’re a worrier, you’ve probably already thought about it!
The main compartment has a wide clamshell opening, which is a positive thing to see when you first get the pack. However, this is hampered by a sewn-in gusset on either side, making the opening much smaller than you might have initially thought. If the gusset wasn’t in place, it would be easy to get into the nitty-gritty of organizing the pack. Because it’s there, you can’t, and accessing the bottom of the main compartment is challenging.
There’s a large liner pocket on the back wall and the lid side of the pack. On the lid, there’s also a zippered mesh pocket, so you can lock down the smaller gear you don’t want to get lost in the hubbub of the rest of the space. It has two zipper heads, which we still haven’t found a purpose for. For such a small pocket, two seems superfluous. The addition is helpful for zipper placement, though.
There isn’t much organization inside the pack, but we prefer it that way. As a travel bag, we want to be able to use this pack for many types of trips, and wholesale organization may stop us from doing that. That said, the empty space is dampened by not being able to open the main compartment fully.
This pack has a comfortable carry, multiple pockets to organize your gear, and a sleek look. Whether you’re crossing town or the country, it’ll get your gear there, and that’s what matters!
- The materials feel durable and are recycled
- We’re curious how access to some of the harder-to-reach pockets will affect usage
- The harness system feels comfortable so far
- The materials and hardware are durable and have held up well, but the exterior likes to pick up dust and pet hair
- No issues with comfort—the harness system is well-padded and aerated
- The G-hooks can slow things down, which may deter some users