Commuting to work can be healthy, quick and enjoyable.
Taking everything you need for the working day can be a little more problematic.
There are some great hybrid backpack/laptop bags out there which makes it all much easier. I’ll be comparing two of the best today in the Timbuk2 Spire vs Rogue.
If you'd just like a quick summary I'd personally choose a Spire because I use a Mac. If I had something else I'd for a Rogue instead.
If you'd like a little more information... read on!
Product Comparison Table
8 (but I prefer it because I own a Mac)
Designed for Apple
Side pocket for U lock
Timbuk2 are all about bags. They began way back in 1989 when a bike messenger, Rob Honeycutt, in San Francisco decided to design his own bike messenger bag.
The company is not just about bags though, it's about bags that also speak about identity and have their whole manufacturing process based out of San Francisco.
Ever since its inception Timbuk2 have endeavoured to make a professional, long-lasting product that also captures the essence of their city.
The Timbuk2 Spire was designed specifically for Apple, and as such features two compartments that are perfect for certain Apple products.
This is different to the Timbuk2 Rogue, which while a good backpack, had different scenarios in mind. Spire has one section that can hold a 15" MacBook Pro and another for the iPad.
It also has a little more space then a Rogue, with other specialised compartments for keeping pens, phones and other small items in. It has the worker in mind.
From a design perspective, both bags feature the roll up look, and look great. Perhaps one key difference is the Rogue having 2 straps to attach the front flap while a Spire has 1.
Practically speaking, this should make absolutely no difference.
- Made specifically for Apple products, it fits more snuggly than most
- Larger laptops may not fit in the laptop compartment
- More pricey, perhaps due to its connection with Apple
To see a Spire in action check out the video below by Arndell LeBlanc
What did reviewers think?
Frost is obviously a fan. This user loves the design which gives it a sleek thin look.
The additional, smaller pockets, have been found useful to hold medication and the separate zipper for 'laptop access' has also helpful to this person.
As noted, it saves them from having to dig through the rucksack every time they want to access it.
The one weakness that Frost finds with the product is it only has one side pocket for carrying a bottle.
Two pockets allow for other smaller things to be carried on the outside of the bag, items such as keys or phones, but there are plenty of compartments inside the backpack that can do this.
Another roll up design, which is popular these days. It’s old school but looks stylish and practical at the same time.
A Rogue was not designed with Apple in mind, and although the bag technically holds less space than the spire, the laptop compartment is slightly larger so it can, therefore, hold a larger laptop.
This bag is also water resistant, which any modern bag has to be, and contains virtually as many compartments and small sections as the Spire.
Rogue, as well as Spire, is capable of carrying additional books and a small coat/summer jacket in its main holding area. They both also have chain webbing, a feature accentuated in the selling of the Rogue.
Perhaps one other thing to note is that the backpacks are also designed to fit on a plane without being checked luggage.
This can be invaluable in a crunch, and if a traveller is planning on renting a bike at the other airport it saves a lot of money in car rentals and baggage fees for the savvy traveller.
- Slightly larger laptop holding space
- Cheaper than the Spire
- Not as "perfect" for Apple computers
- Has a slightly less professional look in its appearance
To see a Rogue pack in action check out the video below by ebagsdotcom
What did reviewers think?
This user tracked their use of bag over a year. They bought it specifically for using a larger, sturdier laptop.
They were pleased to find that it did fit in the bag. They also stuffed it full of cables and other bulky items but have found the space adequate. So far, so good.
Their one negative impression is the straps being too close together at the top of the rucksack which makes their back feel slightly uncomfortable.
On their first buy, they did replace the bag due to one strap breaking completely where it attached to the pack. Since getting a replacement (free of charge) they found the pack lasted better than expected and after a year of use the Rogue is still looking good.
Both of these bags offer durable, quality backpacks for anyone using a laptop.
Obviously, if you own Apple products then, the Spire is the best one to use. If you use a bulkier computer then the Rogue is much better. If you’re not carrying any laptops at all then there are better options out there. (Like these or these).
Waterproof Roll Top
The water resistance of these backpacks is due to something called TPU. Many people consider this 'future technology' because it is environmentally friendly.
It bends well, is resistant to heat and cold and is also resistant to tearing and 'scuffing.' All of this makes it ideal for use on a backpack that is bound to be thrown around, tossed in a closet or scraped across the floor in the case of a cycling accident.
backpacks also need to be flexible and this material is as flexible as they come while maintaining its water resistance.
Daisy Chain Webbing
The material stretches with the backpack and it can be thought of as a utility belt, in the sense that if you can think of something to hook through it, it will hold it securely.
Usually, it's best to put things in the daisy chain that you need to access quickly and don't mind getting wet since they are on the outside of the backpack and therefore not water proof.
Top Loading Daypack And Flap
Top loading simply means that you can stash everything in the bag by placing it from the top first. Many modern packs have multiple pockets on the front that zip up from the sides.
On a top loader, the open space is at the top. The flap is what makes top loading possible.
Rather than a zip, top loaders use a flap to cover what's inside from the elements.
The flap is also waterproof so rain slides right on down it and no moisture leaks into the compartments below. When you think of a top loader you think of easy access.
Mancro Business Laptop Backpack
This is the perfect laptop bag. It’s for anyone who really only wants a backpack for their laptop and not for anything else. If you’re a commuter who carries their laptop back and forth with them, or a freelancer without a specific office then this might be your best buy.
It comes complete with an external USB port which can charge any of your devices. When a portable battery has been bought you can even charge your products on the go.
Amazon Basics Classic Backpack
At the opposite end of the scale to the Mancro, this is your basic one size fits all backpack.
You won't want to use this if you are carrying laptops, but if you just want it as a storage unit while you travel from point A to point B then this is perfect.
It's cheap, and it has two outside side pockets for carrying water. This doesn't have the bells and whistles, but it's not supposed to.
Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack
This backpack is for the cycling tourist. If you want something that can hang on the pannier at the back of your bike then convert into a standard shoulder carrying backpack this is perfect.
It’s highly waterproof, made with military grade canvas which makes it incredibly durable, and it is reflective. It also comes with a padded laptop sleeve, so you can take your electronic equipment with you.
It is pricey, as you would expect from a backpack intended to pass the test of time and be truly multi purpose.
My Final Thoughts
A good backpack anticipates the needs of the specific individual and meets them.
As with most products, you get what you pay for. If you want your bag to do everything it will cost more and may not be the best at anything specific.
On the other hand, if you want your bag to carry your laptop, hold your water bottles, and tool sets. A highly specialised backpack is the way to go.
I'm an Apple user so I’d always take the Spire. Otherwise the Rogue is probably the better product in regarding flexibility.
Image Credit - Timbuk2 Thailand