Timbuk2 Vs. Tumi: Which Bag Brand Is Better?

If you’re in the market for a new backpack, messenger bag, or luggage, you’ve probably come across Timbuk2 and Tumi. Both brands are known for making high-quality bags but they definitely have their differences.

I’ve used bags from both brands extensively and can break down the pros and cons of each.

A Brief Comparison Table

Cost$100-300 USD$300-1000+ USD
MaterialsDurable canvas, Cordura nylonPremium ballistic nylon, leather
Frame StructureLess structured, loses shape over timeStructured, retains shape
PaddingMinimalThick padded straps and back panel
WarrantyLifetime against defects3 years against defects
StyleUrban, outdoorsyProfessional, elegant
Use CasesEveryday commute, school, weekend tripsBusiness, frequent travel
Water ResistanceModerateWater-resistant, not waterproof
CustomizationMany style and color optionsLimited customization

Timbuk2 Overview

Timbuk2 is a San Francisco-based company that’s been making bags since 1989. They’re known for their messenger bags and backpacks which are popular among urban commuters and travelers.



  • Durable and well-made – Timbuk2 bags are tough and made to last. They use sturdy fabrics like canvas and Cordura nylon. The stitching and hardware also hold up well over time.
  • Customizable – Many Timbuk2 bags are available in custom configurations on their website. You can choose different colors, fabrics, and accessories to personalize your bag.
  • Useful features for commuting – Messenger bags and backpacks have inner organization and access points tailored towards biking and public transit use. For example, some bags have a side zip access to the main compartment so you don’t have to take them off.
  • Lifetime warranty – Timbuk2 offers a lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship. It doesn’t cover normal wear and tear but they will repair bags at a reasonable charge.
  • Usually more affordable than Tumi – Price-wise, Timbuk2 products are generally $100-300 USD depending on the size and materials. Some bags can go up to $400+ but most are on the lower end of the scale.

Also Read: Comparison Between Portland Leather And Madewell.


  • Less structured – Timbuk2 bags are not heavily reinforced so they lose their structure over time, especially softer messenger bags. They don’t hold their shape as rigorously as some other brands.
  • Limited padding – The back and shoulder straps usually have minimal padding so they may not be as comfortable to carry when loaded down.
  • Urban style isn’t for everyone – Timbuk2’s aesthetic is urban and outdoorsy. If you prefer a more corporate or elegant look, it may not fit your tastes.

Tumi Overview

Tumi is a higher-end brand that manufactures luggage, business cases, backpacks, and accessories. They market towards business professionals and frequent travelers.


  • Very durable materials – Tumi uses very sturdy fabrics like ballistic nylon and leather that resist scuffs, tears, and abrasion. The zippers and hardware are also heavy-duty.
  • Structured design – Tumi’s bags retain their shape well over time thanks to reinforced frames, backing, and interior compartments.
  • Professional, versatile aesthetics – Tumi’s minimalist style works well for business, personal travel, and everyday use. The bags are elegant and understated.
  • Comfortable to carry – Backpacks and messenger bags have thick padded straps and back panels that help distribute weight comfortably when the bag is loaded down.
  • Good warranty – Tumi warranties their bags against defects for 3 years which covers workmanship and materials. Normal wear and tear is not covered. Defective bags can be sent in for evaluation and repair.


  • Very expensive – Tumi’s bags cost $300 USD on the low end ranging up to $1000+ for luggage and large business cases. The prices reflect the premium materials but are prohibitive for some buyers.
  • Heavy – The durable fabrics and rigid frames add a lot of weight before you even put anything in the bags.
  • Limited customization – There are fewer style and color options to choose from compared to Timbuk2. You can’t customize features when ordering.
  • Not waterproof – Most Tumi bags are water resistant but not fully waterproof, so your belongings may get wet in heavy rain.

Also Read: Comparison Between KÜHL And fjallraven.

Side-By-Side Comparisons

Now that we’ve gone over the general pros and cons of each brand, let’s evaluate them across some specific categories:

Quality and Durability

Winner: Tumi

This one’s not close – Tumi bags live up to their reputation for excellent craftsmanship and long-lasting performance. They withstand daily use and travel better over years of service than Timbuk2.


Winner: Tumi

Tumi’s thick padded straps and back panels make their bags more comfortable to carry when loaded down. Timbuk2 bags have minimal padding by comparison.


Winner: Personal Preference

This category depends on individual tastes. Timbuk2 has an urban, outdoorsy aesthetic while Tumi is more elegant and corporate. I give Timbuk2 points for customization options.


Winner: Timbuk2

You’ll pay a premium for Tumi’s quality while Timbuk2 delivers durable bags at a more affordable price point. Tumi wins on performance but Timbuk2 offers better value.

Use Cases

  • Timbuk2 bags work well as everyday carry work or school bags for commuters walking, biking, or on public transit. They also make good weekend/adventure bags.
  • Tumi excels as business bags and travel luggage thanks to the structure and durability. If you fly frequently or need a professional-looking bag, Tumi is the better choice.

Watch the review of Timbuk2!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Timbuk2 bags worth it?

Yes, Timbuk2 bags are worth the price for most people. They are well-made with durable fabrics and useful design features at a reasonable cost. The lifetime warranty provides peace of mind too. Unless you really need the structure and premium materials of a Tumi, a Timbuk2 bag makes a great everyday carry or travel companion.

Are Tumi backpacks good quality?

Tumi backpacks are very high quality and durable, justifying their premium price tag. They’re made with tough fabrics like ballistic nylon, have reinforced frames, and keep their structured shape well over time. The shoulder straps are also comfortable. So while expensive, Tumi backpacks are an excellent long-term investment.

Are Tumi backpacks durable?

Definitely – Tumi backpacks are built to withstand years of regular use thanks to their rugged materials and reinforced design. While no backpack lasts forever, Tumi bags will resist damage from bumps, drops, weather, and the normal wear of travel better than almost any other major brand.

Which brand laptop backpack is best?

For most people, Timbuk2 makes the best value laptop backpacks. They have enough padding and compartments to protect your devices at an affordable price point. Tumi laptop backpacks are another top-tier option if you want a bag with a more professional aesthetic and don’t mind paying a premium.

Also Read: Comparison Between Calpak And American Tourister.

Final Verdict

Overall, Tumi makes higher quality and longer lasting bags but they come at a steep price. Timbuk2 offers great value on durable bags with a more relaxed aesthetic.

For most students, commuters, and casual travelers, I would recommend starting with Timbuk2 since their bags are less expensive and offer great utility. Upgrade to Tumi later on if you need to make an impression in professional settings or want luggage that withstands years of regular flights.

Hope this comparison helps you choose the right bag brand for your needs and budget! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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