Timbuk2 vs Osprey – what bag brand should you choose?

updated July 2018

Here’s the deal:

There are many legendary conflicts in history – David vs Goliath, Batman vs Superman, Timbuk2 vs Osprey.

Okay, that last one might not be legendary.

But it’s certainly a topic that messenger bag purchasers are interested in!

In this post, I’ll break down the pros and cons of both brands, and highlight some of the best Timbuk2 and Osprey bags so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Let’s go!

A difficult choice between two great brands

Deciding between two large brands can be quite difficult.

Especially when both brands that you are looking at are well established and they both make some pretty good products. In order to help you to be able to decide which brand you should buy, we have broken down some of the aspects of these two companies.

This should help you make a more informed purchasing decision.

Ready to choose an amazing bag?

Osprey – “We’ve got your back”

Osprey is a big name backpack manufacturer.

This company makes quality backpacks. While it may charge a greater price for these backpacks compared to other brands on the market, it uses quality materials and they always have innovative designs.

That is the one main thing that you will notice about Osprey – everything that they make is of a good quality.

  • They make sure that the backpacks that they make suit their purposes
  • They test them to make sure that they stand up to regular wear and tear
  • They want their backpacks to stand the test of time, too

Although the packs that Osprey makes are more expensive than other brands, it is for a good reason.

Osprey guarantees the quality in their bags for a lifetime. So much so, that they are willing to repair any backpack that they have ever sold should any damage or defect occur. Osprey completes this repair free of charge and if they find that they cannot repair the bag, they send you a new one as a replacement.

It is very difficult to find a company that stands behind their product as much as Osprey does.

Although this company makes a lot of products that look quite simple in design, they do throw a lot of features into their designs in order to make them stand out amongst their competition.

For example, rather than just creating simple backpacks, Osprey created “hydration backpacks” like the Manta AG 36 (pictured to the right) that are capable of holding water or other liquids so that you can stay hydrated when you are out and about.

Some other cool features that you may come across when you are looking at Osprey backpacks include:

  • A stand on the bottom of the bag, so that you can set the bag on the ground without it getting wet or dirty
  • Waterproof nylon is used in many of their bags so that their backpacks can be used regardless of the weather condition
  • Most of the backpacks that they make are highly adjustable (not just the shoulder straps) so that you can be as comfortable as possible while using the bag
  • Many pockets and secure zippered closings for almost all aspects of the bag

Check out Osprey’s 2018 Spring overview video on YouTube, for a good idea of what Osprey’s got to offer:

All of these features combined show that Osprey is a company that looks beyond the surface level in designing and manufacturing some of the best packs you can buy.

Timbuk2 – San Francisco Style

Let’s not be confused:

Timbuk2 is also a big deal when it comes to manufacture of bags.

This company likes to use a variety of materials in their designs. They can be quite intricate, depending on the product that you choose.

Timbuk2 creates all kinds of different laptop bags, commuter bags and messenger bags to meet your carrying needs, no matter your occupation or your passions.

As uncommon as it is to find a company that stands completely behind their products, both Timbuk2 and Osprey do just that. Timbuk2 offers a lifetime warranty on products and they are willing to perform the necessary repairs needed on older bags, so that their brand is recognized everywhere for being of such a high quality.

Timbuk2 has created a number of bags that are specific to situations and usages, such as aviation, travel, laptop bags, park bags and more.

For example, there’s the travel friendly Command messenger bag, which we’ve reviewed a little more thoroughly in our post here.

Here are some of the many features that this company likes to use in their backpack and bag designs to attempt to compete with Osprey:

  • Highly adjustable designs that are built to be extremely comfortable to wear
  • Osprey’s bags often include a pocket that can be used to store a water bottle
  • Pockets that are meant for storing your cords and other accessories
  • Padded pocket designs allow you to be able to comfortable store your electronics and not have to worry as much about them breaking
  • Prices can range quite a bit for Timbuk2 products, depending on what sort of bag you are buying, which is ideal for people on a budget

As you can see, Timbuk2 is another choice where you can’t go wrong with any of their feature-rich and high quality bags.

You can see more in Timbuk2’s video about the Command Messenger on YouTube below:

So how do they stack up head to head?

Head-to-head, mano y mano: Osprey vs Timbuk2

These two companies certainly have a lot in common, but as you can tell from reading these points, there are some things that do differ between these two big companies.

Their product lines, in general, differ quite a bit. While each has bags that cross over into the others’ ranges, Osprey seems more focused on backpacks and the outdoors.

Whereas, Timbuk2 has a more robust offering of messenger and other style bags, in addition to their backpacks.

When it comes to bags, always remember that the most important thing is that you buy something that is going to be useful for you. You should never buy a bag based solely on looks, naturally.

BUT, you should also never buy a bag solely off of its features, as there are so many options available on the market.

These companies care so much about their customers that they do this so that they can be sure that their customers get a product that they are happy with and that they are proud to own.

It is also great that both of these manufacturers offer a lot of customization in the color and style selections available for each product. It helps to show the selection of products that both of these brands make, and their dedication to their customers.

Now, on to my bag recommendations:

Get a great bag – my top Osprey picks

Here’s one of my top Osprey picks – one of their great messenger bag-style offerings.

Everyday Carry Style: The Osprey Flapjack Courier

Osprey’s Flapjack Courier is a men’s messenger bag offering that combines the high quality of an Osprey backpack with the style and functionality of a messenger bag.

It’s got a great, look, as well. This particular bag is available in 4 great-looking colors: black, orange, green, and blue.

Features include:

  • Zippered top pocket for easy access to your important items
  • Side pocket for carrying water bottles and similar form factors
  • Laptop pocket inside that should fit up at a 14″ laptop/tablet
  • Not waterproof, but very weather resistant (according to the manufacturer)

It also comes with reflective graphics and an attachment that blinks, so you can stay safe while you’re biking or out walking home after dark.

Check it out on Amazon to see more and pick one up!

Backpacking – Osprey style: the Atmos AG 50

Is backpacking your thing?

Looking to do a year of travel, or planning to go long-term as a digital nomad?

The Osprey Atmos AG 50 is your new best friend.

This backpack, recently updated in 2018, was made for the long haul. It’s got the latest in backpacking tech, including an awesome “Anti-Gravity” suspension from Osprey that minimizes the feeling of weight on your back.

It’s also go tons of organization, straps, pockets, and other bits and bobs that will have you prepared for traveling the world or hiking your backyard.

Multiple sizes and colors help you to fit your particular style.

Check out the Atmos AG 50 on Amazon, or jump straight to the reviews to see what others users think about it.

Top class style – my favorite Timbuk2 bags

Here are my 2 favorite bags from Timbuk2:

Urban cool: the Timbuk2 Commute Messenger

If you’ve got a commute through the city, Timbuk2’s got the perfect bag for you: the Commute Messenger.

This super stylish bag is an absolute workhorse built for going from home to work. The crossbody strap is adjustable and padded for comfort.

The Commute messenger also features a ton of interior and exterior organization – 10 interior pockets, plus 1 interior zipper pocket, as well as 3 exterior pockets to carry your stuff.

It’s also weatherproof, compliant with TSA rules, and can handle an iPad or laptop in its separate padded sleeve.

Check out this top-tier messenger bag on Amazon for more info and the best price.

School style: the Timbuk2 Authority Backpack

I featured this bag in my post on the best college backpacks, but since I love it so much we’re gonna talk about it here, too.

The Timbuk2 Authority backpack is another high-quality and stylish offering from Timbuk2, and it’s perfect for students, workers who commute, or even people who do their work in coffee shops or elsewhere.

It’s basically an office that fits on your back (or a dorm room, if you’re still a student).

I could give you a big, boring list of features, but I’d prefer to check out this video below:

As you can see, there’s just a ton of features in the Authority pack that make it one of my absolute favorites for anyone in school.

Check it out on Amazon here to check availability and get the best price!


Hopefully, after reading this article you have a better idea about what Osprey and Timbuk2 have to offer.

If you’re still stuck trying to determine what to buy, knowledge about a particular brand can make a purchasing decision a whole lot easier as it really narrows down your options in the vast marketplace.

Unfortunately, if you don’t know much about brands, it is going to be much more difficult. Both of these brands produce some great quality products, but each serve their own unique purposes. Hope that you choose the right one to suit your needs and that you end up getting yourself an awesome bag to carry your things.

Again, I particularly love the Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag – it’s an amazing all-around bag for commuting on public transportation, and while I wouldn’t take it to “professional” settings, it’s totally fine for school or a more casual workplace.

Got a recommendation? Leave it in the comments!


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