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Timbuk2 Especial 2.0 Anniversary Series Backpacks

For 2019 Timbuk2 launched the all-new Especial 2.0 line of backpacks and bags to coincide with their 30th Anniversary. These new backpacks and bags are geared towards commuters and keeping laptops and other electronics safe from the elements.

We reached out to Timbuk2 and received the Especial Scope and Especial Shelter Roll Top Backpack for review, so those are the ones we have included today.

Timbuk2 Especial Scope, Messenger and Shelter Roll Top Backpacks

The Wetter The Better

Computers despise water. Timbuk2 has done everything possible to keep water away from a user’s laptop compartment by adding Waterproof fabrics, taped seams, and waterproof zippers. Downpour or steady drizzle, Especial bags and backpacks are designed to stay dry to the core.

No Wet Laptops

The Especial 2.0 Collection motto is “No Wet Laptops” and is built around the fact that rain, sleet, and snow will occur at some point during your outdoor adventures and commutes. During these times, the line is designed to protect your electronics from the elements, keeping them dry to the bone.

The Timbuk2 Especial 2.0 line includes

  • Scope Backpack (24L to 36L)
  • The Shelter Roll-Top
  • Stash Messenger

The Timbuk2 Scope Especial 2.0 Backpack Review


  • Hi Vis Green Liners
  • Clean Looks and Lines
  • Quality Zippers
  • Weather Resistant
  • Waterproof Computer Pocket


  • No Waist Belt
  • No Compression Straps When Expanded
  • Small Opening for large Pocket

The Timbuk2 Scope backpack is designed for those business minded commuters who want a sophisticated look. The backpack has a neat streamlined appearance without a bunch of webbing dangling about.

Timbuk2 Scope is an update to the Especial Medio backpack bringing an improved squared shape design to help distribute weight. Velcro has been replaced with zippered pockets for less noise when opening. It has a capacity of 24L to 36L (using the expandable zippered gusset).

Internal Laptop Waterproof Pocket

In staying true to Timbuk2’s no wet laptops motto for the Especial 2.0 line, the Core comes equipped with an internal seam-taped 15″ laptop pocket. The engineers incorporated a water repellent zipper and protective lip to help keep the elements out.

Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Loadout

Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Side View
Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Side View | Fully Expanded
Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Back View

The Scope comes with 2 main top-loading compartments, 2 side-loading compartments, and an expandable zipped section to hold even more (going from 24L to 36L). While the expandable section is nice, there is no way to compress it once expanded. It would have been helpful to have some compression straps on the upper part of the backpack.

The backpack comes with lime green high vis inner liners to help improve visibly when searching for items. It may seem a bit gimmicky, but it really works.

Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Showing Top Load Features
Timbuk2 Scope Backpack Showing Top Load Features

The backpack includes 2 side compression straps that work in conjunction with the water bottle pockets. I could easily see them being used to carrying tripods like the upcoming Peak Design Travel Tripod for those photographers out there.

Overall Impression

While the pocket layout is good, something seems a bit off for me. For one the large pocket only partially zips open, so you don’t have quick access to items on the bottom. When expanding the backpack, there isn’t any way to compress what’s inside. There are no compression straps.

When walking around town with a heavy load I found myself constantly adjusting the shoulder strap webbing because it would occasionally come loose. The buckle locking mechanism just didn’t seem to hold the webbing in place. I didn’t experience this issue when carrying a lighter load.

I would have liked to see a rear hideaway pocket on the back of the pack to hold items like a phone or wallet, similar to what the Timbuk2 Especial Tres Backpack has.

If you aren’t expecting bad weather, I found it easier to carry and access a 15″ computer in the large pocket rather than the waterproof pocket.

Overall I like the Timbuk2 Scope Backpack and certainly would use it for daily commuting.

Technical Highlights

Technical Highlights | Timbuk2 Scope Backpack

Here is a list of most of the technical highlights the Timbuk2 Scope Backpack has.

  • Waterproof 15″ laptop compartment
  • Reflective hits
  • Volume 24L – 36L
  • Magnetic compression straps for sleek & durable contraction or expansion
  • Dual side stretch pockets fit water bottles or U-lock
  • Retail $189
  • Internal Organization
  • Water Bottle Pocket
  • Water Resistant
  • Expandable
  • Extra Reflective

Timbuk2 Shelter Roll-Top Review


  • Large Pocket
  • Weather Resistant


  • No Waist Belt
  • Limited Pockets
  • No Backpack Frame

The Timbuk2 Shelter Roll-Top Backpack is specifically designed for those who commute by bike. In essence, it is one large stuff sack with shoulder straps and a couple of pockets for misc items.

Roll Top backpacks, in general, are designed to be overly stuffed at some point with clothes, shoes and an assortment of other items. They are your workhorse for getting your gear from one location to another without a lot of hassle.

Timbuk2 Shelter Roll-Top | Front

The front of the backpack contains a single weather-resistant pocket, but it just seems a little too open with no dividers to keep things organized.

There is no padding so, if you plan on carrying electronics in there, make sure you don’t smack the pocket when putting the backpack on the ground.

Timbuk2 Shelter Roll-Top | Large Bucket Like Pocket

If you have a lot of gear and you don’t mind mixing it up in one pocket, you will love the large easy access pocket.

The roll-top uses magnetic buckles to keep everything secure. While I found the buckles cool, I didn’t feel the combo of the straps and buckles allowed for a really tight roll.

I would have liked to see a higher visibility color used rather than grey. It works, but it really isn’t that inspiring and makes the backpack seem a bit boring.

Timbuk2 Shelter Roll-Top | Rear

The rear of the pack is pretty much identical to the Timbuk2 Scope. Considering the roll-top can carry more, I would have moved the shoulder straps a little further over to help disperse heavy loads.

Overall Impression

While I absolutely love the Especial Tres Backpack, another rolltop by Timbuk2, the Shelter seems to have missed the mark. While the Especial Tres can be used as a commuter, it also is great for travel.

To me, the Shelter is too minimal with its large bucket-like pocket and 1 meshed and 1 zippered pocket. Unlike the Scope Backpack, it doesn’t have a rigid frame that keeps the bag from looking floppy.

Q & A

Which TimBuk2 Backpack Do You Prefer

Actually, at first I wasn’t too excited about the Timbuk2 Scope, but now that I have gotten to use it I really think it is a great backpack.

About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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