To Hell and Back

It’s not every day that we get this type of letter. This one really doesn’t need a preface, it’s worth the 5 minutes you’ll spend reading it. Keep on keepin’ on.

To whom this may or may not concern,

I was pushed from fellow friends and colleagues to write you all about this personal story with my very first, and only, Timbuk2 bag and the travels we had together. There is hesitation for sending this journey and story to you due to the portrayal of the depths of hell, I – and the bag – went through, but here goes nothing. I moved to a northeastern city in 1999 fresh out of high school. Upon moving there I befriended some local hardcore kids as I had grown up the hardcore/punk scene in my hometown but I had never lived in downtown in an urban city. I purchased a single strap Timbuk2 bag from a local cycle shop in September 99’ at the beginning of the school year as I had purchased my first fixed gear bicycle and since I was living in the heart of the city. Obviously I was in need of a bag to carry my books, bike fixing items, and belongings around with me.

The bag:

Fast forward to the mid 2000s and my moving back – again – to the same city as I had left to head back home where the only use my bag saw was the gigantic textbooks from my community college courses and the backseat of my car. During this time frame there was no bike riding taking place but the bag was still very much apart of my daily routines and it was necessary I had it. Upon my re-entry to the city, I purchased a second fixie and soon again found myself riding through the streets with my Timbuk2 bag always on my back. I rode all 4 seasons – as I did not own a vehicle anymore – and we sure as hell got snow in the winter and I would sweat puddles on my back of my tee shirts when riding during the summer with the bag always close by. ‘Messenger kids’ all either had Timbuk2 or other brand name bags during this time frame on them. The ‘craze’ was still in its infancy stages of ‘fixed-gear riding’, as not as many people were pointing fingers at us saying “that’s so stupid to ride without brakes.” These bags served multiple purposes for many of us, as you all are fully aware. Of course they are a means to carry bike repair equipment while out riding as well as a means for carry textbooks and binders for our college courses. A perfect combination if you think about it. Stylish and efficient bags for multiple purposes are what Timbuk2 is known for and I think this story says it all.

Before the story gets a little dark for a moment, I must tell you about the bag’s trip to a Midwest City. One evening during our travels I had to throw the bag down onto a concrete patio from about 6-7 feet off the ground. Well, I had forgotten that a bottle of cologne was inside. How quickly did I remember when the bag hit the pavement and I heard glass shatter. Needless to say, the Timbuk2 bag smelled amazing – although a little strong at first – after the cologne had evaporated a bit! Haha

Here is where the story goes to hell for a little…I found myself coping with my own crap through the heavy and habitual use of drugs and alcohol. This continued for a few years and eventually…well, I found myself dropping out of college, unable to find a place to live (or afford one) and no longer able to hold down a ‘legal’ means of a job. I managed to piss away every f**king single belonging of mine except the following: the clothes on my body, the pair of Vans on my feet, and a few keepsakes all held within that same Timbuk2 bag from 99’. By this point the year is 2006, its summer, its hot and gross out, and worst of all I am living under a bridge now, as a homeless junkie. My bag by this point in my life is now being used for purposes I never would have intended its use for (and I am fairly certain Timbuk2 would not want this either). I managed to create a ‘sketchy compartment’ to hide small ‘things’ in and I also began stealing out of places with my bag as the means to carry and conceal these items, it served as a pillow on the concrete that I slept on underneath the bridge, and it was how I carried what few belongings I still had, around with me. I know, shitty things of me to do and I will forever carry those haunted memories and actions, but I do not and cannot dwell on the past. I hurt a lot of people during these years and I live with that everyday. I focus on the present and the future, trying to do good and the next right thing, but I felt revisiting this story may show how durable and amazing your bags really are – and perhaps an attempt to break the negative stigmas and labels society tends to place on people with bad histories. People can change for the ‘better’.

Well, I headed to rehab – with my bag on my back – for a few months, finally got myself cleaned up and then moved in with good people. During this time I started riding again as it had been a few years since I owned a bike and again, I did not own a vehicle during this time frame either. I had had a fixie during the bad parts until one day I had to sell the bike to get quick cash, pathetic I know. Well, I began using my bag more often again since I was riding around the city again, and heading to and from work. Furthermore, a year later I was able to get back into school to complete my undergrad degree. During this time my same Timbuk2 bag served multiple means since I was again carrying heavy books to and from campus as well as a MacBook, on a new frame I had built up. I rode to campus in rain, sleet, hail, snow, hurricanes…it did not matter and the bag always came through flawlessly for me. Upon graduation of my bachelors degree I began attending the same college for my master’s degree. The books then got even heavier and there were many more, there was a 15” MacBook Pro, and I was riding/walking around campus much more often during this time. I was also working 40 hours a week and would have to bring my school work with me to my ‘fine dining’ gig…of course I brought my computer, charger, papers and books in the restaurant with me via my Timbuk2 bag. There are countless times that my bag found itself on the floor (somehow) when the kitchen was being mopped at the end of the night, or behind the bar and I dropped a shaker tin while making martini’s or a liquor bottle slipping out of my hands mid-weeds on a Friday night that spilled all over it. But no worries because the bag dried rather quickly each time and prevented any damage to the important items inside of it.

Well, I moved out of the city and finished my last year of my masters program commuting and no longer biking, sadly. It was also around this time that the Timbuk2 bag had become a ‘puppy bag’ containing: treats, leash, collar, to-go water and food bowls, etc. The Timbuk2 bag by this point was over a decade old and clearly had been through hell and back a few times…but was still for the most part functional minus one or two broken pieces. After this time frame I made the decision to retire the bag as the strap would no longer stay in place, a few items had been chewed by the dog and would not lock or went missing/in the trash, etc. However, I still use this bag from time to time when I have an excessive amount of books and work to bring to campus (I am currently completing my Ph.D. and I teach at the university as well). I find it awesome that there are a few of us in my department that use messenger bags. Many of these folks do not ride a bike – as many think messenger bags should only be worn by messengers and cyclists, or perhaps cool scenester kids right? (Insert ‘eye roll’ here)– but I have a large group of colleagues and friends from all over the US who are professors and swear by Timbuk2 bags. I love it.

Well, that is my story of the journey my Timbuk2 bag had. It still gets used occasionally but not very often as it is weathered and worn. I could never throw this bag away. There are too many memories (although some are not always the most pleasant) and sentimental concepts attached to this bag. Nonetheless, this bag never gave up on me and for that, I will continue to use it as a supplemental bag. Keep up the good work ladies and gents.

I do apologize if this letter was stupid and time consuming. I guess you could say this is simply a long customer review – and a very positive one.


  1. Joe says:

    Should be called To Hell and Bag

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