Thursday, October 29, 2009


So my friend at TIMBUK2 sent me one of their new HEMLOCK backpacks. What instantly struck me is that this bag is damn good looking. By far one of the best looking rolltops out there. The second thing I instantly noticed is that there are no waist or sternum straps. This was incredibly dismaying. I basically wrote the thing off and figured it would be uncomfortable. I was wrong. Really wrong. This bag is hands down the most comfortable pack I have ever ridden with. I have loaded that thing up with groceries, bike parts, climbing gear, coats, etc. and even when it clocked in at about 38 pounds it was still massively comfortable, didn't shift one bit, and sat right where I wanted it to. The minimal strap design turns out to be this pack's blessing rather than it's curse. I took it on a 50 mile ride with about 25 pounds in it and loved it. And the fewer the straps, the less shit there is to flap around in the wind. The HEMLOCK is a standard bucket style rolltop, with a few added bonuses. There is a padded laptop sleeve that you can access without having to take the entire pack of or open the rolltop. There is also a nice little stash pouch on here too. Cinch straps on the side have proved to be useful for me too. I was a little worried initially that they were excessive, but I have cinched down my load, and even used them to strap a climbing rope to the outside of the bag. The external pocket has pretty basic organization in it for pens and other random things.

One of many trips to the farmer's market
where I stuffed the bag to the brim with produce.

Here are my issues with the HEMLOCK: The outer pocket is really poorly designed. The closure system on it (velcro) coupled with the shape of the pouch and shape of the flap DO NOT integrate well, and if you want an even remotely tight seal, you have to put some effort in to it and fold the sides in before you velcro the flap down. The light hanger on the back is too near the bottom of the pack. Every time I sat the bag down, the light lifted right off the hanger. If any of you have ever owned a bike light, you know those damn things are hard to keep around. Always getting lost, broken, etc. Anyhow, the rolltop has the same issues as the outer pocket: weird integration between rolldown, velcro, and extra fabric that needs to be folded in. Also, that main strap on the top is wayyy too long, I cut about 4 inches off the strap to keep it from flapping around. Lastly....why the hell is this thing not waterproof? Seriously. Put some vinyl on the inside and call it good guys.

All in all, this is my current go-to pack. Just the right size (they sent me Large), sleek, sharp looking, and comfortable as hell. It's a shame I'll have to revert to my Chrome if I want to ride in the rain. I'd like to see some of those minor revisions made, then they can rename the pack the "Gavin".


  1. Great review! I have the "medium" (really the large) in the poo brown, and I'm digging it, too.
    You totally saved my Superflash from certain death with your mention of the loop issues. I'm very jealous that you have a friend at T2.

  2. Thanks for the review! I'm looking at getting the Hemlock too. Very cool looking bag and I like how you can kind of "choose" the size!

  3. haha live the guys said above, thanks for the review. I've been looking into getting a solid and yet affordable messenger backpack and this is basically it.
    again thanks for the review