Gear Review: Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack

Timbuk2 Aviator Convertible Backpack

For those who like to travel light, finding the perfect bag that enables you to hit the road with a minimal amount of gear and bulk is a crucial part of the experience. That bag has to be lightweight, compact, and easy to carry, while still allowing you to pack everything we need for a few days on the road. It should have a simple design, offer plenty of options for keeping your important items well organized, and provide easy access to those items while on the go. That is exactly what the Aviator Convertible Travel Backpack from Timbuk2 provides, making it one of the most versatile carry-on bags available. 


Understated Design

Upon first glance, it isn't easy to see just what the Aviator brings to the table. It is a boxy shaped backpack that appears rather mundane, with little to set it apart from the competition. But upon further inspection, you'll quickly see that it not only has a number of thoughtful design elements that are sure to please any frequent flier, but it is particularly handy for those of us who like to hit the road with a minimal amount of gear in tow.

The Aviator not only exhibits Timbuk2's trademark high quality construction, but it is made from durable fabrics that are built to withstand the rigors that come along with frequent travel. This conveys the impression that this is a pack that you can carry with you on numerous adventures without it showing much wear and tear at all. In fact, while testing it for this review I carried it on several trips ranging from commutes around town to far-flung adventures across the globe. Even after those excursions, my Aviator Convertible continues to look completely brand new. 

Plenty of Storage

In terms of storage options, the Aviator has a lot to offer. Not only does it have zippered pockets across the very top and the front of the pack, there are also twin water bottle holders on either side as well. A spacious internal compartment and another large pocket under the pack's lid are where the bulk of your gear will go, including clothing, shoes, and small personal items. Those two chambers can be linked to one another simply by unzipping a dividing layer of fabric on the inside of the bag. This provides more versatility in terms of packing, while giving travelers more options for how they like to keep things organized. 

Timbuk2 hasn't forgotten about those travelers who need to carry a notebook computer with them when they travel either. A hidden laptop sleeve can be found inside a zippered chamber located along the back of the Aviator. This very-well padded compartment provides plenty of protection for your precious notebook, and is large enough to accommodate computers that are up to 15" in size. 

Backpack or Duffle?

This travel bag has the unique ability to be able to convert from a backpack to a duffle within a moments notice. The comfortable shoulder straps of the Aviator can be stuffed away in yet another hidden compartment, effectively turning it into a bag that you carry by hand rather than throwing it over the shoulder. Handles on either side and on the front mean that you never have to search for a way to pick up the pack either, no matter what angle you're grabbing it from. And when you need to travel faster, simply pull out the shoulder straps once again, put the pack on your back, and off you go.

Extending the duffle bag concept even further, the Aviator's front panel zips open, allowing full access to the interior of the bag. This makes it incredibly easy to locate the items you're looking for, not to mention load the pack with all of the things you want to take with you when you hit the road. I was consistently  impressed with the level of access that this pack provided, even though you do have to sometimes go through a number of zippers and clasps to get where you want to go.

Perfect for Short Term Travel

The Aviator is built to be a stand-alone pack that provides everything you need in one compact package. But if it has one drawback, it is probably that it is a bit too large and bulky to serve as a complimentary carry-on bag to other luggage, and it is a bit too small for trips that are longer than just a few days. But for those who need a backpack/duffel for those kinds of trips, it is absolutely perfect. I know that it will certainly be my go-to choice for short term travel in the future, as it provides the capacity I need for a few days on the road, without having to make compromises of any kind. 

Available in black, brown, and gray, the Aviator sells for $132 on the Timbuk2 website. It is also backed by a lifetime warranty that ensures your investment is well protected in the future. 

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