walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Timbuk2 Candybar Backpack Review

With the kids (mostly) out of diapers, I've been switching away from the big bags and backpacks to something a little smaller, and oriented more towards electronics. While the iPads all have cases (some better than others), it can be nice to have a bag with a built-in compartment for electronics.

I bought a Fossil handbag sized for an iPad, with an organizer compartment and a little additional space. Alas, it just never felt quite right (which was a bummer -- it was a really nice, purple leather -- but the leather made it heavy), so I don't use it very often. Also, it only looked good when it was mostly empty; never a good sign in a bag.

I have returned to my dorky, but functional ways: a cross-body black canvas mini-bag (wallet on a string, type of thing -- currently a Zealand, which I've long since forgotten where I bought it; I've had versions from many different makers) paired with a small backpack.

Timbuk2 markets the Candybar thus:

"Our most compact ballistic nylon backpack lets you move with ninja-like agility, carrying only your beloved iPad or e-reader, and basic essentials. Plus, Swing Around access means you can bust out your technology at baffling speeds."

"Ninja"! It comes in several colors, including black, and the liner is a high contrast pattern, making it easy to find your stuff inside (the black one seems to have a solid, light grey liner). I bought the "village violet/night blue", because PURPLE! Also a very nice blue. I do not use the organizer (because I have the dorky cross-body mini-bag for that), or the key looper (keys live on a carabiner attached to the dorky mini-bag). I primarily keep the following items in the backpack:

6 ChicoBags, which are shopping bags which pack into an attached pouch. I have two complaints about these bags. (1) The original fabric was prone to ripping. The new fabric is thicker/bulkier but more rip-resistant. (2) The mini-biners on them tend to break and/or get lost. I keep the six bags all on a larger biner, so when I am at the checkout, I just need to grab one and I get them all.

A Sennheiser Bluetooth headset, which I mostly use for music, but will occasionally do short calls on.

A kindle touch.

A pBook, usually from the library

A hat (typically a Disney ball cap with "Grumpy" on it, to let people know what they're in for if they talk to me)

A sunglasses case

A larabar

And in the electronics compartment, 1-2 iPads. I resist 3 and flat out refuse to put 4 in there, altho R. would probably try if allowed.

If I have A. for a long outing, I might have diaper(s) and wipes, or her sunglasses and hat, but if T. is with me, I bring his backpack for his gear.

For my purposes, the Candybar is Fantastic. It is light. The straps are close enough so they don't fall off my small and smaller shoulders (I have noticeably different sized shoulders, probably because I have scoliosis). The backpack is short enough it doesn't bounce off my ass and narrow enough at the bottom that it doesn't stick way out on the sides (I may be fat, but I'm just not that wide up top). It goes to the playground, book group, restaurants, shopping, etc. I do not think I would use this in a school context.

The Candybar, in short, has the Best Women's Specific Design I have ever encountered in a backpack. Interestingly, Timbuk2 is not marketing it that way. Some of the color choices are clearly on the feminine side of a full-spectrum, but there's also that all black with grey liner option, and two different grey options with blue trim which look almost perfectly neutral in style to my eyes (which remaining stylish). REI lists this backpack as a women's backpack. The YouTube video (not produced by Timbuk2 AFAIK) has it demo'd by a women, and Timbuk2's photo of a person wearing it sure looks like a woman. Many of the reviewers on Amazon identify as women (but not all of them). And women are not the only demographic that might benefit from a narrow, stylish, backpack with closer-set strips.

So, is this intended for women? Probably. Timbuk2 has other backpacks with a similar range of colors, but with two photos: one showing a man wearing it and one showing a woman. They also have backpacks with just a photo of a man. But they've left open the possibility that a man could buy and use this, without feeling All Weird about it.
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