Timbuk2 Catapult Sling Review

One of the great things about grad school is fewer books to carry around in your backpack.  Up to about a decade about ago, photocopies of scholarly journals replaced textbooks as reading material so one would still be lugging around pounds of paper everywhere.  Today all the major journals have PDFs of the last 20 years or more, lightening the load on the backs of grad students everywhere.

This load reduction especially coupled with an iPad makes the typical backpack overkill.  Thus the introduction of products like the Timbuk2 Catapult Sling – a compact messenger style bag with a specially designed iPad pocket. 


  • Perfect iPad pocket
  • Holds bike u-lock outside bag if you need it.
  • Compact but not too small: even though the Timbuk2 site claims the 11” Alienware laptop won’t fit in this bag, I had not problem fitting it or a standard sized textbook inside the Catapult Sling in addition to my iPad 2.
  • Price 


  • The shoulder “padding” on the strap needs to be at least 50% longer than it is to pad your entire shoulder.
  • The easy access buckle is a nice idea, but bulky plastic buckle needs padding as it will dig into your chest and/or collar bone.
  • Fit: the strap is not at the proper angle for comfort.  Even with only an iPad the Catapult Sling will hang at an awkward angle unless the strap is tightened considerably at which point the plastic buckle will dig into your chest.  The bag is comfortable over a single shoulder (instead of messenger style) but then one has to keep an hand on the strap to prevent the bag from slipping off your shoulder.

It’s a shame that Timbuk2 overlooked the comfort factor: some padding and a better strap angle would have made this an excellent bag even at a higher price.  But if you’re on a tight budget and need a new bag, you certainly could do worse.

Grade: B-

$38 at Amazon$45 at Timbuk2