Our History

Born and bred in San Francisco, we've been making bags that last forever since 1989.

  • 1873

    The U.S. Patent Office awards patent #139,121 for riveted work pants, and Levi's blue jeans are born. So begins the San Francisco sewing industry.

  • Late 1970s

    Shoulder bags originally designed for telephone linemen by Globe Canvas (aka De Martini) of New York, are adopted by NYC bicycle messengers.

  • 1984

    Zo Bags is founded in San Francisco.

  • 1989

    Rob Honeycutt, a San Francisco bicycle messenger, purchases a used Singer sewing machine and orders wholesale fabric and buckles. His total investment is $200, roughly everything he has. Rob makes 50 black handlebar bags that look good, but only sell at one bicycle shop in San Francisco, The Freewheel. Still working hard as a bike messenger, Rob notes how many non-messengers ask him where they can buy a messenger bag like the Zo he carries. Rob seizes the opportunity and build his first messenger bag. The first unit sells at The Freewheel and Rob's messenger bag company, Scumbags, is born.

  • 1990

    Rob decided "Scumbags" lacks the necessary credibility of a real bag company. Inspired by the legendary African city, Timbuktu, and a popular indie band, Timbuk3, the name "Timbuk2" is born.

  • April 1990

    Timbuk2 receives its first wholesale order for messenger bags from The Bike Gallery in Portland, Oregon.

  • Summer 1990

    Rob conceives his "one-at-a-time" build-to-order production system. All materials required to make a bag are kept within arms' reach of the sewing machine. Every bag is made-to-order by Rob; a one-man show.

  • 1991

    Doodling on a cocktail napkin with felt-tip marker, Rob pens the original Timbuk2 "swirl" logo.

  • 1991

    Timbuk2 moves out of Rob's basement and opens a shop at 217 Dore Street, in San Francisco's South of Market (SOMA) district.

  • 1992

    Timbuk2 moves to Emeryville, across the Bay from San Francisco, and hires its first full-time sewer.

  • 1994

    Rob becomes a student of mass customization and the lean manufacturing philosophy of Toyota Motor Corp. He perfects the three-panel bag design for production.

  • 1994

    Timbuk2 debuts its signature three-panel, tri-color messenger bag design, and encourages bike shops and customers to design custom bags with its "Build Your Own Bag" order form.

  • 1996

    Timbuk2 relocates to Treat Street in San Francisco's Mission District.

  • 1997

    Timbuk2 transports an entire production line to the Interbike tradeshow in Anaheim, California and produces custom messenger bags during the show.

  • 1999

    Located in the heart of 'multimedia gulch', ground zero for the San Francisco dot-com gold rush, Timbuk2 begins work on an Internet version of its custom bag order form.

  • 1999

    Timbuk2 sets up production at the Winter Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. A freak tornado rips through the tented exhibit hall, destroying the equipment and killing one person (unrelated to Timbuk2).

  • 2000

    Timbuk2 launches its award-winning Bag Builder on timbuk2.com.

  • 2002

    Timbuk2 introduces its first computer carrying case and laptop computer sleeve.

  • 2003

    The swirl logo gets a makeover, and the "happy swirl" replaces the original "scratchy swirl".

  • 2004

    Timbuk2 launches a complete line of bags and accessories, adding the Yoga Bag, Artist Series messenger bag, Totes and Duffels.

  • 2005

    Timbuk2 starts the Artist Originals Program, a collaborative effort in supporting emerging and known artists & their charities. Participating artists created one-of-a-kind messenger bags and proceeds from sales of these eye-popping bags were donated to a charity of the artists' choice.

  • 2006

    Timbuk2 opens its (first) flagship (and only) store in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

  • 2007

    Timbuk2 moves from Treat Street to 16th Street; moving up in the world.

  • 2008

    Timbuk2 completes the San Francisco factory remodel at 16th & Alabama to create a work environment like no other. Plants are planted in/around the production lines to bring the outdoors inside, lighting is updated and expanded, open space remains sacred, and the lines are re-configured to improve ergonomics and production capacity by more than 20%. The improved efficiency and room for expansion is a huge positive for the Timbuk2 team and our customers.
    Read the blog posts. See images of our factory.

    The Timbuk2 Custom Cargo Tote is born. Designed and manufactured in our San Francisco factory. See images.

  • November 2008

    Timbuk2 introduces luggage, including the wheelie kind.

  • May 2009

    Timbuk2 celebrates its 20th anniversary and launches the Lived In Messenger Bag to toast 2 decades of abuse.

  • 2010

    Inspired by a desire to unify the office and production teams under one roof, Timbuk2 relocates in February of 2010. Manufacturing and office digs are located at 583 Shotwell St. in the same Mission neighborhood that moved Rob to create the first bag. The new facilities are clean and modern and home to a staff of nearly 60, multiple dogs and a disco ball.

  • 2011

    Timbuk2 trademarks the iconic three panel design.

  • August 2012

    Timbuk2 launches whatsinyourbag.com & timbuk2fans.com for fans to share images and stories from their Timbuk2 lives.

  • November 2012

    The Timbuk2 retail store in San Francisco gets a makeover. 506 Hayes Street.

  • Today

    And the customization continues...