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bag week 2010

Bag Week Reviews: Skooba Checkthrough Backpack

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Short Version: It’s a backpack with a window in it so the TSA people won’t hassle you at the security checkpoint. Given the high price and issues with the shoulder straps, I’d recommend caution if you are considering this bag.

Features:

  • Holds up to a 17-inch notebook
  • Easy Access “Doc-Pocket” for airline tickets, passport, transit pass, etc.
  • Interior organizer for cords, power adapters, and peripherals
  • $129.95
  • Product Page

Pros:

  • Easy to open, Checkthrough system looks like a laptop in a bin
  • Interior organizer is laid out nicely

Cons:

  • Shoulder straps too thin
  • Lacks straps to provide additional load support

Review:
With all of the additional TSA checkpoints now, being a business traveler really sucks. You have to take off your shoes, put your carry-on in one bin, any electronics in another, and it’s generally just a hassle. Skooba (along with many others) has tried to make this process slightly less annoying.

The Checkthrough Backpack is an example of this, using a clamshell design to hold your laptop on one side (with a clear plastic window), and the rest of your valuable electronics on the other. This makes the ideal design for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly as possible. Unless of course, you’re lucky enough to be randomly selected or they’re not sure what’s in the non-laptop side of your bag. Part of the idea of the Checkthrough system is that the laptop side of the clamshell looks exactly like a TSA checkpoint bin. This does not mean that you’ll never be searched, since the bag includes a disclaimer stating that the TSA can request a closer look no matter what bag you are using.

So the Checkthrough part is good, what about the rest of it? Well, the interior is fairly spacious, but I wouldn’t expect to use it as an overnight bag and a laptop bag. The interior organizer takes up a fair amount of room and depending on the number of peripheral gear you carry, there may not be enough space for a couple of pairs of pants and some shirts. The other issue is if you load it up with a bunch of weight, you’re going to kill your shoulders. The straps just aren’t wide enough, and the lack of a chest strap or waist strap means all of the weight will be on your shoulders, and those circulation cutting shoulder straps.

Conclusion: The Skooba Checkthrough backpack isn’t a bad bag. The TSA friendly part is really well thought out, but the rest of the bag does let it down a bit. Because of the amount of space in the bag it would be really easy to put too much weight in, which would try and cut off your arms as you walked to the terminal. With a little more planning and some better strapping, this bag could be great.

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