- No need to remove your laptop
- Durable exterior fabric
- Backpack isn't contoured
The latest trend in travel bags is the new checkpoint-friendly category. These bags let frequent travelers keep their notebooks inside their cases when going through airport checkpoints, saving time and reducing the chance of damaging your computer. Skooba has recently introduced two new checkpoint-friendly bags which we will take a look at in this review today.
These two new bags include the Skooba Checkthrough Backpack and the Skooba Checkthrough Roller. As the names imply, the backpack is a standard backpack design, whereas the roller bag is a larger rolling suitcase-style bag. Both of these bags offer a split-case design, where a central zipper separates additional storage from the laptop section.
Build and Design
The design of each bag is very similar, with a basic black exterior shell, comprised of a strong nylon material. The overall shape is boxy, which is expected for most roller bags, but not generally for backpacks. Generally roller bags are designed to fit close to the exact dimensions of overhead carrying compartments, while backpacks are shaped to fit the contours of your bag and fit underneath your flight seat. I think a little extra padding and a softer or more flexibly shell of the Checkthrough Backpack would have improved its looks and comfort.
The quality of each bag is excellent, with very durable outside fabric and a strong body that keeps its shape. You can almost sit on the roller bag without distorting the shape of the case when the roller bag is completely zipped up. This means even when being tossed around, your possessions should stay safe and out of harm’s way. The same goes for the backpack, although a strong internal frame hurts its usability, since it feels cumbersome with it on your back. The durability of the nylon is fantastic, resisting scratching and scuffs from abrasion, and staying firmly closed even in less than ideal situations. The first day I received the Checkthrough Backpack, I stuffed my laptop into it and actually had it on my back as I drove home on my motorcycle. The straps stayed firmly around my body, and the bag never flinched or started to open even in the strong highway speed winds. The outside material of each bag is also water repellant, so your stuff will stay dry inside even if you get caught in some rain on your way out of class or on the ride home.
As I mentioned in the design section, the comfort of the backpack could be improved if the shell wasn’t so rigid. In my testing the Checkthrough Backpack felt more like it was propped up against my back rather than molding to my back like other bags. The back was heavily padded as you would expect from a backpack, but its rather pointy edges didn’t agree with my lower back. When I was wearing a coat, the extra padding helped to make it more comfortable, but it still felt fairly awkward. The strap design was fairly good with a sloped shape to grip around your shoulders instead of being completely straight. For one-handed carrying the top handle was adequately padded as well as being quite sturdy.
The roller case was simply perfect. The tough durable outer shell proved to be exactly what you want for this application … unlike the backpack. The roller case doesn’t have an outer shell that is too soft and won’t flex when up against other items in overhead storage. In other words, you don’t have to worry about possibly damaging your delicate items stored inside. The strong body also helps when you are sliding the case into or out of the storage bin, keeping its shape instead of flopping around.
The Checkthrough Roller offered two carrying handles, one being the strap on the top of the case, and the other on the expending boom you use when rolling the case around. The strap handle was soft with a modest size that was comfortable to hold onto for longer periods of time. The tubular shape reduced fatigue compared to folded nylon handles … which have a tendency to cut into your hand. The rolling handle was also shaped pretty well, and more comfortable if you factor in that you don’t have to carry the weight of the bag when using it.
In the storage category both bags excelled, with plenty of room available thanks to their boxy shapes. Both bags offered more than enough pockets and zippered sections, and plenty of ways to organize your items.
The backpack offered four primary storage zones, the laptop section, the book/large item section, and two zippered pouches on the front. The laptop section offered plenty of room to hold notebooks up to 17 inches in size, and adequate padding to keep it safe from moderate tumbles. The large zippered section could hold probably two text books and a notepad, and still have enough room for a bottle of soda at the top. On the front, the upper zippered pocket could store an mp3 player or phone, but not much else. The larger pocket could be used to store laptop accessories, such as a wireless mouse, and other miscellaneous items. The roller bag is divided into two main sections, the front laptop pocket, and the rear storage section. In the back there is enough room for a weekend’s worth of clothes, or a few school textbooks.
Overall the Skooba Checkthrough Backpack and Checkthrough Roller worked well for travelers who want the added convenience of a checkpoint-safe bag. The backpack could benefit from some improvements in comfort for the user, but was still more than usable as an everyday carrying case. The roller case was fairly durable and probably the better of the two bags we reviewed given their intended markets. In the areas where the backpack was flawed, those ended up being strengths with the roller bag. Durability between both bags was excellent, with strong nylon shells and fairly durable frames when all the zippers were closed. The only real complaint outside of the lack of comfort when using the backpack was the cost, which is pretty steep compared to non checkpoint-friendly bags.
- No need to remove your laptop to go through airport security
- Durable exterior fabric
- Backpack could be more contoured for a back