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View Full Version : Skooba Design's Checkthrough Brief: A Great Travel Companion

Jason Dunn
02-04-2010, 04:00 PM
<p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258749603.usr1.jpg" style="border: 0;" /></p><p><a href="http://www..skoobadesign.com" target="_blank">Skooba Design</a>, the company formerly known as RoadWired, continues to crank out new bag designs and as usual, I'm keen to review them being the bag fanatic that I am. They were among the first companies to release a line of <a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/catalog/checkpoint-friendly-bags-288/" target="_blank">airport security checkpoint-friendly bags</a>, which caught my attention. As someone who always travels with a laptop, I was curious to see if this really would make things easier going through security, so I requested one of their <a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/product/checkthrough-brief-40/" target="_blank">Checkthrough Brief bags</a>, a $139.95 USD bag that comes only in black. I knew it was a sizable bag (17"L x 13"H x 7.5"D, 48 ounces) based on the number of pockets and pouches, so when I traveled to Seattle in November of 2009 for <a href="http://www.windowsphonethoughts.com/news/show/95970/mobius-2009-fascinating-but-little-that-can-be-shared.html" target="_blank">Mobius</a>, I had it crammed full of gadgets. How did the bag work for me? Keep reading - especially since there's a special 20% off coupon for Digital Home Thoughts readers.<MORE /></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752477.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 1: The outside front-left pocket has an elastic pouch perfect for items of middling thickness such as a point and shoot digital camera. There's also a mesh pouch for thin items such as paperwork. Alternatively, this is where you'd store the included plastic bag for your travel fluids - you know, the ones that are restricted for carry-on now. Check out the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/product/checkthrough-brief-40/" target="_blank">Skooba Design photo gallery for images of what this looks like</a>.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752487.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 2: The outside front-right pocket has an elastic pouch perfect for a passport and a folded boarding pass. There's also two pen/pencil holders. I was pleased to see only two and not four as some older Skooba Design bags had.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752492.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 3: Above the two front pouches, there's a larger pouch. It has two loose-fitting storage areas up top, and a larger storage area below.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752500.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 4: Gadgets gone wild! On the inside of the first major zippered area is where you can store your gizmos - there are four elastic pouches along the top, each wide enough for an MP3 player, smartphone, several cables per pouch, etc. Below that there are two sizeable zippered pouches.</em></p><h1><PAGE />The Checkthrough Brief (continued)</h1><h1></h1><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752507.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 5: The inside has more mesh pouches - enough room for all sorts of travel essentials. Strangely enough, the large vertical mesh pouch was too tight a fit to easily hold a paperback book of standard thickness. I got it to fit with some effort, but it would be nice to have a bit more slack. This has never been a problem with other Skooba bags I've used.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752513.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 6: This is the main storage area of the bag. It's spacious enough for a good number of file folders or paperwork. Alternatively, you could fit a small overnight kit and a few pieces of clothing for an overnight trip. It might be interesting if it came with some basic dividers to help organize the space - right now everything would just sort of bounce around.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752519.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 7: On the back of the bag is the laptop storage compartment. It's easily&nbsp;accessible via a zipper - notice all that space around the laptop. That's an </em><a href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/96215/hp-s-dm3-laptop-looks-great-worst-touchpad-ever.html" target="_blank"><em>HP dm3z</em></a><em> shown in the photo.</em></p><p>In the above photo, you can see how much space there is around the laptop, and this is one of my few complaints with this bag: the laptop has no support to hold it in place, so it bounces around. I don't know if this was a requirement for making it airport security-friendly, but after getting used to the protected fit of previous Skooba bags - which usually involved their fantastic AirSquare protection system - it was hard to get used to. The laptop area is 16" x 11" x 1.5" in size. The Skooba Design site says it will hold 17" laptops of the slim variety, but I was able to fit an HP dv7 with a 17.3" widescreen in here. It was a tight fit, but it worked.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752525.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 8: An ID holder that snaps back into it's hidden pouch when you let go of it. I can't say I've ever been in a scenario where this would be needed, but perhaps for someone who needs to show their ID constantly, it would be handy to have.</em></p><p>Not shown is the rear of the bag, which has a luggage strap that allows you to place the bag on top of your rolling luggage for easy carrying.<PAGE /></p><h1>The Checkthrough Brief (continued)</h1><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752531.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 9: The nickel-finished metal hardware looks great, and would doubtless stand up to some serious wear and tear over time.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752622.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 10: The strap is comfortable, but it's nothing special. On a bag that's $139.95 USD, it would have been nice to see a <a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/product/skooba-superbungee-bag-strap-30/" target="_blank">Skooba Superbungee strap</a> (which is truly a great strap).</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752635.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 11: The Checkthrough logo indicating that this bag is designed to make security screening easier.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1258752648.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 12: This is how the bag looks when you lay it on the security conveyor belt. There's a piece of black fabric stitched into the bag with green text - you can see it on the far right in the above photo - that explains that this is a bag designed to go through security with the laptop left inside the case.</em></p><p>So the real question is, does this bag work? Does it speed up the process of going through airport security? My answer is "sort of". When I went through airport security in Calgary, I unzipped the bag and left my laptop in the compartment. As I was moving toward the security agent, he said "Please remove your laptop from your laptop bag." I smiled and said "Sure", but as I unpacked it, I explained that this bag was designed to go through airport security screenings with the laptop inside it. He hunched over and read the text on the black piece of fabric, and said he'd never heard of such a thing, but that it sounded like a great idea.</p><p>On my way back to Calgary, going through airport security in Seattle, I once again left the laptop in the bag, and opened the bag with the laptop facing up. It went through security without a problem, and nary a comment from the agent. Calgary is a city of more than a million people, so it's not like it's a hick town - my hope is that as more travelers use checkpoint-friendly bags, it will raise the awareness of security agents around the world, and these bags will be able to operate as they were designed: to lessen the hassle of unpacking and re-packing your laptop.</p><p>Even with the 50/50 success rate of my first effort - and my first trip of 2010 had me carrying <a href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/96611/ces-2010-the-worst-ces-experience-i-ve-ever-had.html" target="_blank">no laptop bag at all</a> - the <a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/product/checkthrough-brief-40/" target="_blank">Checkthrough Brief</a> made for an excellent travel companion and is a product I'd recommend highly to anyone who travels with a laptop. If you don't need all that space in the middle, however, the <a href="http://www.skoobadesign.com/product/checkthrough-messenger-42/" target="_blank">Checkthrough Messenger</a> might be a better choice as it's lighter, smaller, an less expensive.</p><p>If you want to save 20% off any order of $50 or more, use the coupon code <strong>DIGIDEAL</strong>.</p><p><em>Jason Dunn owns and operates <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Inc.</a>, a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys <a href="http://photos.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">photography</a>, mobile devices, <a href="http://www.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">blogging</a>, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, his son Logan, and his sometimes obedient dog. He hopes his next trip was better than <a href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/96611/ces-2010-the-worst-ces-experience-i-ve-ever-had.html" target="_blank">his last one</a>.</em></p><p><em></em><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><strong>Do you enjoy using new hardware, <a class="iAs" href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/93798/dell-s-inspiron-mini-10-reviewed.html" target="_blank">software</a> and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Review Team</a>! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Then click here for more information.</a></strong></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><a href="http://cmp.ly/Publish/user/CmpLy.php?cid=2" target="_blank">DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION</a></p>