Review: Skooba Checkthrough Bag

Ever since 9/11, air travelers have been forced to take their shoes off, take their laptops out of bags, and…well you know the drill.  Now the TSA has worked on developing a standard for letting us keep our laptop in its bag as we go through through the checkpoint.  I got to take a look at Skooba Design‘s version, called the Skooba Checkthrough.

The bag is actually a lot smaller than it looks and a lot larger than it looks.  I know; how can it be both?  Well when all zipped up, it’s a little thinner than the backpack I used to use; however I have everything I normally carry in it.  The only thing missing is my digital camera, but when I get another case for it, it should fit too. The Skooba Checkthough is relatively slim, but can hold a lot of gear.

The feature it was created for is the ability to leave the laptop in the bag when going through TSA Checkpoints.

This is what the Checkthrough looks like when it’s open; this is also how you should put your bag on the belt.  This configuration allows security a unfettered view of your laptop when it’s in the machine, as well as once you get it on the other side.

You can clearly see the laptop through the window.  You can’t tell much from my picture, but this is my Lenovo T60 that I use for work.  There’s also one other item in this picture.  That’s the little tag reminding you how to use the bag, which also gives the caveat that if the TSA rep says you must remove it, well you’ve got to do what they say.

When you get to the end of the security line, you don’t even have to zip this back up.  You can just grab the handle and run to the gate.  You could zip it up then, or it may be a good idea to leave it unzipped.  I can see you being able to use this feature to fit this in narrower compartments by laying it out like you do at security.

The Skooba Checkthrough is very well built.  The exterior is made from 1680 Denier Ballistic with a interior made of nylon.  All materials are made to be waterproof.  All hardware is made from brushed nickel and the zippers are of the self repairing variety.  I am impressed with the quality of this bag’s construction.  If you’re a frequent flier, this bag will stand up to the rigors of traveling.  It has both a shoulder strap and a briefcase style handle on the top.  One thing I may have to do in the future is order a Skooba Superbungee Strap, as the included strap isn’t very well padded; it’s comfortable, but if you’re using the shoulder strap and have the bag loaded down, you could use the extra give that the Superbungee provides – plus the Skooba Superbungee is on sale right now for $19.95 (it’s only 5 dollars off, but in this down economy every little bit helps).

The Skooba Checkthrough has plenty of storage space.  I had my Lenovo, my Eee PC, a external USB hard drive, a 15 minute battery charger, various thumb drive, my bible, a Tekkeon MP3700 (review forthcoming), a Griffin iMic and other various cables all stuffed into this bag.  Once I get a slimmer camera bag, it will probably also fit inside the Checkthrough.

Like some other travel bags, this bag also can slip on top of your wheeled suitcase, making it much easier to juggle a suitcase and your laptop.  I may try slipping my CPAP in a small wheeled carry on while using this on my next trip.

The Checkthrough also has a little bag which you can use to put your regulation sized liquids inside; it fits the acceptable specs to a tee.  The best part is it has a zipper, so no more quart sized Ziplocs needed.

Just fill the bag and put it into one of the front pockets.

The last feature I would like to point out is the springy ID holder.  It’s springy due to the fact that it has a connected strap of nylon that will pull the holder and it’s contents back into the slot.  I would put a business card or something inside it that will identify the bag as yours, but  I would not use it to hold your driver’s license.

The Skooba Checkthrough bag is $139.95 at Skooba Design web site.  You COULD pay shipping, but if your order before December 12th and use code 08TECH25, you’ll get free shipping and 25% off!  That makes the bag $104.96, and a steal of a deal for a very well constructed bag that’s worth the regular price!  I have seen some bags that were not as well constructed priced in this range, and I feel that the Skooba is a good deal even if you have to pay full price; with the code, it’s a steal!

What I liked: Great construction, lots of storage and you probably won’t have to take it out at the checkpoint.  A great bag for the frequent flier.

What needs improvement: Almost nothing.  The only thing that might make it better is to make the pockets near the top of the divider mesh instead, as they are really tight and can only hold small cords like my phone charger.  This pocket might be good for portable mice, except mine kept popping out.

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2 replies

  1. I haven’t traveled with this bag, yet but I have with others and I tried to do what you’d normally do and they actually said I could leave the Eee in the bag? I don’t remember. I didn’t have too much of a hassle.

    Actually, I am more likely to have the Eee OUT and using it in the airport and I suspend it before going to the other side.

    What I can tell you is I HAVE left the Eee in it’s sleeve and have never been asked to remove it.

    YMMV on all of this. I think even if I did have to take the Eee out, it’s not as big a deal as taking the full blown laptop out. Plus many bags have this weird pocket setup in that there’s other stuff that can fall out when you open it up to take it out.

    For one that isn’t TSA Safe, but is easier to deal with at security, try Ogio’s Metro. It has a laptop only pocket so you can leave the rest of the zippers closed before putting it on the belt.

    Thanks for reading GD!

  2. Thanks for the great review, Joel. I’m curious about whether you’ve gone through a TSA checkpoint with the load you mention, as it includes a EEE in addition to a larger laptop. It seems as though you might have to remove one of the laptops from the bag for a separate screening to make it work within the TSA rules. When I’ve traveled with more than one laptop there always seems to be a bit of agent-based freaking out, so I wonder whether this arrangement helps reduce that.