When a company like Skooba (Gear Diary’s very first advertiser!) releases a new product, we take notice. Two years ago we reviewed the company’s Netbook Messenger bag. I liked it a lot and had this to say,
In all I have found the Skooba NetBook Messenger to be a great bag for daily use. If you carry a netbook (or a MacBook without too many accessories) and want a bag that is small, light and easy to grab and go this is a great choice. It looks good, will likely put up with a good deal of use and abuse.
Two years later netbook’s run is over and done. Now it is a tablet world and, thanks to the growing popularity of the iPad and the soon-to-be-released Kindle Fire, the need for a small, well-designed bag is greater than ever. That’s where Skooba’s newcomes in. It is well-made, has tons of pockets that are thoughtfully laid out and, most importantly, it is designed to make carrying your tablet with you all the time as easy and light as possible.
Here’s what the company has to say about their new tablet messenger:
Pockets, pockets, pockets—16 in all, from the generous main compartment to small accessory organizers. There’s even a dedicated USB thumb drive slot, key ring, and hideaway water bottle holder. Super-slim profile and space-optimized design results in a messenger bag that holds much more than its size, shape and appearance suggest. So you can carry your iPad, iPad 2 or other tablet, netbook or eReader along with your other work/school/travel necessities, without giving up the sleek, compact, minimalist lifestyle that made you buy your device in the first place.
Primary materials: Micro Ballistic Nylon exterior with Hypalon accents. Interior fully lined with smooth nylon pack cloth.
Hardware and trim: Heavy-duty webbing for shoulder strap and handles. All load-bearing points heavily reinforced. Metal, no-twist shoulder strap fasteners. Revolution auto-lock main closure.
Overall Size: 14″L x 11″H x 3″D
Tablet Pocket Size: 10.5″H x 7.5″L x 1.5″D
Weight: 25 oz.
Let’s walk through what Skooba says and I think about the bag.
Exterior of water-repellant treated Micro Ballistic Nylon. Combines the optimal strength/weight ratio, outstanding tear-resistance and durability of a “combat-tough” material, with the beautiful look and feel of world-class travelware. Accented with Hypalon-reinforced flap and Atlantic Blue piping and stitch lines.
Me: The first thing you notice about the Tablet Messenger V3 is that, like all of Skooba’s products, it is well made and constructed from materials that are intended for use in the real, often brutal, world. At the same time, despite being a tough bag, it is remarkably light. That is a tough balance to strike and Skooba seems to have gotten it just right.
Main flap secured by one-handed, Revolution closure—just touch the two halves together for instant, positive auto-locking, and release with a quick, quarter-turn. You’ve never seen or used anything like it—who ever thought a bag clip could be this cool?
Me: I must admit, the funky closure method took me by surprise. At first I wasn’t sure how it worked, and I certainly wasn’t sure I liked the way it looked. I’m still not totally sold on the appearance. After all, it is rather prominent, but the functionality and ease of use, especially for someone like me, is awesome. A simple twist of the circle and, bam, the bag is open but when the flap comes down on the bag again the magnets ensure that it automatically locks in place and secures the contents of the bag. This ease-of-use more than outweighs any issue someone might have with its prominence.
iPad, iPad 2 or other tablet, netbook or E-Reader is cushioned in its own padded compartment, and can be reached instantly through the top-access zipper, without opening the main bag, for easy removal at security checkpoints or while on the move.
Me: There is a zippered pocket on the flap itself. Just above that is a zipper that opens to the main compartment itself. I LOVE this feature as it makes grabbing the tablet you are carrying simple and fast, and it means you don’t need to unlock and open the flap. It is a fantastic feature that is there if you want to use it and can be ignored if you want to use the messenger in the more traditional “lift flap, grab contents” manner.
When you lift the flap you immediately see a large pocket that covers the better part of the bags front. Inside you’ll find a great example of what Skooba does best- organize gear.
Divided organizer pouches, ideal for portable gadgets and accessories, are fully padded—an added protective feature you won’t find in comparable bags.
Me: Skooba lets you keep small items organized without overwhelming you with a complicated system of hidden pockets. Toward the back you have slots for pens, a phone, some cards and, of course, a loop for your keyring. The front of the space has a series of pockets that are made from see-through mesh. This is a great way to keep small items from shifting while being able to see and grab them with ease. It is a fantastic system of pockets that is a practical as it is convenient.
Interior lined with smooth, scratch- and lint-free oxford nylon in a striking and distinctive Atlantic Blue color. Not only does it add a touch of personality and fashion, but the high contrast makes it virtually impossible to lose small items at the bottom of the bag.
Me: Okay, I’ve got to say it — I don’t mind the blue color inside. In fact, it actually does make it easy to find the contents you are hauling around. That noted, I’m not a huge fan of the blue trim elements on the exterior. I know, I know, without them the black bag would be kind of boring but… I like boring. This bag could look fairly professional we it not for the blue trim. But the blue trim IS there and it makes the bag far more youthful and less professional than I would like.
Top handle with tactile Hyperion wrap provides comfortable hand-carrying.
Me: My “daily driver” for a long time was the Padster bag. I used it for well over a year and a half. It is an awesome, classy bag but has a few major flaws. One is the lack of a way to secure items in the main storage area. This bag has it, the Padster does not. The second is an easy “grab and go” handle on the top. This bag has one, the Padster does not. For convenience I don’t think you can underestimate the utility of this handle. It makes picking up the bag simple and secure.
There’s not much to say about the zippered pocket on the back except for the fact that… there is a zippered pocket on the back.
Includes removable shoulder strap with non-slip pad, military-spec seat belt webbing and twist-free, metal swivel clips.
Me: The Tablet Messenger V3 comes with a shoulder strap that is quite useful and comfortable enough. I use the word “enough” because, while it is better than some of the shoulder straps I have used, it is not the most padded shoulder strap either. It gets the job done and it comfortable enough to carry all day. As far as the blue highlight on it goes… not a fan.
All of this, packed into a messenger bag that barely adds to your load, at just 25 oz.
Me: Not surprisingly, Skooba’s attention to detail on this bag is fantastic. The company used heavy-duty hardware and even designed the pulls to be easy and comfortable to grab. The D-Rings for the shoulder strap are heavy-duty and double sewn. This isn’t a bag which is going to fall apart any time soon… or later.
All of this brings us to my general sense of the bag. It is well made, should last a long time, makes carrying your tablet and some accessories easy and organized and yet is super light. That is a great combination. After all, if you are taking your tablet with you it means you are leaving your heavy, bulky laptop behind. If, in the process, you use a bag that starts out heavy before you have even put something inside you have defeated the entire purpose of traveling “tablet-light”. The Skooba Tablet Messenger V3 avoids that issue by providing a super-tough bag that is also super light. The weight of the bag will depend upon the items you choose to carry, not the bag you carry them in. I highly recommend it!
Here’s a company video of it in action.
You can learn more and order one for yourself.
UPDATE: Since this review was first published the bag has become my daily driver. I do use other bags at times but this is my “go to” bag and the one I return to time and again.
What I Like: Small and light; lots of well-organized pockets; Special slot for your tablet; Grab and go handle; interior tablet access without opening the flap; Funky closure method for the flap
What Needs Improvement: The blue highlights make it a bit less professional-looking