Look at the Skooba Design website, and you’ll see an assortment of high-quality east-west bags — meaning they are wider than they are high, and they hold laptops in landscape orientation. The north-south Skooba Design iPad/Tablet Courier V.3 is a departure from tradition, and it’s an impressive addition to the Skooba lineup; we’ve been using one and we’re impressed.
The first thing I noticed when the Skooba Design iPad/Tablet Courier V.3 arrived for review was the use of mixed materials on the front flap. It isn’t a bold statement that screams “Hey… look at me!!! Look at me!!!”; it’s a more subtle one that is interesting yet understated. As Skooba explains,
Exterior of water-repellant 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. Exquisite accent details include Hypalon-reinforced front panel, subtle, Atlantic Blue stitching accents, and knurled metal logo badge fastened with working machine hex bolts.
“Micro Ballistic Nylon? Hypalon reinforced front panel? Knurled metal logo badge?” I don’t know about that, but I do know the various materials come together to create a bag that is more visually interesting than many of the north-south tablet bags we have reviewed. Now “weather-sealed zipper” is a term I do understand, and it is a feature that helps keep the small items you stow inside safe regardless of weather. The fact that it is accessible without lifting the flap is a huge bonus and makes this the perfect spot for a phone, wallet, or ID.
I don’t normally like when logos are set in plain sight on a bag, and yet the Skooba name on the “Knurled metal logo badge”, and on each of the pulls, doesn’t bother me. This is, I suspect, thanks to the classy way in which the name has been embossed into the nameplate and pulls. As a result the name/logo is there but it does not obnoxiously stand out.
Typical of Skooba Design, the shoulder strap and hardware are made to last. All load-bearing points have been massively reinforced with ‘box-X’ or “V” stitching and metal, “no-twist shoulder strap clips and D-rings”. This isn’t Skooba’s SuperBungee Shoulder strap, but on a bag this small and light that would be overkill. This does however, bring me to my biggest criticism of this bag — its lack of a grab handle.
The shoulder strap connects to the bag using real metal hardware. It will last the lifetime of the bag (and beyond) and, while removable, it’s designed to come off only when you consciously choose to remove it. But since there is no grab handle on the top of the bag, there really isn’t any reason you would ever WANT to remove the shoulder strap, since doing so would leave you with what is basically a big heavy tablet sleeve. There’s no way to grab hold of it when the strap is removed. To me that is, as I mention in our video look, a mistake.
The top of the bag hides what the company refers to as a “quick-access zipper”. Open it, and you’ll have direct access to the main compartment of the bag. This is a great feature that allows you to grab and stow your tablet without the need to take the bag off your shoulder or lift the flap. And because there is a layer of material sitting atop and, as a result, hiding, the zipper, having access from the top doesn’t translate to this bag being any less secure.
The flap is secured with a strong plastic buckle and the “female side of buckle is mounted to the bag for fumble-free, one-handed opening and closing”. Now that’s attention to detail! Since the buckle is beneath the flap, it does take some practice to secure and release it without actually looking at it, but after using the bag for just a few days this has become second nature.
There is nothing beneath the flap itself, but it does have a distinct blue color referred to as “Atlantic Blue”. Skooba notes that “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”. I think it is kinda purty!
The front area unzips to reveal a well-conceived organizational area. Toward the back there is a loop for your keys, a slot for your business card, a slot for a pen or flash drive, and two open pockets for assorted items. The front portion houses a zippered webbed pocket that is perfect for assorted cables. The area opens to provide access to all of this organizational space, but it doesn’t zip all the way down. That translates into the fact that the entire front pocket can also be used for storage, and you won’t have to worry that things fall our because you open the zippers too far. It is another example of Skooba’s attention to detail.
The main space is divided into two: the rear portion is the tablet compartment. It is nicely padded and, since it doesn’t extend all the way down to the bottom of the bag, it effectively hangs your table within the bag itself. As a result, placing the bag down on the floor doesn’t actually put the tablet in contact with the floor. Instead it remains suspended about an inch above the surface. Smart!
The tablet compartment is secured with a web closure that guarantees it stays put once inside.
The main compartment is perfect for larger items, paper, notebooks and magazines. And while Skooba does not make mention of this in their description, it is large enough for an 11″ MacBook air, albeit without the padding and protection the laptop deserves.
- Super-sleek, incredibly light, yet tough as a tank. Carries and protects any tablet or reader, with all its accessories, plus room for papers and more.
- Quick-access top zipper lets you get to tablet without putting the bag down or opening the main flap
- Wide strap with non-slip pad stays put comfortably on your shoulder, or slide the pad off the strap and wear as a cross-body messenger.
- Feature-packed, yet weighs only 20 ounces — yes, 20 ounces — that’s not a typo.
As someone who has always been a fan of Skooba Design’s bags, I took an immediate liking to the iPad/Tablet Courier V.3. It joins the ranks of quality north-south bags that offer a terrific way to conveniently carry a tablet and “just enough extras” so you can travel light but get work done on the go. And since it comes from Skooba Design you can rest assured the bag will outlast your current tablet and the next few you purchase. Learn more here.
What I Like: Great materials, design and build; Holds a tablet and enough extras for a day of work without weighing you down; Quick access to contents of the front external pocket; Tablet compartment acts as a sling and prevents the tablet from touching the bottom of the bag; Can indeed hold an 11″ MacBook air
What Needs Improvement: No grab handle on the top
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample