When I moved to using my 15” MacBook Pro with retina display as my only computer last year, I found I needed a properly sized bag in which to carry it. My initial plan was to only carry an iPad, but that quickly disappeared as I found myself increasingly in need of a full computer and all of its power. I went on a hunt, and I found a number of terrific options. They have served me well for the last year or so, but now that I am back using two different laptops; my 15″ computer is my desktop computer and a 2013 11″ MacBook air is the computer I actually carry with me.
Suddenly my larger bags — perfect for the 15″ laptop — were too large. I needed a good way to carry the smaller laptop and some key gear. I had a few options available to me but wanted something new that would help keep me a bit more organized. That’s why the Skooba Design Skooba Satchel V.3 Mini caught my eye. Skooba sent a review sample; I’m quite pleased with this small but sturdy ba,g and I highly recommended for anyone looking to carry an 11″ to 13″ laptop and some gear. Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s dig into the bag a bit more deeply.
The bag is small, weighing in at just 36 ounces and measuring just 14 x 10.5 X 5.5 inches. That does not, however, mean that there’s anything cheap about this bag. Nor does it indicate any sort of compromise having to be made with regard to its construction or the gear it holds.
Made from micro ballistic nylon exterior materials with an interior fully lined with smooth nylon pack cloth, the bag employs self-repairing zippers, metal fasteners, and reinforced stitching on every load-bearing point. In short, there were no corners cut when creating this bag. None.
Skooba Satchel V.3 Mini ships with the company’s patented super bungee shoulder strap. If you’ve never used one of these shoulder straps, you should check it out as this strap, while a bit on the thick side, is able to reduce the load on your shoulder and give you a comfortable experience of carrying a bag which is overly stuffed. The strap itself is not inexpensive, and the fact that one is included with the Skooba Satchel V.3 Mini surprised me — in a good way. That noted, as I observed in the video, having something like this on a small bag that will tend to be relatively light may be overkill. Still, there’s no harm in having a better shoulder strap — even if the bag doesn’t necessarily require it.
The Skooba Satchel V.3 Mini isn’t just designed to protect your gear. It is also designed to help keep you organized, thanks to 16 pockets and compartments. Yes, this is all about keeping your gear protected and accessible on the go.
On the front of the bag is a small zippered pocket with a weatherized seal to help protect whatever is kept inside. It is big enough for your phone and a few documents, and it is perfect for those items to which you will want quick access. I do not know if it is by design, but the weather seal on the zipper makes it a bit more difficult to open than it might otherwise be. This results – in a positive manner – in making the pocket a bit more secure as you carry it.
The large front pocket has two zippers that open to reveal a spacious area for organization. The zippered mesh pocket on the front is great for cables. Two medium-sized open pockets are great for cards and other small items, and a pocket that I interpreted as a pen pocket (but the company describes as a spot for your USB thumb drive) sits next to the aforementioned pockets. An ID window for a business card and a loop for your keys round out this interior space. The main space is, of course, able to hold larger items if need be.
Along one side of the bag is an area I neglected to note in my video review. This is designed to hold a water bottle or something of similar size and shape. The very fact that I neglected to mention this pocket reflects the fact that it is well-hidden. Unless you need to use it you will not realize it is there.
Along the back of the bag is a zippered pocket that is great for a few papers or magazines — assuming you are still reading dead-tree mags. For those who do not read old-school magazines, the space can also hold your tablet — although this pocket lacks any sort of padding; you’ve been warned.
On the back there is also a “rear trolley strap” that allows you to securely toss the bag over the handle of your rolling luggage while running through the airport. The inclusion of this strap is no surprise, considering the Skooba Satchel V.3 Mini is made for travel as well as standard work days.
There are two main zippers across the top of the bag. The one toward the rear of the bag opens to reveal the laptop compartment complete with the company’s “bumper bar protection system”. This design offers an added layer of protection for your laptop without adding too much extra bulk or weight to the back. It’s an excellent design that offers good protection without the need for thick layers of padding. Dual zippers allow the pocket to be opened wide enough for easy removal of your laptop at the airport, but it’s not so wide that the laptop will fall out of the bag.
The front zippers open to reveal the bag’s main storage area. Unlike the zippers along the laptop compartment, these zippers go all the way to the bottom of the bag and allow you to lay it out in a completely flat manner. This makes it easy to organize the bag in the best, most efficient way possible.
Toward the front of this main space are two open mesh pockets and two elasticized sized pockets on the other side.
There is an organizer dividing this space into two different main areas. The divider can be removed completely if you don’t need the extra organization and want the extra space, but it doesn’t take up much space and the extra level of organization is great to have.
The black color helps the bag remain largely unobtrusive, but the colored poles add some visual interest. The light blue interior of the bag makes it easy to find the items you store inside – a good thing since you’ll find yourself carrying more than you might realize.
In all, this bag may be small, but it doesn’t compromise on quality. Moreover, it actually holds far more than you might expect. It is perfect for my MacBook air 11″, and it will continue to work well when I update to the 13″ MacBook Pro with retina display when it is finally updated to the current generation processor. No, this is not an inexpensive bag, but that’s because it’s also not a cheap bag. Quality materials, an excellent, well-considered design, and superb construction combined to make a small bag that means business.
And don’t forget, as a reader of Gear Diary you can get 25% off any purchase $75 or more when you use the code GDiary.
MSRP: $159.95 (as of July 29, 2013 it is on sale for $127.95)
What I Like: Great construction; Ships with Skooba Superbungee Strap V.3; Protects your laptop and gear well; Great organizational options
What Needs Improvement: There are less expensive bags available; Only available in black
Disclosure: Skooba Design is both a Gear Diary advertiser and a Gear Diary newsletter underwriter
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample