Skooba Design Checkthrough Executive Brief Review
- "Checkpoint-friendly" certification
- Laptop interior: 15.5" x 11.5" x 1.5"
- Features: Divided folder/file section, Cargo pockets, ~20 pockets, compartments and organizers, No-snag hideaway ID holder, Zippered clear pouch for allowable liquids
- Padded shoulder strap included
- Primary materials: 1680 Denier Ballistic exterior, smooth nylon interior, All materials water-repellant.
- Hardware and trim: Brushed nickel-finished metal hardware throughout, self-repairing zippers, rubber bottom treads.
- Overall Size: 16"L x 12"H x 7"D.
- Weight: 62 oz
For quite some time now, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began phasing-in new security protocols that allowed "checkpoint friendly" bags to be screened with the laptop still inside. These bags had to be designed in such a way that the scan of a laptop was not interfered with and nothing would be piled on or near that part of the bag as it passed through the x-ray machine. The goal of the new program is to reduce inconvenience to travelers, speed up the security screening process, and reduce the congestion now plaguing the system. During the development stages the TSA provided a list of guidelines and technical requirements for prospective bags and Skooba Design submitted multiple designs and their Checkthrough Brief is the result of their efforts.
Note: Audioholics reviewed the Skooba Design Checkpoint Brief which is nearly identical to the Executive Brief. That review is included below
The Checkthrough Executive Brief is a full-sized laptop case that is designed, first and foremost as a business-class product. It also has one other thing that frequent travelers will appreciate: it's checkpoint-friendly. With the Checkthrough Executive Brief, travelers can simply unzip the bag, flop it onto the x-ray machine's conveyer belt and breeze through most airport security screens without having to remove the laptop from the bag. That's not to say that this emasculates the TSA or in any way forces them to adhere to the checkpoint-friendly guidelines. It does, however, mean that you have a better than average chance of running into well-trained individuals who are up on the latest procedures for these bags - introduced last Fall.
The Checkthrough Executive Brief is made with 1680 Denier Ballistic nylon on the outer shell and a smooth nylon interior that protects as well as pads your laptop and accessories. All metal accessories, like buckles and zippers are made with a brushed nickel-finish and we found all the hardware to be very robust, having made it through no less than 6 flights in our short review period. I liked the shaped of the zippers. They fit well between your first finger and thumb and have a smooth and gentle curve to give them some resistance when being pulled or pushed.
The laptop compartment is well-padded and you insert the computer from the top after unzipping the storage area. This bag will easily accommodate most 15-17" laptops and we even used it with a small Dell laptop as well as a 13" MacBook Pro. When we weren't going through a security station we could easily fit our charger beside the smaller laptop, though those with older, bulkier units might not find the bag as accommodating.
The front of the bag sports two double-zippered pockets which reveal netting and storage for accessories or smaller clothing items. The right pocket comes with an integrated clear plastic bag that is designed to hold liquid containers well within the TSA regulations. Behind the twin front pockets lies a compartment I used quite frequently. It unzips to reveal a letter-friendly storage area for paperwork or other items that need to be accessed easily and quickly. A couple shallow pockets allow for easy access to business cards or airline boarding passes.
The main compartment is deceptively large. In fact, it accommodates a TON of materials. On one side there are four matched elastic pockets overtop two zippered netting pockets. Opposite you find three more netted pockets. But wait... there's more. Peel back the hook and loop fastener and you get access to a large storage area a full 4-inches deep and the full height and width of the Checkthrough Executive Brief. I went on two separate business trips where I was able to roll and store my clothing in this area. It's truly versatile and makes this bag a nice travel product for short jaunts and weekend getaways.
I took this bag on several flights and found it to be perfect for most of my shorter trips. The ample storage and well-organized compartments provided by the Checkthrough Executive Brief made bringing along my iPod, chargers, cell phone and laptop accessories a breeze. Everything had its place. But the real fun came when I approached the TSA x-ray machine for the first time.
I unzipped the bag while it still resided on my shoulder. That way it was ready to be "filleted" open on the conveyor belt. Sure enough, a simply flip of the shoulder strap and it was lying on the belt - all set to be scanned. I was convinced I'd end up with some self-righteous ego maniac who would something like "I don't care what kind of bag you have, son, you need to remove that laptop and put it in the bucket!"
But lo and behold that never happened. In fact, as I approached the belt, the TSA employee was actually interested in seeing the bag go through, having never seen one before. They gathered behind the x-ray machine and checked it out, commenting about how this was "one of those new TSA-approved bags". Sure enough, everyone was satisfied - especially me - I didn't have to pull out my laptop. Possibly the coolest part was picking up the bag form the belt. I just lifted the shoulder strap and put it back on my person, never bothering to zip it up until I was at my terminal and sitting down in the chair. Since it zips open from the bottom, the bag is perfectly secure and stable in its unzipped state. It's a great design.
For those who think I got lucky, I passed through no less than 3 more security checkpoints before the writing of this review and all allowed me to breeze through without even a second glance. On this issue, the TSA seems to be up to date - at least in the cities I traveled to and from.
The Skooba Design Checkthrough Executive Brief is a modern day marvel. As more and more bag manufacturers catch on, I'm sure the wonder will lessen. For now, however, if you're a frequent flier this bag will change your life. It's durable, flexible, well-padded and does its job well. It's also the perfect size and weight for short trips - you may not even need another bag assuming you have access to an iron and travel light. This bag may be the most used bag in your collection and will save you tons of time in security lines. Now if they can only create X-ray friendly shoes I'll be all set.
Skooba Design Checkthrough
Executive Brief Laptop Bag
Skooba Design Inc
Division of Three Point Ventures, LLC
465 Paul Road
Rochester, New York 14624
About Skooba Design
The new Checkthrough Brief is available now, at a suggested retail price of $139.95. Skooba Design has set up a special section of its website at www.checkthrough.com for travelers to get more information on the checkpoint friendly program, as well as sign up to receive product updates. Full specs and dealer/ordering information can be found at www.skoobadesign.com.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.
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