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Review: The Satchel laptop bag by Skooba Design

Shortly after I got my new laptop, I decided I needed a new laptop bag to go with it. I’ve had a couple bags over the years — the Targus that everybody starts with (I got mine in 1996) and another bag or two. This time, though, I wanted to trade up a bit and get something that would really protect my System76 Pangolin from all the harm that can be dished out in a house with two young boys.

I was amazed at how many laptop bag makers there are. I started with a Google search and was quickly overwhelmed. One company I kept coming back to was Skooba Design, whose bags looked durable, intelligently designed (not by God, though), and attractive. Next I looked into companies whose gear I knew from cycling. The most obvious choice in this category was Timbuk2, maker of strong and stylish messenger bags for messengers and wannabes. I spent a lot of time looking at Timbuk2 bags and came close to buying one. Before I did, though, I decided to try asking around.

I posted a quick note to my Facebook account asking for recommendations. A few people made good suggestions, but I kept coming back to the Satchel by Skooba Design:

satchel1

Outside

I bought the orange and grey version of the Satchel, and it’s a wonderful bag. First of all, it’s great to look at. Well designed, nice colors, and some snazzy touches such as the patented strap design and the color accents on the side zipper.

The outside is “ballistic nylon,” which I assume means it’s bulletproof, right? Whatever it is, it’s strong and resistant to pulls and tears, a fact one of our cats proved when he leapt on it recently and went to town before I could get it away.

The bag is also light. Really light. Without anything in it, it weighs just 44 oz. That’s nice because my laptop is a bit weighty, and I tend to also carry books and other goodies in the bag.

Inside

The lining of the various compartments is the same color orange as the highlight on the outside. I imagine that the other color combinations have different colors inside. I like the orange a lot.

The bag is divided into several compartments. The section for the laptop is lined with Skooba’s Air Square cushions, which you can see at Skooba’s site. These offer an impressive amount of protection for the computer without adding a ton of weight to the bag. (These same Air Squares are also on the underside of the shoulder strap, which is a nice touch.) The laptop pocket has an adjustable strap for a secure fit.

The middle compartment is where I put my books and papers. It’s roomy and no-nonsense. A panel with mesh webbing has a Velcro strap that can be opened to access a third compartment. I keep a set of headphones and the laptop power cord in these mesh pockets.

The outer zipper pocket is full of handy bits, including a hook for your keys, pen holders, a cell phone pocket with a Velcro cover, and another closeable pocket that will fit a CD or PDA. There’s also a mesh pocket inside, which is where I keep my cell phone charger and work ID. And did I mention the hidden water bottle holder? It’s tucked away behind a zipper on the side of the bag, so it’s there when you need it and not flopping around when you don’t. Nice.

On the back, the Satchel has a zipper pocket that would be useful for plane tickets or a thin folder of papers for a meeting. It also has a strap that will allow the bag to fit over the handle of a rolling suitcase at the airport.

Summmary

This is a very solid bag with great looks and great features. And as an added bonus, it’s made right here in upstate New York — in Rochester, to be exact. Cool, huh?

Highly recommended. For more information, visit Skooba Design.

UPDATE: I received a very nice message from Michael Hess, the president and CEO of Skooba Design. He added one point of clarification to the story:

“[I]n the interest of fairness and accuracy, the bags are designed and developed 100% here in Rochester, but manufactured offshore (an unfortunate competition-driven reality for most of our industry). We did used to make bags here, but nowadays the market has made that effectively impossible for products like ours.”

Published in Product Review

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