At a Glance
- Stow-away bottle holder
- Lots of pockets for gadgets, extras, cables
- Well proportioned for iPad, magazines, books
- iPad compartment also accommodates thick netbooks
- Amateur styling
The Skooba Design Netbook/iPad Messenger is a surprisingly well-proportioned bag with impressive construction for a product at this price. If you’re looking for a larger iPad bag, it’s worth a look.
Skooba Design’s $50 Netbook/iPad Messenger looks and feels like a “regular”-sized messenger bag shrunk in the wash, but not in a bad way. It packages the traditional, horizontal messenger design in a smaller and lighter form factor for the iPad (and netbook) lifestyle. I dig it.
Because of its smaller size, and unlike many full-size messenger bags, the Messenger feels like a bag that’s designed for your iPad or netbook, and that smaller size has benefits for many of the dead-tree documents you bring along, as well—magazines and books don’t feel like they’re drowning in any of the pockets in this bag.
Speaking of pockets, there are plenty of them. The Messenger weighs only about a pound and a half, but it has a generous front accessory pocket with slots for a phone, digital camera, pens, cables, and plenty of other trinkets; a document pouch behind that can hold a few magazines; and the main compartment behind that contains a vertical iPad/netbook pouch, a mesh pocket for other gadgets or a power supply, and ample depth for books and magazines. For even more document transportation, yet another pouch is on the back.
The iPad pouch sports a handy accordion design, so it expands only about as far as the gadget inserted requires. The pouch certainly isn’t custom-built for the iPad, but the folding construction and a Velcro security strap make for a nice iPad fit.
Skooba has some unique ideas when it comes to accessibility. The main flap that protects everything can secure via velcro or a snap enclosure, but it also has a zipper along the top for easy access to the main compartment without having to deal with flipping up the flap. The outside of the flap also provides a small zippered pocket for trinkets and small gadgets.
A couple seemingly useless additions to the Messenger are two stretch pockets, one on each end of the bag, where you would typically expect either nothing or, if you’re lucky, a water bottle holder (except that one end of the Messenger does have a bottle pocket, hidden behind a zipper). But since the bag is so thin, and the pockets are not very stretchy, you can’t fit much more than an iPod nano in one of these pockets; even an iPhone or a Canon Elph camera are too wide or thick, respectively. I’m also a little bummed that the shoulder strap isn’t padded; the strap isn’t uncomfortable, but it’s definitely an area where Skooba skimped to bring the price down.
Overall, the Skooba is a nice and surprisingly well-proportioned bag. I’m not personally hip on the two-tone coloring and haphazard design lines, but to each their stylistic own (plus, you get four choices for the complementary color: white, red, deep ocean blue, or abyss black). The construction feels good for a bag at this affordable price, and I definitely recommend giving it a look.