Swissgear ScanSmart SA1900 Backpack full review

Buying the best laptop rucksack should be easy, but getting the right balance of protection, storage and ease of use is surprisingly not as obvious to backpack manufacturers as one might expect. We think we've found the best backpack for laptops. 

After years with a trusty STM backpack, which finally had enough of my zip tugging, my quest for a new rucksack for my laptop was a long and arduous one. Each one I looked at either had too little space or not enough protection. For more backpack reviews read our roundup of the best laptop bags.

Sometimes I fly with just the rucksack and no hold luggage so it needs to be big – just as it needs to be when it’s carrying groceries. Eventually, I found the backpack I was looking for – the Swissgear Scansmart SA 1900.

Swissgear laptop backpack interior

The Swissgear Scansmart can handle up to 17in laptops, so has some extra space when I load my 15in MacBook Pro.

You can buy the Swissgear Scansmart 1900 on Amazon. There are delivery charges to the UK, but none within the US, despite the UK being closer to Switzerland. But we think it's worth it.

Its large laptop compartment comes with an extra pocket for a tablet plus other gear. This unzips all the way around and can be opened flat on the ground or on a table. You can see the laptop through a mesh window, which might satisfy less strict airport security setups – although all the ones I’ve been through demand the laptop be removed from the bag and the sleeve.

The Scansmart 1900 is approved by the US TSA (Transportation Security Administration) so you shouldn't have to worry about removing your laptop from your backpack at airport security. You just have to unzip your TSA-friendly laptop bag that will visibly show your laptop while it goes through the x-ray screening process. Obviously, this depends on the security team at your airport. If they demand the laptop out of the bag, we suggest you listen to their advice!

That’s why there’s a side opening for quickly whipping out the laptop, and the tablet can be swiftly removed, too.

The laptop compartment of each rucksack has a velcro adjustable top pad for whatever height your laptop is.

We would have preferred a little more padding at the base of the bag, but on numerous world trips my laptop hasn't been damaged once.

There’s a second large compartment for all your other stuff, as well as various little zipped areas at the top and the sides, above the water-bottle pockets, for instance. There's an accordion-style file holder, and a zip mesh accessories pocket, plus integrated mobile pocket.

There are side pockets for chargers, extra batteries, cables, etc, and one has exit holes so you can put your phone or music player in and feed the headphone cord through – if you haven't yet switched to wireless, of course.

The bag is sturdy and robust, and the looks are fairly cool and neutral in either black-and-blue, black, or grey. US customers will find even more colour options, and UK residents can always order via Amazon.com, although with higher shipping fees.

The Scansmart 1900 features air-flow back padding for extra comfort and back support, plus contoured shoulder straps and a rugged molded grab handle.

This backpack is smaller than airline maximum sizes for carry-on luggage so is an ideal travel companion.

The padded shoulder straps are easy to adjust while you’re wearing the bag, so you can tighten up when carrying and loosen to easily pull the rucksack off. 

Verdict

I have to admit that I love this backpack. It comes with me to work every day, and goes on every trip I make - and one year that involved 74 airports in 12 months! I've actually owned two, as after three years of dragging it around, one of the zips broke. Three years of usage and travel is pretty good going for a bag, and I just went out and bought a new one, which is still going strong today.

Specs

Swissgear ScanSmart SA1900 Backpack: Specs

  • Exterior Dimensions - 18.5" X 13.5" X 9"
  • Laptop Compartment Dimensions - 17" X 12.5" X 2.5"
  • Large capacity 31 litres