SwissGear ScanSmart Backpack Review: A Great TSA Approved Backpack

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I love the autumn season. The colors, the cool crisp air, the smell of burning wood and leaves, and jackets. Yep, that’s right. I love jackets and coats. Any excuse to have more pockets to carry more gadgets and electronics. But what to do in the hot summer months?

I’ve never been in favor of the “man-purse.” I’d have to turn in my man card if I ever carried one. However I have no problem carrying a computer bag – it’s a sneaky way to get around the man card thing.

My computer bag was starting to get bulky and a pain in the back, and I had seen a couple coworkers with tech backpacks so I began looking at some. One of the features that caught my eye and swayed me on this pack is the ScanSmart pocket for the laptop – I’ll talk about that in a bit.

swissgear scansmart handle
The sturdy handle makes for easy lifting and carrying.


On the outside, the top handle is durable heavy duty plastic. It is held in place by thick plastic rivets, and has a metal attachment for attaching carabiner-type clips.The shoulder straps are padded, and have a pocket for storing small items – you won’t store a smartphone there. I was able to clip my smartphones belt clip to the front of the strap while we were walking around Washington, D.C. and that was nice to have it within easy reach.

The sides of the outside have tall pockets – I’ve kept sunscreen bottles in there. Also on the sides are netted water bottle holders.

The backside of the backpack has what SwissGear calls Airflow – supposed to allow air to circulate better through and not leave your back soaked in sweat. It seemed to do pretty good – we were in DC with mid-80’s in July, so if you’ve been there you can imagine the humidity.


swissgear scansmart pocket
Keep all your gear organized.

The SwissGear ScanSmart backpack has three main pockets. The first pocket on the front, which I call Pocket 3, is the smallest of the main pockets. It contains a divided section that has dedicated places for pens, cd’s, charging cables, plugs, etc. It also has a detachable clip with a key ring for keeping keys secure.

Pocket number two is a large generic pocket. I keep folders, laptop chargers, external mouse for my laptop, etc in this pocket. There isn’t much to say about this pocket outside of a pouch at the top that is designed to hold mp3 players. It is located near an opening designed to feed a headphone cord through to the player.

Finally, the main pocket. This is one of the features that helped my purchasing decision. The pocket for the laptop is the ScanSmart pocket. You can slide up to a 17” laptop in the sleeve and secure it with the velcro strap. The pocket is designed, as shown in the picture, to zip totally open. This

swissgear scansmart fold flat
Lay it flat to pass through airport security.

allows you to leave your laptop in the backpack when going through airport security. This does require that you not put anything in the sleeve with the laptop, and not have anything under it. Going through security at Chicago’s O’Hare airport was not a problem. The TSA agents said nothing about it. Going through Miami’s security, I asked the agent if it was ok to leave the laptop in. She smiled and said, “Oh yeah, you’ve got the airport approved bag! I wish more people used those!” Keep in mind your experiences may vary by location and personnel. You may run into an agent having a bad day who wants you to take the laptop out and put it in the bin.

Also in the main pocket is what SwissGear calls a “floating” pocket for tablets. My 10” Samsung Galaxy Note 10 fit in pretty well, but the Nexus 9 and iPad Air 2 fit much nicer in that.


swissgear scansmart laptop sleeve
Ample padded protection for your laptop.

The padded sleeve pocket for the laptop feels like it protects well enough. I’m not about to toss it around with the laptop in there to test, but I feel like it would protect it in a fall or drop.


The SwissGear ScanSmart retails on SwissGear’s website for $70. I found mine for quite a bit cheaper on Groupon. You can also find them on Amazon for around $60.

Wrap Up

The SwissGear 1696 ScanSmart backpack has become my daily carry for all my tech gear. It’s durable, holds my stuff, and makes getting through airport security just a little bit easier.

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*We reviewed a retail unit of the SwissGear ScanSmart backpack purchased by the reviewer

Last Updated on November 27, 2018.


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