In the early stages of planning my back-to-school tech guide in the September issue, I received the iSafe Urban Crew laptop backpack to review. It’s a cute backpack, black with purple trim, and I have a teenage daughter who lives by that color scheme. Once it didn't make the cut for my story (we went another direction), it disappeared quietly into the disaster she calls her room. Yesterday, the folks at iSafe Bags asked me what I  thought of it. Only then did I realize it had been pilfered. So I dug around in her mess of ignored school books, over-ear headphones, dirty dishes, odd science equipment, mistreated novels and found it. T

he thing that separates this bag from the millions of backpacks on the market is its built-in alarm system. Hidden in one of the shoulder straps is a trigger for the alarm. So if Ava was wearing this backpack and someone threatening approached, she could flip up the flap and pull a pin. The backpack would then emit a deafening screech. (It’s designed so the sound is directed away from the wearer’s ears.) Ava thought this idea was silly. But she has never—thankfully—found herself alone on a city street with a stranger approaching. I liked the sound of it.

But how do you test something like this?

Just as I was wondering that my husband stopped by my office for a lunch date. The backpack was sitting in a chair. “You bought another bag for Ava?!” He asked. But there was an accusing tone in his voice. Even though this was my office, he assumed I'd gone on a shopping spree for goods we didn't need. This irked me. So I decided to use him as a test subject. (Hell hath no fury like a woman whose shopping skills go underappreciated.)

“No,” I said pleasantly. “I got that in for review. You want to see what’s cool about it?” I asked as I put it on.

He did.

I flipped up the flap, pulled the tab, and the alarm went off.

He hit the ceiling! Literally! I have never seen a man jump that high outside of a basketball court. In fact, I think I saw his eyes bug out of his head like a character in a classic cartoon. Then he darted down the hallway—seemingly against his own will—to get away from the noise.

So. That worked.

After he calmed down and I was sure he didn’t need medical attention, I started giggling. After a while, so did he.

I’m still giggling. But I’m wearing this backpack if I ever have to hike across campus late at night.

Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.”You can find her at