WATERFIELD AIR PORTER LAP­TOP BAG: A CARRY-ON YOU’LL WANT TO CARRY FOR­EVER

Macworld (USA) - - Macuser - BY LEIF JOHN­SON

Is there such a thing as a bag with too many pock­ets? You’ll never catch me ut­ter­ing such blas­phemy, but I can eas­ily imag­ine some­one point­ing to the Waterfield Air Porter ( go.mac­world.com/ wfap) as proof of deca­dence most dire. It has 10 in­te­rior pock­ets, 4 ex­te­rior pock­ets, and even more pock­ets in an op­tional re­mov­able sleeve. De­pend­ing on how you in­ter­pret the term, it even has pock­ets in some of the pock­ets.

Some­how Waterfield man­ages to turn this bag into some­thing that’s both in­cred­i­bly portable yet ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing fairly hefty loads, mak­ing it per­fect for both the streets and the skies.

HID­DEN DEPTHS

The Air Porter sounds like a com­plex bag, and in some re­spects it is. The beauty of it, though, is that you’d never know that from a quick glance. It’s a sub­tle beast, to the point that Waterfield even did away with its tra­di­tional logo and con­tented it­self with a min­i­mal­ist “Waterfield: Made in SF” stamped on the front leather flap.

You’ll see no other pock­ets apart from the flap and two cylin­dri­cal pock­ets at ei­ther end for stash­ing wa­ter bot­tles or travel um­brel­las. You may not even see those, in fact, ow­ing to snaps on each pocket that keep them pressed closely against the bag when not in use.

Want to use it as a mes­sen­ger page? It’s got a re­mov­able strap for that— com­plete with two ad­justable ends for bet­ter po­si­tion­ing of the shoul­der pad—but the Air Porter’s two han­dles also let you use it as a brief­case. Waterfield ar­mored these han­dles with gen­uine leather, much like the flap along the bot­tom of the bag (which is flat, al­low­ing the Air Porter to stand up­right when stowed un­der an air­plane seat).

As for the rest of the ex­te­rior ma­te­rial, that’s up to you. The Air Porter comes in ei­ther a lovely waxed can­vas or a sleek ny­lon ma­te­rial that Waterfield calls “black bal­lis­tic.” I chose the lat­ter, and while it’s

un­de­ni­ably tough, I find my­self wish­ing I’d re­quested waxed can­vas when Waterfield sent me a re­view unit. The ny­lon will last for years, no doubt, but I know from user pho­tos that the waxed can­vas ages beau­ti­fully and in a way the ny­lon never will. I’m a lit­tle jeal­ous.

Con­sid­er­ing how much I’ve gushed over pock­ets, you might ex­pect that you’ll find an­other pocket on the bag. But nope: You’ll sim­ply find a trolly strap that makes it easy to slip the Air Porter over the rol­laboard of your more tra­di­tional lug­gage and port it aound the air­port.

PICK YOUR POCKET

Just don’t mis­take that sub­tlety for a lack of fea­tures. In ev­ery de­tail, Waterfield clearly gave at­ten­tion to con­ve­nience.

For in­stance, let’s peek un­der that front flap. You’ll find not one but two pock­ets, the larger of which is meant to house the op­tional Air Caddy—more on that later— but which I per­son­ally use for ev­ery­day items that would be a has­sle with a zip­per: my iphone, books, and my sun­glasses. On the out­side of that you’ll find a slightly smaller pocket, which is great for stow­ing thin-but-es­sen­tial items like pass­ports and tick­ets on a trip. Un­like the larger en­clo­sure, it’s lined with Waterfield’s sig­na­ture yel­low-or­ange hon­ey­comb fab­ric, which is not only nice to touch but also makes it eas­ier to see items that darker lin­ings would ac­ci­den­tally con­ceal.

The flap it­self is a mar­vel, as it’s stuffed with two pow­er­ful mag­nets that snap like a vice. They make it easy to ac­cess the es­sen­tials while also pro­vid­ing a sense of se­cu­rity.

WIDE OPEN SPACES

But this is just the be­gin­ning. Two zip­pers stretch across the mid­sec­tion of the Air Porter, each shielded by a rub­bery coat­ing that both pro­tects them from wa­ter and con­ceals the zip­pers them­selves. If it weren’t for the tog­gles, you might not even know they were there at all.

So let’s un­zip the first zip­per; the one clos­est to the front flap. The com­part­ment

within is roomy—so roomy, in fact, that I once com­fort­ably lugged around a “trash­can” Mac Pro in­side with lit­tle worry about its safety. (It’s a long story.)

In­deed, un­zip it all the way and you’ll find that the Air Porter lays flat like a nor­mal suit­case, mak­ing it easy to ar­range a change of shirts or two within.

And yes, you’ll find pock­ets within this cav­ern as well. One trio of tiny ones cling to­ward the top, each large enough to hold Air­pods or med­i­ca­tion but lit­tle else. The bot­tom ones are a tad roomier, but only in the sense that a Magic Mouse could fit in there with no prob­lems. The other side of the com­part­ment has only two pock­ets, but they’re large enough to hold a pocket Mole­sk­ine note­book. Dan­gling from the cor­ner you’ll also find a key fob with a tiny clasp, en­sur­ing that you won’t have to dig for

your keys af­ter a trip away.

FUR­THER IN

So what’s be­hind Zip­per Num­ber 2? Here you’ll find the softly padded sleeve for stow­ing your Macbook, com­plete with a vel­cro clasp. It’s a big one, and it seems specif­i­cally de­signed with the 15-inch Macbook Pro in mind as you’ll find lit­tle notches in the sleeve that make it

easy to charge your Macbook even with­out re­mov­ing it from the sleeve.

But it’s more than just a sleeve. Fully un­zipped, this side of the bag also un­folds like a suit­case, the idea be­ing that the un­folded bag iso­lates the sleeve and so negates the need to re­move your Macbook dur­ing a TSA screen­ing. Since the sleeve is fully ex­posed when the bag is open, so the logic goes, the TSA won’t give you hell be­cause you didn’t re­move your lap­top. In fact, you’re help­ing them.

Good luck with that, I say. I’ve missed a flight be­fore solely be­cause I had a sleeve on my ipad Pro: a de­vice, mind you, that’s sup­pos­edly al­most im­mune from such in­quiries. Us­ing some­thing like this to claim that you don’t need to re­move your lap­top? That just seems like ask­ing for trou­ble.

And we’re still not done. Op­po­site the sleeve you’ll find the two largest in­te­rior pock­ets of them all, and they look per­fect for stow­ing the mas­sive power brick needed to power the Macbook Pro. For that mat­ter, you can stash a power bank in the other one. You get an­other com­part­ment for stash­ing your stuff when the zip­per is closed again, but keep in mind that’ll likely keep you from pulling off the TSA trick if there’s any­thing sub­stan­tial in there.

All those pock­ets. All that junk. I ex­pected that the Air Porter would be

rough to carry; I imag­ined it’d leave me winc­ing af­ter short strolls from the bag­gage claim to the cab.

Some­how that’s not the case. The weight is dis­trib­uted evenly so long as I’m not stuff­ing it past its lim­its; the shoul­der strap never digs into my skin. I have a lighter mes­sen­ger bag that’s less com­fort­able than this, even when I’ve barely got any­thing in it. I won’t say it’s quite as com­fort­able as a back­pack for con­stant city walk­ing, but it comes closer to that ideal than many of the strap bags I’ve used. That alone makes it great.

A CUTE COM­PAN­ION

That’s about it for the Air Porter it­self, and nor­mally this is where I’d start wrap­ping up the re­view. How­ever, the fun doesn’t have to end there.

The Air Porter has an op­tional $59 ny­lon or waxed can­vas com­pan­ion piece called the Air Caddy ( go.mac­world.com/ arcd)— a 12-inch by 8-inch sleeve that’s de­signed to eas­ily slip into the large front pocket be­neath the Air Porter’s outer flap.

It’s but an­other ex­am­ple of the depth of thought be­hind Waterfield’s de­sign. The idea here is to keep the Air Porter it­self stuffed un­der the seat in front of you, while the Air­caddy holds ev­ery­thing you’ll need for the flight. It’s even de­signed to slip into an air­plane seat’s back pocket, ne­gat­ing the need for con­tor­tions and ac­ro­bat­ics while you stretch to reach the Air Porter.

You might think a sim­ple sleeve would do the trick, but even here the pock­ets as­sert them­selves. You’ll find one in the front, which un­zips to re­veal that marvelous hon­ey­comb fab­ric and two smaller pock­ets for some­thing larger than Air­pods but smaller than an iphone XS Max.

The main com­part­ment has a padded sleeve that seems made for a 9.7-inch ipad, while the mid­dle space can hold ei­ther a phys­i­cal book, some munchies, or per­haps a Kin­dle. (If you’re am­bi­tious, it can prob­a­bly fit them all.) And yes, you’ll

even find two pock­ets on the com­part­ment’s other wall, each big enough to hold a power bank.

It’s a smart de­sign; one that even tech­ni­cally gets around the usual two-bag carry-on limit for air­lines. I wouldn’t say you need it if you don’t plan on trav­el­ing that much, but if you do, you’ll likely find it solves prob­lems you never even knew you had.

POCK­ETS TO POCKET BOOK

Aside from smirk­ing at the con­cept of a “Tsa-friendly” bag, I haven’t re­ally said a neg­a­tive thing so far. So let’s say this: The Waterfield Air Porter is ex­pen­sive. The bag alone costs $359, and if you add on the $59 Air Caddy, you’re look­ing at a to­tal bill of $379.

Nor­mally I’d say you were nuts for want­ing to spend that much money for a carry-on. But as I’ve al­ready said, this isn’t merely a carry-on bag; it’s an ev­ery­day bag as well, and a darn good one at that.

Thought­ful de­ci­sions re­veal them­selves in ev­ery as­pect of its de­sign, and much of that thought was aimed di­rectly at

Mac and iphone users. And think of it this way: The bag alone costs about as much as the Homepod, and I could see my­self us­ing this bag a hell of a lot more than Ap­ple’s smart speaker.

For the time be­ing, it’s my ev­ery­day carry (mi­nus the Air Caddy). I may some­day switch back to a back­pack own­ing to the amount of ur­ban walk­ing I do, but right now I’m in love with how eas­ily I can reach my stuff on the sub­ways and streets of Waterfield’s na­tive San Fran­cisco. I know I look fine do­ing it, too, and I know the bag it­self will last many years. It’s a phi­los­o­phy any Ap­ple fan can ap­pre­ci­ate.

Just one bit of ad­vice: Con­sider get­ting the waxed can­vas. ■

Both the up­right de­sign and the Air Porter’s com­par­a­tively slim pro­file also al­low for more leg room on the plane.

Hey, we’re made in San Fran­cisco, too!

There’s cur­rently noth­ing in them, but I use these two pock­ets the most by far.

Only the es­sen­tials.

Did you think I was kid­ding?

That’s one less thing you need to scat­ter about at an air­port charg­ing sta­tion.

Maybe this hap­pens all the time and I’ve just been ex­traor­di­nar­ily un­lucky.

That’s an iphone 8 Plus stuffed in the front. You can’t close it when it’s up­right, but it fits fine on its side.

Warn­ing: It won’t fit nicely if you have it as stuffed as I did in the photo above. But it will still fit.

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