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Got a new MacBook for Christmas and are looking for a stylish laptop bag to carry it in? WaterField Designs of San Francisco sent us one of their hand-made Zip Laptop Brief to try out. Here’s what we thought.

It’s nice to see that there are still some companies out there that still design and manufacture everything in-house. WaterField Designs is a small San Francisco based company that’s been making hand crafted laptop, backpack and other mobile device carrying gear for the past 20 years. All design and manufacturing takes place at its HQ in San Francisco. WaterField Design’s products target those that want something strong, made from high quality materials and that looks tasteful and professional on the move.

First impressions of the Zip Laptop Brief are that it certainly doesn’t look like just another generic laptop bag. It has a hard-wearing waterproof waxed tan brown canvas finish in with a tasteful leather trim around the handle that looks something like a mix between a soft briefcase and laptop bag. Although it is also available in black ballistic nylon too, the brown canvas is far more distinguished in our opinion and will also have a much better worn look over time. The canvas finish naturally gives it a slightly worn look from the start and this increases the more you use it.

Waterfield MacBook Zip Laptop Brief - MacHow2

You can tell when you pick it up for the first time that the canvas makes it extremely sturdy and it feels very protective of your Mac without over doing it with the interior padding. The zips seem particularly strong and the overall feel is of something that’s definitely not flimsy and can take hits without your MacBook or accessories getting damaged.

Inside the bag the lining is soft and non abrasive on your Mac. There are also two spacious padded compartments to store things like phone, power packs, external drives, cables etc. There’s also a special pouch (far left) for pens or a stylus if needed.

Waterfield Zip Laptop Brief Inside - MacHow2

There’s also a very useful concealed outside zip pouch which is big enough to put your wallet, phone and headphones or earbuds without having to open the main bag. What we liked about this part was that it was pretty spacious and felt like a convenient valuable extra bit of carrying room completely separated from your Mac so you don’t need to open the main case when quickly stashing away your phones and keys for example.

WaterField MacBook Case Zip pouch

The zip to the main part of the bag can be conveniently extended all the way down the sides to make it TSA friendly which means you can simply unzip the bag with your MacBook face-up for scanning in airports. This means there’s no need to fully remove your MacBook from the case which is only really useful if you’re a frequent traveler but is a nice touch anyway.

Waterfield MacBook Pro Laptop Bag TSA Friendly - MacHow2

One thing that shows the company has really thought about Mac users is that the inner protective sleeve has a cut out on the corner that allows to you to charge your Mac via the MagSafe connector while it’s still in the bag. This is useful if you want to pack your Mac in the evening ready for the next day but still want to charge it overnight. Or it could be useful if you’re out and about and don’t want to get out your Mac but just need to give the battery a quick boost.

Waterfield MagSafe Charger Point - MacBook Pro

On the back there’s a wide band that enables you to strap the Zip Laptop Brief onto a suitcase carry handle so that you can easily wheel it around on top of your luggage.

WaterField MacBook Brief - Suitcase Band

The only accessory that comes with the Zip Laptop Brief is a carry strap which easily clips on the sides and has a well padded shoulder protector to stop it from digging in.

One last thing worth mentioning is that if you’re turned off by the plastic-nylon smell of many new laptop bags, the leather gives the Zip Laptop Brief an authentic, quality leathery smell.

The Zip Laptop Brief is available in 3 sizes depending on what size of MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro you have. It’s available in Small 13.75in ($219), Medium 15.5in ($229) and Large 16.75in ($239). The pricing is clearly slightly more than the average laptop bag but you can definitely feel the quality and sturdiness in the materials used compared to cheaper bags.

Overall the WaterField Zip Laptop Brief is a very solid but good-looking product. We were a bit divided about the orange lining inside and it would be nice to be able to choose from different lining colors but it’s a minor complaint in the big picture. The important thing is that it’s extremely sturdy and functional but looks a lot more stylish than the average MacBook case.

To find out more about WaterField Designs you can watch an overview of its San Francisco operation below.

If you're looking for something high quality, protective, durable but stylish to carry your MacBook in, the WaterField Designs Zip Laptop Brief fits the Apple aesthetic perfectly. Full Disclosure: In the interests of transparency and as stated in the introduction, WaterField Designs sent us a review copy of this bag but the opinions are those of MacHow2.
Looks and feels high quality
Lots of useful compartments
Very sturdy and protective
Bit more pricey than most MacBook cases
Worn canvas style might not be everyone's taste

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