Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeHardware & TechnologyProduct Review: WaterField Designs Cargo Laptop Bag

Product Review: WaterField Designs Cargo Laptop Bag

WaterField Designs is a San Francisco-based bag, backpack, sleeves crafting company  a company that at first glance seems to understand the mobile, tech-savvy market in which it is headquartered.  In fact, the company even offers Nintendo Switch cases for adopters of Nintendo’s hit console. But, for the purpose of this feature, we’re taking a look at the WaterField Designs Cargo Laptop Bag, in chocolate leather and black.

WaterField logo
WaterField Designs: all products made in San Francisco, CA


Look and Feel:

Have you ever wanted to feel like an undercover agent, maybe an adventurer, or a world traveler (maybe you already are one or more of these things)? As soon as you pick up and take a good look at the WaterField Cargo, you’ll immediately feel something akin to those sorts of roles when you hold the bag or sling it over your shoulder.

Waterfield Designs Cargo bag inside front Behind the leather front of the WaterField Designs Cargo bag WaterField Designs Cargo bag front Front of the WaterField Designs Cargo bag

The dark brown (chocolate) front leather flap has a pleasingly worn look and feel to it, with a few scuffs and scrapes that make it feel already comfortably broken in. One of the first things you might notice is the diagonally placed YKK zipper, which opens to reveal a a zippered pocket with a sleeve and a signature gold lining that contrasts the darker exterior nicely.

Flip the front flap and you’ll see the black leather backside of the flap and a zippered half moon pocket, also with a sleeve. This pocket is ideally sized for chargers, smartphones, passport and other easy-to-access tech and information.

Before exploring the rest of the bag I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one key feature on the bottom of the front flap: the paraglider-type buckle to cinch everything in place. This style of buckle certainly struck me as more secure than an average backpack when the metal clasps click into the locked position.

WaterField Designs Cargo bag paraglider buckle
Paraglider buckle for the bag unfastened. Check out the metal connections

In the zippered main compartment, this is what matters most to travelers: the compartment where a laptop and a smaller companion compartment immediately next to it  where a tablet can fit. Both are padded to offer extra protection to laptops. The tablet pocket has a soft inner lining, which would be extra-helpful for protecting open touch screens as one might see with a tablet. The soft inner lining was a nice extra touch in the bag design. Two pockets for business cards and three for pens and pencils round out the interior features.

In case that is not enough storage in a “bag of holding”, the back features two document-sized open pockets. The back, like much of the body is composed of a high-density 1050 Denier ballistic nylon body, which should go a long way to extending the life of the outside of the bag and the contents inside of the bag.

Speaking of heft, this bag weights in at just shy of three-and-a-half-pounds, which, for its size, felt surprisingly light.



In the field, the Cargo bag performed like a trooper, or perhaps like a field general. I tested it by carrying a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (about 2 lbs) and an older HP Pavilion 13.3″ laptop with its power brick (about 6lbs) and a Lenovo Yoga 500 15.6″ series laptop with power supply (about 8 lbs), during several hours of stop-and-go errands over two days. The HP laptop fit in the intended compartment while the Lenovo was a better fit for the main compartment outside the sleeve. This is not a shoulder bag intended to hold and carry a desktop replacement gaming rig laptop.

WaterField Cargo bag w-HP and Surface The HP Pavilion laptop and Microsoft Surface fit comfortably in the WaterField Cargo bag WaterField Cargo bag w-Lenovo and Surface The WaterField Cargo holds the larger Lenovo Yoga in the main compartment with the Microsoft Surface in its pocket

Because of the generously-sized padding included with the shoulder strap, I did not feel like I was carrying over eight to ten pounds of gear with me. Typically, it’s easier to carry that much bulk and weight more easily in a backpack, but even slung around my neck and across my shoulder, the weight in the Cargo bag felt better balanced and more manageable to me than in other shoulder bags I’ve used. I didn’t carry an excess of paper with me while on this test run, but that which I did carry I did in the half moon pocket under the leather flap and it was easily accessed with a free hand.

Bonus: I was unexpectedly complimented on the bag in a coffee shop, where the dark brown leather-black nylon style did indeed stand out.



  • Durable, thanks to the ballistic nylon
  • Pleasingly stylish leather flap
  • Extra secure with a paraglider-type buckle
  • More pockets than a clothing store pants department



  • Premium price tag narrows down its target audience


Ideal for:

With a price tag at $349 retail, I’d highly recommend this high-performance shoulder bag for the mobile businessperson or developer who has spare budget to put into their baggage. If so, they’ll have a bag that adds plenty of extra “oomph” if a seasoned but distinctive style is important and subtracts needless worry about the safety of their essential gadgets on the go. The WaterField Designs Cargo Laptop Bag has both of these aspects very well-covered.


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