Hands-on: New 2016 WaterField Designs Cargo bag improves upon a best-selling classic

I picked up my first WaterField Designs Cargo bag 10 years ago. This new model offers improvements that make it a compelling choice for the commuter and business traveler.

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As part of my role here on ZDNet as the Mobile Gadgeteer, I switch between mobile devices more frequently than I change my socks. However, one thing that remains fairly constant is the gear bag I pack and carry on my 2+ hour daily train commute. Thus, I'm willing to pay a higher price for a high quality bag, especially if it's made in the USA.

Ten years ago I reviewed the WaterField Designs Mambo Combo that includes the Cargo bag. To celebrate WaterField Designs 18th year in business it launched a new Cargo bag and I've been carrying one for the past couple of weeks.

You will find many similarities between the original and new bag, but also some key differences that make the new generation that much better for today's commuter and business traveler. Elements you will still find present include the awesome paraglide aluminum buckle, large main compartment accessible with a rugged zipper, signature gold liner in all compartments, soft black leather handles to provide for comfortable handling, and premium materials.

Improvements to the Cargo bag include another large interior padded pocket to carry a table or small computer, more pockets in the internal compartment flap, the necessary rolling suitcase slot, waterproof zippers for even better weather resistance, a zippered pocket on the front flap that is perfect for your phone, and a leather front flap that makes this classy bag perfect for the office.

Everything about the WaterField Designs bags screams of premium quality and rugged construction. While you may think its bags are expensive, when you realize that the bag will function and looks the same 10 years later you will understand the price is a bargain. The WaterField Designs Cargo bag is priced at $349 and comes with either a grizzly brown or black leather flap over a black ballistic nylon base. All the bags are designed and built in San Francisco.

The Cargo bag continues to be one of the most popular models available and the new version is sold out until a May 20th production run. This 3.4 pound bag is fantastic and the black leather model I've been testing looks stunning. I have been carrying my Surface Pro 4, three to four new smartphones, business cards, essential personal hygiene and health products, a battery pack, a couple magazines, my wallet, and more every day on the train and could not be happier.

WaterField Designs lists all the gear that can fit into the bag, including a 15 inch MacBook Pro, a Surface Book or Surface Pro 4, the iPad Pro 12.9 inch, a Dell Latitude 13, and more. Laptops up to 14.3 inches by 9.73 inches can be carried with tablets up to 13 inches.

The padded shoulder strap is adjustable and when I am walking around the office or on the train I move it to a single shoulder. When I walk the mile from the train station to the office I quickly slide the Cargo bag to my back and sling it over a shoulder for easier carrying as a messenger bag. The WaterField Designs Cargo bag works in both modes and I highly recommend this new version of a classic design.

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