I've been traveling a lot for work lately, and one thing that most travelers are familiar with is the need to pack a lot of stuff into as few bags as possible. With this in mind, I reached out to WaterField Designs with the specifications of what I tend to carry each day. If you're not familiar with WaterField Designs, they make bags for just about everything, and for just about every style and situation.
For this review I mentioned to WaterField Designs that I carry a laptop, laptop power cord cable, a variety of other cables, iPhone, iPad, Nexus 7, papers, pads, headphones (the EVERYMAN ones) and other miscellaneous electronics. Here's what they recommended:
I had previously reviewed the Smart Case for my MacBook Air 11-inch, and now that I travel with a 13-inch, I figured I should try that with the experience.
The first thing I noticed was that it seemed like I went from one traditional laptop bag, to a series of bags. This was actually a negative for me, initially, and I figured I'd probably just write the review and then send the bags back. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. It's now been a couple of months and I can't think of going to any other bag.
What makes this bag work so well is the fact that it actually does have all of these bags. If I need an accessory or a cable, I simply unzip the bag, and then take out the Cableguy bag. It's all self-contained as a bag in a bag, so there are no miscellaneous pieces to gather in the laptop bag itself.
I mentioned above that I've been traveling a lot. One thing that I'm sure most people reading this article can relate to is the speed at which you want to be able to remove your laptop when going through airport security. In this instance, I have my laptop in the sleeve, so I just remove the sleeve, then slide the laptop out. It takes seconds and allows me to leave the rest of the laptop bag alone. I haven't tried to put the laptop through security in the sleeve, but the folks at WaterField Designs say that you can, so I might decide to give it a go on my next trip through security.
Below is a picture of my own configuration. As you can see, the bag within a bag concept keeps the laptop bag nice and tidy.
So far I only found two potential issues with the above setup. The first being the price. Since you can add and customize, it ends up getting up there in price. The package that I reviewed is $293, for example. However, since my last laptop bag lasted me more than four years, I'd say that it's not too bad. Also, I don't really count the price as a negative since it offers customization, which is a positive, and you can control the level of customization that you decide to do, which then allows you to control the overall cost.
The other issue I found is with the zipper on the side pocket. I'm afraid I'll lose items if I put them in there, so unfortunately, the pocket sits unused.
Otherwise, I have found my laptop bag combination to be the ultimate road warrior setup. I can pull items out while on the plane, or in line, or just about anywhere, and thanks to the plethora of compartments and its modular design, I can slot them in and out, without having to move things around inside of the bag.
You can browse and / or purchase all of the bags I mentioned above, and many more, at SFBags.com