An unfortunate side effect of the notebook computer revolution is that we new have to slog our computers hither and yon and often to and from our placers of work each day. Mobility, it seems, has a price. Our reliance on portable computers doesn't mean that we have to look like borgs when we carry our work-issued laptops home each evening. Computer bags are personal items that tell a lot about the people that carry them, and like one's clothing, they also make an impression when we arrive at a meeting or interview.
If I'm going to carry a computer bag daily, I'd prefer it to be stylish and substantial rather than the company-issued black cordura bag that was purchased via some volume purchasing agreement.
Enter the Rough Rider leather messenger bag from Waterfield Designs, Inc. ($335). It's a gorgeous shoulder bag made from high-quality leather and features natural edges and a vintage, broken-in look that makes it distinctive and unique. The leather has the patina of a baseball glove that you've used for ten years and it feels even better.
Don't let the Rough Rider's gruff exterior fool you, it comes with four deep pockets for your gear. Two waxed canvas are inside the main compartment and another two are lined with soft material that won't scratch or scuff your iPad mini or iPhone. Dimensions are 15" x 10.5" x 3.5" and it weighs in at 2.9 pounds. The brown leather can be accented by trim in either black, copper, pine, green, flame or pearl.
Since the cavernous interior is simply unfinished leather, you'll need a sleeve case for your laptop. Waterfield is the best-of-breed manufacturer in that category too, and I highly recommend that you go with their Outback sleeve ($59) to protect your MacBook Pro (they make them in sizes to fit most laptops). The vintage look of the waxed canvas is the perfect fit for the very well-worn Rough Rider bag.
The snaps on the outside of the Rough Rider allow you to snap in closed in two different areas (depending on how much stuff you've crammed into the bag) and I would have preferred a big old buckle or some other vintage-looking clasp, but the snaps get the job done. Some will balk at paying $300+ for a bag, but when you consider what the materials cost and the fact that it's made in the U.S. (San Francisco, actually) it's not out of line. Quality doesn't come cheaply and Waterfield doesn't skip in materials department, so you get what you pay for.
I'm typically a backpack guy (its the whole hands-free thing) but the Rough Rider and Outback sleeve combination are easily the most beautiful bag sleeve combination that I've seen in a long time. If you're looking for a high-quality and extremely good looking shoulder/messenger bag take a hard look at the Rough Rider, you won't be disappointed.