WaterField Designs Air Porter review: The bag for business travelers

I've earned at least Alaska MVP status for about a decade and spend lots of time in airplanes. I also love WaterField Designs bags and thus was very excited to see the release of the Air Porter bag designed for the business traveler.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

The last WaterField Designs bag I tested was Bolt Backpack and it is stunning. The new Air Porter and Air Caddy arrived in waxed canvas finish a couple of weeks ago and live up to the promise of a bag for the business traveler.

I travel at least once a month on Alaska Airlines or Delta Airlines and as a person who is 6 foot, 1 inch, and 250 pounds I appreciate having some leg room to stretch out a bit. It is common for me to have my feet placed under my bag or move my bag back towards my seat so that I can extend my feet under the seat in front of me. I've often put my large gear bag in the overhead and then positioned a plastic store bag full of stuff at my feet. This doesn't always work out with things falling out of my plastic bag.

The WaterField Designs Air Porter was created in collaboration with customers who travel and is perfect for those who find themselves on airplanes to get work done.

Walk around the Air Porter

Let's start with the front of the bag. You won't find the patch with the WaterField Designs logo, but embedded text in the leather front flap. Lift up this large leather flap, secured by two very strong magnets embedded into the waxed canvas under the flap. A large comparment is under this leather flap, along with a zippered compartment. This compartment is lined with that signature gold honeycomb fabric and is perfect for important gear you need to get access to without opening either of the main compartment zippers.

Next we have a very large compartment that zips with two rugged zippers all the way down to the bottom edge of the bag. Inside you will find six pockets towards the front with the upper three having elastic black material and the bottom three constructed of the gold interior material and being deeper than the top three. These pockets are perfect for business cards, earbuds, business cards, cleaning cloths, and more.

On the back side of this large compartment you will find two large pockets. I use these for my extra review phones and other gear. Adjacent to these back pockets is a keyboard lanyard. I was using it for keys, they have since been moved to that front flap pocket, but now use it for PodPocket accessory.

This front compartment is quite wide and I use it for my daily commute to pack my lunch. It is also used for airline travel for my snacks since you cannot watch a movie without red licorice in hand.

The next compartment back is TSA checkpoint-friendly certified with the zipper extended down and into the bottom of the bag. With these two zippers you can open up this compartment and lay it down flat so that your laptop is secure with a Velcro strap and front compartment padding for a safe ride through the X-ray machine. This large laptop compartment is compatible with laptops up to a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I have personally carried a Surface Pro 4 and Apple iPad Pro 10.5 with keyboard case in this compartment.

In front of the laptop slot, you will find two very large pockets, again with that lovely gold WaterField Designs material, that are perfect for carrying extra phones, your Passport, a small notebook, pens, and other accesories.

The WaterField Designs Air Porter is designed for air travelers so behind this large TSA checkpoint-friendly compartment is a waxed canvas band that lets you slide the Air Porter down and over your roller bag. The bottom is constructed of leather so you can set your bag down and not worry at all about it being compromised by the floor.

There are two comfortable leather and waxed canvas handles so you can carry the Air Porter as a soft briefcase. In addition, a long strap is included for comfortable cross-shoulder carry. This strap has an eight inch pad of waxed canvas and black ballistic material with adjustable fittings on each side to fit it just right for the way you want to carry it.

There are also two side compartments and it seems WaterField heard my feedback as these can be opened up or closed with the use of high quality buttons so you can fit water bottles on each side of the main two compartments. I always buy water after passing through security so I can stay hydrated on my flight and having water bottles outside of the area where my electronics are stored is wonderful.

WaterField Designs Air Porter hands-on: in pictures

Walk around the Air Caddy

The Air Caddy is brilliant as it serves as a bag that fits my Apple iPad Pro 10.5, a book, a few cables, and some snacks. If I want to place the Air Porter in the overhead or at my feet, then the loaded Air Caddy can fit into the seat back pocket or next to me in the seat to carry the essentials. I used it for my iPad Pro 10.5, Bose QuietComfort 20 earbuds, charging cables, and a couple Snickers bars.

There is a front zippered compartment with two large black elastic pockets and that lovely gold interior so you can easily find your stuff. This is perfect for headphones, a pen, small notebook, and other gear.

The main compartment has a rugged zipper that extends halfway around the bag. There is a padded pocket towards the back for your iPad Pro 10.5 and two large gold material pockets towards the front with a spacious compartment between.

The loaded Air Caddy fits into the front pocket of the Air Porter. It is also designed to fit into your seat back pocket.

Daily usage experiences

One key dimension of the Air Porter is the height and at 10 inches it fits perfectly under an airline seat in the vertical position. I have always had to lay my bag down to fit under the seat, which as a result takes up precious space for me to extend my legs under the seat. The Air Porter is only about 4.5 inches wide so there is room to stand it up and get two feet under the seat in front of me.

I also discovered that the Air Porter fits perfectly under my Sounder commuter train seat, 10 inches may be a standard for these transportation resources, so I can place it under without having to lay it down and mess up my storage plan.

The waterproof exterior zippers, fabulous waxed canvas material, high quality leather, and thougtful design are fabulous. I have yet to find gear bags designed and built with such high craftsmanship and after years of use these bags look just about like they did the day they arrived. I personally like the waxed canvas designs as they develop some character over time, but the material still functions perfectly and you will be hard pressed to find a higher quality bag.

Many bags have black interiors, but WaterField continues to use a durable gold interior that facilitates finding your gear inside your bag. It looks good and works exactly as intended. All WaterField Designs bags are made in San Francisco and often are made after you place your order. I highly recommend them and am excited by the innovation I see in a market you would think has come up with it all.

Pricing and availability

You can purchase a WaterField Air Porter for $359 in two different color and material variations with the Air Caddy added on for only $20 or the Air Caddy separately for $59. If you like to put your primary bag in the overhead and have some essential gear with you in the seat back, then you can save $30 by purchasing the combination from WaterField Designs.

The Air Porter is available in waxed canvas and black ballistic with a current ship date of 13 October. The WaterField Designs bags are made to order in San Francisco and will look just about the same as the date you purchased one in 10 years. I have tested, and purchased, several of these bags over the years and the quality is unparalelled. While the bags may seem expensive, when they perform exactly as advertised and last for years it is easy to justify the purchase.

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