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WaterField Designs Muzetto Outback and SleeveCase for Microsoft Surface Pro (review)

For the last couple of weeks, I have been using the Muzetto Outback vertical messenger bag to carry a much lighter load during my daily commute and am loving the experience.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 17 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

WaterField Designs Muzetto Outback vertical messenger bag

I commute a couple hours per day on the train and have been carrying various backpacks and messenger bags over the years. With these larger bags I end up carrying a lot of extra gear that I really don't need, resulting in some pretty heavy loads. The folks at WaterField Designs reached out and asked if I wanted to check out a couple of their solutions, including their new Muzetto Outback vertical messenger bag, and the idea of carrying a lighter load was appealing.

In addition to the Muzetto Outback, the folks at WaterField Designs saw that I was using the Microsoft Surface Pro and offered up one of their SleeveCases.

Muzetto Outback

WaterField Designs has had their Muzetto Leather bag for a while and I have heard great things about it from users. I liked the idea of the Muzetto Outback because it is constructed of waxed canvas and seemed to be a better solution than the leather bag for rainy weather. I walk a couple miles a day to and from the train, and in Washington State that often means walking in the rain.

I have a WaterField Designs cargo bag that is several years old and it still looks nearly brand new. The Muzetto Outback bag continues the tradition of extremely high quality construction. I pulled it from the plastic bag and was immediately impressed by the materials, construction, attachments, and colors.

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Inside signature gold lining

The highlight color is found under the top flap, on the outside of the main pocket, and above the inner opening. The  outer pocket and main bag storage compartment are lined with the durable gold material found in many other WaterField Designs bags. I understand they use gold so that you can easily find the contents in the compartments and it has become a signature feature of their gear. The smaller pocket has soft, padded black material to protect the pocket's contents.

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Removable shoulder pad

You can remove and relocate the shoulder pad so that the strap fits you perfectly.

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Flame accent color

The outside waxed canvas feels rugged and I understand it softens up and gains character over the years. You can choose from one of six accent colors, including green, flame, copper, pine, pearl, and black. I am a fan of the color orange so I chose to check out the flame-colored bag.

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Accent colors on two main panels

There is an outside pocket behind the flap, a main opening under the flap that also includes a zippered closure pocket, and a smaller outer pocket that has a smaller compartment at the top. Thus, you have one pocket accessible with the top flap closed. This flap piece does not secure, it just rests against the other highlighted material on the outside of the pocket.

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Inside pockets and compartments

There are five available sizes with five different prices. As stated by the WaterField Designs folks, these are the sizes and possible usage scenarios:

The Personal ($149) for your basics — wallet, phone, camera, and iPad in a minimalist case like the Suede Jacket or Slip Case. The 10" Portable ($159) for larger devices — tablets, e-readers and netbooks, including the iPad inside a WaterField iPad Smart Case or Ultimate SleeveCase. The 11" Laptop Muzetto ($169) is your 11" MacBook Air's best friend. The 13" ($179) and 15" ($189) Laptop sizes fit your Mac laptop inside a Vertical WaterField Designs SleeveCase (not included) plus accessories.

I was sent the 11 inch model to check out with the intent to carry my Surface Pro and some other gear. I spent the last couple of weeks carrying the Surface Pro (or Chromebook Pixel), three phones, my wallet, USB cable, small Moleskine, pen, aspirin, and some papers.

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Outer smaller pocket

This one compartment is padded with soft black fabric.

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The SleeveCase fits into the Muzetto bag too

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SleeveCase and Muzetto with my Surface Pro

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Another view of my gear

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Shoulder strap on and ready to go

I have the carrying strap fit to go across my body with the main bag resting against my back. It was refreshing just carrying the essentials and I am liking this approach. I can't say enough about the quality of construction, feel of the bag, and functionality of this solution.

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One classy, stylish bag

This is a MUCH lighter load than the heavy backpack I have been carrying around.

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Ultimate SleeveCase for Microsoft Surface

I have used various SleeveCases in the past with ebook readers and laptops. Those all had the lead indium bottom trim, and this time Waterfield Designs sent along a MS Surface SleeveCase with brown leather trim.

There are a number of different sizes available to best fit your device and if you are not sure which one is best, just email them and they will work to make sure you order the proper case. To fit my Microsoft Surface Pro with Type Cover, they recommended the 44-28 and it fits perfectly.

There are options for trim and shoulder straps. Indium is included with the leather choice priced $6 more. The Surface Pro SleeveCase is priced at $59. Shoulder straps vary from $5 to $22 and are completely optional. Since I intended to carry my Surface Pro in the SleeveCase in another bag I didn't need the shoulder strap.

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Back view with pocket

The current generation SleeveCase has a lot more front and back padding than I remember from the past. There is soft black material inside the compartment with that same soft material under the flap. The flap is secured with velcro and a heavy nylon strap backs up the center of the flap.

There is a loop around the center of the trim piece that is helpful for pulling the SleeveCase off your Surface while you hold on to the Surface from within the compartment.

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Sliding the Surface Pro into the SleeveCase

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Perfect fit

I like that there is a large pocket on the backside of the SleeveCase, under where the flap is secured on the back. I have been using this pocket to carry my Surface stylus and USB cable.

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Quality sleeve for your device

WaterField Designs has a huge assortment of cases, bags, and accessories to choose from and I am sure you can find something to fit your gear. Their solutions are made with the highest quality materials and amazing construction.

One of the best aspects is that they are all made in San Francisco and some even have a bit of a waiting period because they make them as you order so you know you are getting a freshly baked product. I can show you my original Mambo Combo, reviewed on Geek.com in 2006, and you will swear they are new bags and accessories.

You can't go wrong with their products and while the prices may appear high, they are actually pretty reasonable for high end bags. They will last you for years and likely be one of the most dependable bags you ever own. They are also very attractive and fashionable.

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