Short Take: WaterField’s Medium Cargo Bag


I was pleased to hear
about San Francisco-based WaterField’s line of bags.  Perhaps what
caught my attention most was the buckle mechanism—you can request
either a seatbelt-style closure or a paragliding style harness.  How
cool is that?  The Cargo Bag line comes in three styles (Small, Medium,
and Large).  According to WaterField, the Medium is the best size for
laptop packers like myself, and it can easily accommodate 12 to 15 inch
screen machines.  The Large size uses a different kind of material so it
self-stands.  But I went with the Medium suggestion and wasn’t

(all images link to higher resolution)

Figure 1: Exterior
shot of Cargo bag

What’s striking
about this bag is its combination of several material types.  I chose a
leather-enhanced model.  The front flap is stitched in rather soft
leather, and even the handles are made of leather.  I went with the paragliding
style buckle.

Figure 2: Paragliding
style buckle

It took a little
getting used to, but now I can open and close the buckle with one hand.

Figure 3: Should

The shoulder pad works
pretty nicely—it’s padded properly and can slide up and down the
shoulder strap for added adjustability.

Figure 4: Bag shot
with leather flap raised

With the leather flap
raised, the side compartment is exposed.  To the side of the bag is a
nice cell phone pocket.  I always carry my phone in my pocket, but this
pocket might change my ways.  We’ll take a look inside below.

I love being able to carry
my cords, cables, cards, and host of other accessories to keep myself mobile
all in one convenient place.  Until the day that Pocket PC manufacturers
(and phone makers, for that matter!) decide on some kind of standardized
charging port, mobile warriors will be forced to carry a dozen of black boxes
with them wherever they go.  It’s nice, at least, to have easy
access to them so long as you don’t forget one at home.

Figure 5: Cableguy
loaded with PC Cards and cables

To this end, WaterField
provided me with a “Cableguy” cloth pouch.  I wasn’t
too big of a fan.  But you might be.  It’s great to throw
some of those dongles and PC Cards into one little sleeve and carry it around
with you, regardless  of whether you need the remaining contents of the
laptop bag.  But for me, I’d rather have everything together all
the time, so I would have liked to see the Cableguy integrated into (or able to
be fastened to) the Cargo back.  Again, your mileage might vary, but
either way, the quality of materials even on this little bag is
exceptional!  The interior of the bag is pretty much devoid of any
sub-pockets (hence the need for the Cableguy), though in the larger laptop
compartment, there are some pockets but I prefer to keep this area clear for
the laptop.  All internal compartments are lined with a durable, light
orange material.  Looks good!

Figure 6: Cargo bag
with Sleevecase inserted

Once the laptop is
inserted into a Sleevecase, the Sleevecase goes into the Cargo bag. 
For a more detailed look at the Sleevecase, view our review of it. Here is my biggest gripe with the system: again, there is no way to fasten
the Sleevecase to the Cargo bag.  As a result, any time you want to take
the laptop out of your bag, you must remove the Sleevecase + laptop, then
pull out the laptop or slide in your laptop.  I’m a big fan of
integrated sleeves, and because the Sleevecase really isn’t a bag that
can be brought around on its own (no strap or handle), it really
doesn’t function on its own.  But as you can see, once everything
is put together, your laptop will be very well protected.

Figure 7:
Magazine/document pocket utilized

On the outside of the
Cargo bag, a nice magazine/document pouch has been provided.  Nice
touch!  I keep in-flight reading in here since I never appreciate the
Home and Gardening-type magazines with which United and Continental stock
their cabins.


Now that everything is
assembled, the hard part is done.  Because my ThinkPad only weighs about
6 pounds, the Cargo bag is quite easy to tote around.   Almost
always, I use the shoulder strap since it’s the most comfortable and
natural position for me.

Figure 8: Cargo bag
resting on shoulder

Alternatively, you can
use the leather handles and carry the bag to your side.

Figure 9: Cargo bag
held by handles

Either way, the
WaterField Cargo bag is an easy-going bag!

All of the WaterField
pieces shown above can be purchased directly from their eStore.  Again,
their support and sales are done through their

San Francisco

office, so rest assured,
you’ll always chat with a real person.  Maybe it doesn’t
matter if you’re an kind of person, but if you have really
demanding needs from your travel accessories like me, it’s nice to know
a knowledgeable person is there to help you.  The entire WaterField line
can be accessed from their products
.  From here, all items can be purchased.  The Medium Mambo Cambo combination, which I received, is $174 plus shipping.
 If you buy the Cargo bags alone, they cost between $169 and $209.
If you don’t need a full-sized laptop bag, check out the Sleevcase, which we recently reviewed.


  • Great quality material
  • Leather shell and handles
  • Trustable company


  • A high-end bag, so of
    course a bit costly
  • Laptop sleeve can’t
    attach to bag
  • Laptop sleeve insertion a
    bit finicky


I don’t think
I’ve yet found my perfect travel bag.  However, this is a good
balance of size, durability, and price.  I think maybe if WaterField
came out with a backpack-version of the Cargo bag, it would satisfy me a bit
more, but in the meantime, the Cargo bag is a well-manufacturer, professional
looking case that I’m proud to take with me on the road. Therefore, I
give this product the following score:

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About The Author
Jared Miniman