Your MacBook needs a brand new bag



  • High quality sturdy materials
  • Perfect build and build
  • Nice color options
  • Gold lining to find contents
  • Handcrafted in San Francisco

The inconvenients

  • Basic grab handle
  • Expensive for some

Part of my commute to work includes a few miles on my bike, so I collect and carry my gear in a messenger bag or backpack. Over the past few weeks I’ve taken a minimalist approach, with my gear wrapped in dark green WaterField Essential Messenger Laptop Bag.

WaterField has launched its new Essentials Collection in August 2022 with four new lightweight bags, handmade in the USA, and priced more affordably than its flagship options. The Essential Messenger laptop bag is available for $179 in four accent color options: black, green, blue and red. You can also purchase a cross stabilizer strap for $10, which was not part of my test sample.


The green accent color looks fantastic on this messenger bag.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Discover the Essential Messenger laptop bag

WaterField sent along the WaterField Essential Messenger Laptop Bag with top green accent color. The accent color appears on the top of the bag and the beautiful Forza textile material is sewn very well into the black ballistic nylon of the bag.

On the front of the bag is a zippered front pocket that runs the full length of the bag. Inside this area are two large pockets and a main compartment, as well as a key clip. That beautiful traditional WaterField gold liner is also present, so finding your gear is quick and easy.


Place for a phone and a laptop.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The front flap compartment is held securely to the bag with magnetic Fidlock buckles. We’ve seen some interesting attachment loops from WaterField over the years and the Fidlock is another unique design. The buckles are made of durable plastic and slide together securely using very powerful magnets. The buckles have a clever angled design that prevents the buckle from opening. As for the slide mechanism, there are stops on the upper component so that they only close in one direction. In general, you can maneuver the loop quite easily with one hand.


Keep the front flap secure with strong magnets

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

After lifting the front flap, the large main carry compartment is visible with gold lining in the main compartment and in the two inside pockets on the front of the bag. Across the full width of the back side is a padded laptop pocket that fits medium-sized devices like the Apple MacBook Pro 14 inch, Microsoft Surface Pro 8and Surface 4 Laptop. I happen to have a Surface Pro 8 and can confirm that it fits well in this space. I also tested a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Brydge 12.9 Max Plus keyboard and found the perfect size for mobile work.

Also read: WaterField Air travel backpack review: Perfect bag for hands-free business travel

The bottom of the main compartment opens to a width of about three inches so you can comfortably carry a water bottle, helmet, charger and other gear. The back of the bag is completely covered in padded fabric and should rest comfortably against your back when you put it on. There’s a single handle on the upper back, but that’s not ideal for carrying the bag for long periods of time. The shoulder strap is the way to go.


A Surface Pro 8, Amazon Kindle Oasis and Sony headset packed in the lower compartment.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Finally, there is a soft seat belt strap attached to the buckles at the rear. A metal cam buckle secures both ends of the strap and allows for quick and easy adjustments when the strap is on your chest.

At the end of the line

WaterField Designs makes some of my favorite bags and are designed and built to last for years (or decades) while maintaining their look and shape. The Essential Messenger bag is the company’s most affordable and accessible bag to date. The best part is that it doesn’t compromise on its quality, materials, and design features made in the USA. Personally, I like the look of the green highlight and the distinctive gold lining is both stylish and useful for sorting out the gear that’s inside.

Alternatives to consider

While I highly recommend WaterField Designs bags because they are so well constructed and last for years, here are a few other options to consider:


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