San Francisco-based WaterField Designs has quite a loyal following for their stylish, hand-crafted bags and sleeves, made specially for the tech-savvy crowd. After I bought the new Surface Pro in June, I’ve gone all in on the Waterfield Designs Bolt Briefcase, a pretty chic, yet functional, briefcase bag to lug around my equally chic Surface Pro.
The Bolt Briefcase comes in ballistic nylon or waxed canvas with three naturally-tanned leather accents – for a total of six combinations. While each one of them is stylish and a matter of personal preference, I’m a big fan of the waxed canvas which gets even more attractive with time. I’ve been using the company’s Outback Solo for my Surface 3 since a while, and quite like how it has aged.
It comes in three sizes – Small (14.5 x 10.5 x 4 inches), Medium (15.5 x 11.0 x 4 inches), and the Large (17 x 11.5 x 5 inches) – allowing you to pick one up according to the laptop you carry. The padded sleeve in the small one fits devices up to 13” x 9”, and the Surface Pro fits nicely in this one. The medium one fits devices up to 14.25 x 10”, like the Surface Book.
The interiors of the Bolt Briefcase are made of soft gold cloth. It’s a great choice because it makes looking for your gear quite easy – it’s like a lamp turns on as soon as you open the zippers. There’s the larger padded compartment to hold the laptop and two pockets on the other side half the size of that sleeve to hold your accessories like headphones, mouse, phone charger, etc. Between the two sides with the pockets, there is a spacious compartment in the middle that can even take a change of clothes for an overnight trip.
The main compartment of the bag sports metal zippers with leather tassels that make them comfortable to grasp and open and close. The splash proof zippers help protect the bag’s contents when you’re out and it starts drizzling. There's also a removable shoulder strap with a leather pad so that the strap doesn't pierce into your shoulder.
Outside, there are couple of pockets on the front with magnetic clasps for quick access things like mints, your wallet, or throwing in your receipts or loose change. There’s also a wide pocket hidden behind those two pockets with a zipper that runs through the length of the bag.
At the back, there’s a wide length pocket with no zip or clasp, essentially for throwing in a newspaper or a magazine. While it looks ideal for a mini tablet or Kindle, these slide out of the pocket when the bag is laid flat so one should avoid it. On top of the wide pocket is an open sleeve which you can slip over a rolling suitcase handle while rushing through an airport. It’s an important feature for me, since I travel frequently and often carry a backpack or briefcase along with a suitcase.
The best thing about WaterField Designs products are that they last long, and the distressed leather gains character as it ages, and looks even better. Also, it’s not hard to maintain like pure leather bags. The stitching, clasps, and zippers hold up well which is a testimony to quality handcrafting.
The Bolt Briefcase is a good enough bag for you daily office gear as well as for an overnight work trip. It does the job well on both counts, and looks the part. For a trip, with a change of clothes and some accessories, it is a bit tight, but worked for me with for the dual transit and meetings routine.
With the Bolt Briefcase, WaterField Designs impresses again - in form as well as function - with excellent craftsmanship and style quotient. Starting at $249, it is expensive, but of course it is intended for discerning professionals who don't mind paying a premium for panache.