The MacBook Air is one of the sleekest and best designed laptops that I’ve ever owned, made by a company at the top of its game. It’s only fitting that one of the better cases for carrying it around comes from Waterfield, bag maker extraordinaire.
Waterfield is a San Francisco based bag maker that builds all of their products in-house. They use top-notch materials like self locking zippers and every bag that I’ve seen so far from these guys has just been incredibly solid. The Travel Express for the MacBook Air is no exception.
At 13.5″ long by 9.1″ high and 1.9″ thick, the case is large enough to hold a MacBook Air in the main compartment, along with a set of accessories like the charging cable and a few extras in the main portage area. The sides of the bag gain some added rigidity from plastic inserts so it holds its natural shape well. This makes it easy to slip items in or out.
The self locking zipper opens the bag on two sides, making it even easier to get bulky accessories in and out. The MacBook pocket is lined on both sides to prevent scratching, of course.
I like that the divider is the trademark Waterfield yellow, as it makes it easier to see dark cables and accessories inside if there is a bit of contrast. I would love to see the whole panel in a brighter color to make it even easier to see, but there are two stretchy pockets attached to it that make it easy to organize cables so I’ll give it a pass. There are also three pockets on the inside of the exterior wall as well for thinner items.
The exterior is ballistic nylon with a decorative stripe that you can get in one of a variety of colors. You can also choose to attach the optional strap if you’d like to carry it over the shoulder, although I primarily tucked it under-arm. Although the strap is thin and light, the shoulder pad is padded and ample, although it restrains its width to just over 1.5″. Since the Air is so light, the smaller pad doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of comfort, although this is definitely not an ‘all day’ strap.
The model I tested was for the 11″ Air, but you can get flavors for the 13″ as well. With the 11″, the bag was the perfect size for an Air and an iPad in a case. If you fudge it a bit you can also get the Air’s power adapter in there. It really is a sweet travel size. Most of the time I packed an Air, a standard Moleskine, my iPhone in a case, a pen and the Air’s power adapter without any fuss.
My one major issue with the bag, and it’s not really all that egregious, is the fact that the zipper doesn’t end at a stopper when you close it. Instead, the zipper is sewn in a continuous loop all the way around the mouth of the bag. This means that when you’ve zipped it closed, there is still a small loop that won’t close off. You can see it in the image below.
It’s small enough that it probably won’t be a huge point of entry for dust or water, but it is there and it leaves just a bit more possibility that stuff will get in. It’s easy to see why it was made this way, as this allows the case to clamshell open wide to allow you easy access to the interior, but it still leaves behind the gap as a consequence, so it’s worth mentioning.
The MacBook Air Travel Express is another fantastic bag from Waterfield that should please anyone wanting a slim folio to carry the Air and a couple other items without a lot of bulk. It’s incredibly difficult to find much to complain about here besides the small zipper quirk. Great workmanship, solid materials and obvious care have all gone into the making of the Express, and it all oozes out with an overall satisfaction with using it.
The Waterfield MacBook Air Travel Express is available in 11″ and 13″ sizes, and in various colors, for $79-$89 at SFbags.com.