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Sep 15 2011

WaterField MacBook Air Travel Express Case Review

So, when is a MacBook Air case not a MacBook Air case? When it is configured for a 13 inch MacBook Pro!

WaterField was kind enough to send me one of their Travel Express cases for review. Versions are available for both the 11 and 13 inch MacBook Air and while they were at it they went ahead and configured one for the 13 inch MacBook as well. Lucky for me since I traded my Air away for the additional power and ports of the MBPro a couple of months ago!

I should start this review by saying that I am a minimalist when it comes to packing…until you get to my briefcase. I carry a fairly capacious day to day bag in the Tom Bihn Zephyr because I carry a ridiculous amount of stuff. It is a compulsion and I can’t help it, at least that is the story that I am going with!

The Zephyr does not have a padded laptop compartment built-in so I have actually been keeping a Incase Sleeve Case inside of it with the added benefit of being able to pull it out and use it as a minimal carry bag for the laptop and just a few accessories. This approach means that the WaterField is perfect for my typical usage.

The Waterfield is slightly larger than the Incase but still fits nicely in my briefcase to add some protection to my laptop.

For the most part, I can’t seem to make myself pare down the amount of stuff I carry to use a small case. For the last week I have made myself do that for the bulk of the day. The big briefcase lived in the hotel room and the WaterField went with me. I even lived through it with minimal psychic damage!

The Travel Case is made of “bullet proof” style ballistic nylon and has one of WaterField’s locking YKK zippers. Their zipper design is a bit different since it actually goes around two sides of the bag allowing you to really open the bag and get at everything inside. Since the Travel Case also served double duty inside a bigger briefcase it was great that I could leave the top unzipped so I could get my laptop in and out quickly. The locking zipper meant that it did not slide itself open in my briefcase, keeping the contents safe and secure. The Travel Case is only available in black, but you do get to choose an accent color stripe. The accent stripe on mine was in an understated copper, which added to the elegance of the case. There are 6 different accent colors available for you to choose from.

A range of 6 different accent colors for the Travel Express

WaterField’s ballistic nylon is specially made for them with a stiffened backing on it so it retains its shape well and protects the contents better. The outside of my bag also featured a couple of optional metal D rings to allow for attachment of the shoulder strap. The strap has a lightly cushioned shoulder pad with a textured rubber base that keeps it very secure on your shoulder. The hardware for attaching it to case is metal and the strap feels very solid and well made.

Of course the inside of a case is typically where the magic lives! The inside of the Travel Case can be broken down into three sections. Along one wall of the case is a divided section for the laptop. Inside of the padding is a stiff plastic piece that adds another layer of extra protection. The laptop fits snugly in here and it is lined with a soft layer to protect your precious. Because the laptop has its own pocket it will not slip out even if you have the zipper opened fully.

On the back of the laptop section is a mesh pocket section that divides into two 7.5 by 7 inch sections. These are not really padded and are best suited for cable and accessory storage.

Mesh pockets on the back of the laptop section

The opposite side of the bag has three padded pockets. The largest one has its opening across the top of the bag and is 7.5 by 8.5 inches and will just hold an iPad1 tucked into its embrace.

The other two pockets actually are entered from the side of the bag, which initially confused me a bit. At 5 by 5 and 3 by 5 inches they are perfectly sized for a Magic Mouse and a Power Supply. Since these are pieces that I don’t access every time I get my laptop out the beauty of this arrangement is that they are secured in by the zipper if I am pulling stuff out of the top of the case. Quite clever actually!

The section between the pockets is open and can have a notebook, papers or even some oddly sized accessories tucked away in here.

Travel case with Macbook Pro, a notebook, Ipad1 and power supply tucked inside

The Travel Case is made of great materials and offers a better degree of protection than the typical soft case given the plastic reinforcement inside of the case.

For a minimalist case it actually holds quite a bit and with its reinforced nylon it actually holds it shape well even when you put a bit too much into it.

The Travel Express Case starts at $79 ($101 as reviewed with strap and D rings) so it is a bit more than your typical Target computer aisle special, but it is also more bag than those. This is really the perfect bag for the MacBook Air guy that wants to carry just what he needs and not an ounce more without sacrificing protection or quality.

Awesome materials, made in the US and built like a tank. It features a limited lifetime warranty and it also looks like a million bucks! You can’t ask for better than that.

MacBook Air Travel Express Case
$79-$89

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