Aug 06 2012

WaterField VertiGo Review

A big laptop bag is as much about brawn as it is about brains. A multitude of pockets and zippers and not much of a limitation on size or scale gives a designer the ability to literally stretch the limits…in almost any dimension.

But a small bag…now that is a different matter altogether. It requires finesse and an intelligent set of trade-offs to make sure that you get a bag that is capable and carryable. Yeah, I know that is not really a word, but I really needed the alliteration to finalize the comparison!

The WaterField VertiGo is exactly what it sounds like. A vertically oriented bag designed for your on-the-go lifestyle.

The VertiGo comes in four different sizes:

X-Large VertiGo (Size 4) / 12″ x 16″ x 3.5″ – 1.7 lb
Large VertiGo (Size 3) / 11 ” x 15″ x 3.5″ – 1.55 lb
Medium VertiGo (Size 2) / 11″ x 13″ x 3.5″ – 1.45 lb
Small VertiGo (Size 1) / 8.5″ x 11″ x 3.5″ – 1.2 lb

They all share the same basic construction characteristics. Ballistic nylon makes the bag light, but very strong. The 1.5 inch strap is attached at each top corner of the bag and is bar tack stitched for strength. The strap is adjustable so it can be easily used cross-body or single shoulder.

The front of the bag features a 2.25 inch accent stripe in one of four checked patterns ( blue, green, grey or yellow) or one of five leather or suede options. Behind that stripe is an open front pocket that covers two-thirds the height of the bag. The top of this pocket is sewn to the bag an inch in on each side so the opening is two inches narrower than the front of the bag. This helps keep smaller items from falling out of this pocket. The bag also has a flat enough bottom that it will stand up when it is full.

The back of the VertiGo has a pocket at the same height that runs the full width if the bag, perfect for a magazine or notebook. There is also a pocket on the edge of the VertiGo that sports the vertical WaterField “WF” logo that is perfectly sized for your iPhone.

A YKK zipper with a pull runs the width of the bag and is the only seal on the VertiGo. The zipper opens up to reveal a big, open central area begging to be filled up with your kit! Inside is that signature, high-contrast gold WaterField fabric that I love so much. Nice to see a little touch of elegance on the inside of a bag!

High contrast interior!

The left side of the bag features a strap with a clip to secure your keys to. At five inches long it is just long enough that you can unlock your door without taking the keys off of the clip.

The front wall of the bag has an organizer section with a slot for business cards and two open top pockets. The larger one is 6.5 inches deep and 5.5 inches wide and the smaller one is 4.25 inches deep and 2.5 inches wide. These pockets are pretty tight so they are well suited to the smaller pieces that collect in our bags for no good reason!

This shows the organizational panel and the key strap inside the VertiGo

The VertiGo also includes a removable shoulder strap pad. It attaches with Velcro and allows the strap to slide smoothly while the pad stay secure on your shoulder. This works great if you move the bag behind you while you are walking.

This is what I carried around inside of the VertiGo…

VertiGo and what came out of it: Notebook, glasses, iPad, BT Keyboard, business cards, Sennheiser headphones in case, small power strip, USB stick, iPhone, Waterfield CableGuy gear pouch (also full) and hand sanitizer

I evaluated the smallest (Size 1) version of the VertiGo with the Lead Indium accent stripe. My goal was to use it as an iPad and accessories bag for use at a trade show or a day about town. While it is the smallest of the group it is still pretty capacious.

I was easily able to fit my iPad and it’s accessories, a wind breaker, note book and various knick-knacks for the day securely inside. Even my 13 inch MBP will fit in there…I just can’t quite zip it up!


I have two little complaints on the VertiGo. One is that I would really like to have a zippered pocket on the inside for securing small pieces. I also tend to fiddle with the length of strap, especially when wearing a bag cross shoulder. While the traditional strap adjustment on the VertiGo is not difficult to set, I would love to see a quick adjust on this strap. I had to work pretty hard to come up with those cons…

The VertiGo’s sides narrow as they come to the top of the bag where it zips so the top of the bag is very flexible. This makes it curve against your body nicely, keeping the VertiGo comfortable to carry.

Like all WaterField products, the VertiGo shows an almost insane attention to detail. The stitching is gorgeous with not a thread out of place. It has the feel of a bag that you could stuff a bowling ball in and drag it behind a car for a cross-country trip and still take it to class or work the next day!

When I got to drop into their facilities in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco it was easy to see why this is so. More than a little bit of Made in America pride goes into everything that WaterField makes.

The simplicity of the VertiGo is actually a strength. With very little internal structure the VertiGo is easy to adapt to carrying whatever it is you need to carry around.

The VertiGo has definitely got the finesse to get you and your stuff where you want to go!

Made with pride in the US
Insane quality
Just the right size for your iPad and stuff

Needs one internal zippered pocket

WaterField VertiGo $89 – $119

WaterField Designs

Made in San Francisco

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