by Kevin O’Brien
The Waterfield Designs HardCase is a luxury messenger bag that aims to be a step above any other notebook bag on the market. Offering high quality leather inside and out, high quality metal components, and a plush interior to keep your notebook safe in any situation, this bag doesn’t spare any expense. Starting at $229 for the smallest version it isn’t the most affordable bag, but it will turn heads no matter where you go.
Waterfield HardCase Features:
- Stylish, sleek protection for your laptop and a few necessities.
- No-scratch padded liner
- Protective foam and impact-resistant plastic frame
- Dual-leather flap and authentic paragliding buckle
The attention to detail throughout the Waterfield HardCase is something I have not seen in a bag reviewed to date. The stitching is perfect with no frays throughout the many lines holding together the various layers of leather and ballistic nylon. The nylon layers hold up very well to abrasion, although not the easiest material to keep looking clean as all the divots manage to collect dirt and dust. The outer side of the flap is made from high quality leather that is resistant to scuffs and scratches, while the inner section of the flap is a suppler, softer type of leather.
The metal hardware is another aspect of this bag that has been very well thought out and over engineered. The side shoulder straps use sturdy chromed clips that could easily hold the weight of a much heavier bag (or not break if someone tries to swipe the bag off your neck with a firm tug). The main flap is secured with an authentic paragliding buckle that feels strong enough that if you secured the bag to a support beam you could hang your weight on the bag and not break the buckle. The buckle is also very easy to latch and unlatch, with two spring loaded clips. To give you an idea of the buckles strength, it is rated at 9Kilonewton on the back, or roughly 2,000lbs of pulling force. You could tow a car with the thing.
The design is very stylish while also being very simplistic. On our model all fabric and leather is black on black, with a gold and black buckle and chrome shoulder strap clips. The shoulder strap is also all black, with soft “pleather” on one side of the shoulder cushion, and textured rubber on the other for added grip.
The messenger bag gives you a good selection of nooks and crannies for storing notebook accessories, as well as other personal items securely. Underneath the flap you have thin pockets for storing thinner items such as papers or CD/DVDs. The main notebook compartment is heavily padded with a soft billowy fabric which underneath is framed with rigid plastic to support the shape of the case itself.
The backside of the case offers an accordion zippered compartment for additional items such as a power adapter, small wireless mouse, or loose items such as flash drives. The accordion side gives the pocket enough slack hold thicker items about 1-2″ thick.
Overall the messenger bag style doesn’t allow much additional room beyond the most vital accessories to your notebook. They are meant to stay as thin and non-bulky as possible for easily transporting your notebook around on a daily bases.
Use and Comfort
I am really not used to carrying around such lightweight notebook cases, coming from someone who normally has 20-40lbs of junk stuffed inside of backpack. The WaterField HardCase is very easy to carry around without the shoulder strap. The handle is made of leather two layers thick, but it doesn’t offer the most room for larger hands. Considering the relatively low weight of the messenger bag the handle would not be a problem in day to day use.
The shoulder strap is very comfortable offering a wide pad that is about 1cm thick. The pad offers a soft “pleather” material on one side, and textured rubber on the other. The textured rubber grips securely to most surfaces, including jackets and t-shirts to keep the bag firmly planted on the side of your body instead of on the road or sidewalk.
The case offers a good amount of protection from accidental drops with about ¼” of padding all around the inside of the case. Behind the padding is a semi-rigid plastic shell which is then protected with the ballistic nylon on the outside of the case. It would be pretty safe to say that this notebook case dropped from five feet up onto a hard surface might leave a scuff or two on the nylon material, but the notebook inside would be perfectly safe.
The Waterfield HardCase is a messenger bag designed for people who want the best materials possible surrounding their notebook. With a starting price of $229, this bag isn’t won’t fit into everyone’s budget, but for those who have the cash to pony up, you won’t regret it. The materials used throughout the design are great, the leather quality is excellent, and the hardware is strong enough to tow a car.
- Paragliding buckle rated at 9KN keeps your notebook safe
- Best smelling bag I have ever reviewed
- Durable leather finish on the outside, soft and supple on the inside
- Somewhat pricey for a small messenger bag
- Handle has a tight grip