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Ultra-Short Review: If you want to carry a boatload of stuff in a cool looking, high quality, extremely usable bag – look no further.

Waterfield Bags

ExteriorMy last computer bag was a Waterfield Cozmo. I chose it because it could carry enough stuff to meet my needs for a day at work and nothing more. I have a 12″ Powerbook and have been very focused on efficiency (and lighter weight) in what I carry around. The Cozmo still looks as good and works as well as the day I bought it years ago so it wasn’t worn out and needing replacement but I needed an excuse for a new bag some of my needs have changed. I have been traveling frequently and the Cozmo was getting more and more overwhelmed by all of the extras necessary for a weeklong business trip, so when the opportunity arose to review another Waterfield bag I knew exactly what I wanted – the Large Cargo bag!

If the Cozmo was a car, it would be a sport coupe with a modest but usable trunk. By comparison, the Cargo is an SUV. There is plenty of room to spare in this bag, so read on and see what it has been like living with the Cargo.


Like buying an SUV, you have to choose your options when you order one. The front flap can have one of six colors of Indium (a durable and cool looking nylon weave with a tiny color/black checkerboard pattern to it) or you can go with leather in your choice among five colors. I went with Lead Indium (a grey/black check) instead of leather because I like the classic unique look.

BucklesYour next option is the kind of buckle you would like to use to secure the front flap. The original Cargo used an airline seat belt buckle where you lift the front of the buckle to make it release. The new choice is a paragliding buckle that looks very high-tech and cool. I was intrigued by the paragliding buckle but went with the classic airline buckle because I knew for certain that it would be easy to open and use on the go.

As far as size choices, the Large Cargo bag is 16 inches wide, 12 inches high, 5 inches deep and weighs 4.3 lbs. That is pretty substantial but by no means unwieldy. There are smaller sizes of Cargo bag available – a Medium that is 3 inches deep instead of the Large’s 5 (and weighs 2.9 lbs.) and the small which is 13″ x 10″ x 4″ and weighs 2.3 lbs. Beyond all the other options, you can also buy packages from Waterfield that include a computer sleevecase and a gear pouch with your bag – I already had both of those so I just got the bag.

The Outside

The picture at the top of the article should give you a good idea of the look and layout of the outside of the bag. The materials these bags are made of are top-notch. The indium is smooth and durable and the ballistic nylon used for the rest of the bag is also very smooth but obviously tough. Some other bags use a very coarse and rough material which I have always found irritating. All of the clips, zippers, handles, straps and seams are clearly sturdy and of high quality. The pad for the shoulder strap is removable and can be moved easily to anywhere on the strap.

On one end, there is a nice-sized six or seven inch high pocket with a flap that closes. The flap doesn’t have any securing mechanism, but it extends below the top of the pocket effectively sealing the pocket shut. The pocket would be useful for a pda or cell phone although small items might be hard to retrieve from the bottom of it – especially when you are on the move. On the other end is a clip to adjust the length of the shoulder strap. It is an extremely simple process to extend or shorten the shoulder strap: open the clip, adjust the length, and then close the clip. There is also a loop that holds the excess strap flat against the end of the bag – the clip and the loop for the excess strap are prime examples of the attention to small details that make a Waterfield bag exceptional.

Front FlapThe front flap has an angled, zippered pocket that can hold papers and magazines. It is easy to unzip and add or remove items to this pocket while walking. The airplane buckle is easy to open or close to allow access to the pockets underneath it. On the front is a curved zipper to open a large pocket with a hanging pocket and key ring clip inside it. The material lining this pocket is a bright golden color (as are the vast majority of interiors on this bag) so the pocket is not a dark, black hole when you are looking for something. At the back beneath the flap is a large pocket secured by Velcro that goes the entire front width of the bag. Papers and other large flat items fit in here easily and it is also lined with the bright material – there is an identical pocket on the back of the bag as well. The flap attaches to the front edge of the bag so you don’t have to open it to get into the main body of the bag – there are way too many companies that neglect small touches like this that really improve the usefulness of a computer bag.

The Interior

InteriorThe main body of this bag is accessed through a zipper on the top. It opens into a cavernous interior. On one side is a pocket for a laptop – this bag would easily hold a 17″ laptop even in a sleeve. Since I have a 12″ laptop there is room for the laptop in its sleeve as well as a gear bag or two. On the front side of the main compartment is a set of three hanging pockets (that go about half the height of the bag) with a sub-pocket for pens as well as a business card holder. The hanging pockets are essentially on a flap so you can stow flat items behind the flap and they will be held in place by the flap and also take up less space. In the middle of the main compartment is open and has about 3 inches of width available when there is a laptop in the back pocket. The whole thing is lined with the gold cloth so it is light and bright inside.

My Experience

This bag was everything I imagined! It holds a boatload of stuff but keeps it accessible. I have carried this bag through 4 different airports and easily gotten into it while walking down the concourse without breaking my stride or slowing my pace. The bag is large, but doesn’t look as big as it is. You can easily put more stuff than you can carry into this bag – you will likely run out of strength before it runs out of room. I filled it up once to see just how much stuff it could potentially hold and was amazed – you could make a short trip and use just this bag and still carry enough clothes and computer items to be thoroughly covered. If you used those packing bags where you force the air out of clothes and make them flat you could go even longer.

I packed my laptop, 3 gear bags with Ethernet cables and plugs for all of my electronics, a change of clothes, a small bag of toiletries, a plug strip, several magazines, 4 DVDs in cases, a full size iPod, and a hardback book into this bag. The bag was freakin’ heavy after I filled it up, but everything fit and you could get at most of it with the bag slung over your shoulder. Even more amazing – the bag still stood upright. I forgot to mention that there is a hard plastic spine and bottom sewn into this bag so it stands upright. It would take an extreme imbalance in the contents to make this bag tip over.

I am a computer bag aficionado and although have owned four or five different computer/gadget bags, I am always looking around to see if something better has come along. When I am deciding on a piece of technology (or an accessory for that technology) I always try to consider how I plan to use it and then determine if it really meets my need. This bag more than meets my travel needs and actually has room to spare. If you are a serious road warrior or you need to carry large amounts of stuff regularly, you owe it to yourself to check out the Large Cargo bag from Waterfield Designs.

Large Cargo Bag

$209 – $249

by Waterfield Designs

  1. Nice review – convinced me to go all out and order a Cargo Mambo Combo from SFBags.com. I have been extremely happy with my purchase. I personally would recommend the para-gliding buckle since it is much more compact, and I find it very easy to use. And the bag has the good looks to match my new MBP 15″ laptop.