WaterField Air Porter laptop bag review: A carry-on you’ll want to carry forever

Is there such a thing as a bag with too many pockets? You’ll never catch me uttering such blasphemy, but I can easily imagine someone pointing to the WaterField Air Porter as proof of decadence most dire. It has 10 interior pockets, 4 exterior pockets, and even more pockets in an optional removable sleeve. Depending on how you interpret the term, it even has pockets in some of the pockets.

Somehow WaterField manages to turn this bag into something that’s both incredibly portable yet capable of carrying fairly hefty loads, making it a perfect companion for both the streets and the skies.

Hidden depths

The Air Porter sound like a complex bag, and in some respects it is. The beauty of it, though, is that you’d never know that from a quick glance. It’s a subtle beast, to the point that WaterField even did away with its traditional logo and contented itself with a minimalist “WaterField: Made in SF” stamped on the front leather flap.

waterfield air porter made in sfLeif Johnson/IDG

Hey, we’re made in San Francisco, too!

You’ll see no other pockets apart from the flap and two cylindrical pockets at either end for stashing water bottles or travel umbrellas. You may not even see those, in fact, owing to snaps on each pocket that keep them pressed closely against the bag when not in use.

Want to use it as a messenger page? It’s got a removable strap for that—complete with two adjustable ends for better positioning of the shoulder pad—but the Air Porter’s two handles also let you use it as a briefcase. WaterField armored these handles with genuine leather, much like the flap along the bottom of the bag (which is flat, allowing the Air Porter to stand upright when stowed under an airplane seat).

waterfield air porter undersideLeif Johnson/IDG

Both the upright design and the Air Porter’s comparatively slim profile also allow for more leg room on the plane.

As for the rest of the exterior material, that’s up to you. The Air Porter comes in either a lovely waxed canvas or a sleek nylon material that WaterField calls “black ballistic.” I chose the latter, and while it’s undeniably tough, I find myself wishing I’d requested waxed canvas when WaterField sent me a review unit. The nylon will last for years, no doubt, but I know from user photos that the waxed canvas ages beautifully and in a way the nylon never will. I’m a little jealous.

Considering how much I’ve gushed over pockets, you might expect that you’ll find another pocket on the bag. But nope: You’ll simply find a trolly strap that makes it easy to slip the Air Porter over the rollaboard if your more traditional luggage and port it over the airport.

Pick your pocket

Just don’t mistake that subtlety for a lack of features. In every detail, WaterField clearly gave attention to convenience.