Small States Review: Bolt Briefcase from WaterField Designs is an ideal work and travel companion


Back in January, San Francisco-based bag and accessory maker WaterField Designs announced its Bolt Briefcase. Since then we’ve had the opportunity to put the Bolt through its paces. Designed to be a professional alternative to the leather briefcases of old, this bag is for travelers and techies in need of a solution for multiple occasions.

Head below for our hands-on impressions and to learn how you could win this Bolt Briefcase.


The Bolt Briefcase from WaterField Designs is available in two sizes designed around the dimensions of popular laptops. The small will fit a 13-inch MacBook Air with a little room to spare while the larger size can hold up to 17-inch displays. It is available in two colors as well, with different handle and buckle accents. Wetested the waxed canvas model opting for a more natural material than the ballistic nylon alternative. Additionally, you’ll find accents and trim in full-grain, vegetable-tanned, black, chocolate or grizzly leather (ours was chocolate).

On the outside, you’ll find two large easy access pockets that have clever magnet closures and an over-hanging lip. These are great for storing small cables like Lightning or micro-USB, as well as your wallet or passport. These pockets have a nice mix of accessibility but don’t feel like your important items are going to fall out. On the reverse side you’ll find two sleeves with open tops, I’m not exactly certain what you would put here other than a magazine or unimportant documents. However, it’s a nice use of space that would of otherwise gone unused. To add some versatility, the Bolt also has a detachable shoulder strap and handles. All of the zippers on the outside are waterproof, which is a nice touch. 

The real pleasure in using the Bolt Briefcase comes from the interior design of the bag. I’ve always thought that WaterField does a great job of laying out interiors very well, it always seems like there is enough there yet it’s not overwhelming. There is a padded sleeve area for your laptop and two half-width pockets as well. In the middle you’ll find a surprisingly expansive space that can hold headphones, your iPad, papers or any other gadget you might be toting. Of course, the Bolt is lined with the deep honey colored interior that you’d expect from WaterField Designs and a buckle to hold your keys.

Throughout my month with the Bolt Briefcase I was continually impressed with its versatility. I never felt like it was unable to handle my daily storage needs and often had plenty of room to spare. While I personally prefer the waxed canvas look, it is nice that the Bolt is available in a more modern ballistic nylon as well. Either way, the craftsmanship is top-notch as you’d expect from a Made in America product. The Bolt Briefcase has a clearly intentional design with both businessmen and travelers in mind, it is pretty easy to imagine this bag walking into a meeting in Silicon Valley. I’d highly recommend the Bolt if you are looking for a backpack or leather bag alternative that is well-designed and has a great story behind it. The Bolt Briefcase is available from WaterField Bags via its online store, the small model retails for $249 while the larger version runs $279.

This week we’ll be giving away this Bolt Briefcase to one lucky reader. To enter our giveaway, simply follow @9to5Toys on twitter and retweet our article or Like us on Facebook and share with your friends. We will choose a winner next Saturday.

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