WaterField Agile Brief review: Professional and spacious carry for your tech

This professional briefcase laptop bag will last you a very long time.

WaterField Designs Agile Brief
(Image: © Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

iMore Verdict

This briefcase-style laptop bag is durable, rugged, and professional looking. It has ample amounts of organized space for both your laptop and tablet, along with all of your accessories. It also comes with a shoulder strap for easy carry.

Pros

  • +

    Compact but spacious briefcase

  • +

    Premium materials

  • +

    Easy access pocket with self-aligning magnetic buckles

  • +

    Shoulder strap for easier carry

  • +

    Freestanding

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Not a backpack

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Though I primarily work from home, there are times when I just want a change of scenery and want to work at the local coffee shop, or even at the Disneyland Resort on occasion. When that time arises, I like to tote my mobile office around in a laptop bag that is both durable and professional. One of my favorite brands for the job is WaterField Designs, based in San Francisco, California.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried out many different tech bags from WaterField, the last one I checked out being the Tuck Backpack. Though I definitely prefer backpacks more these days, I had an opportunity to try the Agile Brief, and if I had to commute to a fancy office throughout the week, this would be one of my top choices to carry my gear, including my MacBook Pro with M1.

Is the WaterField Designs Agile Brief worth the high price tag? Let’s find out.

WaterField Agile Brief: Price and availability

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Like all of WaterField’s other products, you can only purchase the Agile Brief directly on the SF Bags website. Everything is handmade in San Francisco, which is why you can only buy WaterField products directly from the brand itself. The Agile Brief comes in three color options: black ballistic with chocolate leather, black ballistic with black leather, and waxed canvas with chocolate leather. I chose the waxed canvas with chocolate leather for my bag, as seen here. WaterField’s Agile Brief costs a pretty penny at $349 each, but it does include the Supreme Suspension Shoulder Strap (sold separately for $49) at no extra cost.

Due to the handmade nature of all WaterField products, you won’t really find big sales on its products.

WaterField Agile Brief: What’s good

WaterField Designs Agile Brief laptop bag

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

As a frequent user of WaterField’s products, I really enjoy the Agile Brief. I usually go for its waxed canvas material for most bags, and it continues to hold up well with the Agile Brief. All versions of the bag will have a leather accent panel on the front, which is underneath the front flap zippered pocket and the two magnetic Fidlock buckles. Having the leather accent adds a splash of professional elegance to the bag, which is something everyone can appreciate. And best of all, the Agile Brief has a lightweight foam shell that adds not only protection to the bottom of the bag, but also structure, so the bag can easily stand up on its own.

Since this is a briefcase-style bag, the spacious main compartment is accessible through the premium, weatherproof zipper, which goes about one-third down the sides until the D-ring, to attach the included shoulder strap onto. Inside, you’ll find a roomy space that should hold all of your work gear and other essentials. The two compartments for the laptop and tablet also have a plush lining to prevent scratches, a velcro strap to keep them secured in place, and you can fit laptops up to 16 inches and tablets up to 13 inches. If you have a smaller device, having the extra space means you can also fit your device in there with your favorite sleeve or case without an issue. On the opposite side of your devices, there are two open-top pockets to stash things like a power adapter, along with a third pocket split up into smaller sections, designed for things like pens and styli.

The Agile Brief is spacious enough for any sized laptop and tablet, along with all of your necessities. This is a bag that will last you years.

As I mentioned earlier, the front of the bag has a zippered flap pocket that is also quite roomy, giving you space for items that you’d want quick access to. This can be glasses, your phone, a power bank, earbuds, or more — whatever you want to grab fast while on the go, this zippered pocket is great for that. You also have a full-size pocket under the flap, tucked away behind the magnetic Fidlock buckles. This is good for storing documents and other slim items. I really do like the magnetic buckles though, because they’re self-aligning, so you don’t need to fuss around with them to close it back up.

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

As far as carrying the Agile Brief, you have a few options. Since this is first and foremost a briefcase, there is a carrying handle at the top of the bag, and it’s wrapped with leather at the top for comfort. It also comes with a removable shoulder strap that you can attach to the D-rings on the sides, and the strap is padded and grippy in the center, so the bag doesn’t move around too much when you do. Lastly, there’s a luggage pass-through on the back, so you can slip this briefcase through your rolling luggage when traveling.

WaterField Agile Brief: What’s not good

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

The biggest drawback of the WaterField Agile Brief is the price. It’s pretty expensive at $349. However, you do get what you pay for, and I have yet to have a WaterField bag fall apart on me after years — these bags last forever. So if you are tired of having a laptop bag just break down after a few weeks or months, then paying for something like the Agile Brief is well worth it.

WaterField Agile Brief: The competition

(Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

There is no shortage of great laptop bags, specifically briefcases, on the market today. However, it can be hard to find one that is high quality. If you prefer an all-leather briefcase, then you should consider Harber London’s Laptop Briefcase, which our own Karen Freeman reviewed. The entire bag is handmade in Spain with full-grain vegetable-tanned leather, so it’s the crème de la crème of leather briefcases. It even has a ton of pockets for your gear, and it looks incredibly elegant. However, it comes with some sticker shock, because of that hefty price tag of $520.

If you’re looking for something a tad more affordable that's also good for the environment, then you should take a look at Incase’s Travel Pack, which Freeman also reviewed. This is a laptop bag that can be carried like a backpack or a briefcase, depending on your mood, and holds laptops up to 16 inches in size. It’s also made with recycled polyester, so you can feel good about your purchase. It has plenty of pockets for your stuff and is designed with a lot of travel in mind. However, though it’s less than WaterField’s Agile Brief, it’s still a little pricey at $250.

WaterField Agile Brief: Should you buy it?

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

You should buy this if...

  • You like a briefcase-style carry
  • You want a high-quality product
  • You want a lot of space and organization for your gear

You should not buy this if...

  • You don’t like briefcase-style bags
  • You are on a budget

The WaterField Designs Agile Brief is a fantastic briefcase-style laptop bag for those who want something that will last years and years. And despite the briefcase styling, the Agile Brief is surprisingly roomy — this bag will hold your 16-inch MacBook Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and any accessories that you need to bring with you. The main compartment has nice organizational pockets, the front of the bag has a quick-access flap pocket, and there’s even another pocket under the flap, which is secured by self-aligning magnetic buckles. And for those who travel a lot, the luggage pass-through makes it easy to bring this briefcase bag with you wherever you go. Don’t forget that you also get a premium shoulder strap for carrying included at no extra cost.

However, there’s no denying it — the WaterField Designs Agile Brief is a bit pricey at $350. But you need to remember that WaterField products will last you pretty much forever, as I’ve had several of its bags and all of them are still in tip-top shape. Everything from WaterField is handmade in its factory in San Francisco, and the materials are always premium and high quality.

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.