Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag review: Just right-sized

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag
(Image: © Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: Travel light and stylish with this efficiently-designed luxury bag as your personal item.


  • +

    Lightweight and attractive

  • +

    Fits under the seat on most airlines

  • +

    Lots of compartments and pockets

  • +


  • +

    Lifetime warranty


  • -


You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

Waterfield's Air Duffel Carry-On Bag is perfectly sized to fit under the seat on most airlines, so it can count as your personal bag rather than a carry-on. Yet, you can pack a lot into this small duffel bag, making it ideal for air travel.

Personal item

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag: Features

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag (Image credit: iMore)

The Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag is designed to be the perfect personal item when you travel. Not your carry-on bag, but personal item. What's the difference? A carry-on bag can be a larger item, meant to be stored in the airplane's overhead bins above the seats. Some airlines charge extra if you bring a carry-on bag, but a smaller personal item, such as a briefcase or purse, is always free (as far as I know.) Even if you do bring a carry-on bag or suitcase, you are still allowed a personal item in addition. The personal item must be quite small; the precise dimensions vary by airline but at 16 by 10.25 by 8.25 inches, this bag fits the requirements for most.

Waterfield makes the most of these limiting dimensions, with enough room for one or possibly two days' worth of clothing, plus your tech gear and other travel essentials. The main compartment is where you'd put clothes, shoes, and cosmetics. There are three slide pockets inside for smaller items and a clip for keys. In the main compartment's lid are two small zippered mesh pockets. Zippered pockets on both sides could be used for a water bottle or other items and are easy to reach when your bag is under the seat.

Travel light and stylish with this efficiently-designed luxury bag as your personal item.

The office compartment on the bag of the bag is where you'd store your tech gear. It opens completely and lays flat, which makes it faster to go through security. The lay-flat portion has a padded compartment large enough for a 16-inch MacBook Pro. There are two layers of slide pockets; one is large enough for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro; the others are smaller, meant for pencils, cords, and other small items.

The front pocket has a leather flap and opens up to one larger compartment, suitable for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, files, or magazines and two smaller slide pockets that could hold your passport, iPhone, and other items. The leather flap closes magnetically.

The bag comes in three different colorways, Ballistic with Black Leather, as seen in my photos, Ballistic with Chocolate Leather, and Canvas with Chocolate Leather. The lining is a gold color, making it easier to find your items inside. The bag stands upright under your seat, leaving you room for your legs on either side. Carry the bag three different ways: use the removable strap, hold the two leather handles, or use the suitcase-handle passthrough to place it securely on top of your rolling suitcase or carry-on.

Maximize limited space

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag: What I like

I like that I can take this on airplane without using up my "carry-on" allowance or I can even skip a carry-on altogether and possibly save some money. When you place this bag under the seat in front of you, your important items are easily accessible, and you still have room for your legs. The Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag is well-organized and convenient for any kind of travel, but especially by air when your space is the most limited. It's really just about everything you could want in an air travel personal bag.

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag (Image credit: iMore)


Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag: What I don't like

I could complain about the lack of color options, but that's down to personal taste. Truly, the only thing I can critique about this bag is its price tag. Quality doesn't come cheap, and all of Waterfield's bags are thoughtfully designed in their San Francisco workshop.

Travel companion

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag: Bottom line

Air travel's not cheap, and some airlines even charge for carry-on bags. Not the Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag, though. At 16 by 10.25 by 8.25 inches, it's small enough to count as a personal item on most airlines. It fits right under the seat in front of you and stands upright so your legs fit under the seat as well. Even though it's tiny, it's roomy enough inside to fit your travel needs, including a day or two's worth of clothing, your laptop up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro in a TSA-friendly compartment, and more. The organized system of pockets means everything is within easy reach.

Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to iMore.com as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.