Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Lifestyle HeroSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

The best laptop bags do more than just carry your favorite MacBook (such as the M1 MacBook Pro) safely from place to place. The Waterfield Air Travel Backpack is much more than a simple laptop bag with dual functionality and many pockets and compartments.

At 16-by-7.5-by-22.5 inches, the Waterfield Air Travel Backpack is sized just right to carry on most airlines. Two handles let you carry it briefcase-style, either vertically or horizontally. The comfortable shoulder straps on the back let you carry it backpack-style, and they can be tucked away when not in use. The roomy main compartment holds a couple of days' worth of clothing. The tech section can hold up to two laptops or tablets and all of your necessary accessories and opens up flat for going through security.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Render Cropped

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack

Bottom line: This flexible bag holds all of your important items and can be carried either as a briefcase or a backpack.

The Good

  • Dual carry design
  • Many compartments
  • Thoughtful touches
  • Elegant looks

The Bad

  • Fairly heavy
  • Pricey

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack: Price and availability

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Lifestyle Briefcase ViewSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

You can purchase the Waterfield Air Travel Backpack on Waterfield's website for $419. If you choose the Ballistic Nylon fabric, you can select from four leather accent colors: Chocolate, Blue, Black, or Crimson. The Waxed Canvas fabric has accents in Chocolate Leather.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack: What's good

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Lifestyle Wearing As BackpackSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

When you need to bring your work equipment with you across town or across the world, you want a bag that transports all of your important items safely, comfortably, and stylishly. Plus, you want to keep everything organized. Waterfield's Air Travel Backpack will help you do just that.

The bag can serve as your carry-on item on most airlines. Waterfield makes the most of the limited space with plenty of compartments and nice touches.

The two front zippered sections hold items you need quick access to on the go. The smaller one has a key ring inside. The large main section has two mesh zippered sections and two straps for clothes and other items. The exterior zippers are waterproof.

This classic, elegant bag can be used in several different ways.

The tech section opens up completely flat for getting through security more easily. The flap has two lightly padded sections for laptops and a small mesh zippered pocket. The larger laptop pocket holds any laptop up to 16 inches. The smaller one is designed for tablets up to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard, but my 13-inch MacBook Pro fits in it just fine. The other side has one large, two medium, and three small slide pockets. There's a clip that holds those zippers closed for extra security.

Next to the top grab handle is a small zippered compartment for small items that you want to be easily accessible without opening the larger compartments. On the side is a water bottle sleeve (which you can only use if you're carrying the bag vertically or wearing it as a backpack.)

On the back are two adjustable, padded, moisture-wicking shoulder straps. They can be tucked into a strap, so they stay out of the way when not in use. A removable and adjustable chest compression strap can help distribute the bag's weight. The back also has a panel so you can slide the bag onto the handle of your rolling suitcase.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack: What's not good

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Lifestyle BackSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

Considering that the bag is made from 1050 denier ballistic nylon or waxed canvas with premium full-grain leather accents, it's not surprising that it's a bit on the heavy side. The ballistic nylon version weighs 3.9 pounds empty, while the waxed canvas bag weighs 4.6 pounds.

The only other complaint I have is that it is rather pricey. While it's quality you're paying for, it's still a lot of dough.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack: Competition

Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On BagSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

If you don't need the backpack functionality, check out the Waterfield Air Duffel Carry-On Bag. It's smart-looking, elegant, and perfect for air travel or commuting for work.

OGIO PACE 20 Backpack  Source: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

If a tech backpack is what you need, check out the OGIO PACE 20 Backpack. It's a mid-sized laptop bag that carries your MacBook and other items securely. It's not so "business looking," but it will be perfect for many different uses.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack: Should you buy it?

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Lifestyle Open Travel CompartmentSource: Karen S. Freeman / iMore

You should buy this if ...

  • You need a business-like carry-on bag
  • You want both a briefcase and a backpack in one
  • You want a lot of compartments to organize your stuff

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You don't like the look
  • You want something simple and light
  • It's out of your budget

If you're looking for a carry-on bag for business travel that functions as a briefcase and a backpack and has lots of compartments, you'll love the Waterfield Air Travel Backpack. However, if it's too heavy or expensive for you, or you just don't like the look of it, then keep searching for your perfect bag.

4.5 out of 5

The Waterfield Air Travel Backpack impressed me with its dual-functionality, classic good looks, many compartments, and thoughtful touches. It combines the comfortable carrying style of a backpack with the more formal looks of a briefcase. You'll be able to organize all of your personal items and tech in the many interior and exterior pockets and compartments. There are quite a few thoughtful details, such as a panel on the back to attach it onto your rolling suitcase handle, sealed zippers, zipper lock, tuckable backpack straps, and water bottle pocket. It's not cheap or particularly light, but if it has the features you've been searching for, you'll find it a worthwhile buy.

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack Render Cropped

Waterfield Air Travel Backpack

Bottom line: This classic and elegant carry-on bag can be used as a tech backpack or briefcase.