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WaterField Bolt Sling review: The bag that will outlive your MacBook

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag
(Image: © Jaclyn Kilani / iMore)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: Handcrafted from full-grain leather and tough waxed canvas, the WaterField Bolt Sling is built to carry and protect your MacBook (and all its accessories) for years to come.

For

  • Beautiful quality and craftsmanship
  • Convenient, adjustable fit
  • Roomy pockets and multiple compartments
  • Long-lasting and durable

Against

  • Chest strap can be awkward for female users at first

Allow me to introduce you to the finest backpack I've ever owned. OK, it's actually a WaterField Bolt Sling bag — something in-between a backpack and a crossbody — but it looks and acts similar to a backpack, so that's what I'm sticking with. The bag exudes quality, from the materials, the feel, the design, and even the way it smells, like worn-in leather. From the inside out, my MacBook has never enjoyed better transportation.

The WaterField Bolt Sling is handmade in San Francisco from locally-sourced materials, just like all WaterField products. This is a family-owned company that focuses on quality and customer service, and it shows. Its products are not cheap, but they are made to last for years. You get a feel for the truth of this from the moment you touch a WaterField bag. As a female user, I did have a few awkward moments with this bag, but I'll cover all those details after the initial pros and cons.

WaterField Bolt Sling: Price and availability

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Chair

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Chair (Image credit: Jaclyn Kilani / iMore)

WaterField only sells its bags in one place, the official WaterField Designs website. The Bolt Sling is available in two sizes, the compact size that fits iPads and devices that are 11 inches or smaller, and the full size that fits devices up to 14 inches. The compact size goes for $219, while the full costs $229. If it ever goes on sale, we'll be sure to feature it in the iMore Deals section.

WaterField Bolt Sling: Quality from start to finish

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Closeup

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Closeup (Image credit: Jaclyn Kilani / iMore)

Where to start? I could write multiple articles on the benefits of this bag, but let me start by emphasizing the sheer quality of the Bolt Sling. The waxed canvas and full-grain leather are thick and luxurious, as well as tough. I feel like I could drag this bag 40 miles through the desert or rainforest and it wouldn't show any wear. And while genuine leather does have a tendency to mark up, WaterField publishes videos on their website of how to repair scratches and marks on the leather easily at home. They even sell canvas wax to keep the canvas feeling new.

I feel like I could drag this bag 40 miles through the desert or rainforest and it wouldn't show any wear.

Besides the quality materials, this bag is well-made in other ways as well. The strap is easily adjustable for a comfortable fit, and you can easily detach the bottom end of the strap and clip it on either side to be worn on the right or left shoulder. The laptop pocket is padded with soft materials to keep it cushioned and protected, and the outer pockets are roomy enough to carry chargers, power banks, or even water bottles. There's also a handy little hook that holds your keys so they don't get lost at the bottom of the bag. Then there are the zippers; they are waterproof, double-pull zippers for protection, and you can attach a lock to any of the pockets on this bag using the double pulls.

On top of all that, the Bolt Sling is a sharp-looking bag as well. The distressed leather and premium canvas exude an air of rugged luxury. Like something you could take on a hike through the Amazons or for a jaunt on a classy sailboat. The gold-hued interior is striking, and it contrasts sharply with devices so you can find things easily. In my opinion, this bag looks and feels even more expensive than it actually is.

WaterField Bolt Sling: Where do I put this strap?

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Lifestyle

Waterfield Designs Bolt Sling Bag Lifestyle (Image credit: Jaclyn Kilani / iMore)

I've never owned a sling or crossbody bag before, at least not one with such a substantial strap. It was a little awkward to figure out at first. The awkwardness had to do with how the strap went across the front of my chest and due to my, er, female shape, it took some adjusting and shifting to reach a comfortable fit. Luckily the bag is easily adjustable for both the strap orientation and fit, so I eventually got it right. However, it still takes a bit of adjusting each time I put it on and wear it across the chest. A sling is also made to wear over one shoulder as well, so sometimes I just wear it that way, and the over-the-shoulder hold is comfortable for anyone.

WaterField Bolt Sling: Competition

Croppeddeluxlaptopbackpack

Croppeddeluxlaptopbackpack (Image credit: Duluth Pack)

Unfortunately, there are few fine goods made in the USA these days, so there's not a lot of comparable competition. One company that also produces fine bags in the U.S. is Duluth Pack. They are admittedly more expensive than WaterField, but this brand also creates beautiful bags of amazing quality from materials like waxed canvas and full-grain leather. While the Duluth Pack brand has a longer history, the WaterField line is more affordable for a similar quality.

WaterField Bolt Sling: Should you buy it?

Waterfield Bolt Sling Bag Inside

Waterfield Bolt Sling Bag Inside (Image credit: Jaclyn Kilani / iMore)

You should buy this if ...

  • You value quality workmanship and materials.
  • You need a durable bag for your laptop.
  • Your devices are 14 inches or smaller.

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You don't like the fit and feel of a crossbody bag.

If you're looking at the photos of the WaterField Bolt Sling and wondering whether or not it's worth the price, stop wondering. If anything, this bag is worth more than its price tag. When it comes to a backpack-style bag, I have never owned anything finer. From the high-quality craftsmanship and materials to the stylish look and feel, it's luxurious, yet tough, all-around. My MacBook and I are more than happy with this solution as our go-to laptop carry bag. Even better, it's made in the USA from a brand that offers top-notch customer service, so there's no downside to this purchase.

Jaclyn Kilani
Contributor

Jaclyn Kilani is a content writer at iMore. She's a longtime Apple addict with a flair for creating (written works, design, photos; you name it!) on her devices. Jaclyn has also worked in the marketing sector for over 16 years, dabbling in a bit of everything from writing to graphic design and digital marketing. In her heart of hearts, however, she is a born writer and an avid reader who adores everything about the written word. Someday she may even churn out a book or two.

Throughout her career, Jaclyn has also developed something of an addiction to all things Apple. Her professional and personal life is enhanced by an ever-growing collection of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and even AirTags. Luckily, this expensive habit is of great use to her work at iMore, where she writes with authority on Apple products and the accessories that go with them.