Bottom line: The Tuck Backpack is a streamlined rucksack-style bag made with waxed canvas or ballistic nylon and leather that can collapse or expand to hold everything you need. Powerful self-finding magnetic closures keep everything safe and secure.
One compact size can collapse or expand for your stuff
Strong magnetic closures on side pockets, and the front flap has self-finding magnetic buckles
Self-standing with convenient top grab handle
Compartments for both a laptop and tablet
Choose from waxed canvas or ballistic nylon and leather
Style may not be for everyone
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When it comes to carrying my tech gear around, such as my best MacBook and iPad Pro, I'll always prefer backpacks. They're more comfortable to wear for extended periods, distribute weight evenly, and are quite roomy. I have many backpacks in my household to choose from, but one brand that I always turn to is WaterField Designs.
WaterField Designs is based in San Francisco, California, and everything is handmade from the factory. Most of its goods are made with genuine leather or waxed canvas, giving all of the products a sophisticated look and feel. While the bags from WaterField may cost a nice chunk of change, they are incredibly high quality and will last you for years to come. In fact, I still have several WaterField bags from almost 10 years ago, and they still look incredibly good.
The Tuck Backpack is the latest release from WaterField. The brand calls it a modern, updated version of a European military rucksack, and honestly, it's one of the nicest backpacks that I own.
WaterField Designs Tuck Backpack: Price and availability
The Tuck Backpack is only available for purchase direct from WaterField Designs. This is because each item is handmade in the San Francisco factory, so you cannot buy its products from other retailers. There are three colors to choose from: waxed canvas, ballistic nylon with black leather accents, or ballistic nylon with chocolate leather accents. At the moment, the Tuck Backpack is shipping out in batches — if you order today, you'll be in Batch #6, which will ship out on March 4. WaterField's Tuck Backpack costs $299, regardless of color and material choice.
WaterField Designs Tuck Backpack: Spacious and compact sophistication
Like other bags from WaterField, the Tuck Backpack is made from high-quality materials. I opted for the ballistic nylon with chocolate leather accents. The nylon consists of 1050 Denier material, so it's heavy-weight nylon that is extremely durable to whatever elements you find yourself in. It also uses full-grain, natural distressed leather, which is soft and supple to the touch. The distressed look just gets better over time, because these leathers develop a rich patina with more use, which I absolutely love.
The Tuck features a front flap that uses single-direction magnetic buckles. Just pull the buckles apart horizontally in opposing directions for the top and bottom part, and you get access to the main compartment. And for easy fastening, the magnetic buckles are self-finding, so they'll lock into place themselves if they're near each other. If you're worried about these magnetic buckles making it too easy to get to your stuff, don't — it takes a bit of effort to open, so you'll definitely notice if someone is messing with it. The flap even has a zipper pocket, giving you quick access to small odds and ends, and even iPhone storage. And thanks to the firm foam inserts that reinforce the Tuck, it can stand upright freely on its own without falling over.
The main compartment of the Tuck is very spacious. In fact, you can collapse or expand it as needed to fit all of your gear, and it features WaterField's signature gold ripstop lining, making it easy to see what's inside. There are also two compartments toward the back that can hold your favorite MacBook and best iPad. The laptop sleeve can hold up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro M1, and the tablet sleeve can go up to a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Both are also padded with a plush padded lining, so your devices remain safe from scratches and scuffs. On the opposite side of the sleeve compartments is a zipper pocket, perfect for holding small accessories and cables. There is also a key ring attachment in this pocket.
You'll also find two side pockets on the Tuck Backpack. These pockets are a heavyweight mesh material, and also fairly deep. They're perfect for a water bottle and umbrella, or other miscellaneous items. Both side pockets have a magnetic closure that keeps everything in place. And with the bag's flexible nylon fabric, the sides can cinch in if it's not full, keeping it compact.
For convenience, the Tuck Backpack has a grab handle at the top, so you can easily grab and go. The back panel has a breathable mesh padding that can wick away sweat and moisture. As much as I wish there could be a backpack that is completely sweat-proof, I don't think that's possible because that's just how humans work. There's also a luggage pass-through on the back, so you can roll the backpack around with your luggage when traveling. The straps are also padded with a mesh material, so it's comfortable to wear, even on longer commutes.
WaterField Designs Tuck Backpack: The style may not be for everyone
Honestly, there isn't much that I don't like about the Tuck Backpack. I suppose the biggest drawback is that this is not super affordable with the $299 price tag, but WaterField products are incredibly high quality and last a lifetime. I have several bags from the brand and they all still look great, despite being several years old. These bags are handmade from genuine, quality materials, and it's a small family business. These certainly aren't mass-produced backpacks, and you can tell from the amazing quality.
While I enjoy the style of the Tuck, I understand that it may not be everyone's cup of tea. But thankfully WaterField does produce other styles of backpacks, and while those aren't going to be inexpensive either, they do cover a wide range of bag styles. If the Tuck isn't your kind of backpack, there are others, like the Air Travel Backpack, the Mezzo Laptop Backpack, and even the Bolt Sling.
WaterField Designs Tuck Backpack: Competition
Again, the Tuck Backpack's style may not suit everyone. Another backpack that WaterField offers that is a little similar to the Tuck, but not quite, is the Mezzo Laptop Backpack. This has a zip-around main compartment, but there is also a front pocket with a flap with a buckle closure that looks just like the Tuck. It also has two side pockets, padded device sleeve compartments, and a padded mesh back panel and straps. It carries the same $299 price point, so if the Tuck is not your kind of backpack, then perhaps the Mezzo is.
If you are on a budget but want a new backpack, then I would suggest something like the Incase Commuter Backpack. This lightweight backpack is made with recycled materials, so you can feel good about the purchase. It has plenty of organizational pockets too, and carries a reasonably affordable price tag of just $100.
WaterField Designs Tuck Backpack: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a sophisticated, premium looking backpack
- You like plenty of space but in a compact profile
- You need a backpack made for traveling
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You are on a budget
- You don't like the rucksack style
I've been a fan of WaterField products for the past decade, and the Tuck Backpack is a new favorite. Despite the compact size, this backpack is very spacious, and it should have more than enough room for your MacBook and iPad, including the 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 or a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and all of your accessories. And even if you don't fill it up, the Tuck can simply "tuck" away the extra space, so it still retains a slim profile. The magnetic closures on the side pockets are nice, and the self-finding magnetic buckles on the front flap are super convenient. Even if you forget to close and secure the flap, the magnets will do it for you if they're close enough. And with the breathable mesh back panel, padded straps, and luggage passthrough, this backpack is especially great for travelers.
However, the price tag for the Tuck Backpack may be a deterrent for some people, and it is understandable — it's quite expensive, after all. But honestly, WaterField products last forever (or close to it), so I believe it's worth the price. It's more of an investment for your gear because the bag is definitely going to last longer than the MacBook or iPad itself. And if you get the leather options, it will just look better with age as it develops a rich patina. And again, the rucksack style isn't for everyone, but if you want WaterField quality, then it's worth looking at some of the other backpack styles. They definitely make a style for everyone!
Bottom line: The Tuck is slim but incredibly spacious. In fact, it can adapt to your needs, and it will last a lifetime.
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.
By Tammy Rogers