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Review: WaterField's Bolt Briefcase carries your MacBook and iPad in style

Review: WaterField's Bolt Briefcase carries your MacBook and iPad in style

April 23, 2015

WaterField Designs has been designing and manufacturing bags and cases in San Francisco since 1998. From their Bay Area workshop in San Francisco’s South of Market, WaterField Designs manufactures briefcases, backpacks, shoulder bags, and cases for popular digital devices. Here at AppAdvice, we love WaterField’s products because they’re beautiful, functional, and made right here in the U.S. So, we were excited to have the chance to test out the Bolt Briefcase and see how it stacks up to the rest of WaterField Designs’ portfolio.

The Facts

  • Company Name: WaterField Designs
  • Product Name: Bolt Briefcase
  • Price: $249 to $270
  • Compatibility: 13-inch MacBook (small), 15-inch MacBook (medium), travel size (large)
  • Website:
  • Date Reviewed: April 23, 2015

The Basics


The Bolt Briefcase is designed to augment your productive lifestyle, with well-placed pockets, waterproof zippers, and a back side that can slip over a rolling suitcase handle. Inside the bag, there is a padded laptop compartment to keep your MacBook snug and secure, and a removable shoulder strap lets you carry the briefcase with ease.


Bolt is made of either ballistic nylon or a waxed canvas base with naturally-tanned leather accents. Invisible magnets secure the front pockets, and the briefcase’s leather accents are available in black, chocolate, or grizzly.

Inside the briefcase, you’ll find two large main compartments, one of which is padded to keep your MacBook safe from bumps. Unfortunately, the laptop compartment does not have a flap, so you will want to make sure you zip the Bolt closed before heading off for the day. There are also two smaller compartments inside the bag, so you can carry along an iPad mini or the charger for your MacBook. There is also a handy keychain holder for clipping your keys out of the way while you are traveling.


On the outside of the Bolt Briefcase, you will find two large compartments, one with a splash-proof zipper. There are also two smaller compartments on the outside of the bag secured with magnetic flaps. The Bolt Briefcase can hold any laptop up to 13-inches for the small version, or up to 15-inches for the medium version. It can also hold a tablet, smartphone, and other digital accessories.


Integration With iOS Devices

For my testing, I’ve been using a grizzly-accented ballistic Bolt Briefcase with my 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I also carry an iPad mini and iPhone 6, along with the chargers for my MacBook Pro and iPad. Even with that gear, there was plenty of room left over for a notebook, pens, and even a few snack bars.


The Bolt Briefcase comes with a detachable leather-trimmed nylon shoulder strap. The strap is nicely padded and has a slip-free surface on one side to help keep your bag from sliding off your shoulder.

Use and Feel

WaterField Designs has built the Bolt Briefcase to be rugged and attractive at the same time. The briefcase is very comfortable to carry, thanks to a pair of padded leather handles and the extremely nice shoulder strap. The inside of the bag is lined with a smooth gold nylon that helps make the interior brighter, which lets you find items in the bag with ease.

Scratches, scuffs, and dirt

The ballistic nylon of my Bolt Briefcase picks up dust and dirt pretty easily, so if you want your briefcase to look pristine at all times, you should bear that in mind. Personally, I think a few scuffs and dirt give the bag more character. You will, however, want to use a leather cleaner on the accents from time to time.

What’s Hot

  • Durability
  • Plentiful storage pockets for all of your gear
  • Designed and made in the United States

What’s Not

  • High price puts the bag outside many budgets
  • No flap over the laptop compartment

How Does It Stack Up?

WaterField Designs always produces stunning products, and the Bolt is no exception. There are few briefcases that look as good and have as much functionality as this one.

Where Can You Get It, and How Much Does It Cost?

The Bolt Briefcase is available starting at $249 through WaterField Designs.

Our Advice

The Bolt Briefcase is definitely a winning product, even with the high price. The bag is durable and protective, and it is designed and made right in San Francisco. If you want to protect your investment in style, go with the Bolt Briefcase.

The Bolt’s Overall Scores:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: ★★★★★
  • Wow Factor: ★★★★☆
  • Build Quality: ★★★★★
  • Value: ★★★★☆

Buy Now: You can purchase the $249 Bolt Briefcase at this link.

For other reviews on products from WaterField Designs, see: Review: The Rough Rider Leather Messenger Bag By WaterField Designs, Review: Outback Solo Is The iPad Bag Indiana Jones Would Choose, and The New Staad Laptop BackPack Is Perfect For The Techie In Your Life.

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