The Waterfield Bolt Backpack Review

My personal, well-loved Waterfield Bolt

My personal, well-loved Waterfield Bolt

I’ve recently become a backpack convert. While messenger bags look cool, distributing the weight of my gear to both shoulders feels a lot better at the end of the day. Waterfield is expanding its backpack line and they recently sent me their new Waterfield Bolt backpack to check out. The Bolt measures 12.5 x 16 x 5 inches. It has two zippers across the top. One gets quick access to the laptop compartment and the other gets access to the rest of the cargo. Like other Waterfield bags, the laptop compartment is its own padded sleeve that your laptop can slide into. It’s big enough to hold a MacBook Pro or a large iPad Pro. There is a second sleeve sewn on top that can hold a 9.7 inch iPad. I have, on occasion carried two iPads in my Bolt because that’s just how I roll.


The main interior is a large cargo compartment. The Bolt has quite a bit more storage than in my Waterfield Staad laptop bag. Another feature common with Waterfield bags is the gold fabric lined interior. I didn’t realize how much I appreciated this until recently I was looking for something in my daughter’s non-Waterfield backpack. Most backpacks have dark fabric on the inside which makes it even harder to find things when you’re digging around. The gold fabric brightens things up and makes finding my gear easier.

Also on the interior are two pockets with the Velcro fasteners to hold miscellaneous items like chargers, business cards, pens and pencils. As an iPad nerd, I can report these pockets are deep enough to hold an Apple Pencil but also shallow enough that the top of the pencil pokes up and is easily retrieved.

The bag is made out of waxed canvas with the leather on the bottom to add some additional support. There’s also an integrated leather handle at the top of the bag.


On the front of the bag is two additional pockets with leather tabs and magnetic closures. The pockets are pretty big and I’ve been keeping one loaded out with personal items, like aspirin and Kleenex, and the other is for tech supplies, like my charging battery, a few cables, and a flashlight (because everybody needs a flashlight). I like having quick access to these items without having to open up the backpack itself. Behind the two compartments is a hidden zipped pocket. There are also pouches on either side perfect for holding a water bottle.

The back of the backpack has a mesh cushion to provide ventilation on a hot day. One of the nice little touches is that this mesh cushion is only sewed on the sides of the bag. There’s a gap between the cushion and the rest the bag so you can slide it over a rolling suitcase handle on trips. The straps are also padded and fit well. When wearing this backpack, I cinch the straps down so the bag rides high on my back. I find that, over the long haul, this is more comfortable.

The real story with the Waterfield products is their design and construction. These bags are made to last. I’ve been buying the Waterfield bags for years. I just recently gave away a Waterfield bag I bought six years ago to and it was in such good shape that my friend mistook it for new. Waterfield gets the details right with quality fabrics, heavy stitching, waterproof zippers, rain guard flaps and all the other small things that give the bag longevity.


As seen in pictures, the bag is also quite attractive. They have various configurations ranging from urban to Indiana Jones. I always lean towards the bags that look like I’m about to head out on expedition.

I’ve been using this bag for over a month. In between a cross country trip, day hikes, and trips to Disneyland, I’m guessing I’ve got about 100 miles of walking with this bag on my back and I can report it still feels and looks great.


I now have two Waterfield backpacks. The Staad, which I reviewed a few months ago, is a bit smaller and most appropriate for day trips. If you carry a lot of gear or are looking to use a backpack for travel, you should probably step up to the Bolt. The additional cargo space, combined with the ability to attach it to a rolling suitcase and the large external pockets, make the Waterfield Bolt a perfect travel companion. I took a trip this month and the Waterfield Bolt was great.

I used to make fun of my wife for buying too many purses but given my fetish for high quality bags and backpacks, I really just need to shut up. If you’re looking for a backpack for trips or carry a lot of gear, the Waterfield Bolt is for you.