Waterfield Designs Syde MacBook Case Review — $159

I was so excited to get my new MacBook Pro. It’s such an elegant machine! But that excitement quickly turned to worry—I didn’t want to scuff it up! My solution was to put it inside a small protective case and then put that inside my actual bag—a hassle, to say the least, since these days I’m moving from class to class in an MBA program.

So began my frustrating search for a better solution, which finally ended when a good friend introduced me to the Waterfield Designs Syde MacBook Case.

The next day I walked into class and set my new case on the desk. I pulled apart the straps, the magnet clasp popped open, and I slipped the computer out. My classmate responded with, “Whoa! You just pulled a computer out of your purse.” He proceeded to admire the size and quality of the bag, which has now gotten more attention than my laptop.


This case is designed for a minimalist user. That was initially a concern for me. For starters, it meant carrying my binder separately, in my hands. I soon realized I could do without most of what was in there. And when teachers gave us handouts, they fit nicely into the bag’s outer sleeve, which provided safe transport till I got them home to my binder.

In the leather pouch on the outside, I put pens, wallet, calculator, and charger. That all fit, though it was a little snug (maybe it’s time for a slimmer wallet). Everything else had to stay behind.

If you’re a minimalist, or a wannabe like me, I think you’ll like the simplicity of the bag. There are no extra pockets, inches, or frills. But it won’t work well if you’re the type who likes to bring the kitchen sink.

The strap is adjustable, and the shoulder pad has grips, which makes it comfortable and stationary on my shoulder.


The main compartment is an exact fit for the 13” MacBook Pro. In fact, my friend told me that Waterfield delayed the final design till the latest MacBooks (with the lightbar) arrived so they could make sure the design had no excess. This main sleeve is pretty impressive. It’s cushioned in a high-grade neoprene that’s soft and great for absorbing shocks. As for keeping my MacBook safe, it put all my worries at ease.

The outer pocket and the handle are made from premium, full-grain leather. At first I was worried about scuffing up this leather, till I learned that mild wear actually gives the surface more character, which does make it look better over time.

The coolest part of the design is the silent, magnetic closure. (I consider it the spiritual reincarnation of the magnetic power plug from the old MacBooks—my favorite abandoned feature.) You just pull the handles, and the seam pops open. Then pick up the bag by the handles and the clasp gently snaps back closed—almost automatically. I love it! The magnetic closure also gives the bag’s opening some structure, so it’s never left hanging open. It’s a beautiful design and a remarkable match for the technology it carries.


I really like the look and feel of this bag. It’s perfect for conferences, recruiting events, interviews, and any other event in which you want a minimal, protective bag. And it’s quite stylish.

The strap and the fastening loops at first seemed too flimsy—not that I thought they might break, but they just looked dainty to me. Now I’ve gotten used to it, and the lightweight straps feel more fitting for the minimalist aesthetic.

The main compartment is made of a durable waxed canvas which has a rugged look that compliments many different styles. It’s soft to the touch and, like the leather, gains some personality with use.

The outer pocket is a beautiful, grizzly-colored leather. If this isn’t quite your style, Waterfield also makes this bag out of ballistic-black canvas, with either black or grizzly brown leather for the pocket as an accent.


This is a high-quality product, made from durable yet fashionable materials. It’s designed to fulfill the simple task of transporting your MacBook and its accessories in style, and it does this without an ounce of excess. I’ve been quite happy with my Waterfield Designs Syde MacBook Case, and I think you will be too.

[Megan Spencer and J Washburn wrote this review in collaboration.]


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