WaterField Designs Bolt Briefcase: Review and Giveaway

WaterField Designs bolt briefcase. Photo for Apple World Today by Steve Sande, ©2015 all rights reserved

WaterField Designs bolt briefcase. Photo for Apple World Today by Steve Sande, ©2015 all rights reserved

Whether you’re going to be buying one of the new MacBooks or already have a fully-loaded 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that is your constant companion, you need something to protect and carry your Apple laptop. Why not do it in style? That’s the idea behind WaterField Designs’ new Bolt Briefcase (starting at US$249), a rugged laptop bag that’s stylish enough to take into the board room. Check out the review, then enter for a chance to win one from Apple World Today and WaterField Designs.


Dimensions and Weight:

Small: 14.5" x 10.5" x 4" — 1.95 lbs. (36.8 x 26.7 x 10.2 cm, .88 kg) - fits up to 13-inch MacBook Air

Medium: 15.5" x 11.0" x 4" — 2.50 lbs. (39.4 x 27.9 x 10.2 cm, 1.13 kg)

Large: 17" x 11.5" x 5" — 2.95 lbs. (43.2 x 29.2 x 12.7 cm, 1.34 kg) - fits up to 17-inch MacBook Pro


Ballistic nylon or waxed canvas base with naturally-tanned leather accents, splash-proof zippers, slips over rolling suitcase handle, invisible magnets secure front pockets, includes removable shoulder strap.


I have to admit that I have a soft spot for anything that WaterField Designs makes. For example, I’ve owned one of their Travel Express bags for quite a few years (I think the name has even changed!) - I used it to carry an 11-inch MacBook Air for years, and now it’s what my wife and I use to carry our iPads with keyboard cases.

Like that case, the Bolt comes in one version that uses black ballistic nylon as the primary material with leather accents in black, chocolate, or grizzly leather. Those accents include the handle, bottom, sides, zipper pulls, and front pocket “buttons”. The other version uses waxed canvas as the material with the same leather accents.

I personally prefer the ballistic nylon as it handles day to day wear and tear very well. However, I know people who swear by the waxed canvas as it tends to gain “personality” with age.

The inside of the Bolt is lined with a smooth gold nylon that seems to light up the interior, making it easy to find anything that is placed in the bag. The slot for the laptop is nicely padded on both sides - there’s no flap to fold over the top of the laptop, so you’ll want to be extra sure to zip the Bolt closed before traveling.

The main compartment of the briefcase is quite spacious, with enough volume to carry a lot of papers, a good-sized book, or even a lightweight change of clothes. There are two large interior pockets (once again, with no closures over the top), with a clip for securing your keys in one of them.

On the outside of the case on one side is a magazine pocket and a strap that can be slipped over the handle of a rolling suitcase, while the other side includes a zippered pocket and two smaller pockets that are closed with magnetic flaps.


AOL took my 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro when they shut down TUAW, so I wasn’t able to test lugging that laptop around in the bag. What I did do was pop a trio of iPads, a few books, and assorted peripherals (small USB hard drives, an old Newton MessagePad 2100, etc…) into the pockets to try it out. Hopefully I remembered to pull everything out of the pockets!

The Bolt is very comfortable to carry thanks to both a pair of padded leather handles and a really nice shoulder strap. One feature I absolutely love with the Bolt is the grippy rubber backing on the shoulder strap, which keeps the bag from wanting to slide off of my shoulder. That’s a design feature every laptop bag should have.


WaterField Designs has done it again, with a laptop case that will not only stand up to years of use, but look good in the process. My only possible complaint could be the lack of zippers or other closures over the two inside pockets, which could result in small items shifting in the case it is overturned (in an overhead bin, for example).

Apple World Today Rating (out of five stars): ★★★★


It’s with a great deal of sadness that I’ve put this small black ballistic nylon Bolt with grizzly leather accents back into its protective plastic bag. One lucky reader from the US or Canada (except Quebec) will get this wonderful case, valued at $249. To enter, fill out the entry form below before 11:59 PM ET on March 17, 2015. Note that this will place you on our subscriber list and you may receive occasional emails from us as a result — you may unsubscribe at any time.

This giveaway has been closed. The lucky winner of the Bolt Briefcase was reader Tom Lisciandra! Congratulations, Tom!