WaterField Designs Staad Laptop BackPack

Christopher Breen
18 November, 2013
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Staad laptop backpack

Waterfield Designs, www.sfbags.com


Solidly built; attractive old-fashioned design; comfortable


Packrats will find it a little cramped

US$319 (plus FedEx shipping)


Before passing judgement on Waterfield Designs’ Staad BackPack it’s only fair to reveal my biases: I’ve long been a fan of the company’s work, because I like its sense of design and solid workmanship. And when I lug gear around, I prefer to do so in a backpack. So, in all honesty, my recommendation of the Staad depends almost entirely on whether it aligns with my preconceptions of what such a bag should be. It hits the mark in every way. Made of canvas or ballistic nylon with large leather flap and accents, the Staad comes in two sizes—Slim (US$319) and Stout (US$329). The exterior body material comes in black or brown, and the leather flap can be had in black, dark brown or lighter brown. Each bag has two zippered accessory pockets on either side of a longer centre zipper that allows you easier access to the pack’s interior. Within that interior you’ll spy two pockets large enough to hold a Kindle e-reader, one of the larger variety of mobile phones or a smallish water bottle. Outside of these pockets is the yellow ballistic nylon-lined internal storage area for packing the kinds of things you’d normally toss into a gadget backpack – chargers, accessory bags, cables and maybe a spare shirt. The rest of the interior is reserved for two pockets – one for a full-sized tablet and another for a 13in (Slim) or 15in (Stout) laptop. Each of these pockets is padded and faced with a soft black material that won’t scratch your precious cargo.

The Staad provides pockets for the items you need most.

The side of the bag that rests against your back is nicely padded, as are the solidly attached straps. At the top of the bag is a leather handle for easily lifting the thing in preparation for swinging it over your shoulder. It’s a beautiful backpack that harkens back to the old West or the days of propellered aviation. You could easily see the Staad dangling from a saddle or jammed into the cockpit of a F6F Hellcat. And, yes, the leather scuffs just as easily as you’d imagine such a vintage piece of luggage would. If you’re finicky you can apply some variety of leather treatment to keep it looking like new, but I found the occasional scuffs gave the bag some personality. So, in regard to the design of the bag, I’m all for it. It’s not showy, but it definitely catches the eye. Then there’s its utility. If, like me, you’re accustomed to carrying a very large backpack – one that accommodates not only your gear, but a weekend’s worth of clothing and a bottle of wine – you’ll have to reset your expectations. Even the Stout is slim by the standards of the three-compartment daypack you carried in high school.

The Staad forces you to carry exactly what you need.

But as I packed the Stout for a couple of outings I realised that my storage expectations may be the tiniest bit outdated. I now carry a 13in MacBook Air and iPad Air rather than a much bulkier 2010-vintage 15in MacBook Pro. My books are on my iPad and so I don’t need space for that bulky paperback. Hydration is all well and good, but do I really need to carry quart bottles? It turned out that if I packed what I really needed rather than what I was accustomed to carrying, the Stout served my needs perfectly. It’s not inexpensive, but in this case you get what you pay for – a domestically made backpack that’s as beautiful as it is practical.

by Christopher Breen, Macworld

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