Waterfield Designs’ Rough Rider messenger bag – The ultimate in luxury, authentic leather bags [Review]

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When it comes to quality bags and wallets, it’s hard to think of many brands that hit the spot – for me – like Waterfield Designs. Over at its store, SFBags.com, all offerings are quality, well-made and authentic. None more so than the Rough Rider messenger bag I’ve been rocking for the past month or so.

You only have to look at the bag to see that it’s a quality piece. It’s main body is made almost entirely from thick, hand-stitched leather. And it’s a good 5-6mm thick. Not only that, but the surface has been tanned, colored, scuffed and worn to make it look and feel used when you buy it brand new. Granted, it still needs a few weeks solid use to make the leather soft and flexible, but that’s exactly what I love about this material. Although it’s designed to look aged, further natural aging aids its aesthetic appeal even further.

Inside - MacBook Air in case, iPad Air with keyboard, notebook, pens, cables and two smartphones.

Inside – MacBook Air in case, iPad Air with keyboard, notebook, pens, cables and two smartphones.

Inside is a generous space to hold your notebooks, iPad and/or laptop. In use, I quite comfortable got both MacBook (in a case) and iPad (with keyboard attached) in to the bag, with a notebook to boot. And, just in case you’re worried about other, smaller belongings there are four large pockets too. In the pockets I’d often have 4-5 pens, USB cables for my devices and a Lightning to SD Card adapter.

The two pockets on the inside are made from a durable waxed canvas, while the outside pockets are made from a rougher, brightly colored material. I chose lime green on mine, but other options are available.

In use, it was incredibly comfortable to carry around. The thick canvas shoulder strap, coupled with the large leather pad with generous internal padding, make for a quality experience. And unlike other bags, the strap isn’t simply attached to the edges at the top of the bag using plastic clips. Waterfield Designs unequipped the bag with two leather strips on the sides, and the strap is stitched on to these. This “strips” or tabs are key to the natural, body-hugging feel of the bag. Not once did I feel like it was digging in to my shoulder, and rarely had to swap sides. What’s more, I didn’t need to keep adjusting the position of the shoulder pad due to bag-slipping either.

Leather tabs on each side ensure the the bag hugs your body, and makes is a comfortable experience.

Leather tabs on each side ensure the the bag hugs your body, and makes is a comfortable experience.

Does the Rough Rider have any limitations? Sure. It’s not spacious enough on the inside to carry my DSLR as well as my MacBook, but then, very few messenger-style bags are. I’m a big fan of compartments and excessive numbers of pockets too. The more the merrier in my mind. So the Rough Rider’s four pockets and one single compartment in the middle didn’t quite meet the desire and obsession I have for lots and lots of pockets.

All in all though, I’m left in admiration of what Waterfield Designs has accomplished. If you’re after a simple, authentic and incredibly well-made messenger bag, look no further. The Rough Rider is the one for you. It’s available to buy now from SFBags.com. The 13-inch model will set you back $335, while the 15-inch will cost you $355. It is – therefore – clearly an investment. But from the time I’ve had with it, it’s well worth it, and could potentially last a life time. Like a great leather wallet, or pair of smart shoes. It’s fantastic.

Waterfield Designs Rough Rider – Gallery

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