The Waterfield Tuck Backpack is described as a streamlined version of a European military rucksack, and I’d describe it as a mini-Tardis. It’s a compact bag when you’re just using it to carry your Apple devices and one or two other items, but is surprisingly spacious when you need to carry more.
It also has some neat features like self-locating magnetic buckles and a strap to slot over a roller case, making it suitable as a ‘laptop bag’ to travel into the cabin with you as your second bag when flying…
Look and feel
The Tuck Backpack is available in three versions:
- Ballistic nylon with chocolate leather
- Ballistic nylon with black leather
- Waxed canvas
I tested the chocolate leather one, and I’d say it looks stylish in a casual and understated way. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, but I’d happily take it to an important meeting.
As I’ve said previously, I’m an equal opportunity guy when it comes to leather. I love unblemished smooth-grained napa leather; I love thick, chunky full-grain leather; I love waxed leather… you name it. This bag has a nylon body and a distressed full-grain leather flap.
As with any leather, but full-grain in particular, it will show marks over time. I view this as part of the beauty of the material, but Waterfield does include a card showing how to use a hair-dryer to reduce or remove marks.
As with all the Waterfield bags I’ve tried, the build quality is fantastic, and they shrug off everyday knocks.
For me, the main selling point of this bag is that auto-adjustability. Here’s how the company’s founder describes it:
A key feature of the Tuck is its flexibility to hold a little or a lot and still look relatively compact on your back. The secret is the side panel, which folds when the backpack isn’t full, forming a natural crease to keep the bag slim. When you have more to carry, the pack expands, and your items stay securely tucked in under the flap. Hence, the name ‘Tuck’.
It really does live up to that description. It’s a fairly slim bag when you’re just carrying a MacBook, iPad, and a few small other things, but it expands enough to hold a surprising amount of things.
I’ve taken to using it as my tango bag, which needs to accommodate a pair of dance shoes, a spare shirt, sweater, water bottle, umbrella, fan, and shoe-horn – and it still has room for more. The two padded slots easily accommodate my 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro along with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard.
A yellow or gold interior is now almost a standard feature for premium bags, and it really makes a surprising amount of difference to the amount of light reflecting inside the bag, making it easier to find small items.
The self-locating buckles are a very neat touch. I couldn’t quite see how they worked at first, but you slide them sideways to unfasten and just bring them close together to fasten. They do so with a satisfying click, and the magnets hold them securely closed.
The side pockets, designed for a water bottle and pocket umbrella, also have magnets to hold them closed when not in use.
There’s a zipped pocket on the outside of the flap, which is ideal for easy access to your iPhone. My iPhone 13 Pro Max easily fits into this, with room to spare.
The breathable mesh back and padded straps make it comfortable to carry, even with a relatively heavy load.
Price and conclusions
This is a Waterfield Designs bag, made entirely in the company’s leather workshop in San Francisco, so of course, isn’t cheap – coming in at $299.
But I’ve tried several of the company’s bags now, and I love them all. The materials, workmanship, and designs all live up to the standards you’d expect of a premium bag in this kind of price bracket, and they stand the test of time. These are bags that should last forever.
To me, then, the bag is worth the money. As always, YMMV, but if you’re looking in this price range and want a bag that is effectively both a small- and medium-sized backpack in one, the Waterfield Tuck Backpack could be for you.
The Waterfield Tuck Backpack is available from the company’s website in three finishes, priced at $299. The company makes them in small batches, and the next ones will ship on February 25.
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