Waterfield CitySlicker MacBook Air Case, Review


Waterfield’s various iPad and MacBook cases and bags are seeing more than a bit of use in my home these days. Elana carries her iPad 2 and Apple Bluetooth keyboard in the iPad Travel Express we reviewed in March of 2011. (Read the review.) Having found time and again that the best option for a keyboard to use with the iPad is Apple’s offering, I’ve used the Keyboard Travel Express a number of times. (Read the review.) Judie reviewed the new Indy bag for the iPad and, knowing I love all-things-Indiana-Jones (I know, lame but true), she sent it to me. When I’m just carrying the iPad (which is most days), it is my go-to bag. (Read the review.)

The company recently announced their small Waterfield City Slicker for the MacBook Air. It is the perfect case for those times you are carrying your MacBook Air and just a few extras. In other words, if, like me, you are trying to travel as lightly as possible, but still need to take your notebook with you at times, it just might be the perfect case. They were kind enough to send one of the first City Slickers off the line. What do I think of it? I love it. Here’s why.


From Waterfield:

More than meets the eye. You’ll find superior protection for your MacBook Air in the dime-thin, compact CitySlicker. Three layers protection—impact-resistant plastic + high grade neoprene + padded liner—keep the MacBook Air safe and snug. Multiple pockets for essential accessories are smartly sewn and hidden under the rugged leather flap that snaps into place. A classic look.

Dual-leather flap comes in distressed, naturally-tanned Black, Camel, Chocolate or Grizzly leather. Options: handle, D-rings, or strap.

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Waterfield let me “design” and “customize” the review sample they sent me. I opted for this beautiful distressed leather flap in chocolate. The materials offer a great contrast that they describe as a mix of modern and retro. It really works for me!

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I also opted to add a handle to the case. This is a $10 option and I highly recommend it if you are considering this case as it turns a clutch or sleeve case into a mini-briefcase. The handle makes it super easy to grab the bag and head out. As I have reviewed more and more bags I am finding that those lacking a grab-and-go handle offer less functionality for me. I also like the way it looks.

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I also opted to add two D-Rings to the back of the bag. The D-Rings themselves are a $5 option. The D-Rings and a simple strap is a $12 option and the D-Rings and Suspension Strap Mini is a $22 option. At a minimum get the D-Rings added. The don’t add weight, they don’t detract from the look and they add the extra flexibility for those times you use the City Slicker as a mini-briefcase.

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Typical of Waterfield, the bag uses a high-quality locking zipper. This is the upper corner of the back since, as you will see, the bag has a storage space along the entire side.

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A closeup of the front corner provides a good look at the nice contrast between the materials as well as offering a clear view of the kind of quality and workmanship that goes into the bags. Another thing I like- the bags are both designed AND manufactured here in the USA. I have no doubt this adds a bit to the price but it is well worth it in my opinion.

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Lifting the buttoned-down front flap reveals fours pockets for stowing items. The two middle areas are somewhat wide and can hold the power adapter. The two on the sides are smaller and are good for pens or cables.

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All are made from an elastic materials that is see-through and holds items in place without the need for flaps or other closure methods.

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Here’s a look at the back of the bag. It uses that same stretchy material and is all but invisible when not in use.


But, as you see in this promotional image, it actually holds quite a bit.

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The MacBook Air slips right inside. I opted for the 11″ version, but there is also one for the 13″ MBA. Since it is a tight fit, it is important to determine which of the two you want. It is worth noting that one could use this with an iPad as well, but if the iPad is in a case, even a rather thin one, it will not be a good fit. I do, however, think it might work well with the Logitech Ultra-Thin Keyboard Smartcover Chris recently reviewed. (Read the review.)

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If you know Waterfield’s aesthetic you will immediately identify this as one of their bags. In case you needed a bit of reinforcement on that there is a small company logo/name beneath the flap. I love that they don’t feel the need to break the lines of the bag with a big logo on the outside but, in this case, I would be more than happy to help advertise them while using the bag. Yeah, I like their products that much.

There are just two issues I have identified in the first days of carrying this bag. First, the snaps are strong- read “tight”- and require you to really think about lining them up and pressing for in order to close them. Given the option between “a bit too hard to close” and “open when you don’t want them to” I’ll go with the former. The second issues really isn’t an issue but is something about which to be aware. The case is designed for a minimalist approach to carrying your gear. Minimalist… with a capital M. If you need to carry a lot this isn’t the bag for you.

Other than those two caveats I love this bag, and I plan to use it quite a bit.

Here’s the bottom line with the City Slicker: It is typical Waterfield, and by that I mean it is thoughtfully designed and, as a result, it looks great and works well if you carry your MacBook Air and a few other items. It is well constructed and made of fantastic materials. That means it will hold up well through the years. (Seriously, the very first Waterfield cases I bought – long before I was reviewing their products – still look brand new.)

MSRP: Starting at $129 for the 11″ MBA and $139 for the 13″ MBA. As reviewed $144

What I Like: Amazing quality design, materials and build; Good protection thanks to three layers of materials around the notebook; Sharp-looking; With the D-Rings and handle is makes a great mini-briefcase

What Needs Improvement: Limited storage; Snaps hard to close at first; Pricey

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.