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WaterField Bolt Briefcase Review

Stefan Johansson

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I am a professional nomad, bouncing between clinical and research work in two different ends of Stockholm. Sometimes, like many of you, I am also travelling within and outside Sweden for meetings. Besides the Cloud (i.e. Dropbox) I bring along some plenty of vital gear when I commute around...

My oldish laptop backpack was completely worn out and I needed something new to accommodate “my office” (one-two laptops, tech stuff like phones, cables, 4G modem etc, printouts, notebooks, keys, pencils etc-etc). My aim was to get a briefcase made to wear and tear that would fit onto my bike and scooter as well as being representative enough for smarter dress codes.

I had heard about happy users of Waterfields bags and despite that their bags are costly, I decided to buy the Waterfield Bolt Briefcase. The company gave me a discounted shipping cost to Sweden, for the return of this review (@sfbags - thanks :)). In total, I got the briefcase for 350 USD, a hefty but affordable price for me.

Over the last four weeks, I have used the Bolt briefcase on a daily basis. During this field test I have brought the briefcase with me by bike, scooter, car and public transports. It has even been in the air as I attended at a meeting in Vienna last week.

The build quality and materials (black ballistic nylon and leather) are very good! The nylon apparently stands wet weather; I “tested” 40 minutes of rain on my bike... and my gear was kept dry inside the briefcase. The water formed drops on the nylon surface but the leather absorbed water as expected, however without soaking the inner foldings. I guess there is some water protection layer in-between the leather and inner material, or that the inner lining material itself if waterproof.

The briefcase is a rather sturdy and rigid build even though it is made of “flexible” materials. It can stand reasonable well unsupported, it lies steady on my bike rack, and it gets only slightly curved behind my back when I carry it across my shoulder when driving the scooter to work. Carrying comfort is fine. Speaking of bringing along, when I flew to Vienna I also had the opportunity to thread the handles of the cabin bag through the dedicated cabin bag holder - it worked great!

There are many compartments and pockets. The back of the Bolt briefcase has an open pocket, typically for newspapers or a big notebook that you want to reach with ease (but unsecured). The front has a zipped large pocket (great for keys and phones) and two smaller pockets closing with smaller magnetic tabs. I have not found a use for the two smaller pockets yet, simply because I am uncertain how secure stuff is there. Design-wise these magnetically locked pockets are clever, but I would not keep valuables there, like wallet, phones etc, especially not while biking to work with the briefcase lying flat on the bike rack.

The main briefcase space is closed by a zip and comprises several compartments. The back compartment is clearly meant for a computer, the large middle compartment can hold lots of printouts, a binder, a second laptop etc, and the two front-situated pocket-like compartments are perfect for chargers, cables, small notebooks etc. My things get well organised in there!

However, I dislike two design features. Firstly, the major computer compartment would be largely improved with a short closing velcro flap that would tighten the computer space. I typically put my 11-inch Macbook Air there (in a large-sized Bolt briefcase) while I keep my research machine, a not so slick Windows-laptop, in the larger middle compartment. I feel that my Macbook Air would be kept better in place with a closing velcro. Secondly, I miss pen holders. My Pelikan fountain pen and Rotring pencil would deserve a dedicated place :). Now I tend to put them “somewhere” and often need to look for them among papers and stuff in the great middle compartment.

Despite those two design issues (IMHO), I am a very satisfied owner of the Bolt briefcase! It serves my nomadic lifestyle really well and receives a strong 4-star rating!


The back open pocket for newspapers etc. 


The front, with a zipped large pocket and two smaller pockets closed by magnetic tabs.


The inside, with compartments for a laptop, a large middle space, and two front-pocket.


Bolt back on the bike rack!


Arrived at the hospital after a wet scooter ride.


At the airport.

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