WaterField Designs: Protecting your 15" Retina display MacBook Pro with panache

As an admitted computer bag fanatic, I have a special affinity for the creations of WaterField Designs in San Francisco. I personally use one of their bags (the Travel Express) to carry either my MacBook Air, two iPads, or the MBA and an iPad. That bag has gone through a lot in the last three years, but it still looks like it just came out of the box.

When Heidi the PR lady at WaterField Designs told me about the line of new bags that they've specially created for the Retina display MacBook Pro, I decided to jump on getting some review products to try out and to give away to TUAW readers. In this review, I'll talk about both the Smart Case (US$99.00) and City Slicker ($149.00) for the 15" Retina display MacBook Pro, and then at the end you'll have an opportunity to win one from TUAW courtesy of WaterField Designs.

Smart Case

Let's start with the Smart Case. While it's not a total "bag" for your Retina MBP, it's designed to offer protection to your baby while you toss it into a briefcase, backpack, or any other larger bag.

What's great about the Smart Case (as with all of WaterField Designs' products) is that it has padding everywhere you can imagine. There are high-impact rigid plastic inserts to keep your MBP safe from bumps and bangs, and it's cradled inside an Ultrasuede liner.

The outside of the case features water-resistant nylon in a choice of six colors -- black, pearl, pine (dark green), green, flame (orange), and copper (tan). There's no stitching visible on the outside of the case, and the sides are encased in distressed brown leather trim. On the back side of the Smart Case is a stretchable pocket for carrying your power adapter and other cables.


The Smart Case is designed to hold your machine so snugly that it won't slide out, yet it's easy to pull it out for security checkpoints or doing work. While the video below shows the version of the Smart Case that's available for the 11" and 13" MacBook Air rather than the Retina Display MBP model, it still provides a comprehensive look at the features of the Smart Case.

City Slicker

A case is supposed to be something you buy after you get a new MacBook or iPad, and the City Slicker almost makes me want to go out and buy a new MacBook Pro just so I can get the case!

The top and front of the case are nicely protected by luscious leather. The sample case I received used distressed, naturally tanned dark "Chocolate" leather -- you also have a choice of black or lighter tan "Grizzly" leather. What's nice about any leather surface like this is that it gains character over time as it is bumped, spilled on, and otherwise abused by life.

The City Slicker comes initially without a handle or strap. The handle (a $10 option) is a rather tight fit, even for my small hands, but allows you to carry the bag just like a briefcase. You can also get D-rings ($5) attached if you have a favorite strap already, purchase a "Simple Strap Mini" for $12, or go all out and get the "Suspension Strap" for $22. My suggestion? Go with the high-end strap -- it's very comfortable and allows you to juggle papers and iPhones with your hands while you're carrying the bag.


The protection built into the City Slicker is awesome. Just under the outside later is a hard plastic insert, then a layer of spongy neoprene, and then the interior lining of the bag. There's extra padding in the bottom, since that's the spot that gets the most abuse when you place the case onto tables, desks and other surfaces.

For all of the other things you'll want to carry along with your $2,200 laptop, there are two pockets. They're made of a stretchy material that lets you see what's in the pocket while ensuring that the contents aren't going to fall out.

The video below once again shows the features of the MacBook Air version of the City Slicker; just scale this bag up to the size of a Retina display MacBook Pro and you have a perfect idea of how it looks.


Sure, you can buy less expensive computer and tablet bags elsewhere, but wouldn't you rather purchase something that is going to last and also looks great? (Also, did we mention that $2,200 sticker price for the Retina MacBook Pro? Skimping on protection seems short-sighted.)

WaterField Designs bags do exactly that; they're cases that protect your investment in Apple equipment for years and that will gain the envy of anyone who sees them. If you need a way to keep your Retina display MacBook Pro safe and protected inside another bag, the Smart Case is perfect and is also reasonably priced. But if you need a new case for that beautiful Retina MBP, seriously consider the City Slicker. It's a gorgeous bag that offers unparalleled protection as well.

If you're not impressed with either the City Slicker or Smart Case, I suggest that you take a look at the other designs that are available for the MacBook Pro with Retina display.


  • Distressed leather highlights on both the Smart Case and City Slicker are both beautiful and protective

  • WaterField Designs' multi-layer protection keeps your Retina display MacBook Pro safe from impacts and scratches

  • The bag and case are surprisingly thin considering the protection that they offer

  • Made in the U.S.A in San Francisco


  • The handle on the City Slicker is a bit tight on your hand; I'd recommend forgoing the handle for the top-of-the-line Suspension Strap.

Who are they for?

  • Owners of Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina display who want the best possible protection while exhibiting some style


We're kind of in a giveaway frenzy this week, and the first two items we're giving away are these wonderful cases from WaterField Designs. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.

  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.

  • The entry must be made before August 9, 2012 at 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

  • You may enter only once.

  • Two winners will be selected. One will receive a WaterField Designs Smart Case for MacBook Pro with Retina display valued at US$99.00, while the other will receive a WaterField Designs City Slicker (with optional handle) valued at $159.00.

  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.