With a gear bag, looking nice is only half of the equation. You’ll want the bag to keep your tech accessories secure, and you’ll definitely want ample space. With so many different places to go wrong, picking a gear case can be tricky. Because let’s face it, even minor alterations of the size or depth of a pouch could make or break your selection. And that means getting a gear case can be a matter of trial and error.
When you’re picking a gear case, you’re entering into a relationship that will hopefully last you for decades. Assuming your bag isn’t lost or stolen, if you like it, why wouldn’t you hang onto it? That being the case, going with a leather bag can make a lot of sense. Leather tends to be wonderfully water resistant, it ages beautifully, and it’s about as strong as any case material needs to be.
The only downside to a material like leather is that you have to pay for it. It’s one of the more expensive options precisely because it’s one of your better options. It can also be a little tricky to choose leather products because leather is made in a range of different quality, from passable to perfection. And even if you’ve got a good piece of leather to work with, that doesn’t necessarily mean someone stitched it together in a smart way.
WaterField Designs Developers’ Gear Case
Which brings us to the WaterField Designs Developers’ Gear Case. From the start, it’s worth pointing out how this case was constructed with full grain leather. Though the natural beauty of the leather may be difficult to appreciate, depending on the color of the case you end up selecting. They’re available in four colors, including brown, black, blue, and crimson. All of them do a reasonably good job of complimenting the leather, with perhaps the sole exception of the blue.
That’s largely because, again, this is full grain leather. And as full grain leather ages, it will develop its own patina, its own unique characteristic appearance, and eventually its own sense of personality. That’s especially true if you take care of the bag and treat the leather well. Because material like this is supposed to last for ages, with only a little bit of looking after it.
The general idea behind this case seems to be convenience. It’s about reducing the need to search through the endless depths of your bags to find the things you’re looking to find. As such, this case was made specifically to be a haven for tech accessories. And so it can protect bulky or small items alike because it provides two layers of storage. Inside you can fit phones, earbuds, headphones, mice, power bricks, cables, cameras, lenses, and so forth. The sky is nearly the limit.
Moreover, you can use this bag independently, or alongside other bags like the Atlas Holdall. But how well does it work in day to day operation?
Design of the Case
This WaterField case measures roughly 9.75” x 6.75” x 3.25”. Since the material is basically just a big slab of leather, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the bag has as nice hefty weight to it. In fact, it weights around three quarters of a pound with nothing inside. Once you’ve got it filled up, it can easily catapult its weight towards 30lbs and beyond, which is why you might need to think carefully about those shoulder straps, depending on what you plan to stick inside.
Apart from the metal zippers and the full grain leather, the only other material involved with construction is 1050 ballistic nylon. That’s the sort of stuff you’ll find used around the straps and mesh interior. And true to its name, this nylon is as sturdy as you could hope. You probably don’t want to try shooting bullets through it, but short of intentional sabotage, it really ought to hold up against wear and tear.
More specifically, the WaterField Designs Developers’ Gear Case was constructed with YKK waterproof zippers, made to help keep moisture out and away from your stuff. The leather exterior does much the same, but it does take the cooperation of both to really ensure everything remains protected. There are zippers on a total of three sizes of the case, allowing it to open wide, not unlike the spine of a book.
Inside, you’ll find a pair of two interior compartments, separated only by a small padded middle divider. The upper slim compartment is complete with sized mesh pockets, great for storing away small wires and accessories. There’s a pen and stylus holder, and two levels of mesh pockets to store adapters. There are also two large zippered and four open topped areas, allowing you more space to organize dongles, cords, and similar small items.
Notably, the ultra-soft padded front side allows you to quickly store away items like earbuds or smartphones. The extra padding makes this a safe area for phones with or without cases. Inside those pockets, there’s a gold lining, so small items don’t get visually swallowed up inside the case. That makes small things much easier to spot while stored inside the case, at least assuming you’re not searching for gold-colored accessories. That would be a little confusing and counter-productive. But then again, the gold color may still be preferable to black due to how well it lights up.
Beneath the first layer of the case, the deeply plushy padded lower compartment is almost like a pillow for your electronics, making it ideal for storing larger items. Things like mice, hard drives, camera lenses, might end up in this compartment. Here is where you’ll also find stretch bands, which can be pulled over your stuff to securely keep bulky items from rolling around within the case. Securing everything to lay flat inside can be especially important for larger items, like headsets. Smaller items are better secured inside one of the aforementioned pockets.
Packing the Case
Notably, inside the case you’ll find a couple pass-through spaces for charging wires, allowing you to take your smartphone wires from the front pocket and run them to a charging battery that is stored deeper inside the case. In other words, WaterField anticipates people running their wires through this bag, and made sure it isn’t going to be a nightmare. It’s a cool, user-friendly design that’s also easy to ignore if you don’t end up wanting to charge while inside the case.
For carrying the case from place to place, there are actually two options. That includes the standard quick grab handles on the sides of the case, and the optional straps. Those straps include suspension straps or a simple black shoulder strap. But the optional straps are not included with the case, they need to be ordered separately. You can also choose optional cord clips, which are available in the same range of colors as the case, and come in a set of four.
It might be worth noting that this bag was made in San Francisco; it’s not some cheap Chinese knockoff that was quickly sewn together by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Even though this case doesn’t come with a ton of extra things, it does include a complimentary travel sized mouse pad. The pad is also made of leather, and while not in operation, it’s supposed to attach to the middle divider within the bag. The pad is somewhat small, measuring around 8 x 6 inches. But when you need a mousepad or a surface to place things on in a pinch, it doesn’t hurt to have.
Depending on how you end up using the case, it may be necessary to get one or both of the optional straps. It would also be a good idea to grab some cable clips if you plan on running cables through the case, as a place for recharging your electronics. Even though these things can run-up the total cost, they can actually be essential, again depending on how you use the case.
There’s actually nothing too special about WaterField’s clips, apart from the fact they can be color coordinated with your bag. They’re perfectly adequate at snapping around cables and keeping them organized, but they don’t add anything special. So if you already have a couple of case clips, you probably won’t need to get an extra pair for your bag.
Who Should Choose the WaterField Designs Developers’ Gear Case?
This gear case is fantastically good for organizing electronics of odd sizes. You may have noticed a lot of different electronic devices come with their own uniquely shaped cases. That’s because a lot of electronics end up having their own unique shape. Camera cases, headphone cases, and laptop cases are all going to look a bit different. So getting all those devices to share one case is actually a modestly impressive feat.
The main compartment allows you to use elastic ties to force large bulky items to stay in position, which is great for laptops and tablets. And this bag allows for several layers of storage, so you to make one layer for power packs, external batteries, headphones, and mice… and then setup another layer for a second set of accessories.
Actually packing away your stuff will require you to know how to place your things in an efficient manner. But the case does try and make it simple for you. There’s a ton of different compartments to save small items, medium sized items, and ultimately even your biggest stuff. And while style is a subjective sort of thing, it’s hard to deny that this bag is gorgeous. So if you’re looking for a gorgeous and generally well-made leather bag, the WaterField Designs Developers’ Gear Case just might do the trick.