About 2.5 years ago, I decided in was time to part ways with my humongous, generic black computer/gear backpack for something a little more professional, something that while confortable enough to bring with me anywhere, would have no trouble to be in a meeting with CEOs and other meetings of the sort. At some points, many peoples in professional jobs consider buying a nice leather briefcase or attaché.
For myself, I am traveling to work mainly by public transport, in a city that has truly four seasons, including real winters with snow and cold. I am also traveling on average once per month by plane. Any choice would have to be strong enough to survive such treatments. Overall, it has to follow me while walking for serious distances and be easy enough to carry as to not destroy by back (and my gears). This preclude single shoulder strap bags and, thus, leave backpack.
Welcome to San Francisco based Waterfield Design (sfbags.com), which is also where all the bags are hands-made. They have two beautifully designs backpack models, as shown above, that fits all of the conditions I previously described and more: the Staad and Pro Executive. For myself I have acquired the Staad Backpack in the Stout (13L) format. This is the bigger of the two sizes available (the smaller one is only (6L). The backpack showed below is of a slim design and minimalist in term of any outgrown outside pockets. The big, think full grain leather flap gives it the perfect professional finish in an overall packages that is big enough to carry a notebook (up to 15’’) and a tablet, both having separate and padded pockets and many more.
The Staad comes with two mains materials: waxed canvas or black ballistic nylon and three choices of leather finish. All exterior pocket zips are of the YKK zippers. The padded, soft gold finish interior of the bag (and pockets) are wonderful and makes finding things extremely easy. Below are pictures of my old « black » bag and the Staad side-by-side.
The funny thing on these pictures is that everything that was in the former one fitted perfectly in the Staad and the fully loaded Staad looks no bigger than the empty black old one. I was expecting to have to drop things when moving to the Staad but it is much roomier than I expected. The stout version is not only larger but the bottom portion of the bag is also wider than the slim version, which means that I can get gear pouches and other bulkier items in there no problem. The quick access external pockets have also lots of room. The two smaller internal pocket are also very useful. The pictures above also provide a view of my bag with all the gear inside.
Since having this bag, I have taken public transports for 2.5 years, sunny days as well as rainy ones, and snow, ans cold, …Travel over 200 000 km across the globe to various conferences and meetings. The bag as it look today is shown below. It looks even better today as it did 2.5 years ago. The ballistic nylon portion of the bag looks like new. The leather flap as acquired scratches and other features that makes it better than when I received it. I can’t tell you how many times, I have been told how nice this bag look. I would have no trouble using this is a lawyer office!
Notice that the Staad does not have any side pockets for a bottle of water. So if I need to bring one, it needs to sit in the main compartment. Also contrary to the two other backpack from Waterfield Design that came after, the Staad does not allow to slide over a carry-on handle or any other rolling luggage. The latter is the feature I would most request to add to the Staad. The second one, a retractable mesh « net » that would hold a water bottle when needed (and other wise would be concealed when not used).
If you are of the type to also carry a lunch and maybe some sport gears for activities during the day, you might want to look at the new Pro Executive backpack. Design through an interactive process with Waterfield customers (crowd-sourced design they called it), it sports a massive 25.5L holding capacity, adding a huge middle compartment for that extra stuff you need to carry around everyday. One model is shown at the beginning of this post. It still have that professional look thanks to the large full grain leather flat surrounded by the highly resistant black ballistic nylon and the leather handle. Same gold finish and padded internals as the Staad.
These professional looking backpacks are not cheap but the build quality is extremely high (as is their customer services). You get what you pay for here. The slim Stand (6L) is 319$US, the stout one (13L) is at 329$US and the Pro Executive Laptop Backpack (25.5L) is at 349$US. Whatever the choice between these three models, you can go wrong.
By the way, have a look also at their gear pouches. I have a few!