capsule review

WaterField iPad Travel Express

At a Glance
  • WaterField Designs iPad Travel Express

Some people can leave the house with nothing but an iPad. The rest of us want to pack a few extras, such as a keyboard, a wallet, cables, and other accessories. WaterField Design’s $69 iPad Travel Express is a great option in a pleasantly slim package.

The iPad Travel Express has a horizontal-notebook-messenger design, except it’s been shrunk to fit the iPad lifestyle. A zipper runs along the top of the case and down one side, allowing for easier access to the bag's pockets than with a traditional messenger case. The main sleeve inside has nylon padding and plastic inserts on both sides to protect your iPad and its glass display. The bag fits both the iPad and iPad 2, the latter even with a Smart Cover attached. An original iPad in Apple’s iPad Case can also fit, though the surface of the iPad Case causes a little more friction with the Travel Express’ interior than some owners might want to deal with on a daily basis. I certainly didn’t want to put up with it.

Two stretch-mesh pockets on the internal iPad sleeve can store a few accessories such as cables and oddly shaped items. On the opposite interior wall are two slightly larger, but less stretchy, pockets that look almost tall and wide enough to fit Apple’s MacBook Air SuperDrive. (I don’t have such a drive to make sure.). Even if you toss a couple items into these pockets, there is enough room in the bag to fit Apple’s Wireless Keyboard. But don’t expect to pack this bag full of extras—with a bulky object like Apple’s 10-watt iPad charger, things got cramped fast. This isn’t a shortcoming of the bag, it’s just a consequence of the minimal design constraints that WaterField chose to adhere to.

Thanks to WaterField’s customization options, the iPad Travel Express can be built as a sleeve for inserting in another bag, or you can opt for D-rings to carry the sleeve on its own. If you go the latter route, WaterField offers two strap options: a Simple Strap Mini made of nylon for $12, or the Suspension Strap Mini with a no-slip pad for $22. The bag I tested had D-rings and the Simple Strap Mini, and it’s a nice setup. The D-rings are metal and feel sturdy, and while WaterField offers a wider variety of straps for its myriad other bags, the Simple Strap Mini is the perfect size for this bag, without feeling or looking like overkill. You also get a choice between six accent colors, including two earth-toned greens, brown, red, pearl, and black.

One quirk about this bag is the strange zipper design at the top. WaterField tapered the end of the zipper track with a sort of criss-cross design, presumably because the bag is so thin and doesn’t afford much space for stitching. It isn’t a big deal, but it does look a little strange from a company with a tradition for strong build quality and design.

That very minor quirk aside, the iPad Travel Express is a surprisingly compact bag for carrying the iPad and a day’s worth of essentials. You're looking at a somewhat high starting price for this bag before you even add a strap, but the iPad Travel Express is a great choice if you’re looking for a slim, light, stylish, and capable solution.

At a Glance
  • The iPad Travel Express is a customizable and surprisingly compact bag for carrying the iPad and a day’s worth of essentials.

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