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Gear We Love: Rough Rider bag takes you through even the toughest commutes

Serenity Caldwell | June 3, 2014
There's a lot of gear out there for your Apple devices, but how do you know which are worth your time and what's not worth your money? In our Gear We Love column, Macworld's editors tell you about the products we're personally using--and loving.

There's a lot of gear out there for your Apple devices, but how do you know which are worth your time and what's not worth your money? In our Gear We Love column, Macworld's editors tell you about the products we're personally using — and loving.

I've reviewed many a WaterField Designs bag over the years, and time and time again they come out on top thanks to quality, craftsmanship, and quirky highlight colors. The company's Rough Rider Leather Messenger is no different: It's the bigger, burlier, horizontal brother of the Muzetto, designed to hold everything from your 13-inch laptop to an extra pair of shoes. Just how burly is it? To truly test its rough-resistance, I took the Rough Rider to a place I'm loathe to take most of my nice bags: a roller derby tournament.

When bench coaching the #4 men's roller derby team in the world, you end up needing a lot of gear in your bag. Some of it is traditionally technological: I had the requisite iPad and laptop, along with an external keyboard and a small bluetooth speaker. But also jammed into the bag were game-day snacks, wrenches, spare toestops and axels, bearings, pivot cups, helmet covers, wristbands, painkillers, emergency supplies, and more. My goal is for my bench bag to be the "break in case of glass" supply center — if something happens, there should be a solution in the bag.

At home games, I usually stuffed all these necessities into a recyclable-plastic Whole Foods bag — garish and heavy, sure, but it sat behind the bench and could take a beating. That wasn't an option at the tournament: Not only were our games being streamed live, so I didn't want to have a brightly colored shopping bag sitting on the bench, but we had to travel 1000 miles by plane to get there — a journey I wasn't going to undertake with an overstuffed grocery bag.

So the Rough Rider got to take its inaugural ride stuffed full of goodies — electronic and otherwise — on a plane, in a car, and throughout a roller derby tournament. It came out of the ordeal without a scratch or a letdown. Based on my experiences with it that weekend, I'm willing to say that if life were a D&D campaign, this is as close to a Bag of Holding as you're going to get.

Given that it's crafted of leather, the bag expands remarkably well to hold all sorts of non-standard oddities in addition to your laptop, iPad, and technological fare. Its main compartment, which includes a thickly padded laptop sleeve, is hidden under a durable leather flap, with two waxed-canvas pockets lining the interior front. The outside front of the bag — accented in black, copper, flame, green, pearl, or pine — also offers two pockets, each lined with a soft, felt-like material and, according to WaterField, large enough to hold an iPad mini. Though I never stuck an iPad in there, the accented pockets often held an iPhone or other screened item, leaving the main compartment of the bag free to fill with assorted odds and ends.

 

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