WaterField Designs Air Caddy Review
The WaterField Designs Air Caddy is convenient for carrying an iPad Pro and its accessories, but carrying too much gear can cut into the main compartment.
- Self Locking YKK Zippers keeps small gear inside
- Compact design for easy daily transport
- Internal storage for holding tech accessories
- Waxed Canvas can easily rub off on hands
- iPad Sleeve is padded but only on one side
- A packed out font pocket can eat into the main compartment
8 oz (226.8 g)
12.9" iPad Pro size | 5 oz - 11" iPad Pro & iPad Air size | 4.5 oz - iPad Mini size
9.5 in x 13.25 in x 1.25 in (24.1 x 33.7 x 3.2 cm)
12.9 iPad Pro size | 8 in x 12 in x 11 x 1.25 in - 11" iPad Pro & iPad Air size | 6.37 in x 8.87 in x 1.25 in - iPad Mini size
Canvas, Leather, Nylon, YKK Zippers
Back in 2008, Steve Jobs wowed the tech world when he took a fully-functioning laptop out of a slim office envelope. It was a moment where a lot of us realized being productive on the go is no longer just the stuff of overly optimistic commercials bordering on science fiction—it’s a convenient reality. Okay, with how many accessories we carry around, a paper envelope probably isn’t enough for our needs. With a rich ecosystem of accessories in mind, tech organizers such as the WaterField Designs Air Caddy are the next best thing.
Instead of a laptop, however, the Air Caddy is designed for an iPad Pro and accessories that turn it into a little productivity machine. Granted, it’s not as thin as a paper envelope, but you get more pockets for organization and waxed canvas in return. Plus, the size is just right for taking with you on flights. If you’re an iPad Pro user looking to step up productivity, check out the Air Caddy with us and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Materials & Aesthetic
Waxed Canvas is the name of the game for WaterField Designs, and it’s a material we’ve encountered in their other gear. For example, the Outback Duo Laptop Brief also has a waxed canvas base topped with a leather flap to complement its styling. However, since we carry the Air Caddy as a clutch rather than by a handle, we’re more aware of the wax.
We can really feel it rub off on our hands with each carry, and though this feeling will decrease over time or with a wipe-down (if you’re more eager), it’s something to keep in mind. Furthermore, the waxed finish marks up easily compared to regular nylon or leather. Each person’s taste differs from the next, and we can see the appeal of the waxed canvas if you like a worn-in look. For those who want to keep the waxed finish fresh, WaterField Designs sell tins of Martexin Original Wax which you can apply yourself. You can also use a hairdryer to heat up the existing wax on the pouch and rub away any marks with your finger.
There’s no damage on the fabric itself—not a loose thread in sight. The biggest worry here is the wax eventually wearing off, though that’s a relatively easy fix if you don’t mind maintaining your gear a bit more. At the time of this review, the Air Caddy is also available in Black Ballistic (nylon-based and leather-free), and Brown, Blue, or Black Leather colorways if you want something a little less hands-on.
Apart from the outer shell, the Air Caddy is also protected by a pair of trusty YKK self-locking zippers. There’s one for each of the two compartments, which means, unfortunately, that there’s a tiny-but-definitely-there gap at the end of the main compartment’s opening. However, it must be said that the Air Caddy isn’t billed as water-resistant in any way by WaterField Designs, even though the waxed canvas repels water quite well.
Usage & Features
Past the styling and materials of the Air Caddy, it’s actually a fairly straightforward design. The name “Air Caddy” itself gives a good explanation. WaterField Designs intends for this to be a tablet sleeve/tech organizer that you can easily stow in an airline seat’s back pocket. Do note that the size we have here is for the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and at the time of this review, there are other sizes for the 11″ iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. Though this may be the largest available size at the time of writing, it’s still fairly compact compared to 13″ laptop sleeves and above.
Starting with the front compartment, there’s a simple layout for organizing tech items inside. Two elastic mesh pockets hold onto quick-grab items. Since we’re toting a 12.9″ iPad Pro around, but also a smartphone in our pockets, that quick-grab item of choice is a battery bank and our AirPods case. We threw our smartphone in there, too, just to keep our own pockets free and comfortable. The mesh coped with moderate jostling, able to keep items in place, though the tightness of the space itself may have played a role in that as well.
Thanks to the self-locking YKK zipper, it’s also easy to run a cable through a small gap without the risk of the whole compartment being unzipped. We can comfortably charge and use our iPad Pro while a cable feeds fresh juice from a battery bank inside the Air Caddy, all while still inside a seat pocket.
The space inside is on the slim side, so some management is required to maximize the space. For example, stacking a smartphone and a battery bank, plus a few other beefy items, will cause the front to bulge out and even eat into the main compartment. It’s the same bulging we observed on the Outback Duo Laptop Brief and other sleeves, messengers, and brief-style bags. The slim form factor isn’t the most ideal for bulky setups, so this is more or less expected behavior.
Moving on to the main compartment, the zippered opening goes from the top left side all the way down the bottom right. One small detail we appreciate about the opening is how the top-right edge is curved to make unzipping easier. Combined with the ever-reliable YKK zipper, opening the Air Caddy is a seamless task.
The main compartment is lined with a reflective gold-colored fabric, making interior visibility excellent combined with the wide opening. It’s the same liner fabric used in the front compartment, and we generally don’t have problems finding and fishing out even small items under reasonable lighting.
As for pockets, the rear side has a soft-padded tablet sleeve. The amount of padding is just right to protect against anything stored within the Air Caddy. However, there is a noticeable lack of padding on the backside of the sleeve. Protection on this side is mostly left to the outer shell and liner fabric, and we wish there was padding here too.
On the front side, there are two liner pockets, each holding our mouse and charger. Towards the back are two pen silos, just enough for one traditional writing pen and one first-generation Apple Pencil—those don’t magnetically attach to iPads, thus requiring dedicated storage. Speaking of which, our 12.9″ iPad Pro fits inside the sleeve with enough clearance for a side-mounted 2nd Generation Apple Pencil.
Besides the pockets and organization, there’s a decent amount of space in the middle for notebooks and planners. For those who kit out their iPad Pros with a separate travel-sized Bluetooth keyboard, those fit inside there too. With how the iPad Pro gets more laptop-like with successive generations, a tech organizer made for tablets like the Air Caddy is a handy way to carry it and its accessories around.
Barring our personal reservations about the waxed canvas, the Air Caddy is a convenient little organizer; easy to carry around in the office or on a flight. The slim design is somewhat limiting, but considering it’s designed around tablets, it’s enough for a modest setup to turn into a neat little productivity machine.
- Zips from the top left and down to the bottom right corner
- There are liner pockets for accessories inside
- The waxed canvas marks up and will develop patina over time
- Waxed Canvas material marks up easily for a more vintage look
- Exterior warps a bit when fully packed out and using both pockets
- Self locking zippers give an added sense of security to the bag
- Bright interior with a little shine helps with navigating the inside of the caddy in low light environments