Way back in the days of my first "tablets" -- one of many Apple Newton MessagePad models -- I found that the most convenient way to carry them was with a bag with a shoulder strap. At that time, the computer and tablet bag industry wasn't in full swing as it is today, so I ended up carrying a small black (and rather plain) Eagle Creek bag with a shoulder strap with my Newton, an extra battery pack or three, and a spare stylus. Fast-forward to 2014, where we not only have bags and cases galore to protect our iPads, but they actually look good as well. The Waterfield Designs Outback Solo (US$89) is designed for Apple's newest full-size tablet, the iPad Air, and as you'd expect from Waterfield Designs, it's rugged and good-looking.
Dimensions: 10.5" wide x 8.7" high x 1.0" max thickness (26.7 x 22.0 x 2.54 cm) (bag comes in two sizes; one to fit a "naked" iPad Air, the other to fit an iPad Air with a 3rd-party slick case)
Weight: 14.85 ounces (421 grams) with strap
Material: The main part of the bag is made of a tan waxed canvas, while the top is made of premium leather. Inside is lined with cushioning neoprene. Brown nylon shoulder strap ($19 extra).
If Indiana Jones had an iPad Air and wanted to carry it, I think he'd own an Outback Solo. The waxed canvas and leather will age nicely, ensuring that the rugged style of the bag gains even more character over the years. The neoprene lining cushions your iPad Air from bumps and drops, while a magnetic closure on the leather top keeps the bag shut. Two exterior pockets provide space for charging cables, pens, and styluses.
The Outback Solo protects and transports your iPad Air, whether used as a sleeve or a bag with the optional nylon strap. If there's anything I'm not thrilled about, it's the lack of some "rough" material on the strap to keep it from sliding off a shoulder. The iPad Air is light enough that the Outback Solo doesn't need a shoulder pad, but I found that the bag wanted to slide off of my shoulder while walking. You can adjust the strap to carry it crossways on your body to prevent slipping, but some may find that carrying method not to their liking.
I tested the Outback Solo with an iPad Air equipped with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, and it fit beautifully into the bag. This is good news to those who are using the iPad Air / Ultrathin Keyboard Cover combo as a "notebook replacement."
At $89 -- or $108 with the optional strap -- the Outback Solo is also less expensive than some other options in the "luxury iPad bag" market.
Waterfield Designs is known for durable and stylish sleeves and bags, and the Outback Solo continues that tradition with an affordable design that will last for years.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars (out of 4 stars possible)
Will you be the lucky TUAW reader who wins an Outback Solo? You won't know unless you enter. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before January 10, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Waterfield Designs Outback Solo bag for iPad Air (with strap) valued at $108.