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Sutter Tech Sling review: A great daily carry for MacBooks or iPads

I was getting fed up with bags. I’m a carless San Franciscan, so good bags rank right up there with good shoes among my priorities, but for months I’ve struggled to find something that nails the sweet spot between comfort and convenience. Backpacks win for comfort (and they’re better for my back), but getting anything out of them usually demands convoluted acrobatics. Messenger bags win for urban convenience, but they gnaw into my shoulder when I’ve crammed them with MacBooks, iPads, and regular books.

But then I found the Sutter Tech Sling from WaterField Designs. The name makes it sound a bit like a 1920s-themed shindig in Silicon Valley, but it comes as close to perfection as anything I’ve ever used. Comfort? Check. Convenience? Check. And as with almost product from WaterField, it’s made with Apple products specifically in mind.

I picked up the larger 14-inch x 9.5-inch x 3-inch “Full” version, but WaterField also makes a smaller “Standard” model that looks a bit like a hefty fanny pack slung across one’s back. It’s supposedly good enough to hold the new 11-inch iPad Pro, but it’d never do for the larger MacBooks I need to carry for work.

sutter tech sling standardWaterField

The smaller “Standard” model. It looks cool, but it’s really only helpful if you use the 9.7-inch iPad for most of your work.

But the full version? This is my jam. Being a sling bag, its strap reaches across my chest in the style of a messenger bag while the bag itself rests against my back like a slanted backpack. I’ve tossed loads in there that would have had me wincing with my favorite messenger bags, but heavy loads with the Sutter Sling cause me mild discomfort at most. That slant means it’ll never deliver the full comfort you’ll get from a backpack, but it comes closer to the mark than most other cross-body or sling bags I’ve worn.

We can thank the cam-lock for most of that. It’s a latch on the strap that lets you adjust the slack in mere seconds, which makes a massive difference when the bag’s load puts undue tension on your spine. Just flip up the latch, pull it up or slide it down, and the bag slips into a more comfortable position. The large D-ring the strap attaches to aids in this comfort, as it lets the strap swivel to the same position regardless of how tight the strap is.

sutter sling bag cam lockLeif Johnson/IDG

The cam lock open and ready to pull.

It’s magnificent, really. I can’t count the times I’ve tolerated badly balanced loads in other bags because I dreaded taking off the bags off on busy sidewalks or crowded subway cars, to say nothing of the frustrating guesswork of adjusting straps to comfortable lengths. That’s never been a problem with the Sutter Sling.

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