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Review: Waterfield Designs Portable Muzetto

Portable Muzetto from Waterfield Designs.  Price as tested: 213.96 USD

Perfect timing

I almost didn’t receive my Portable Muzetto in time to test it on my trip to the East Coast this April. Evidently, this new bag has proven to be so popular with Waterfield’s customers that Gary and his team can’t keep up with demand. It’s a testament to Waterfield’s great customer service that Gary himself personally emailed me to apologize that my bag may not arrive in time. He also offered to cancel my order if the delay had caused me to change my mind. It was one of those simple gestures that breeds loyalty in your customers.

Thankfully, my bag did arrive at my door the day before I left. (I never considered canceling my order.)


The Portable Muzetto is a 10-inch version of Waterfield’s top-of-the-line offering, designed specifically with the iPad in mind. While the iPad could fit naked into a Personal Muzetto, or sleeved inside the larger 13-inch Laptop Muzetto with room to spare, Gary felt a specially designed size in between these two variations was in order for Apple’s newest gadget.

Aside from the slightly larger size, the Portable Muzetto is pretty much exactly the same as the Personal Muzetto. The outside of the bag is naturally tanned leather with a nicely sanded finish. It’s beautiful and should wear quite well. Underneath the weighted main flap is a nylon section that is available in six colors. I chose black, mostly because I wanted it to match my Ultimate SleeveCase with Leather trim perfectly. I know, black is a little boring. But I’m a little boring, so it suits me fine.

Like all of Waterfield’s cases, the Portable Muzetto has a gold liner inside its pockets, to make finding items easier. This is the mark of good bag design, and a feature found mostly in much pricier bags. Everything from the strap D rings to the auto-locking zippers suggests that this bag is a quality product. No loose stitching, no signs of laziness on the production-side. This is the real deal.

Taking it on the road

One of the reasons I gave up my laptop for the iPad was so that I could make my digital life a bit more portable. Carrying around a 17-inch laptop in a giant backpack for several years had taken its toll on me. So my new bag had to be all about carrying just the essentials. The iPad, an umbrella on rainy days, a set of headphones, maybe a few papers from work, a cable or two. Keep it light and simple. The portable Muzetto fits that bill exactly. It’s fairly lightweight. It’s much smaller than a backpack. And yet it fits all my essentials without allowing me to take too much extra junk I don’t need. With the iPad Ultimate SleeveCase inside the main pouch, I put two dock connector cables in the zipper pouch, along with my keys, change, and some small papers. In the front area, I placed an umbrella and my small Gear Pouch (also from Waterfield) which holds my VGA adapter, power adapters for my iPad and iPhone, and my personal earphones. I also managed to slip my Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard from Apple inside the area in front of the iPad. The small pocket near the outside is perfect for either a wallet or an iPhone. I tend to alternate between the two.

For my trip, I was going to be using the new Muzetto in a plane, car, subway, and bus. I would also be walking quite a bit. So I was excited to see how it would fare. On the plane, the Muzetto was the perfect companion. It fit very easily under the seat in front of me, giving me far more leg and foot room than I usually get with my big backpack. Because the weighted flap has no clasp of any kind, getting the iPad in and out was super-simple, even in crowded coach.

(If you haven’t taken your iPad on a plane yet, you’re in for a treat. It’s so much better than trying to negotiate a laptop on a tray table.)

On the subway, the Muzetto proved again to be well-suited to its task. The flap allows for very easy access to the inside pockets, so you don’t need to take the bag off your shoulder to get items from inside. I generally don’t take the iPad out on the subway train, but I can easily get to my Gear Pouch for my headphones, or grab my keys or wallet, or slip my iPhone in or out of its pocket. Walking around town, I was pleased with how light the Muzetto is, and how well-constructed the non-slip strap is. The vertical design is great for weight distribution. My bag never once fell off my shoulder, even in high wind conditions, and I never experienced some of the squeaking or other rubbing metal noises I get from other bags with D-rings.

Despite its expensive leather look, the Muzetto also handled the rain quite well. My efforts to keep it dry with an umbrella proved futile, but in the end, despite getting quite wet, the leather exterior still maintained its beauty and softness. All in all, this bag is the perfect example of just how well designed, crafted, and executed any Waterfield product is. You really can tell the difference, and you really do feel like you are getting your money’s worth. I can’t think of any way that Gary could improve upon the design of this bag. Ultimately, this bag is going to travel with me everywhere, so I need to find it more than just functional. I need to be attached to it emotionally. And I am. Like all Waterfield products, the Portable Muzetto is made here in San Francisco, not a sweat shop in China. It’s made in an environmentally responsible way by people who are paid a fair wage. You could find plenty of cheaper bags on the market, but none that is of this quality. I highly recommend this bag, as well as many other fine products from Waterfield.