Review : Cargo Mambo Combo Bag

A sturdy and stylish bag for all seasons.

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: WaterField Designs

Price: $199 - $289 US

The Good

  • Fantastic attention to detail. Innovative buckle and strap. Plenty of space and pockets.

The Bad

  • No waterproof zippers. More padding in the bag would be nice. Site doesn\'t include zipper size and wet weather information.
The Cargo Bag from WaterField Designs ( will spoil you. The attention to detail rivals or surpasses the laptop it carries. It is easily the best shoulder bag I have used, with some conveniences that are truly innovative.

The Wow Elements

The features that may just push you over the edge into coveting this bag include the clip and strap. While you can choose from one of two aluminum buckles, the clip on the bag I reviewed is the new para-glider-style, and it is very smooth. The action is hard to describe, but it is released by pressing evenly on both sides and it feels very sturdy. It can be opened with one hand. I prefer its permanently attached shoulder strap than a hooked-on strap. I find hooks get caught on things and are more likely to break. The excess strap is gathered in a nifty system on one side that clamps down first, then tucks the remainder away neatly under a flap.

Plenty of Space

The laptop compartment, one of many large compartments, is behind the flap, not under it, so you can retrieve your laptop without opening the entire case. The front of the flap has a large exterior pocket, and there is another pocket under the flap. All pockets, except the Velcro magazine pocket, are zipped closed, even under the flap. No indication if the zippers were waterproof, though.

Don't Forget the Sleeve

There is little padding in the Medium Cargo Bag, so I recommend you use a laptop sleeve. The Waterfield Designs sleeve is fantastic, it has some of the spongiest padding I've ever felt. The sleeves are high-grade neoprene and the outside is ballistic nylon, I tried the bag with other brands of sleeves, hard plastic to sheer microfiber, and the bag fit all of them.

Cargo Bag

Cargo Bag Detail - WaterField Designs

In fact, the bag can fit quite a bit of hardware. I am a schoolteacher by day, so I tend to carry my laptop, brick, and batteries, and whatever else I need connect to my network. I also toss in books, papers, and lunch. I have backpacks that hold more than the Cargo bag, but it's horrible fishing through a huge backpack for a single CF card. The Cargo Bag not only has plenty of pockets and dividers, the Medium Gear Pouch that comes with the Cargo Mambo Combo is just a wonder. It's just a simple, pouch, but it is so much easier than stuffing coiled cables down the throat of a huge backpack.

Lot of Choices

The Cargo Bag comes in eleven color combinations, and three sizes. The outside flap can be either leather or Indium. Make sure you choose your sleeve carefully, as they are sized to fit your computer snugly. There are actually 40 different sizes from which to choose. WaterField has a handy chart on the Laptop Sleeve page to help you order the correct one. You can also view the bags in each color scheme. Prices for the bags range from $169 to $289, depending on size, flap material, and accessories desired. The large bag I tested is suitable for 17" laptops, and weighs 4.3 lbs empty.

Built to Last

The build quality of the bag is really astounding. Everything feels very solid, everything feels properly placed and proportional. When stuffed, zippers don't stretch at their seams, and the buckle doesn't creak under the load. The included shoulder strap is comfortable and foamy, much like the sleeve case. Attention has been paid to every detail, and WaterField Designs has truly produced a shoulder bag that is superior to many of those found at most retailers. These bags are also produced completely in San Francisco.

Please see the MacNN Blogs area for a comment on our bag reviews from the Editor.