Waterfield Designs' Cozmo Bag
Last year, I reviewed the Cargo bag from Waterfield Designs. I've since acquired their latest offering, the Cozmo bag. Why did I desire another bag if the Cargo was so great? Because I'm obsessed, dear reader! I'm obsessed with great design and with my quest to find the perfect laptop bag. Also, the Cargo was informal, in a messenger bag sorta way. Since businesses are wary these days of anything that smacks of the "dot-com," I wanted something a little less "Dude, where's my Razor scooter?" and a little more "Yes sir, right away, sir" (if you know what I mean). The Cozmo seemed to fit the bill nicely.
The Cozmo has more of a traditional soft briefcase design, with a top zipper, handles and a clip-on strap. It is made in the same high-quality ballistic nylon and indium (Waterfield's colorful and high-tech trim fabric) as the Cargo, but with colors that are slightly subtler. Materials and workmanship are the best I've ever seen on nylon luggage. Makes Tumi look bad, and Tumi's definitely not bad. There are no exposed seams. The leather-wrapped handles are in a soft Pittards leather that's still tough.
Inside is a roomy main compartment, and a separate place for Waterfield's excellent SleeveCase that safely holds your laptop. The Cozmo's interior is similar to the Cargo but with more room. Its real design genius is in the exterior pockets. There are two of them, one on each side of the bag, and they're open. No Velcro closing them, in fact, there's no Velcro anywhere on this bag. This is a welcome change, since Velcro is the work of the devil, IMHO. At first, I thought the pockets would be terribly impractical without zippers. Then I had to catch the train. As the bag was slung around my shoulder, I dropped my hand straight into the pocket and right onto my train pass. No fumbling with zippers or flaps, just a quick dip, and there it was. It was a wonderful ah-hah experience. Once again, Gary Waterfield's keen sense of real-world design shines through.
I only have two complaints about the bag. The sizes are slightly awkward. The Cozmo comes in two sizes: small and large. The small bag can fit most compact laptops, including Apple's new 12" Powerbook and the iBook. The large bag will fit everything else, except possibly the new 17" Powerbook. As an everyday bag, I found the small to be just a bit too small and the large a bit too large. Without a computer in the bag, there's not enough structure to hold papers and folders without them shifting around and curling. The bag works great if you're carrying a lot of gear, but if you're carrying only a few items, it doesn't have enough structural integrity that such a briefcase requires. The problem could easily be solved with two thermoplastic stiffeners sewn between the lining and the outer shell of the bag.
My other complaint is with Waterfield's choice of a strap. When the Cozmo first came out, there was a plain nylon shoulder strap with a sliding shoulder pad - the same strap that's found on the Cargo bag. They replaced this with an "improved" strap that has a fixed Neoprene and elastic pad on it. The effect is like a spring, providing cushioning for heavy loads. But I found the older system to be better, as the sliding pad allowed the bag to mold more comfortable around your shoulder. Many people will likely prefer the new strap, but I wish buyers had a choice.
Even with these minor complaints, Waterfield bags are far better than any I've carried. Obviously, good design comes at a price. The small bag sells for US$140, the large for $150. But still, that's nowhere near as high as Tumi or Hartmann bags, and the quality here is superior. If you're looking for a great commuter bag that has dot-bomb realism written all over it, you can't go wrong with the Cozmo.Eric Diamond -[Saturday, January 18, 2003]