The Drop: WaterField Designs Air Porter Backpack

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It’s a big EDC market out there, and tons of awesome gear is released all the time. We made The Drop to help you discover the latest and greatest essentials worth a spot in your EDC.

A carry-on bag can sometimes be overkill when traveling fast and light on a plane. Often, you don’t need to pack a carry-on roller or backpack to the brim, and once you’re at your destination, even a TSA-compliant bag might be too bulky for your needs. Another downside of a carry-on-sized bag is that if you run out of overhead space, the airline will force you to gate-check your essentials, which can get lost or broken in the cargo compartment and baggage handling system. To deal with this problem, WaterField Designs out of San Francisco has designed a new travel bag called the Air Porter. It’s a 22L backpack that precisely fits the under-seat storage for most major American airlines, and it ensures you’ll always have what you need when you need it when a regular carry-on doesn’t work for you.

The key feature that sets the Air Porter apart from other options is the structural plastic and triple-layered foam padding built into its design. That makes it comfortable to wear on your back. It also provides a lot of rigidity and protection for the crucial valuables you choose to pack inside. With that padding, you can feel comfortable using the built-in 15″ laptop and 13″ tablet pocket. Covering that padding is exceptionally durable and abrasion-resistant 1680D ballistic nylon, with full-grain leather accents for a touch of class. 1680D ballistic nylon will help keep out the rain, and the waterproof YKK zippers also help.

The top external pockets keep active noise-canceling headphones and other small essentials at easy reach when on board. The backpack straps tuck into a fold of the bag to avoid getting tangled up in small storage spaces. A luggage passthrough means the Air Porter integrates well with a rolling carry-on or checked bag when packed for a more extensive trip or vacation.

Because the WaterField Air Porter is the precise size of the under-seat storage, you’re sacrificing leg space and the little comfort a coach seat provides you to store your travel and tech essentials. But when you find yourself flying a budget carrier that nickels and dimes you for every amenity, that tradeoff can become worth the trouble the more flights you take. And while plenty of small bags fit in that space, the Air Porter’s innovative design makes it uniquely suited for the job.

What we like: This is the first bag that meets most planes’ exact dimensions of in-flight under-seat storage spaces. Its unique and innovative design stands out from other bags. It fills a niche use case that some travel EDC enthusiasts have wanted for a long time.

What to watch out for: This bag’s immense practicality, combined with WaterField’s attention to detail and build quality, comes with a price. At over 400 dollars, the Air Porter may be out of range of many EDC budgets. But if you have the money to spend, this is the (literal) best-in-slot bag if you’re trying to maximize your airline EDC without bringing a large carry-on bag.

Final verdict: The WaterField Designs Air Porter backpack is hard to beat if you’re trying to maximize your travel storage. Whether using it alone or trying to get the most space when you move from place to place, look no further than the Air Porter to fill that need.

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