Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Waterfield Shield Case for Apple Vision Pro review: Way better for travel than Apple’s case

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Apple Vision Pro

is a scary combination of expensive and fragile, so the Waterfield Shield Case is here to protect the device while remaining stylish and compact.

Waterfield Shield Case review: compact for travel

Apple did release a Travel Case for Apple Vision Pro, but it proved too impractically large and ostentatious for the job. Thankfully, the designers at Waterfield showed up with the much more practical Shield Case.

I made a distinction in the Travel Case review I’d like to make here. There is a difference between a travel case and a storage case, and sometimes a case can be both.

The Waterfield Shield Case for Apple Vision Pro is most definitely a travel case. You have to remove the band from the headset before putting it in the case, making it a less convenient option for daily storage.

However, having the smallest but most protective case is paramount for travel. I believe the Shield Case hits a perfect medium here, and it looks great doing it.

I also checked out Waterfield’s recommended companion bag — the Air Porter Backpack. I’ll discuss its utility throughout the review as well.

Waterfield Shield Case review – Design

I opted for the waxed canvas bag with chocolate leather because I’m a dork who loves the “Indiana Jones” aesthetic. There are alternate leather options and 1050 denier ballistic nylon material, plus the option to have no leather at a lower price.

Waterfield Shield Case review: design with attention to detail

Regardless of the external material, every Shield Case is a 7.5-inch tall by 7.75-inch long by 5.25-inch deep bag. It weighs 1.3 pounds with canvas or 1 pound otherwise.

Waterfield is known for its attention to detail in its design. The waxed canvas is a heavy-duty 14 oz material that can be re-waxed if needed.

The zipper pulls have a black coating that won’t scratch off and holes allowing a lock to slide through. The zippers are waterproof.

The interior is padded with high-grade neoprene, which is a thick cushioning for Apple Vision Pro. The small accessory case has neoprene around the outer edge to rest against the lenses without damaging them.

Waterfield Shield Case review: cushioned protection

The bag feels rugged and protective. I won’t dribble it like a basketball, but Apple Vision Pro feels safe packed inside.

The Shield Case is the exact size and shape needed to fit the Apple Vision Pro without a strap attached. So, you’re meant to remove the Solo Knit Band or Dual Loop Band before inserting the headset.

The accessory pouch can hold a charger, band, cable, and cleaning cloth. There are dedicated slots for the Zeiss Optical Lenses if you want to store them separately.

Waterfield Shield Case review: battery storage, no cable management

There is a slot in the bag’s lid for the external battery. It lacks any kind of cable management, so you just kind of shove it all into the slot.

The outside of the lid has a zippered compartment. It can’t hold much, but it has a hidden AirTag slot.

Air Porter Backpack

It was important for Waterfield to design the Shield Case with travel and modularity in mind. It works great as a shoulder bag, but it also slips into several of the company’s backpacks and duffles without issue — which isn’t possible with Apple’s Travel Case.

Waterfield Shield Case review: fits in other Waterfield bags

I got to try out the Air Porter Backpack. It is on the large side at 22 liters, bigger than my biggest fully expanded to 21 liters.

The color-matched waxed canvas with a chocolate leather panel makes it look like the Shield Case’s larger sibling. This bag is made of pockets and compartments and has become my new favorite travel bag.

It is built with travel in mind, so it can slip under an airline seat and provide access to the upper pockets. I can fit my entire office in this bag with space left over.

  • A side compartment holds my cables and chargers, including a fold-up 3-in-one charger I prefer.
  • The other side compartment perfectly fits my Hidrate Spark water bottle.
  • There is a slim front pocket for quick access to documents, passports, or other thin objects.
  • The top pocket can fit your iPhone, a spare battery pack, etc.
  • A spare top compartment is perfect for an optional “Air Caddy” that holds an iPad mini or Nintendo Switch.
  • The main compartment is a vast space for the Shield Case.
  • Main compartment pockets include a laptop sleeve, tablet sleeve, and zippered pouch.
  • Waterfield Shield Case review: plenty of space for more stuff with Shield Case inserted

    After packing my 14-inch MacBook Pro, 13-inch iPad Pro, Apple Vision Pro, portable mechanical keyboard, Magic Trackpad, iPad mini, chargers, batteries, and cables, I had space left in the main compartment for more. On one recent trip, I used the extra space to hold my HomePod mini that’s attached to a battery pack and a game controller.

    It really is the perfect companion to the Shield Case.

    Waterfield Shield Case review – built for travel

    The most important part of the Shield Case is its size. Even without the Air Porter Backpack, it feels like an excellent option for Apple Vision Pro. I can easily carry it alone with a handle or shoulder strap, and it even fits in my other 21-liter bag.

    Waterfield Shield Case review: half the size of Apple’s Travel Case

    That was the biggest flaw with Apple’s Travel Case. It was large and couldn’t fit in any bag reasonably.

    Waterfield’s Shield Case is focused on a single very important use case — being as portable as possible with little compromise. The need to remove the band is a compromise, but otherwise, it is as small as it can be without removing more parts.

    Apple Vision Pro has a unique form factor that requires a specific kind of case, bag, or container. Unlike laptops and tablets, it won’t just slide into any bag without a risk of damage.

    The Shield Case is a travel bag purpose-built for Apple Vision Pro and its base accessory set. It doesn’t have room for a Magic Trackpad or keyboard.

    Waterfield Shield Case review: no space for additional accessories

    So far, no one has built the “laptop bag” of VR headsets. I’d love to see an all-in-one shoulder bag that fits Vision Pro with a keyboard, trackpad, and other necessary accessories.

    Instead, the Shield Case is meant to house the Apple Vision Pro and be small enough to be inserted into another bag. It isn’t a complete solution.

    So, for those trying to go Apple Vision Pro-only, you’ll still need more than one bag. This may be due to accessory makers expecting users to carry some other bag alongside the travel case, like for carrying a MacBook Pro. It is being treated like an addition or accessory, but that could change with time.

    For now, I like having the complete solution of the Waterfield Shield Case and Air Porter Backpack. I can comfortably carry everything I need while traveling without worrying about the fragile Apple Vision Pro.

    Bag in a bag

    Waterfield embraces a simple concept I’ve enjoyed when packing for anything from day trips to week-long ventures. It’s the idea that you’d have multiple smaller bags ready to go that can be readily packed into a larger bag for quick, headache-free planning.

    Waterfield Shield Case review: bags all the way down

    For example, you could have the Air Caddy insert ready with Nintendo Switch accessories, the Shield Case with Vision Pro accessories, and the Air Porter with travel stands and other products. When it’s time to pack for the trip, each bag already has the accessories needed for that device, so all you need is to add the device and then pack the small bag into the larger bag.

    Shield Case is the perfect execution of this mentality and fits my travel planning style. I can either take the Shield Case with me separately or pack it into a larger bag, always ensuring Apple Vision Pro is in a safe and protective bag.

    If you’re in the market for a well-designed travel case for Apple Vision Pro, don’t bother with Apple’s Travel Case. Get the Shield Case. It’s that simple.

    Waterfield Shield Case review – Pros

    • Precise and cushioned storage for Apple Vision Pro
    • Premium materials and a well-thought-out design
    • Compact, but holds everything you need
    • Perfect fit for the Air Porter Backpack
    • Hidden AirTag slot
    • Option for shoulder strap

    Waterfield Shield Case review – Cons

    • Requires removing the strap from Vision Pro
    • No cable management for external battery pack

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5

    I actually think this is the perfect travel bag for Apple Vision Pro, at least the best one I’ve encountered so far. However, I can’t ignore the fact that it requires removing the strap from Apple Vision Pro, which reduces its utility slightly.

    If Waterfield compromised by making the bag big enough to leave the straps on, it would lose ground as a compact travel bag. I believe they made the right call.

    How to buy the Waterfield Shield Case

    The Shield Case is $179 from Waterfield when it is configured with leather. Those options include chocolate, white, and black leather on ballistic material or canvas with chocolate leather.

    The $159 options are all-ballistic material in black and all-forza in blue.

    Get the Air Porter Backpack for $419 from Waterfield. It is available in chocolate, black, crimson, and waxed options.

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