WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck review: Subtle and stylish with space for essential extras

This rugged pouch offers flexible travel options for your portable PC.

WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck
(Image: © Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

WaterField Designs is one of the few manufacturers currently offering a travel pouch for Steam Deck with more flexibility than a hard-shell case. Featuring a more subtle design than Valve's official version, this rugged option has a super-soft lining with extra protection around the screen. There are only a few pockets for skinny accessories, and you might need some upgrades if your region has a chunky AC adapter.

Pros

  • +

    Rugged exterior with plush insides.

  • +

    Modest design for subtle transit.

  • +

    Enough space for the basics.

Cons

  • -

    No third-party retailers.

  • -

    Bulky AC adapters won't fit.

  • -

    Thumbsticks aren't protected.

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Part of the appeal of Valve's handheld Steam Deck PC-meets-console is the inclusion of a free hard shell carry case. It's certainly a robust offering, but not so compact. While the official variant has a carry handle and some spare compartments, there's no subtlety to walking around with a case decorated with a logo of its contents.

Based out of San Francisco, WaterField Designs manufactures stylish and functional accessories for all manner of hardware. Currently offering a small selection of cases for Steam Deck, this nylon pouch offers convenient protection in various colors. I spent a few days with their Steam Deck pouch to determine if it's worth the asking price.

Pouch for Steam Deck: Price and availability

WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck in Forza green (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

WaterField Designs sells the pouch for Steam Deck exclusively through its first-party store for $79 and is available in various colors, including waxed canvas, black ballistic, Forza blue, Forza green, and Forza red. An additional carabiner is available with any choice for an extra $3.

WaterField has provided us with a Forza green sample which measures 34.29 x 4.44 x 11.68cm and weighs 16g when empty.

Pouch for Steam Deck: What's good

WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck with console (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

My first impressions of the Steam Deck pouch matched my expectations; it's a rugged nylon case with no signs of poor or lazy construction. Some mass-produced accessories often exhibit evidence of corner cutting, with frayed stitches weakening handles that keep you from trusting them to protect your expensive hardware. Thankfully, no red flags appeared during my initial inspection.

A carry loop is fixed to the left side and held up against harsh pulling. The Steam Deck is a weighty console, heavier than the Nintendo Switch, so a single handle needs to be reliable. Both zips for the main compartment and side pockets are relatively unassuming, but the grips sport a cute little WF motif on one side. There are subtle company logos dotted around, but nothing to loudly announce that you're carrying an expensive console.

Part of the marketing for this pouch shows it inside larger bags from the range, which makes more sense than carrying it separately. Still, it's rugged enough to put my mind at ease and more flexible than a cumbersome hardshell case. Competing against the official option means the interior needs to pack some substantial padding to protect the 7-inch screen of your Steam Deck, and opening it up shows that Waterfield Designs understood the assignment.

WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck side pocket (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The inside of this pouch features a plush lining, which is likely what you expected. It's softer than the material inside the official case, but you lose the stiff plating. Fortunately, WaterField Designs went an extra step with an additional, double-thick wall shaped around the Steam Deck screen that also acts as a slim storage sleeve.

Naturally, you won't want to stuff too much into this skinny pocket since it's doing most of the work of protecting precious glass, but I was able to slip in a couple of microSD cards in protective jewel cases.

A double-thick wall shaped around the Steam Deck screen also acts as a slim storage sleeve.

The design aesthetic stands out the most inside the front zip pocket, banded with gold nylon liner in a hexagon pattern and another motif reminding you this pouch was home-grown in San Francisco.

It had me thinking of the yellowish color themes in the futuristic Deus Ex games and that I should immediately install those on Steam Deck.

This front section is far better suited to bulkier accessories and is where I kept a USB-C dock for connecting extra peripherals. There's a separate pouch inside to keep external storage devices or whatever else you need. Depending on your region, this section might not have enough space to store your AC adapter, leading to one of the only downsides of this pouch.

Pouch for Steam Deck: What's not so good

WaterField Designs pouch for Steam Deck with thumbstick (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Since I'm working from the United Kingdom, I get the chunky three-pronged AC adapter provided by Valve. It's not transformable and has no chance of fitting inside this pouch, unlike the much skinnier two-pronged USA variant. This unfortunate issue isn't a blemish on WaterField Designs; they operate in the States, so catering to your home audience makes sense.

Still, international shipping is available, so you need to consider which accessories you plan to take during your travels. Finding a compatible USB-C adapter with a more compact, transformable design could get you around this minor issue. Always remember: match the power rating on unofficial adapters and double-check compatibility before plugging anything into your Steam Deck.

The only other concern I had with this pouch was the safety of protruding thumbsticks when transporting the Steam Deck. Valve's official carry case has cut-out sections to prevent them from being knocked or twisted during transit, but there's nothing inside this soft variant to match. They're not so common, though anyone with access to a 3D printer could try thumbstick protectors (via Printables) to keep them rigid and safe from damage.

Pouch for Steam Deck: The competition

Steam Deck official carry case (Image credit: Miles Dompier | Windows Central)

Any company designing carry cases and pouches for Steam Deck immediately compete with the free hardshell variant provided by Valve. As I mentioned earlier, the official option is robust and offers plenty of protection, but far from subtle with a print of the console's logo. Anyone looking to transport the handheld with a little more style and versatility will likely pick up a replacement at some point, with soft pouches offering more options.

Searching on Amazon currently offers mostly hardshell cases, even when specifying soft pouches. Some cheap options are available, made from felt and other materials, but feature images of the usual suspicious 3D render and no real-world photographs of the Steam Deck stored inside. It's a fairly standard practice used by companies targeting the cheapest price point, making it difficult to commit to a purchase.

Right now, it's tricky to recommend alternatives for a flexible Steam Deck pouch. The cheap options regularly disappear from storefronts, then resurface a few weeks later under a different brand name with the same product images. You can find more affordable variants, but $79 feels like a fair shake for the WaterFront Design models. An unfortunate downside to first-party-only sales is you won't be able to use any store credit or vouchers you might have from other retailers.

Pouch for Steam Deck: Should you buy?

You should buy this if ...

  • You don't need to transport too many bulky accessories.
  • You have access to a slim AC adapter for the console.
  • You want a stylish and flexible Steam Deck pouch.

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You need to travel with larger accessories.
  • Your region uses a large AC adapter with no alternatives.
  • You want to protect the Steam Deck thumbsticks during transit.

WaterField Designs have hit the mark with this versatile pouch, keeping your Steam Deck secure for quick journeys or even safer when stored inside large luggage. Available in various colors to match your other travel accessories, it features high-quality construction and enough space to store the essentials.

Restricting sales to a first-party storefront isn't ideal for those who prefer to shop elsewhere, but the price point is fair. It's a rugged pouch that should last for many years and remains one of the best Steam Deck cases. Remember to check the AC adapter for your region since some are too bulky to fit in any side section and might need a replacement.

Ben Wilson
Channel Editor

Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another.