gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

SFBags / WaterField Designs CitySlicker for Steam Deck Review

WaterField Design have been around for what seems like forever. I first tested a CitySlicker* for the PlayStation Vita more than 10 years ago and I’ve been working with them sporadically since 2010. In the intervening years WaterField have changed very little, refined a few things, and succeeded to stay consistently excellent.

* – I don’t think it was called CitySlicker back then, but it’s so visually similar that I’m going to roll with it. (Plot twist, it was called CitySlicker!)

In fact I still have the PS Vita case to this day. It wears 10 years of not quite constant (let’s face it the Vita didn’t exactly take off) use like a badge of honor. Scuffs and marks adorn the leather upper case leaving an antique-like patina that lends the case some character and makes it unique. My point is- a CitySlicker will age well, and the bits that do wear look good.

Always happy to share good stuff! Still rocking your PSVita case 😀 it has been going strong and keeping my precious Vita shiny and protected for over 6 years!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) August 24, 2018

So what of the Steam Deck CitySlicker? It retains much of the DNA from the PS Vita version, providing little pouches for SD cards, a main, soft interior pocket for the device and a rear, mesh exterior pocket for cables, chargers and other gubbins. The Steam Deck’s larger size and ergonomic design lend it a little void between the hand grips. WaterField have chosen to fit another internal, padded pocket here and it’s excellent for storing a USB Type-C hub (I’m using the Anker 11-in-1 USB Type-C hub) or a small/folding Bluetooth keyboard.

And here it is today! It’s aged well and kept my Vita together with its precious USB charging cables.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) March 14, 2022

I chose to test the white leather CitySlicker. This design was ostensibly for the gorgeous Black/White OLED Nintendo Switch and there was some confusion over whether it would be available for the Steam Deck too. Fortunately it is- and it looks stunning!

The upper flap is crafted from two layers of full-grain leather. The outer layer is around 3mm thick and the inner layer around 1.5- though I’m eyeballing these numbers since the battery in my calipers has died. It feels reassuringly durable as nearly a half centimeter of leather should. The lower part of the flap- where it would contact the top edge of your Steam Deck- is coated with a soft lining that continues throughout the case interior. The screen has an additional suede padded layer in front of it. This doubles as a pouch if you’re brave enough (or have anything thin enough) to use it. It’d be a good place for the cleaning cloth supplied with the Deck or, if you’re paranoid, a bit of extra foam padding of your choice. This layer also extends to lend additional protection to the touchpads, too.

Hookay I kinda expected it but the @SFBags SteamDeck case makes even the 512GB premium one look like hot garbage! Slots for cables and SD cards, loops for a shoulder strap and ooooh the white leather looks so good ?

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) March 14, 2022

On the front of the case- concealed beneath the flap when it’s closed- are five slots for full-sized SD cards, you can stick microSD to SD adapters in these to convert them into smaller slots and tote around a collection of SD cards for different gaming setups- emulators, native ports, etc. Inside the rear pouch are another five tiny elasticated pockets for microSD cards. These have inverted U-shaped cutouts that make it easy to slide out the SD cards.

The flap is secured with two strong magnetic clasps. These can be a little fiddly to get into position, but lock together with a satisfying snap when you do. For the most part the magnets hold the flap closed without being properly locked into position so I usually don’t bother. When they line up, they snap together firmly and hold the pouch closed even during vigorous upside-down shaking. Don’t ask me how I know… I did it over a bed, okay, it was all fine!

In the ten years between the PS Vita CitySlicker to the SteamDeck CitySlicker @SFBags switched up the old push fit fasteners to this magnetic sorcery. In a pinch they’re strong enough to hold shut misaligned, but line ‘em up and they stick like uh… a sticky thing… to a blanket.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) June 29, 2022

The rear pouch is secured with a zip. The zipper itself snaps flush against the back of the case, locking the zip closed and staying neatly out of the way. It feels somewhat over-specced for its task of closing a small rear pocket, but you can be sure it wont work its way loose. It zips/unzips smoothly without snagging. It goes without saying that it feels infinitely better than the rather poor zip on the Deck’s official case, the zippers of which dangle like a pair of cheap earrings.

Check out that pert, vicarious, luxury zipper on the @sfbags CitySlicker versus the flappymcdangles of the official Steam Deck case!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) June 21, 2022

A couple of small loops on either end of the CitySlicker accommodate a small strap for carrying over your shoulder. I tend to tuck the whole thing into my backpack… I like to be discreet.

While it looks pretty big, this case is surprisingly much-for-muchness with the official Steam Deck case. I was packing light for a trip to Pimoroni HQ and was contemplating a swap to the official case to save bag space. It turns out the squishiness of the CitySlicker might just edge out the harder official case, though some might count that against it!

Thought the lovely @SFBags case would be bigger than the official Steam Deck one but… it’s really not!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) June 14, 2022

Neither the official case nor the CitySlicker are especially weatherproof. (You know that the official case is probably made of cardboard right?) Both can take a splash of rain, and the CitySlicker unfortunately does a slightly worse job of keeping dust, dirt and weather out of the shoulder buttons since the upper corners at the extremes of the top flap are both open to the elements. It closes pretty tightly but I can still get my fingers through the sides and onto the shoulder buttons- fingers are definitely bigger than dust… right? That said, the inside of my bag is not that dirty!

The internal pocket and large external mesh pocket beat out the official case for carrying capacity. You could tuck a *small* dock, keyboard, mouse and the power supply into the CitySlicker. Emphasis on small though- a folding Bluetooth keyboard might be just the ticket.

Enough room in the @SFBags case for the USB Type-C hub! The AC adapter is sort of awkwardly stuffed in the pouch at the back though!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) June 10, 2022

Overall I consider the CitySlicker a worthwhile upgrade to the official case. It’s a heck of a lot pricier but I don’t doubt it’ll last longer, it has more carrying capacity and it certainly looks better and every detail is carefully considered. Counting against it is the use of real leather – which may turn up some noses, I get it! – and the reduction in protection on the corners. In its favour are its impeccable style and that warm fuzzy feeling that someone in San Francisco was paid to hand-assemble it for you.

You can grab your very own CitySlicker for Steam Deck from WaterField Designs. It’s available in eight different colours, with white being my favourite and Grizzly Leather a close second.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022, Steam Deck.