Protecting your precious laptop

By Mir
June 21, 2010

[As a quick aside: I have been seriously lacking, lately, on getting to questions that folks have mailed in. I have no excuse other than that I’m a terrible human being and also I’ve been sick and/or traveling more often than not, lately. I intend to mend my slacking ways. Honest!]

Pretty Kim writes:

Love Want Not, and am hoping you’ll have a definitive answer for my burning question.

What bag/case/sleeve do I buy to protect my brand-new, precious 15″ Macbook Pro???? For reference sake, when it’s not clutched firmly in my maybe-a-little-protective hands, it lives on my desk. I need to carry it away from the house rarely (sadly, because I really would like to have it with me all.the.time). I am leaving on a two week long vacation, by automobile, soonish, and will take it with me provided I find a suitable receptacle.

Would prefer something under $40 and am a sucker for free shipping.

Kim, this is actually a very easy one. Step into my office, won’t you…?

When someone is looking for a case in which to transport their computer, that’s when we all get overwhelmed by choice and end up in the fetal position in the corner. Because when you’re talking a bag with handles and/or straps, the options are nearly endless. It can get messy. But all Kim is looking for is a bit of protection for her new baby, and one can assume that said protection can then just either be tossed into the car or stuffed into another bag, etc. So.

One caveat I will suggest: Do buy something that’s what they’re calling “checkpoint-friendly,” just in case you ever decide to fly with your computer. Most “sleeves” for computers meet these guidelines, but—just for example—I know there are some very cool-looking cases shaped like giant envelopes, or whatever, and those would not meet TSA guidelines for not having to take your computer out, so I’d just suggest sticking to a simple clamshell design or something otherwise in compliance.

Alright, now—with that in mind, I’m going to tell you that if you’re willing to go to an actual store, you will be able to find a million different options just about everywhere. Helpful, right? Okay, fine. If you’d rather buy online, that works, too.

My favorite brand of protective sleeve for computers is Built (here’s an example of one at Amazon, for $26 shipped). Why? I don’t know; they make cool patterns, they have a nice sturdy amount of padding without being bulky, and they’re a brand that I think is reliable. I’ve also seen Built at most of the big box stores, so chances are you’ll see them everywhere if you decide to look around.

That said, if you just go search Amazon for 15″ laptop sleeves, you’re going to find a million options, and truthfully, if you’re just looking to protect from scratches and give a little padding, I don’t know that any one brand is going to be the clear choice over another. I quite like this Acme sleeve as well, and it’s only $18 (free Prime shipping or Super Saver Shipping eligible), and there’s a whole bunch of flowered sleeves with handles like this one that’re only $15. You don’t have to spend a lot, is my point.

There are some very cool options over on Etsy, but bear in mind that you will pay accordingly for handmade goods. Just sayin’.

And honestly? If you’re not that picky and you’re willing to surf the endcaps at Target, you can probably find something for under $10. It just depends on how much time you want to spend looking and whether or not you have a strong preference about what the bag looks like.

I hope that helps. Happy travels, and enjoy your computer!


  1. When I purchased my laptop, and again when I purchased my netbook earlier this year, I surfed over to eBay to look for neoprene cases. (Here are some results: ) I bought one for each computer, and they’ve held up REALLY well. These are just the generic jobbies–nothing super fancy. They’re zippered all around, have a small pocket for carrying cords, etc., and were CHEAP. But they protect from spills and scratches, and show no signs of slowing down. I’ve got bags and briefcases for more attractive carrying options, but when it comes to protection–these definitely do the job and they’re really inexpensive!

  2. Sorry for the double-post–just looked, and I’m almost certain this ( ) is the exact case I have for my laptop, although mine is orange. 🙂 I’ve been using it for 2.5 years with great results! And you can’t beat the price–$9 shipped!

  3. I just made a scratch protector type case for my husband’s tablet. 2 layers of fabric around a thick layer of quilting batting, all sewn together. He wanted velcro closures, so that’s what I did. So, if you are handy, you can do something yourself.

  4. I’ve had great success at tjmaxx.

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