Our Favorite Laptop Sleeves and MacBook Pro Cases
Laptops are expensive, and if you’re worried about drops, scuffs, and spills, a laptop sleeve will give you an extra layer of protection between your thousand-dollar machine and the cold, hard ground. We researched and tested dozens of laptop sleeves to find nine in a variety of styles that will suit you regardless of whether you want something simple or refined, or with hardcore protection.
But before you buy a laptop sleeve, consider if you actually need one. Most backpacks, messenger bags, and briefcases already have a protective slot for your laptop. If you carry your laptop outside of a bag, a laptop sleeve might be what you need—but if you’re carrying a backpack anyway, it might not.
Customizable style: Society6 Sleeve
Solid construction, infinite patterns
Featuring the designs of countless artists, laptop sleeves sold by Society6 have a sturdy construction that should protect your laptop from bumps, even if the fit isn’t perfect.$38* from Society6
*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.
*For more designs visit society6.com
Who this is for: Someone who wants to show off a bit of visual flair on their laptop or wants to support an artist they already love.
Why it’s great: If you’re looking for a simple, soft sleeve that comes in an almost limitless number of designs, consider one from Society6. These sleeves are constructed with stiff canvas-style polyester, which protects against dust, scratches, and bumps, though they aren’t as soft as some sleeves we’ve liked in the past. The Society6 sleeves also include an industry-standard YKK zipper, which has a reputation for longevity.
The real draw of a Society6 sleeve is the huge variety of available designs. Artists can use the site as a platform to have their work printed on dozens of different items, including these sleeves, which means there are literally thousands of possible prints. They range from classically influenced to not-quite-mid-century, and from bold and colorful to fun and funny. And if there’s an artist you like who sells on Society6, it’s a good way to support them and show off their work.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Unfortunately, the Society6 sleeve has a slightly loose fit—most 13-inch laptops we inserted did not fill up the height or width of the 13-inch sleeve we tested, but the substantial microfiber lining stops the computer from moving too much.
Sizes: 13 inches, 15 inchesColors: countlessMaterial: polyester
A super-affordable sleeve: Tomtoc 360° Protective Sleeve
Bulky, but a good fit
This sleeve offers a snug fit and has a protective internal lining. But its front pocket, which barely holds a laptop charger, adds bulk.$26* from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $21.
Who this is for: People who want a thick, tightly fitting laptop sleeve that’s affordable but still offers protection against scuffs and spills—and are okay with it not looking as refined as a more expensive option and adding more bulk.
Why it’s great: The Tomtoc 360° Protective Sleeve is an affordable laptop sleeve that fits laptops better and offers more protection than most other similarly priced options. Unlike cases from brands like Mosiso and ProCase, which feel like they leave your computer swimming with far too much space to move, the Tomtoc closes snuggly around a variety of 13-inch laptops keeping them locked firmly in place. Bulkier than most more expensive sleeves, the Tomtoc emphasizes protection over size.
For something you’re going to spend $20 on, the Tomtoc is surprisingly attractive. While not as sleek or refined as some of our other picks, its comparatively simple silhouette belies its bulk, and it includes a small pocket for carrying a few extras. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, the model we reviewed has an attractive heather gray exterior with a stiff marled texture that gives enough grip that you’re unlikely to drop the Tomtoc, but it doesn’t feel rough or uncomfortable if you’re walking around campus with it in your hands all afternoon.
This stiff fabric is a little bit more water resistant than that on some of our other picks. When we sprayed it with a few blasts from a spray bottle, the water beaded on the surface and rolled right off. This should be plenty of protection if you have to run from your car and into a coffee shop during a light rain shower.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Tomtoc sleeve is bulky, partially due to the external pocket. The pocket is more functional than those on some other sleeves we tested—it can fit the MacBook charger if you unplug the USB-C cable from its brick—but it’s too thin to carry more than one or two items. If you’re using the sleeve within a backpack, you’d probably find it easier to just pack your accessories in other pockets.
Sizes: 12 inches, 12.3 inches, 13 inches, 13–13.5 inches, 15 inches, 15–15.4 inches, 15.6 inches
Colors: blue black, dazzling blue, grass green, gray, mint blue, baby pink
Cheap, simple, and available in just about every size: AmazonBasics Sleeve
Minimal protection in every size
This is an inexpensive no-frills laptop sleeve that comes well fitted for anything from a small tablet to a large laptop.$11 from Amazon
Who this is for: Anyone who has a device in a less common size, such a a 17-inch laptop, and wants to protect it.
Why it’s great: The AmazonBasics sleeve offers basic protection against scratches and scuffs for a good price, with size options suited for everything from a 7-inch tablet to a 17-inch laptop. These sleeves have a simple design, with soft neoprene construction. They consist of just a single pocket, no extra bells or whistles, but the design is well suited if you’re putting the whole sleeve in a backpack or messenger bag.
At less than $15 for a 13-inch sleeve, the AmazonBasics sleeves are extremely affordable, and they’re available in five-, 10-, or even 24-packs if you’re attempting to kit out an entire fleet of devices at once. However, the availability of colors and multi-packs varies substantially depending on the size you’re looking for.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The AmazonBasics sleeve fits a tad looser than the other sleeves we recommend. Its exterior is slightly rough to the touch, too, and it’s a little thin, which leaves your laptop a bit more susceptible to damage from bumps. It also has fairly obvious branding, but if you’re just looking for something cheap that will do the job, none of these things matter that much.
Amazon customers report that the purple version of the case has a tendency to transfer color to anything it touches—including a laptop—so you probably should avoid the sleeve in that color.
Sizes: 7 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches, 11.6 inches, 13.3 inches, 15.6 inches, 17.3 inchesColors: black, blue, gray, navy, purpleMaterial: neoprene
Complete protection: Thule Gauntlet 3.0
The most protection you can get
If you bring your laptop into precarious situations, this sleeve will offer enough protection to afford you complete peace of mind.Buy from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.
Who this is for: If you bring your laptop into precarious situations—hiking trips, bike commutes, or travels in a rainy climate—where there’s a real possibility of physical or liquid damage, you should consider this water-resistant, hard-shell case.
Why it’s great: The Thule Gauntlet 3.0 has a rigid clamshell design that zips along three of its four edges and can withstand more abuse than a padding-only design. The Gauntlet 3.0’s stiff sides offer about as much protection as you can get in a sleeve, and its water-resistant zipper helps keep liquids out. We filled the Gauntlet 3.0 with paper towels and then sprayed it with a kitchen-sink sprayer for 30 seconds to test its water resistance, and we found that only a little water soaked through the hinge. The inside was only a bit damp, and only near the hinge, and the Gauntlet 3.0 let in less water than any other water-resistant case we tested, aside from the original Gauntlet. We wouldn’t toss a Gauntlet-clad laptop into a lake, but some light rain and snow should be no danger to a computer encased in one of these. The Gauntlet 3.0 should also protect a computer from small falls or drops much better than a neoprene sleeve could, though we wouldn’t trust it to keep a laptop pristine after a tumble of more than a few feet—after all, it’s not certified to any shock-resistance standards.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: At 1.4 inch thick and weighing almost a pound, it’s almost twice as heavy as the Incase Classic Sleeve. The weight is spread out pretty evenly, so it’s not dense and it doesn’t necessarily feel heavy, but your back may notice the heft after a day of carrying this Thule sleeve around in a backpack. Those are the kind of sacrifices you have to make for this level of protection.
Sizes: 13 inches, 15 inches
Colors: dark shadow, potion/Aruba, storm/lichen
A stylish option: The Daily Edited Laptop Sleeve
Protection with style
This sleeve combines the aesthetics of a luxurious purse with an excellent fit and protection from bumps, scratches, dust, and a little water.$140 from The Daily Edited
Who this is for: If you want a sleeve that’s elegant and refined rather than techy, and you’re willing to pay for a leather case that would suit a more formal business setting.
Why it’s great: The Daily Edited sleeve has the aesthetics of a Kate Spade clutch or Coach purse—a more refined look than most of the other sleeves we recommend, and one that would suit an environment where you’re wearing business formal clothes a lot (or just wish you were). Its stiff saffiano leather not only withstands bumps, nicks, and water, but also gives the sleeve a lovely eye-catching, grippy texture, especially when paired with the sleeve’s smooth zipper (which comes in silver or gold). The 13-inch sleeve we tested perfectly fit most 13-inch laptops, including non-MacBooks, which means your computer won’t bounce around inside the sleeve as you travel. And yet, even though the fit was snug, we had no trouble expanding the sleeve open to retrieve our computer.
The Daily Edited allows you to monogram up to four characters or select emojis (yes, both the eggplant and peach are options) onto the sleeve in a few different fonts or colors for free. The initials we had monogrammed rendered well, with clear lines and no visible aberrations. You can add up to 10 characters and select from a few font options for a bit more money.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The sleeve from The Daily Edited has a very simple design: It’s basically just two sheets of leather stitched together, and it lacks the extra pockets and attachments of some other sleeves. This simplicity in such an expensive case is justified by the quality of the leather and other materials and its sleek style. If you’re looking to carry your laptop charger or pens and pencils with your computer in one package, you won't be able to do that with this sleeve.
Sizes: 12 inches, 13 inches, 15 inches
Colors: black, navy
No backpack necessary: Incase Sling Sleeve Deluxe
Comfortable to carry enough for a few hours
If you need something that’ll fit more than just your laptop, this bag is slim and comfortable to carry.Buy from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.
Who this is for: If you want a slimmer replacement for a backpack or messenger bag, with enough space to carry most of what you need for work or school.
Why it’s great: The Incase Sling Sleeve combines a great laptop sleeve with enough storage to carry most of what you’ll need to do your work—a laptop and its charger, your phone, a notebook, some pens, and cables. Every 13-inch computer we tested fit nicely in its internal pocket, with little space around the sides for the computer to bounce around, which made it stand out from other briefcase-style laptop sleeves we tested like the Targus Strata. The Incase bag is also padded and lined with soft faux fur, which helps it absorb shocks and drops.
The simple front pocket of the bag holds more than it looks like it would. We had no problem packing it with a laptop charger, portable USB power bank, and a few pens and pencils. And both the laptop compartment and front pocket of the Incase bag are held closed by zippers, which in our tests slid smoothly and never got caught when we needed to retrieve something from the bag.
Like other Incase bags we’ve tested, the Sling’s shoulder strap has a plush segment, making it more comfortable than cases with a thinner, non-padded strap. If you prefer to carry the bag by hand, the Incase has a thin handle, which has the same grippy texture as the bag’s nylon exterior. This fabric provides the bag a slight sheen that, in addition to a notable lack of loud branding, elevates its simple, technical design.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because the bag is so slim, you might find it hard to fit a tablet or other larger accessory without it taking space from your laptop inside your bag. If your second device is something smaller like an e-reader, you might be able to squeeze it in (or use the front pocket), otherwise you’d probably be better off with a briefcase or messenger bag.
Sizes: 13 inches, 15 inches
How we picked and tested
Our research turned up countless available laptop sleeves made by dozens of manufacturers. We used the following criteria to narrow down that list to a few promising candidates to bring in and test.
We couldn’t try every size of every sleeve, or every sleeve with every computer model, but we did test each sleeve with a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro. Once we had gathered our favorites, we checked to see whether those sleeves were available in multiple sizes and if the 13-inch sleeves we tested would fit a panel of 13-inch ultrabooks from various companies. We inserted each computer into each sleeve (one at a time, of course), checking for fit. We also evaluated features such as how the zippers glided, and we sprayed down the sleeves that promised some degree of water protection to see how well they kept moisture out. Once we identified some favorites, we tested those picks in real-world scenarios, traveling to places such as coffee shops and coworking spaces to see just how well the sleeves fit into our everyday routines.
What to look forward to
Incase has a number of new laptop sleeves that we’re hoping to look at soon, including models crafted from Lycra, polyester, and a knit material.
Leatherology has two other styles of laptop sleeves we’d like to test for our next update to this guide: the Gusseted Laptop Holder and the Laptop Clutch. We expect both to have the high-quality leather of the company’s laptop sleeve, which we tested and do not recommend, but appear to have a more robust external structure.
We’ve tested several dozen sleeves over the years for consideration in this guide. Here are the ones we’ve tested in 2018.
Herschel Spokane: The fit of this sleeve was extremely tight on our laptop, and the magnet holding the sleeve closed felt a little weak. And because its rough external fabric is so thin it offers little to no protection from bumps and nicks.
Mission Workshop The Spec: We were interested in the unique design of The Spec, which has a fold-over closure system unlike anything else we tested. That aspect of the sleeve worked perfectly; even when we turned the sleeve upside down and shook it, our laptop didn’t fall out. However, the laptop’s fit isn’t perfect and the front pocket is too thin to hold anything thicker than a few sheets of paper. The sleeve probably would be an excellent addition to one of Mission Workshop’s bucket bags, as its intended to be, but we don’t recommend it as a standalone item.
Mosiso Water Repellent Lycra Sleeve Bag: This sleeve came with favorable editorial write-ups and a relatively high Amazon rating. It also came with a smaller bag to carry your laptop charger or other miscellaneous accessories. Unfortunately, it didn’t offer a very good fit. Our laptop was practically swimming inside of its scratchy neoprene exterior. We also think that its gaudy logo makes it look much worse than our other picks.
ProCase Sleeve: Despite having a convenient front pocket with a surprisingly large capacity, this sleeve really underperformed in our tests. It was too large for our laptop and had a rough exterior. Plus, its handle was uncomfortable to actually use.
If you don’t love the aesthetics of The Daily Edited sleeve and have a MacBook, consider the more technical-looking Incase Icon with Diamond Ripstop Sleeve. The Incase’s nylon and polyester exterior is lighter and more water resistant than the leather of The Daily Edited sleeve. The sleeve is particularly thin, so it doesn’t offer a computer a ton of protection from hits on the top or bottom, but it does feature a bumper around the edge to absorb the impact of hits around the sides—if you’re using the sleeve within another bag, this isn’t a problem. The sleeve, which opens from the side, has a magnetic closure that’s stronger than others we’ve tested (including the one on the Herschel Spokane), so we never thought the laptop would accidentally slip past the magnets.
Apple Laptop sleeve: This slim sleeve fit our MacBook perfectly, as it’d have to in order to justify its price. Unfortunately, its soft leather exterior felt too thin to offer any protection, and was totally open on one side, as this sleeve doesn’t have any way of closing. If you only plan to use the sleeve inside of a bag, you might not mind this.
Killspencer Sleeve: This sleeve has an extremely tight fit that makes it difficult to get your laptop in and out of. Considering that this sleeve has no closure, this feels necessary, but it’s also pretty annoying when you actually want to use it. Plus, because the sleeve is so tight, the outline of your computer gets molded into the grain of the leather. If that’s something you’d want, you might be okay with the usability compromises. But, after some time, we think this leather will look more distressed than worn-in and loved.
Leatherology Laptop Sleeve: We liked the look of this premium sleeve more in photos than in person. Because it lacks a solid structure, even with the laptop inside, the sides of the sleeve sag and look baggy. That said, the leather is really nice and the zipper has a very smooth action, and if you’re looking for something with a more worn-in aesthetic, you might prefer the Leatherology sleeve over our other picks.
Picaso Lab Classic Sleeve: This sleeve was previously one of our stylish picks. When we tested it in 2016, we thought it offered a great value for a full-leather protector. However, the model we tested in 2018 looked cheap compared with the other premium models we considered. In addition, the sleeve didn’t quite fit our laptop as well as we would have liked—at times it felt like our computer was at risk of falling out of the open sleeve. We were also underwhelmed with the quality of the monogram we got on the sleeve.
Twelve South Journal: The Journal offers a secure, if a little too tight, fit—especially if you put anything in its small, hard-to-load internal document pocket. But despite its soft-leather appearance, the Journal’s exterior feels rigid and thin. We think you’d be better off with one of our other premium picks.
Welden Slim Sleeve: We really like the look of the Welden sleeve, which has a nice woven geometric pattern on the front, and we appreciate the small notebook pocket on the back. Unfortunately, the 13-inch model didn’t offer a good fit for our 13-inch laptop, which slid from side to side as we moved around—our other picks were more secure.
The Tomtoc 360° Protective Laptop Sleeve Bag is a more clunky-looking briefcase-style laptop sleeve than the Incase Sling Sleeve Deluxe, but it’s available in more colors and sizes and at approximately half the price—so it’s a solid option if you want to try the style but prefer to spend less. It has a lot in common with the Incase, as both models securely fit a laptop and have smooth zippers and pockets for other accessories. But the Tomtoc bag’s pockets are a little oddly sized: In our tests, both were big enough to carry laptop chargers, but neither could carry most books or notebooks. In addition, the Tomtoc’s shoulder strap has a lot less padding than the one on the Incase, so this model is less comfortable to carry.
Satechi Water-Resistant Laptop Case: This bag offered a really excellent fit for our computer, which felt snug in the internal compartment but was still easy to remove. It’s exterior had a lovely gentle texture, kind of like a pair of unworn jeans. However its arrangement of oddly sized external pockets couldn’t contain the gear we’d want on a trip to a coffee shop; no pocket was big enough for our notebook or deep enough for our laptop charger. In addition, the Satechi had no loops to attach a shoulder strap, which means you’d have to carry it with the handles. It’s comfortable enough, but we prefer the flexibility offered by something with a strap.
Targus Strata Laptop Sleeve: We liked the smooth texture of this laptop bag. Unfortunately, it offered a pretty loose fit for our computer, which felt insecure as we slung the bag on our shoulder, and its zipper felt a little cheap.
About your guides
Nick Guy is a former senior staff writer covering Apple and accessories at Wirecutter. He has been reviewing iPhones, iPads, and related tech since 2011—and stopped counting after he tested his 1,000th case. It’s impossible for him not to mentally catalog any case he sees. He once had the bright idea to build and burn down a room to test fireproof safes.