With back-to-school shopping in full swing, I’ve been asked lately, “what makes a good laptop case”.  The answers may surprise you, as it’s not always about the best name-brand bag, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.  Here are some of the suggestions I’ve been sharing with those looking for the best case for their needs:

  1. Consider A Sleeve With All-Around Padding.  Laptop sleeve’s are some of the most cost-effective cases to consider, and usually the first thing I suggest to everyone who gets a laptop.  They’re slim, and can easily be put into other fancy bags, but they’re not all made alike.  Make sure they have 360-degree, enforced padding around all corners.  Simply a flimsy neoprene sleeve is essentially worthless unless you’re protecting from scratches.  Make sure your sleeve passes this test: if you stand it up, does it curl and fall over on it’s own weight?  If it does….look for another case.
  2. Will You Use It Alone, Or In Another Bag?  Slim laptop sleeve’s are great, but most times they don’t have pockets for the charger, or an extra mouse, etc, making them inconvenient.  Finding a slim one that has a small pocket or two on the front is helpful to carry those minimal accessories, but not add a lot of excessive bulk.  Another thing to consider is finding a laptop sleeve that you plan to use inside of your backpack- meaning you put the laptop in the sleeve, and then put that into your backpack or tote.  It’s a great way to make that non-protective designer bag suddenly perfect for your needs!
  3. Beware Of “Built In Laptop Protection”.  Many backpacks today have a “laptop sleeve” built into the backpack, which in most cases simply means a felt-lined pocket that the laptop can slip into.  Unfortunately, most of the time those pockets offer no additional padding or protection from books or drops, meaning when that backpack is dropped onto the ground after a long day, it will likely damage the computer inside.  (Some of those big hiking/camping brands are notorious for this….having a several hundred dollar backpack, with nothing more than some mere fabric protecting them from a fall).  If you’re choosing a backpack with a pocket/sleeve built in, make sure it has ample, separate padding from the backpack itself to protect the computer if needed.  Make sure there’s more than a strap at the top holding it in place as well.
  4. Do You Fly A Lot?  If you’re a frequent flyer, consider a case with an easy-out for checkpoint security.  Some bags have a separate zipper just for the laptop so it can be quickly removed and placed into those dreaded grey bins when you’re in line at the airport.  One of the downfalls of having a laptop within a case inside a bag is that it’s more difficult to take out when you’re in line.  If you fly a lot, look for an all-in-one bag with ample padding and a built-in laptop padded compartment with its own external zipper.  They might cost a little more, but they’re worth it.

So….given all of these suggestions, what do I recommend, and what do I use?  My current favorite one is this from Tomtoc: http://amzn.to/2hgRv5H.  It’s light, offers reinforced padding all around, and can easily go in another bag if need be.  I’m impressed with the quality and padding, and especially the $30 price point.  Personally, I’m currently using this bag from STM: http://amzn.to/2uQCI4N, which has everything I’ve mentioned above.  The only caveat is that it’s a little costly, at over $100.  If you’re looking for a new bag, I’m happy to help and give you great suggestions to look at!