Made in the United States, this test was originally published in English on the Wirecutter website. You can read it here in its original version.
A laptop is expensive. If you are afraid of dropping your own, scratching it or spilling a liquid on it, you can opt for a cover as an extra layer to protect your device at 1000 euros from hard and cold soil. We've reviewed and tested dozens of covers to choose from nine in a variety of styles to suit your needs, whether you're looking for a basic model, an elegant cover, or a hard shell for all-round protection.
But before buying laptop protection, ask yourself if you really need it. Most backpacks, bags and briefcases (guides in English) already include a padded location provided for this purpose. If you carry yours by hand, a cover can be useful. If you already have a backpack, maybe not.
The complete guide
Light and thin: Incase Classic
For who : for people looking for a simple model, with enough protection to avoid scratches and minor blows, that fits perfectly to their laptop without taking up too much space unnecessarily.
Why this model: theIncase Classic Sleeve offers an excellent fit with ease. It completely envelops your computer, with padding on all sides (and a little more along the edges) to protect it from dust, scratches and light knocks. The cover fits enough so that your MacBook or equivalent size laptop does not wander from one side to the other, but without being too tight to the point of being difficult to put on and off, and its surface Outside is textured to facilitate handling and transport.
The Incase Classic Sleeve offers a good compromise between size and protection. Brand covers like Tomtoc and Thule are more bulky, with more padding, and the more expensive leather covers are thinner, but do not help against falls. We believe that the Incase Classic Sleeve is a good balance: extra protection, without taking up half of your backpack.
We also preferred the aesthetics of the Incase to that of similar covers. Unlike the AmazonBasics model, for example, the Classic cover does not have a garish label with the name of the brand. It sports just two small reproductions of the Incase logo (representing a leaf) on the side and at the zipper. And unlike the ProCase we tested, the Incase zipper is very fluid and never stuck, which gives us hope that it will last a long time.
Non-crippling defects: this style of cover protects only against light knocks, dust and scratches. If you're looking for something more robust, take a look at the Thule Gauntlet.
sizes: 12 inches, 13 inches, 15 inches
colors: aquifer, black, mauve, orchid, aubergine, anthracite
Also to consider: the cover Society6
Robust manufacturing and an infinite choice of patterns
Featuring the graphic designs of a large number of artists, the computer cases sold by Society6 are solid and should therefore protect your computer against blows, even if the fit is not perfect.
* This product is currently unavailable in France
* To see more creations, visit society6.com
If you do not like the look of the Incase Classic, take a look at the models of the brand Society6. These covers are made of a softer canvas-style polyester, which offers a level of protection against dust, scratches and knocks similar to Incase nylon. Unfortunately, the cover Society6 is a little less well adjusted. We tested the 13-inch model and most laptops of this size that we slid into did not touch the edges, neither in height nor in width. Fortunately, the thick microfiber lining prevents the computer from moving too much. The Society6 includes a standard YKK zipper, which is known to last. And if you ever know a particular artist who sells his graphic designs to Society6, you can support his work by buying a cover.
Our choice of cover not too expensive: Tomtoc 360 °
Tomtoc 360 °
Voluminous, but well adjusted
This cover fits the shape of the computer and includes a protective lining. But his front pocket, which can just accommodate a charger, takes up space.
* At the time of publication, the price was € 17.99
For who : for people looking for a thick, well-fitting laptop cover that's affordable, while protecting against scratches and splashes; and for those who do not mind that this cover is less elegant than its competitors more expensive, and more cumbersome.
Why this model: the Tomtoc 360 ° cover is a cover that fits better with laptops and offers better protection than most other models at an equivalent price. Unlike brand cases like Mosiso and ProCase, in which the computer swims because it has too much space, the Tomtoc perfectly fits the contours of different computers 13 inches by keeping them in place. Larger than the majority of its more expensive competitors, the Tomtoc puts the protection before the size.
For a product that costs about twenty euros, the Tomtoc sports a surprisingly successful aesthetic. If it is less fine or elegant than some of our other choices, its sleeker silhouette conceals its volume and includes a small pocket for carrying accessories. It comes in different colors and sizes, and the model we had in our hands has a beautiful gray exterior coating, with a rigid woven texture that hangs enough not to let it slip. It is not rough or uncomfortable if you have to carry it all afternoon.
Its rigid material is a little more watertight than other models we have chosen. When we sprayed it several times with a vaporizer, the water beaded on the surface and flowed right away. It should therefore provide sufficient protection if you ever have to run from your car to a coffee in light rain.
Non-crippling defects: the cover Tomtoc is much larger than the Incase Classic and the Society6, especially because of its outer pocket. This pocket is more functional than other covers we tested: it can accommodate the MacBook's charger by unplugging the USB-C cable from the brick. But she is too thin to slip more than one or two elements. If you use the cover in a backpack, it will surely be easier to place 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: bluish black, bright blue, green grass, gray, blue green, light pink
Also consider: the AmazonBasics cover
The AmazonBasics cover offers basic protection against scratches and knocks, at a good price, with a choice of sizes ranging from 7-inch tablets to 17-inch computers. Its design is similar to that of the Incase Classic, but for all other important criteria, the cover AmazonBasics is a little less well. It's a bit more loose than the Incase and the Tomtoc on our MacBook, its outer surface is slightly rough to the touch, and it is a little thin, which exposes more to the damage in case of blow. The label of the brand is also well visible, but if you're just looking for a cheap and effective cover, none of these points is very important.
Full Protection: Thule Gauntlet 3.0
For who : if you take your laptop in risky situations (hiking, biking or traveling in tropical countries), where there is a real possibility of physical or liquid damage, this waterproof hard shell case is surely the one it you need.
Why this model: the Thule Gauntlet 3.0, which comes in the form of a hard shell with a zipper on three of the four sides, can withstand more abuse than a simply padded model. The rigid edges of the Gauntlet 3.0 offer the best protection a cover can provide and its waterproof zipper helps to prevent infiltration. We filled the Gauntlet 3.0 with paper towels and sprayed it with a household spray for 30 seconds to test for watertightness, and found that only a tiny amount of water had entered the room. 'opening: the interior was just a little wet, and this only near the opening. It let in less water than all the other waterproof covers we tested, apart from the original Gauntlet model. We would not go so far as to throw a computer in a lake on the pretext that it is equipped with a Gauntlet, but a little rain or snow should be no danger for a laptop inserted in this cover. The Gauntlet 3.0 should also better protect small falls than a neoprene cover, even if we do not think that a computer would be perfectly unscathed from a tumble of more than one meter; after all, this cover has no official certification in terms of shock resistance.
Non-crippling defects: With a thickness of 3.5 cm and a weight of nearly 500 g, the Thule is almost twice as heavy as the Incase Classic. The weight is distributed fairly evenly, it is not dense and does not give the feeling of being particularly heavy, but if you carry a whole day on your back, it may weigh you. This is the kind of sacrifice to be made to benefit from this level of protection.
sizes: 13 inches, 15 inches
colors: dark shadow (black), potion / Aruba (purple), storm / lichen (green)
An elegant model: The Daily Edited
The Daily Edited
Protection and elegance
This cover combines the aesthetics of a luxury handbag and a perfect fit. It offers excellent protection against knocks, scratches, dust, and water in small quantities.
* This product is currently unavailable in France
For who : if you are looking for an elegant and refined cover rather than a little geek, and if you are ready to pay for a leather cover that would be suitable for a more professional environment.
Why this model: the cover The Daily Edited looks more like a Kate Spade clutch or a Coach handbag: its look is more refined than most of the other covers we recommend and it blends well into a work environment where one is well dressed. Its rigid saffiano leather coating resists not only blows, cuts and water, but also gives the case a nice, grippy texture that does not go unnoticed, especially when combined with the fluid zipper. the cover (available in silver or gold). The 13-inch case that we tested fits perfectly with most 13-inch laptops, including non-MacBook models, which means your computer will not wander inside the cover when you move. And yet, even though the cover fits snugly, we had no trouble opening it wide to get our computer back.
The cover The Daily Edited allows to register for free up to four characters or emojis specific (yes, eggplant and fishing are part of the possibilities) on its front, with fonts and colors to choose from. The initials that we chose are well emerged, with clear lines and no visible defects. For a few euros, you can add up to ten characters.
Non-crippling defects: The Daily Edited cover is designed in a very simple way: it consists of two rectangles of leather sewn together, and it has no extra pocket or ring, like some competitors. Despite this simplicity, the high price is justified by the quality of the leather and other materials, and by its elegant style. If you want to carry your charger or pens and pencils at the same time as your computer in the same case, it will not be possible with this model.
sizes: 12 inches, 13 inches, 15 inches
colors: black, navy blue
Also to consider: Incase Icon with Diamond Mesh
If you do not like the look of The Daily Edited cover and if you have a MacBook, take a look at theIncase Icon with Diamond Mesh, more technical look. Incase's nylon and polyester outer skin is lighter and lighter than the leather of The Daily Edited. It is incredibly thin, so it will not offer ultra-effective protection against blows on the top or bottom, but it incorporates a “bumper” all around to absorb the impact of blows on the sides; if you use the cover inside another bag, its fineness will not be a problem. The cover, which opens on the side, has a magnetic closure that is stronger than other models tested (including that of Herschel Spokane), so we never had the impression that the laptop could accidentally cross the magnets barrier.
Without backpack: Incase Sling Deluxe
For who : for those who want a thinner bag than a backpack or briefcase, with enough space to carry what they need at work or in class.
Why this model: theIncase Sling offers both an excellent cover and enough storage space to carry what you need to work: a laptop and charger, your phone, a notebook, some pens and cables. All the 13-inch computers we've tested fit very well in the inside pocket (there's not enough space on the sides for the computer to wander around), which sets it apart from other covers briefcase style that we tested, such as the Targus Strata. The Incase bag is also padded and lined with faux fur, which helps absorb shocks and falls.
The simple front pocket of the bag can hold more than it seems. We had no trouble inserting a laptop charger, an external battery and some pens and pencils. The computer compartment and the front pocket of the Incase bag both close with zippers, which were flowing during our tests and never got stuck when we had to get something in the bag.
As with other Incase bags we've tested, Sling's shoulder strap features a padded segment, which makes it more comfortable than its competitors with a thin, unpadded shoulder strap. If you prefer to carry the bag by hand, the Incase has a thin handle, which has the same slip-resistant texture as the nylon outer cover of the bag. This fabric gives the bag a slight shine that, in addition to the absence of a garish label bearing the name of the brand, adds to the quality of its simple technical design.
Non-crippling defects: the bag is very thin, you may be hard to slip a tablet or other larger accessory without it nibbles the space of your computer inside the bag. If your second device is smaller, such as a reading light, you should be able to insert it (or use the front pocket). Otherwise, it is better to consider a briefcase or a bag (guides in English).
sizes: 13 inches, 15 inches
Color : black
Also consider: Tomtoc 360 ° bag
The Tomtoc 360 ° bag is a protection more eccentric look that Incase Sling Deluxe, but it exists in several colors and sizes, for about half price. It has much in common with the Incase, and both offer a snug fit, as well as fluid zippers and pockets for other accessories. But the size of the pockets of the Tomtoc bag is a little strange. Both are large enough to hold a laptop charger, but neither can accommodate a classic book or notebook. In addition, the shoulder strap of Tomtoc is much less padded than that of the Incase, which makes it less comfortable to wear.
How we selected and tested
Our research has led us to countless laptop covers available from dozens of different manufacturers. We used the following criteria to narrow this list to a few promising candidates to select and test:
protection: At a bare minimum, a laptop sleeve must protect against dust, scratches and knocks. An important aspect of this criterion is the fit of the computer inside the cover. A good cover leaves very little space on the sides and above, so your computer does not ride too much inside during transport. But it must not be so tight as to make it difficult for you to insert or remove the object. The outfit is really important, we looked for covers available in several different sizes, specially designed for a multitude of computers.
Closing system : most computer cases close with either a zipper or a magnet. In the first case, it should not get caught easily (we have awarded additional points to models with a standard YKK zipper). With a magnetic closure, the magnet must be strong enough not to break loose, and open only when you pull on it to open the cover.
Outside quality: we looked for covers with an outer surface that does not attract dust and other dirt, and we chose primarily those that remained dry when exposed to a small amount of water. On the best covers, the outside is not too rough or rough, but it remains adherent enough not to slip hands.
pockets: we did not necessarily want all the covers to have pockets, but if one of them had one, it was important that it be big enough to contain at least one or two essential accessories. If a pocket is not big enough to accommodate a computer charger, it will do nothing more than take up space.
aesthetics: Since there are so many covers in an infinity of styles, we favored the practical aspect in our evaluation of the covers. But once we found a list of covers that worked well, we looked at their appearance to choose which ones would become our favorites. We tried to avoid the brightly colored covers, the conspicuous marks and bizarre details, and we preferred the existing models in several colors.
We could not try each size of each cover, or each cover with each computer model. In contrast, we tested each cover with a 13-inch MacBook Pro 2017. Once we had assembled our favorite models, we looked at whether they were available in different sizes and if the 13-inch covers we were testing could go on a 13-inch computer group of different brands. We inserted each computer into each cover (one at a time, of course) checking the fit. We also evaluated features like the fluidity of the zippers, and sprayed the covers that were supposed to provide some level of tightness to see if they were good at controlling moisture. After identifying several favorite models, we tested them in real-life conditions, visiting places like cafes and coworking spaces to see if they fit in well with our daily tasks.
To come up…
The brand Leatherology offers two other types of computer cases that we would like to test for the next update of this guide: Gusseted Laptop Holder and the Laptop Clutch. We think both are made from the same high quality leather as the Laptop Sleeve (which we tested and do not recommend – see below), but seem to have a stronger outer structure.
Over the years, we have tested several dozen covers as part of this guide. Here are the ones we tested in 2018.
Herschel Spokane : this cover was extremely tight on our computer, and the magnetic closure seemed a little weak. In addition, its rough outer fabric is very thin, it offers little protection, if any, against blows and scratches.
Mission Workshop The Spec We were interested in the unique design of The Spec, with flap closure, unlike all other tested cases. This aspect worked perfectly; even when we returned the cover, flap down, our computer did not fall. Nevertheless, the computer's handling is not perfect and the front pocket is too thin to hold more than a few sheets of paper. The cover would certainly fulfill its role very well in addition to a Mission Workshop bucket bag, and the brand designed it for that, but we do not recommend using it alone.
Mosiso in lycra resistant to water This cover received favorable pros reviews and a relatively high Amazon rating. It comes with a small bag to carry the computer charger or other miscellaneous accessories. Unfortunately, she is not well adjusted. Our laptop was swimming almost inside this rough neoprene protection. We also believe that its garish logo is damaging to its look.
ProCase : despite the presence of a practical front pocket with a surprisingly large capacity, this cover was very disappointing in our tests. It was too big for our laptop and its outer surface was rough. In addition, his handle was not comfortable to use.
Top of the line
Apple Laptop sleeve : this slim case was perfectly fit on our MacBook, and it was a minimum given its price. Unfortunately, its soft leather outer surface seemed too thin to offer true protection, and, with no closure system, it is fully open on one side. But if you think of using it only inside a bag, it will certainly not be a problem.
Killspencer Sleeve : this cover is extremely tight, which complicates things to insert and take out the computer. Since it has no closure, this narrowness seems necessary, but is annoying to use. Moreover, this cover so much the computer that its contours are engraved in the grain of the leather. If you like this model, you may be able to accept compromises in terms of ergonomics. But we think that after a while, this leather will look more damaged than “aged”.
Leatherology Laptop Sleeve : we liked more the look of this cover in photo than in real life. Since it does not have a solid structure, even when the computer is inside, the sides of the cover hang down and look too wide. Nevertheless, the leather is really beautiful and the zipper is very fluid, and if you are looking for a cover look “worn”, you may have a preference for the cover Leatherology compared to our other choices.
Picaso Lab Classic Sleeve : this model was once part of our favorites in the section “stylish covers”. When we tested it in 2016, we thought it offered great value for all-leather protection. Nevertheless, the model we tested in 2018 seemed low-end compared to the competitors we examined. In addition, the cover was less fit on our computer than we would have liked; sometimes we felt that our computer was in danger of falling out of the open cover. We were also very disappointed with the quality of the monogram we ordered.
Twelve South Journal : The Journal is well adjusted, which is reassuring, but perhaps a little too much, especially if you put something in your inner pocket, difficult to fill. But despite its soft leather coating, the outer surface of the Journal is stiff and thin to the touch. We think it's better to go to another high-end choice.
Welden Slim Sleeve : we really like the look of the Welden cover, which has a beautiful geometric pattern woven at the front, and we appreciate the small pocket at the back, in which we can slide a notebook. Unfortunately, the 13-inch model did not fit well on our 13-inch laptop, which slid from side to side as we moved; our other choices kept the computer better.
Satechi water resistant : this bag offered excellent fit to our computer, comfortably installed in the inner compartment, while remaining easy to recover. Its outer surface had a nice soft texture, a bit like a new pair of jeans. Nevertheless, his odd-sized pockets could not contain the things we would have liked to pack while traveling or at the local coffee shop; no pocket was large enough to accommodate our notebook, nor deep enough for our magazine. In addition, the Satechi did not have a ring to be able to put a shoulder strap, which means that it must be worn with the help of the handles. It is quite comfortable, but we prefer a model to attach a shoulder strap, which offers more flexibility.
Targus Strata Laptop Sleeve : we enjoyed the soft texture of this laptop bag. Unfortunately, it was pretty loose for our computer, which was not well maintained when we carried the bag over the shoulder, and its zipper did not look very good.