A Pretty Nice Laptop Case

In the 15 or so years I’ve been using a laptop, I can’t say I’ve ever had the perfect laptop case. They’re either too big, too ugly, too minimalist, too weak, or too “handbaggy”. My ideal laptop case/bag is pretty simple:

  • Made of semi-rigid ballistic nylon, similar to an Oakley case, providing a shell-like feeling
  • Small handle to hold
  • Tight-fitting, without a lot of extra bulk
  • An auxiliary pocket for paper, a power cord, or a few other things

That’s really it. The problem is, this case doesn’t exist. The closest I had found was the Booq Vyper XS2, a spectacularly beautiful case which is hamstrung only by its baffling lack of handle and unfortunate omission of a utility pocket. The Vyper is so nice looking that I’ve considered buying one and actually grafting my own handle and pocket onto it.

Yesterday, however, I randomly found a pretty nice case that I wanted to pass along to anyone currently in the market for one: The Brenthaven Edge. It’s not quite as gorgeous and compact as the Booq, but it’s semi-rigid, has an extra pocket, and comes with a handle. It also has some pretty thick internal padding which would seem to make it quite “drop-proof”, although I’m not about to test that.

Anyway, that’s it… a quick holiday gift recommendation for you or your laptop toting loved one.

34 comments on “A Pretty Nice Laptop Case”. Leave your own?
  1. Jeff Croft says:

    With the possible exception of the material (I’ve never held an Oakley case, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to), you’re pretty much describing my laptop case. It’s this one, from Incase. I love it.

    (Note: Mine’s for MacBook, but I believe there’s a MacBook Pro version, as well.)

  2. Devon Shaw says:

    I’ve used Brenthaven exclusively ever since owning an Apple laptop. My latest tote is the original black/tan Fusion Flex shoulder bag, which has accommodated the varying sizes (12 to 15) of my last three laptops. It’s a tad on the bulky side, but extremely durable and still looks pristine after three years of road warrior wear and tear.

    When I first got into the market, I researched all the makers and found that, while many were quite good looking, Brenthaven was the only brand advertising function over form. Their website at one point included a testimonial about how a laptop and bag survived a head-on car accident with zero damage, and you can instantly tell by visual inspection that these bags are extremely sturdy and worth every penny of their $100+ premium. I wouldn’t recommend any other, which has resulted in many of my friends using them too.

    Their only misstep was discontinuing their Professional Expanded backpack, which was the Pro 15-17 expanded to accommodate additional gear like digital SLRs and external hard drives. It was a Godsend for mobile workstations — we had two of them. Tough to find these days.

  3. Mike D. says:

    Jeff: Although I like InCase’s stuff and have had one in the past, that one fails both the semi-rigid test and the “handbaggy” test. :) Pretty nice bag though, nonetheless.

  4. I had a great case from Brookstone that recently broke. They unfortunately discontinued it and I’ve been looking for one ever since.

    I may have to order the Edge. The Vyper looks nice, but looks like it lacks the critical shoulder strap for the lazyman like me.

    Croftie: That bag looks like it should be storing women’s makeup, not my Macbook :-P

  5. Sam M says:

    Gotta say after just reading the title of this article I wanted to come tell you how amazing Brenthaven bags are. They are very safe and the warranty they give you is awesome. It is very drop proof I have unfortunately tested it, and on Brenthaven likes to show it off. Mine has lasted a few years and the velcro is worn, and they said they would replace it even though it was normal wear and tear.

  6. Jeff Croft says:

    This is me, resisting a joke about how Mike D. fails the semi-rigid test, as well.

  7. Russ Wittmann says:

    Im a bag fanatic and I have found an awesome bag, it’s made by oakley
    http://oakley.com/pd/3110 This bag is compact and even has a nice water bottle holder for those meeting, presentations and plane travels that seem to never end.

    Check it out, of course a booq sleeve is a welcome companion to it.

  8. Steve says:

    Did you look at the Booq PowerSleeve? Although the nylon isn’t as rigid as the Vyper, it is still rigid and comes with the handle and sizable utility pocket.

  9. Tom Watson says:

    I ran into similar problems when looking at laptop bags but then my love for outdoor gear kicked in and I picked up this one from Pataguchi. I love it, but you’ve got to be willing to embrace the northwest look, and I know that’s just not you Mike.

  10. nessahead says:

    The Brenthaven Edge is excellent. If you don’t want to put the power adapter in the outer pocket (mine was crushing my papers) the Adapter Pocket is a great buy. It’s secure and stays out of the way.

  11. Mike D. says:

    Devon, Sam, and nessahead: Nice. Glad to hear the Brenthavens are as nice as they seem. It’s apparently a local company too! Made just up I-5 in Bellingham. Gotta support the local economy!

    Russ: That Oakley looks really nice, but I just wish they made a much more compact one. I never need to carry more than just the laptop, some paper, and maybe a few peripherals.

    Steve: The PowerSleeve looks nice, but I think it’s just for 17 inch laptops. I have a 13 inch MacBook.

    Tom: Yeeeeeah, that looks like an excellent bag in which to tote northwest granola.

  12. Great case– Brenthaven gave me a couple demo units at MacWorld last year, and I was sold. I’ve dropped mine from 5+ feet onto pavement with no damage to my macbook pro!

  13. Jerry says:

    I own a Booq Vyper for the 15 inch Macbook Pro. While it is awesome, I also agree that it needs a handle and a pocket. The Vyper was designed primarily to be placed inside a bookbag or some other bag as protection for the laptop. I have a bookbag with a laptop compartment and the Vyper fits perfectly. Having said that, I actually prefer to carry the Vyper by itself and not within the bookbag.

  14. Jerry says:

    It has been about a year since I purchased my Booq Vyper. I considered all of their options at the time, and chose the Vyper M2 (15 inch Macbook Pro). It appears that since then, they have introduced the Vyper exo, which I may have to seriously consider.

  15. Shaun Inman says:

    The Acme Made Slim Cargo has everything you’re looking for. Ignore the default, feminine designer stripes, there’s some tolerable solid colors available. I picked one up for the MacBook Pro a couple years ago and had just a Slim (no outer pocket) for my iBook G4 before that (both brown–sorry, “chocolate”). The cholocate/black are ballistic nylon. Small, no-nonsense leather handle. Tight-fitting? Check, it’s called the Slim for a reason. The pocket on the Cargo has room for an extra battery, a power cord and brick, pens, cellphone/business cards, iPod/NDS and loose attachments like DVI-to-VGA/Video adaptors, earbuds and 1/8″-to-stereo cables. There’s a sleeve on the back for a magazine, folder or pad of graph paper.

    Best feature? It doesn’t look like a pair of sneakers (unlike the majority of messenger bags).

  16. Mike D. says:

    Wolf: Hmmm, the Acme looks *really* nice. Except… those handles make it look *really* handbaggy, at least in the photo. I’ll look at some other photos of it.

  17. Jim Gaynor says:

    Still a big fan of the Timbuk 2 Laptop Messenger (since my first PowerBook G4, and now with my MacBook Pro), but that fails the semi-rigid test.

  18. Telemach says:

    I don’t see a problem. Here in Poland there is a company that for about 15-20 USD can make you a custom case. It’s really good quality and they do what you want. No joke, I got mine custom made for Fujitsu P7120 and it’s what I wanted it to be.

  19. Chad Edge says:

    One thing I’ve seen missing from all the linked bags on this post: “rainguardedness.”
    As an example of “no good dead goes unpunished,” I recently took a friends dell inspiron laptop for the weekend to clean it (more infected than a lady of the night on Aurora). The weekend cleaning went fine, but on this previous Monday, I got stuck on 1st waiting for the bus to work for about a half hour (anyone remember the rain last monday?). Needless to say, the bag I have (a well padded Wilson, with an extra flap inside I ‘thought’ would assist with rainfall), failed miserably and upon arriving at work I found the screen to be flooded.
    I’m now shopping around for a replacement to her laptop (a clunkly old 8100), AND a bag that can handle a little downpour. It’s a shame, really (other than being out about $500 for a replacement laptop), but I’m used to REAL rain from the South (Tampa) – where you can’t drive over 15mph because the rain is so heavy.
    Can the bags up here really be that weak?
    So, while “handbaggyness” is important, “not-needing-to-replace-a-screen-edness” is more important to me.

  20. Andrew says:

    I can vouch for the Brenthaven as being solid but really no storage at all. Seriously, a usb cable bulges the sides. Forget power or a mouse. The handle is well built but the shoulder strap is weak.
    I’m really happy with a cheap Dakine messenger bag and the Lowepro Compurover AW backpack depending on what I’m doing.

  21. Steve says:

    The PowerSleeve does come in extra small sizes for the 13″ MacBook – it just doesn’t appear on Booq’s site at the moment. And should you want more carry space with the full ‘ballistic nylon’ effect, go the Vyper Exo. I should add, I’ve no involvement with Booq – just a fan of the bags (and still paying them off)…

  22. Ian Lloyd says:

    I have to say, I’m rather partial to a crumpler. Or two. Or even more …


    Maybe a bit *too* partial

  23. Jack says:

    I own a bag that I think fits your bill. It’s a Wenger. I can’t find the model name or number on/in the bag, but I think this may be the one:


    My small MacBook fits perfectly. Info on Wenger’s website says it fits most 15″ screen laptops, but I can’t imagine that’s true. Certainly my old 15″ Dell doesn’t fit.

    There is enough room inside for the power adapter, a mouse, a few CDs, and a pad or folder of paper.

    On the outside, there is a slim zippered pocket on one side, and a sleeve on the other (held closed with a small velcro patch). These hold my iPod, or cell phone, smaller bits of paper, or a short ethernet cable; but they won’t hold anything bulky.

    The bag itself opens with a double zipper. Unzip across the top and the lid folds back. Unzip further, down either side of the bag, and the whole side folds open. The zippers are some sort of nylon and heal closed very well. I’ve carried the bag through very heavy rain with no ill effect.

    There is a single carry handle on the top, and a strap securely anchored to the side. There are no flaps, or pouches, or swivels, or bungie nets, or bottle holders on the outside.

    I have sometimes wished it was bigger so I could put more things in it, but I know that if it was bigger I’d be much more frequently wishing I wasn’t lugging around so much crap.

    I’ve had the bag for about 3 years. Nothing has broken (mostly because there is very little to break) and there are no signs of wear. Handle and strap are still secure.

    I was walking through a big-chain office supply store one day and just happened to see it. It was about $30.


  24. rob says:

    OK, might as well post my favorite bags – I had the same basic set of requirements as you for years but kept having to buy new bags whenever I got a new laptop, because the old bag would never fit properly. I’ve had the last couple of bags for a while and they have been good performers.

    First, the Zoom by a company called Spire. Their backpacks are great because they have a sort of oval shape that doesn’t look like a computer bag – no one ever knows mine is a computer bag, as it looks too small. Inside the packs have a rigid panel with velcro, and they include a laptop sleeve that can velcro to itself (if you just need a sleeve) or can slide into a pocket in the backpack and velcro to the rigid panel (for really nice integration into the pack). Mine has flown off the passenger seat of my car and bounced off the floor of my car, with no damage to my laptop inside. I’d recommend this to anyone, even though it may be slightly outside of your requirements. It does have a nice comfortable handle on top and just enough room for a power supply and a book (though I imagine you could stuff it with a bit more stuff and you might not want straps on the back).

    To carry my larger work laptop I went outside my comfort zone and reversed my philosophy: I got a bag that would let me also carry enough for an overnight trip, the Mountain Hardware Memo – this holds a decently large laptop (mine is 15″ widescreen) and has a couple of other full-sized compartments that allow me to carry just enough files and clothes (in separate pockets so no one in the meeting has to see the clothes) for a business overnighter (and is carryon sized to boot). Its a bit tight for all that but so long as I keep my wardrobe simple it works well, and is great to carry compared to a laptop bag and a small suitcase.

  25. Troy Gilbert says:

    I’ve had several Booq bags and am always tempted by their new ones. I love their style. And like yourself, I am baffled by their lack of handles on many of their compact laptop bags/sleeves… just short of perfect.

  26. Jeff Hartman says:

    I own and run a small online store called Pivot Gear (http://www.pivotgear.com). I resell laptop bags including Booq, Brenthaven, Acme Made and several other brands mentioned here (and some not).

    The PowerSleeve has been discontinued by booq. There was never a PowerSleeve model specifically made for the MacBook. The boa slimcase S90 is not necessarily a replacement for the PowerSleeve since it is a bit bulkier. It’s just a small case.

    The Brenthaven Edge has been around for at least a year. Maybe more. Really well made. Some people consider this a work-in case, but I would not since my MacBook Pro gets really hot and ventilation is pretty key.

    Since some of these bags are hard to find in local shops, feel free to send me an email and I’d be happy to share my thoughts on each (quality, warranty,etc.) and even products by other vendors that I don’t carry but have tested and used in the past.

    Email me at jeff@jeffhartman.com.

  27. Bradley says:

    I can attest the quality of the Brenthaven Edge (Edge II ?). Been using one since February with my 15″ MBP. Beware that storage is pretty minimal, but since I usually just carry my Apple and a graphing pad with pencil in the outer pocket, it’s sufficient. I have the power adapter pocket also, which has elastic sides that stretch to accommodate slightly more than just the adapter. I keep my IR remote and a couple other small things in it too (ymmv).

    While you can’t expect serious storage space if you’re looking to buy one of these, expect the most protective case you can buy for your notebook in this size/form factor. You can’t argue with Brenthaven’s commitment to doing that part well.

    Also of note, I have some Wenger products, including a Swiss watch that was a gift almost 8 years ago. Aside from replacing the battery twice (seems about right), it’s never off by even a few seconds. If it wasn’t for DST, I would no doubt be able to set it and forget it… for 3-4 years.

    So I’m fond of their products too. I considered a Wenger case at one point, given their storage capacity and killer looks. If anyone’s considering, check dealmac first, as I’ve seen a number of Wenger bags and backpacks on special quite recently: http://dealmac.com/search.html?search=wenger&x=0&y=0

  28. krystyn says:

    That’s shure perty.

    Although, since I got my iPhone I don’t tote my laptop around as much anymore.

    Yes, I am a consumer whore. (And how!)

  29. Shannon says:

    I have a Swiss Army brand one. I really like it.

  30. Lucian Marin says:

    Nobody mentioned Tucano. I own a Apple – Microfiber folder for my MacBook Pro and it fits great. Quality of the material is also good.

  31. Cknighton says:

    I love this case… I picked up an old G4/667 TiBook in 2006, for a song, and bought this to protect my new toy. I actually paid more for the case than I did for the laptop, and it was/is worth every penny. It was the only carrier I found that had the perfect pocket-to-handbaggy ratio, and was made to fit a Mac. I can get a small Wacom tablet in the side pocket, and its pen can be zipped into an interior pocket so it can’t sneak out and get lost. The power brick does not fit too well next to the tablet, but… say la vie.

    There were some OK generic PC carriers out there, but those were built oversize and provided moveable pads to custom-fit the computer… dumb idea. I don’t want to spend $50+ on a case then have to rely on vecro to hold the goods in place!

  32. James King says:

    These bags may be exactly what you are looking for:



  33. Matt Ho says:

    Oakley makes one.


    I love this bag. It’s really exactly the size to carry my macbook around. If you put it up next to other bags, you’ll see how much extra bulk they have and how little this one has. Would highly recommend it. Bought mine from an Apple store in NY

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