Best MacBook Air case: 11 top bags, cases and covers
20th Jul 2013 | 09:00
Are you packing Air without due care?
Best MacBook Air case
Your shiny new MacBook Air has just been delivered... but what to put it in?
Do you just want to protect it from scratches or are you after a case that shields it - and the give-away logo on its lid - from prying eyes and criminals? Perhaps you need a drop-prof case, or you're a photographer that needs to take a MacBook Air and a DSLR camera in the same bag.
Whatever your ambitions, there's something for you among these innovative slings, messengers, backpacks, cases and covers that fit the MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch models.
1. WaterField Designs Outback Laptop Sleeve - US$50 (around £35/AU$55)
This vintage-style case from WaterField Designs is a more outdoorsy waxed canvas. Weighing in at 384g (13.5oz), the Outback is available for both the 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro (all the same price), and with the opening at either the top or bottom.
We tried out the 11-inch side-loader, which had a soft, neoprene-clad inner sleeve that adds just enough padding to the tough canvas construction for us to be less precious about our MacBook Air. It fitted perfectly and the simple leather popper strap kept it securely closed.
Though it just so happens to house an iPad quite happily despite being a touch too wide, it's that solid construction and unusual, well disguised worn look that we like it for most. It's best chucked into an old rucksack before straddling a horse and riding off in search of Wi-Fi.
2. Targus Canvas Slipcase - £40/US$60/AU$65
If you're shuffling between meetings or hanging around a conference venue, a dedicated backpack is overkill and a simple cover slight underkill.
Step forward this sturdy Targus Slipcase (model number TTS00504EU in the UK or TTS00504US in North America and Australia), which is available in white/brown and grey/black, and for both sizes of MacBook Air.
Weighing 450g (16oz) and made from a canvas far thinner than that found on the WaterField Designs Outback, the Slipcase is less of an event than most dedicated laptop bags, but piles on the functionality.
A magnetic faux leather hood hides a main, padded compartment that takes a MacBook Air, while a stretchable pocket in front is enough for a power adaptor and, thanks to a dedicated pocket, a clutch of business cards. Add a simple shoulder strap and it adds up to a cost-effective, functional solution.
3. Berghaus Remote II 20 - £50 (around US$75/AU$80)
It's not custom-made for a MacBook Air, but if you're after a good disguise, the Berghaus Remote II 20 works very well.
Not surprisingly, the shoulder straps (complete with sunglasses stuff and adjustable chest strap) are the best here, with a vent between the foam back pads that makes this a less sweaty option than some.
Inside is an all-important compartment that, while designed to carry a three-litre hydration bladder, manages to fit a 13-inch MacBook Air with ease, though snugly so.
Given its netting design the paranoid might want to wrap their Air in a separate case first - and there's room for one of those, too - though the waterproof design makes this one of the safest options, particularly for cyclists.
A grab handle on the top is handy, as are four pockets inside, while compression straps either side pack the bag down to the bare minimum size that's perfect for those packing one of the slimmest laptops around. Weighs 530g (19oz) when empty.
4. WaterField Designs MacBook Air Smart Case - US$80 (around £55/AU$85)
Given the MacBook Air's rather cold-looking metallic design, there's a temptation to wrap it up in something warm and safe, and that's exactly what this easy-access slip-case achieves.
Weighing 340g (12oz) for the 11-inch version and 396g (14oz) for the 13-inch version and hailing from San Francisco, the Smart Case is an unusual mix of a distressed brown leather spine, red (or copper green, black or white) nylon and a black net pocket on the outside.
Inside is a soft padded sleeve that's among the snuggest fitting we tried. A recessed spine on each side makes it easy to retrieve a MacBook Air when docked, while the stretchable pocket on the outside is able to house everything from a MacBook Air's power adaptor or Kindle to a 300-page novel or even a naked iPad.
5. Twelve South BookBook - £80/US$80/AU$90
Don't judge a MacBook by its cover? Skeuomorphism might be out in Cupertino for iOS 7, but Twelve South has something special for those who like both the sleek machined aluminium of the Macbook Air and an olde worlde leather look.
Available for both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions and weighing either 355g or 382g (12.5oz or 13.5oz), the BookBook's weathered style and two-tone red and brown spine are clearly designed as a disguise on a book shelf, but there's decent protection here, too.
Hard covers are backed by a soft felt inner sleeve and two secure zips. It fits a MacBook Air snugly, with elastic security tags across the corners of the screen keeping its guest in place, though it could do with some on the keyboard, too.
Six more top MacBook Air cases
6. Thule Crossover Sling Pack - £80/US$100/AU$130
Although it's able to take a 13-inch Macbook Air, the diagonal-access compartment inside this tough 823g (29oz) sling pack from Thule is of less exact dimensions than most of the other bags and cases here.
With a capacity of 17 litres and designed to fit a 13-inch laptop, it's primed to be a work or weekend bag, with plenty of room for a couple of shirts and a few netting pockets for sundries within its three compartments.
On the front is a pocket that fits an iPhone, while the middle pocket easily takes a 10-inch tablet. There are compartments for business cards, and also a surprisingly wide water bottle holder on one side, which is rare on custom-made bags such as these.
A couple of well-placed grab handles on the side and top impress, though one of our favourite features - a chest-height pocket on the sling strap - proves just too slim for most smartphones.
7. Tech 21 Impact Slip - £80/US$125 (around AU$130)
A slim case ideal for protecting an 11 or 13-inch MacBook Air, the Tech 21 Impact Slip is perfect for clumsy types who've put nasty dents in dropped laptops before now.
The technology behind the leather is D3O, an orange-coloured soft material made from molecules that lock together and harden instantly upon impact, dissipating the shock and keeping your slab of machine-engineered aluminium in one piece.
Nothing else we know of claims to dissipate 80% of the force of being dropped or struck. And it's a great fit, so snug that a small tab is needed to help it on its way out.
If the pouch-style isn't for you, Tech 21 also makes its fold-out Impact Jacket also with D30, for the same prices, which wraps around either side of the MacBook Air.
8. Lat 56 MS_01 - £130/US$200 (around AU$210)
Lat 56's MS_01 Small Laptop Messenger Case is one of the toughest, best made bags on offer here. In a ruthlessly efficient design that puts an emphasis on function and protection, this totally waterproof 12-litre bag has an inner, padded sleeve that safely encloses either an 11-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air, and keeps it perfectly still.
In front is an area for chargers and cables, while an outer section houses two iPhone-sized pockets, a smaller zipped pouch and some pen holders. All pockets close using magnets, not poppers, while a couple of rubber feet on its undercarriage keep it off the floor.
However, once we'd sealed the bag and attached the shoulder strap, the real surprise extra appeared; a zipped pocket on the reverse that houses a padded sleeve that perfectly fits an iPad.
It's this kind of attention to detail within a heavyweight, 1.5kg (2.2lbs) design, that makes this one of the ultimate MacBook Air bags for the commute.
9. Marshall Bergman Corbin - £135 (around US$205/AU$220)
Selling exclusively on the Apple Store, this gorgeous leather shoulder work bag has perhaps been designed for an iPad, but unlike most of its contemporaries this 783g (27.6oz) effort is just that bit taller - and therefore just about houses a 2013 generation 11-inch MacBook Air in its dedicated, padded inside pocket.
However, if you've already put your MacBook Air in some kind of cover, it's best plunged into the main section, with the padded pocket instead reserved for a tablet.
Two outside pockets - one with a dedicated iPhone pocket - impress, though neither is deep enough for a full-size iPad. Inside are two more pockets for iPhones or iPod touches - alongside two pen holders, a nicely detachable keyring, and a secure zipped pocket. It's available in black or brown.
10. Jill-e Designs Emma - £200 (around US$300/AU$330)
Sold exclusively on the Apple Store, the feminine - but eminently business-like - Jill-e Designs 11-inch Emma Leather Messenger Bag is specially designed to carry a MacBook Air 11-inch, but that's not all it can carry.
Available in black or sky blue, the main compartment secures a MacBook Air within a padded wall with velcro security strap. Alongside is a padded pouch that perfectly fits an iPad, while two pockets opposite take an iPhone and something slightly wider.
Two pen holders and a zipped pocket complete the soft-touch, sand-coloured fabric-lined innards, though there's scant room for much else bar a charger or two.
Weighing 1kg (2.2lbs) and with a comfy leather shoulder strap and grab handle, the Emma doesn't stop with the tech there; on its rear is a pocket that also nicely nestles an iPad, while an oval zipped pocket on the front has three more pen holders and an iPhone pocket.
Best of all, it looks like a proper handbag, with burnished gold strap rings, zips and a buckle on the front that uses magnets.
11. Booq Python Pack - £220/US$240 (around AU$360)
For photographers that need Photoshop and email on the go, there are few better options that the Booq Python Pack. Most custom-made MacBook gear is for urban dwellers, but this photography-centric Python Pack is about as outdoorsy as it gets.
A MacBook Pro 15-inch can be slipped into a special laptop compartment, so a MacBook Air is no problem. You can also squeeze in a DSLR (or two) and four lenses, umpteen memory cards, and even a couple of smartphones in pouches on the comfy shoulder straps.
Great for hiking and with a shocking red shower cover that stows in a side pocket, it does have straps for a tripod on the outside, though they're rather oddly aligned. In the back panel between the straps is a 'secret' compartment that's the exact dimensions of an iPad.