Whether you have a top-of-the-line laptop tricked out for gaming or video-editing, or a cheap, bare-bones machine for basic word-processing and internet surfing, the last thing you want is to drop or spill something on your computer and end up spending hours—and lots of cash—at the Genius Bar. A sturdy case or sleeve goes a long way to keep your laptop safe from accidental damage. To find out which cases are best for different types of users, we asked some computer-repair experts who know all too well the dangers of not using a case.
Best Laptop Sleeves
Most laptop users who aren’t taking their computers into extreme conditions can get away with using a laptop sleeve. “Sleeves are great when you don’t need maximum protection, but simply an insulation against bumps and scrapes within a larger bag,” says Matt Ham, of LaptopMD and Computer Repair Doctor. “Sleeves are light, they aren’t bulky, and they come in plenty of sizes to be form-fitting.” An affordable sleeve, like this one from Amazon, does the job as long as it fits snugly enough that the laptop won’t move around inside.
Peter Lopez, also known as Brooklyn Tech Guy, recommends looking for “cases made specifically for their make or model laptop,” especially since a snug fit is essential. He says Mosiso cases work well for Macs as they come in very specific sizes (like 13.3 inches and 15.6 inches) that line up with Apple’s laptop measurements. This case also includes an extra pouch for storing a charger.
Lopez also likes sleeves from Incase, and this one comes in an array of shades like mint, aubergine, and a soft, millennial-pink “rose quartz” that’ll help your laptop stand out in a crowd of black and gray cases.
A collaboration between Apple and cycling brand Rapha, these Mac cases are designed with the needs of bike commuters in mind. Another one of Lopez’s picks, they’re made of durable, water-repellent treated fabric, and include targeted padding for bumpy rides.
Best Waterproof Laptop Cases
One of the most common causes of broken laptops is water damage. “Laptop cases are usually thrown in backpacks and will easily get wet from drinks,” says Joe Silverman, founder and CEO of New York Computer Help. “Being waterproof will protect against damaging liquid spills.” He recommends the Aqua Quest Storm case because it’s completely waterproof and also padded for extra protection.
A waterproof, padded sleeve with rugged style, this case from Australian brand Crumpler—one of Lopez’s preferred companies—has interior organizer sections and an outer pocket for your charger, headphones, and other necessities.
Best Extra-Tough Laptop Cases
For situations where you’ll need extra protection—like putting your laptop in a checked suitcase that’ll likely get jostled in transport—Ham says, “You want a hard-shell bag or at least a bag with stiff corners. The hard shell will better insulate the laptop from rougher conditions.” He suggests this durable case with multiple inner pockets “to protect against jostling, banging around, and shaking,” but also adds that an extra layer of padding (like clothing in a suitcase) “would help about sharp impacts.”
Experts like dependable Thule cases for keeping laptops safe. This hard-shell option has a rigid exterior for insulating your computer from outside impact and a soft, padded interior to prevent the case from scratching or denting your laptop.
Best Laptop Messenger Bag
Because, as Lopez says, “the laptop ends up being the ‘hub’ of their portable office: the book bag,” students require a bag with lots of pockets for computer accessories, books, pens, notebooks, and whatever else they’ll need throughout the day. This Manhattan Portage bag, his pick for college students, features a number of compartments, including a zippered pouch in front for items that needs to be accessed easily, a waterproof pocket on the flap, and a padded laptop sleeve.
Best Laptop Backpacks
If you’re a college student toting around a laptop from class to class, Silverman recommends a backpack that “is waterproof, padded, has compartments for books, and charges phones on the fly.” He says this Kopack backpack—which we’ve singled out before as one of the best reviewed laptop backpacks on Amazon—does all this and more. A detachable USB port keeps your phone charged all day, and a lockable zipper on the hidden laptop compartment helps prevent theft.
Students and office workers who commute by bike need a laptop backpack that’ll stand up to the elements, as well as potholes or other bumps in the road. Silverman says this Thule backpack is “the most solid I’ve seen to guard against liquid and bumps.” It also has reflective details for safe riding at night, and a special pocket for a bicycle U-lock.