In the winter of 2009 I set out to conquer Europe, well, more like do a mad-dash from Prague to Vienna to Venice all in the matter of two weeks. The trip went well, but my laptop didn’t return in the same pristine condition it left Canada in. You see, I had a project deadline that fell right at the end of my trip. Being both young and stupid, I ran out and picked up a new MacBook Pro just for the trip, loaded it up with everything I needed, then hit the airport — without a sleeve. Instead, I had a naked laptop jammed into my carry on bag, next to my unmentionables, toothbrush, and other sharp objects. Not the brightest idea, considering my MacBook Pro returned from the trip pretty mangled. Since then I’ve taken my travel sleeves pretty seriously. The Thule Sleeve is pretty serious, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Why so serious?
I’ve seen a lot of pretenders cross my desk, but very few have managed to stick around long enough to see the inside of my knapsack when I hit the road. This Thule is the first sleeve I’m actually looking forward to travelling with, despite its clunky appearance.
Not afraid of water
The case is water resistant. It’s not water proof, so you can’t exactly expect the case to survive a run-in with the ocean when you drunkenly fall overboard on your next cruise, but it will handle spills and rain quite easily. I’m probably not the first, nor the last to leave my laptop by a window while a thunderstorm plasters the window with water. This case handles those kinds of oh shit moments quite effectively. The sleeve actually has a water resistant zipper, so handling the elements isn’t really much of a chore for the case.
Rigid as hell
The case is sturdy, and its rigidity is probably one of the first things you notice with the case. It easily adds bulk to your bag, but the ridges add much needed cushion to your device. I have zero worries that something in my bag will do damage to my precious laptop. If you’re the type that jams your bag into overhead compartments without thinking about what’s inside, this case is for you.
It’s not really a sleeve
Like I mentioned above, the case has a zipper, so it should probably be considered more of a shell than a sleeve. You won’t be sliding your MacBook into or out of the case at all. Instead, you’ll be unzipping before use, which has its own set of benefits — you never have to take your laptop out of the case entirely, kinda.
The case has an elastic band which helps keep your MacBook in place while you travel. You can also open the case, and use your laptop without having to remove the “sleeve.”
The Thule is probably one of the most rugged sleeves to come across our desks for review. The water-resistance and rigidity certainly add an extra layer of protection to the case. If you’re the type of person who throws a laptop into a knapsack and heads out to school or work, then this sleeve is just what you’re looking for. I wish I had this case with me while I took trains across Europe a couple of years ago. I have no doubt that the case would have helped to eliminate some of the scratches and major dings that my MacBook Pro suffered throughout the trip.
At $56.00 USD it’s not the cheapest alternative on the market, but it’s certainly worth the protection, considering you spent a grand on your shiny MacBook.
The Thule sleeve has a nifty elastic strap to help keep the laptop snug while in-transit; however, that’s where the benefits of the strap ends. As it stands, you have to remove your laptop from the strapping before propping it up for use — not exactly the most optimal solution. We’d recommend that Thule replace the elastic with velcro. It’s a small problem, but a quick tweak would easily eliminate any annoyances.
Also, the case could easily withstand some banging and crashing in your bag, but we’d like to also see a little more cusion in the corners of the sleeve. Some extra padding in those locations would easily take this case from being good to great. I don’t know about you, but any time I drop some piece of electronic equipment it usually crashes to the floor on its corners.
One more quick gripe: there’s no MacBook Air sleeve. Right now you can get 13-inch and 15-inch cases. Hopefully that changes really soon.
Where can you get it?
You can currently get all of Thule’s products on Amazon.