We at The Wirecutter believe that personal style matters a lot when it comes to accessories. That being said, when it comes to a protective laptop sleeve or case, style shouldn’t come at the cost of protection from grit and light scuffs. That’s why we only considered sleeves that protected all four sides and corners of a computer when closed. From there, we tested each sleeve with both a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a 2013 Chromebook Pixel, which has a 12.85-inch screen and different dimensions than the Mac. Admittedly, we didn’t try every size of every sleeve or try every computer, as that’s simply not possible; we used these two machines to try to represent a common sampling.
Testing included inserting each computer into the sleeve (one at a time, of course), feeling to see how well each fit, evaluating features like the ease with which the zippers glided, and spraying the sleeves that promised some degree of water protection to see how well they kept moisture out. Once we identified some favorites, we tested those picks in real-world scenarios like traveling to coffee shops and coworking spaces to see just how well the sleeves fit into our everyday routines; we’ll continue to do so and update with long-term test notes down the road. If you have a personal favorite that you’d like to see us test, let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out.
Who it’s for
If you just want basic protection for a good price, get this. Basic neoprene sleeves are perfect for laptop users who want to keep their computers safe in a bag that otherwise lacks a dedicated protective pocket. They’re great for anyone who doesn’t care for extra pockets or aesthetic embellishments beyond a limited selection of solid colors. We’re talking simple here: a soft, cushioned pocket and a zipper, which is really all you need.
Why it’s great
The AmazonBasics Laptop Sleeve is the perfect expression of this basic yet effective sleeve: it completely protects your computer with padding on all sides to protect from grit and slight bumps, offers a well-tailored fit, and has a clean look. Both the MacBook Pro and Chromebook Pixel fit well without too much extra space to slide around—unlike the Incase Neoprene Classic, which leaves about an inch of slack around the MacBook Pro. Furthermore, the zipper of the AmazonBasics slides just as smoothly as the Incase’s, although the Incase has two zippers, while the AmazonBasics only has one. While the overall material quality of the Incase sleeve is just a hair nicer, we prefer the AmazonBasics because it is comparably great at less than half the price. The Technology Man’s Gidon Reid agreed, writing in his review that it feels “far more premium” than the price would suggest.
Another point in favor of the AmazonBasics is that it comes in a wider selection of sizes, ranging from 7 inches for tablets to 17.3 inches for giant laptops. The more popular 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch sizes come in multiple colors, while the rest are available in black. Plus they’re all inexpensive; no model sells for much more than $10. For the same price, the iXCC Water-Resistant Padded Laptop Sleeve (which is so similar to the AmazonBasics that we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s from the same factory) only comes in 11.6- and 13.3-inch sizes and has a barebone website with unresponsive customer support.
7-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, 11.6-inch, 13.3-inch, 14-inch, 15-inch, 17.3-inch
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Some Amazon reviewers have complained about the AmazonBasics Laptop Sleeve not fitting their device properly. Of course no one sleeve is going to be the perfect fit for every machine, but some customers specifically say the 15-inch sleeve is too large for the 15” MacBook Pro with Retina display. Others say it fits perfectly. Thankfully, Amazon is really good with returns if one you order ends up not fitting right.