I’ve been looking for a protective sleeve for my MacBook Pro for a long time and just never found the right one.
Being a picky sort, I had quite a list of requirements, which made it incredibly difficult to find something readily available, within my budget and looked nice.
For materials, i wanted to stay away from synthetic materials entirely. Most sleeves are lined with or entirely constructed with neoprene, which traps heat. If you own a MacBook Pro, then you know how hot these get. Immediately putting away your laptop into a sleeve will result in the heat being contained inside the sleeve and potentially overheating your computer — even though it’s technically “off”.
For this reason, I wanted a natural material that wouldn’t overheat the contents like a synthetic might. Also, there’s the added bonus of getting a much more aesthetically-pleasing look from leather or even fabrics like Harris Tweed, wool or canvas.
Additionally, I still wanted to know that I could place this sleeve inside a briefcase without a padded laptop compartment. Again, most padded laptop compartments in briefcases are synthetic. Also, they’re bulky. I preferred that I could stick this laptop in its sleeve inside either a canvas briefcase like a Filson or unpadded leather briefcase and not worry that the shock of setting the briefcase down on its base would cause damage to the bottom edge of the laptop facing the floor.
This made me look for sleeves that had sufficient padding in its design along the base edge to act as a shock absorber. This is surprisingly hard — if not impossible — to find in most leather sleeves. If you look at most sleeves out on the market, they just offer a thin layer of leather along the base of the sleeve as the only form of protection. While it may protect from surface scratches, you’re not going to get any shock protection when the laptop is upright in an unpadded briefcase and hits the floor. So, this detail mattered a lot to me.
Furthermore, I wanted some added functionality in the sleeve that didn’t look superfluous. Some extra pockets would be nice and the closure system had to securely keep the laptop inside and not allow any accidental liquids inside if something was poured on top of it. Lots of sleeves have open tops, or zipper tops, which was a no-go for me.
In the end, I knew I had to seek out someone to custom make me a laptop sleeve that looked great, was made from quality materials and could incorporate all my features I wanted.
After looking at several leatherworkers on Etsy, I found Santi Leather, who operates out of Spain, who handmakes each item at their home studio and sources their leathers locally.
I decided to base my modifications off of their 13” MacBook Pro leather sleeve design. It already had many great features that I wanted: a full flap over the top with secure snap closures; an extra pocket in the front to store a pen, phone and small notepad; and a felted interior to give protection against surface scratches on the laptop’s aluminum unibody enclosure.
Fortunately, Santi Leather is completely open to design modifications. I asked if an open back pocket could be sewn on, to allow me to store some papers, magazine or notepad.
Additionally, I asked to have extra stitching along the bottom base of the sleeve to create a thick portion of leather to ask as a shock absorber.
These design modifications added another $25 to the final price, which brought the final price with shipping to ~$146. Twenty days later I received the sleeve and I’m absolutely thrilled with it.
Santi Leather has a whole range of sleeves for every single Apple device, from iPads, to iPhones to MacBooks (Pro and Air). They’ve even introduced a messenger bag.
If you’re looking for a similar solution, then I recommend giving Santi Leather a serious look. Working with them was a great experience and they’re totally open to design modifications and ideas. I think their pricing is reasonable given that it’s handmade and the turn-around time (with shipping) is rather impressive.