Laptop sleeves may not an item that’s generally on your back to school shopping list, especially if you have younger kids. But then, this back to school season isn’t like any other.
Whether kids are embarking on hybrid options that require them to go to school a day or two a week, or learning at home (or in the backyard or in a homeschool pod), laptops are giving kids flexibility, portability, and of course, access to a lot of the online instruction they’ll be getting.
But that also means the need to carry a laptop around. And kids plus expensive laptops (or even a school-provided Chromebook) can be a scary proposition!
That’s why we’re putting together a helpful list of features to look for when you’re picking out the best laptop sleeve for your student.
Just think of it this way: Laptops aren’t just a resource kids are using in the classroom. In a lot of cases, the laptops are the classroom!
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Laptop sleeve features to look for with kids in mind
Voova Chromebook cases on Amazon
1. A proper, snug fit
The best laptop sleeve for your kids must be the right size, above all. If it’s too big, the device will be sliding around inside and won’t receive as much protection if it’s dropped or jostled. If it’s too small, squeezing it into the case can weaken the fabric and other protective features. And will the zipper even close?
So, double check your laptop size before you buy a sleeve and be sure the case you’re considering is compatible. That means it should zip or fastens snugly at the corners — but not so tightly that it strains the zipper or case.
If you have a Chromebook, I like the Voova Chromebook cases, because they have a range of sizes to choose from rather than a one-size-fits-all option. Inside, there’s a concave edge around the perimeter that holds your device firmly in place, and the fleece interior protects from scratches and also makes it less likely to slip around.
If you’re shopping for a MacBook sleeve, the Apple Store conveniently lets you sort by your laptop’s make, size, and year.
Note on measuring: If you have a Mac, you can quickly find your laptop model and size when you click Apple Menu > About This Mac. PCs vary, but you may be able to find the info on the bottom of the device or in your settings panel. If you do have to measure, be sure to measure your screen only on the diagonal, upper left to lower right, skipping the outer bezel.
InCase Compact Laptop Sleeve via Apple Store
2. Protective padding
There are some cute laptop sleeve that your kids will beg for, but they’re often made cheaply and don’t have protection you need — let alone a soft, cushioned inner lining that’s essential to both protect the laptop cosmetically, and also provide some shock absorption.
Liz recently purchased two of these soft, fleece-lined InCase Compact Laptop Sleeves for her teens, which will offer double protection for their laptops since they’re already being stashed in protective laptop compartments in their backpacks. For this reason, the most important factors for her included a lightweight design, and perfect fit.
Another thing she likes: The zipper compartments are on the outside, to prevent any leaky markers from getting close to the laptop. Even though they shouldn’t be in there at all.
3. Reinforced corners
This isn’t a feature we tend to look for, but think about it — corners of a latoptop are what’s most likely to get banged up, as you might know from experience. (Ahem.) It will also prevent wear and tear on the corners over time, which ends up making them even less protective.
Thule Gauntlet laptop case on Amazon
4. A durable, waterproof or water-resistant exterior.
A waterproof or water-resistant laptop case is never a bad idea, especially for kids .It’s not essential, but it does make a lot of sense if kids are popping their laptops into backpacks that may also contain water bottles and other wet stuff that end up in there. And it will. Because, kids.
Check the very affordable Lacdo laptop sleeve which gets its water resistance from a coated canvas exterior.
For plenty of protection though — and peace of mind — Thule Gauntlet case (above) in four different colors is not only waterproof with a hard exterior, but it has reinforced corners, a shock-protectant interior, and it comes with a 25-year warranty. That should get your kid through college and grad school, too. If only the laptop lasted that long. As a bonus, the Thule case lets your child use their laptop without even taking it out (seen at very top photo). That’s just one of the reasons Lifewire rated it the most protective case you can buy this year.
It rings in at nearly $60, and may be more protection than your child really needs, but I think the investment in a slightly pricier case is totally worth it when we’re talking about kids and expensive technology.
5. A strap or handle
While our first pick for a laptop sleeve for kids would be a minimalist style case that can easily slip into a good laptop backpack, some kids are carrying laptops on their own without a backpack. If that’s the case, be sure it has a sturdy strap (that won’t break!) or an easy-to-grab handle for older kids who can handle a brief-case style case.
6. Washable fabric
If your kid is particularly messy — I’m talking spaghetti sauce all over their face at dinner, muddy knees before you get to the bus stop — then consider a laptop sleeve or case that can be thrown in the wash.
Neoprene fabrics are a great choice for that, though the padding may be more for protecting from scratches the a protection from a drop down the stairs. (Yikes.)
Tip: A big, bold fabric will hide stains a lot better than a solid, and dark colors are preferable to light ones. As parents have learned, right?
RBG laptop case by S Smith Design at Society6
7. A design they love
With every kid in the class using a laptop, it’s easy to get them mixed up. And now more than ever, I’d rather my child not accidentally bring someone else’s germs home. So consider a fun pattern that can help kids easily identify their own laptop. Besides, kids use their accessories to reflect their identity, and the same way you’d get them a backpack for back to school that they really love, consider a sleeve a style statement, too.
Another thought: To differentiate your child’s laptop sleeve from the others — and to add one more safeguard from a lost laptop — consider a personalized laptop sleeve with their name or initials. If you don’t find one you like that’s printed that way, a personalized zipper tag from Mabel’s Labels will do the trick.
But overall, design is the last consideration. Because a laptop sleeve has a very important job to do, especially right now.