BEST Apple laptop protection for travel

As I set out to travel again, now with a brand new MacBook Air after my first one was stolen, I sought out and finally found the best case for myself and other travelers to use on our Macintosh computers — but, surprise, the protection solution is not actually a case. It’s a simple combo.

If your  laptop is not a Mac, part of this will be helpful and perhaps you’ll be able to adapt some of this for another laptop computer, but I have not found a snap-on shell for other brands. From what I understand, the models change too often for manufacturers to create the shells.

I always want to be able to pull my Mac (or netbook/laptop) out of my satchel or handbag, pop it open, work, slap it closed, slide it back into the bag, and run. This is why I bought a tiny laptop.

However, that laptop needs protection and that took some consideration.

  • I want my laptop protected while in my handbag/daypack/backpack/suitcase.
  • I need to be able to pack it for travel and have it be protected.

But I also want my laptop protected while I’m using it. That’s key.

I have a full explanation for you below, but to get right to the point, here’s THE BEST protect-your-MacBook solution for travel.

STM snap-on protective shell and RadTech Sleevz sleeve
STM snap-on case covered by RadTech Sleevz sleeve

If you’d like to hear me talk about this solution, have a listen to me with Benjamin Rockwell for Computer Talk Radio, his syndicated over the air radio show.

People commonly slide their precious laptops into a padded case for travel, transport, and once they are done using it for the day. But what about protection while they are using the laptop? What good is your protection if you’re removing it to work? 

I’ve had a hard shell on my previous MacBooks since Speck came out with their hard shell case.  I loved the colors and knew it was protecting my MacBook from scratches but didn’t have faith that their shells would absorb impact. I looked at some others and again questioned impact protection. 

And then… I found that Radtech, a company I deeply respect, was selling an STM snap-on case that I immediately saw would not only absorb shock but also would prevent the Mac from slipping out of my hands. I could never call this case pretty, but I knew — rightly so — that it would give me the protection I needed.

The STM snap-on case was the best find! It was THE BEST SOLUTION for protecting my Mac when it was in use as well as in my carry bag. 

But that was only part of the solution. When you’re carrying a laptop, if it falls, it may well open and then you’re looking at a smashed screen, a dented body, an ill-fitting lid…  

I have suffered MacBook trauma before and it wasn’t fun. In fact, the night before I was doing several presentations at Macworld Expo I watched my Mac slide off of a slightly curved shiny new hotel lobby desk and crash to the floor, in a briefcase actually. Although my hard drive was fine, that Mac was not viable to use on my early presentation. It was not a good situation and I never wanted that to happen to me, or to anyone, ever again.

Here’s a look at my solution.

The RadTech Sleevz sleeve takes up virtually no space.
How much space does your laptop bag take up?

The RadTech Sleevz sleeve, which comes in 6 great colors, is a light weight non-woven cloth that retells water and can also be used to clean your screen.

When you take your laptop out of its case, how much space does it take up? Here’s mine sitting beside my cup of coffee as I await a repair at a car dealership. As you can see, it’s not adding bulk or significant weight in any bag that I carry.

It’s meant to slide directly over your MacBook and stay snug. (And that it does, for years.)

It also fits over the STM shell, below. 

The STM “Grip” snap-on case.

Proof of Protection

Just months after I started using this case/sleeve solution, I had my MacBook in my thin fabric ChicoBag travel handbag and the handbag strap untied, crashing from hip-height down to the cement sidewalk. Gasping and praying, I picked it up. The MacBook was totally unharmed.

If you look closely at the photos of the top and bottom of the case, you can see the extend of the impact. The MacBook was 100% unharmed (as verified by Apple’s amazement at the perfect condition of this MacBook after over 5 years of use.

That tiny crinkle at the top left was the full extend of the impact. This is a case that absorbs impact! The bottom of the case had no visible impact.

The STM Grip snap-on case after hitting the ground.
The full “damage” to the STM case and the MacBook after the fall


STM stopped making this exact model (Grip) snap-on, but continues to make other styles of protective snap-on cases that they assure me are just as protective, if not more.

I have also seen and touched a snap-on case by Tech21 but have not had the opportunity to use one and drop it 4′ onto cement.