Sometimes protecting a laptop from the world doesn't mean encasing it in a big bag. For many MacBook owners, a padded sleeve is just the answer for carrying that laptop around without adding bulk. Waterfield Designs has just released the new Dash Sleeve ($59) in a range of sizes for everything from the 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
The Dash Sleeve comes in basic black, but with two trims -- black and copper. The trim is applied to a slender line along one side, as well as on the brand label. The outside of the Dash is made of ballistic nylon, a material that holds up to years of abuse without showing wear. I have a Waterfield Designs bag that I've used almost daily since 2008 and the ballistic nylon still looks as good as it did the day I got the bag.
As a sleeve, the Dash is open only on one end. You slide your MacBook into the opening, and there's an elastic band that then moves into place to keep the MacBook from falling out. While it's in the Dash, your MacBook is snuggled in a plush liner and protected from bumps and drops by impact-resistant compression foam.
The "back side" of the sleeve has an elastic pocket that's perfect for carrying the MacBook's power brick and USB-C cable.
I tested the Dash Sleeve for the 12-inch MacBook and it fits the device like a glove. The elastic band holds the MacBook in place. I held the Dash upside down by the bottom edge and shook it hard (over a bed, just in case...) -- the band kept the MacBook from popping out. Likewise, the elastic pocket in the back holds the power adapter and cable nicely, and the "see-through" mesh of the pocket lets you see what's inside.
When I travel, I usually just toss my laptop into a slot in my backpack that's made to hold it -- unfortunately, that resulted in a previous laptop being scratched when I accidentally left a USB key in that same slot. The next time I travel, I'll put the MacBook in the Dash Sleeve, then slide it into my backpack for safe, scratch-proof travel. And when I'm at my destination, I can just carry the Dash and MacBook without having to lug around the full backpack.
Any negatives? The only thing I wish the Dash Sleeve had was a slot on the outside where I could stick a business card. That would help the MacBook get back to me in case of it being misplaced. As it is, I'll just stick one in the bottom of the big elastic pocket and hope that it's visible.
Gary Waterfield and his team at Waterfield Designs do amazing work, and I've been happy with every one of the products that I've tested. The Dash Sleeve is no exception to the rule. I know it's well-constructed and will last longer than I'll probably keep my MacBook... after which time it will be used to protect some future Apple device.