A good-quality leather bag is expensive, but it can last many times the lifespan of your average laptop case.
We've collected a trio of favorite leather laptop cases, designed to hold small, medium, and large laptops. Will you pay more for the privilege of not having 50 little pockets or a special water bottle holder? Definitely, but a good-quality leather bag can also last many times the lifespan of your average laptop case. In fact, the right leather wears its age with pride, as each scratch and nick adds character.
$230 and up
Vaja makes beautifully constructed leather accessories for laptops, tablets, iPods, and other portable tech. This particular case is designed to specifically fit a 13-inch MacBook, but it also works fine for Netbooks, tablets, and most 11- or 12-inch laptops (chunkier 13-inch systems may not fit).
We've used this bag off and on for a couple of years, and it's very comfortable, with thick padding (unusual for a leather case) and a single slim pocket along the back, good for papers or a magazine. Vaja updates it designs frequently, and this exact model doesn't look like it's currently available, but we did see a similar tablet/ultraportable case and a series of leather sleeves for MacBooks.
My current favorite, this Jack Spade bag isn't specifically designed to be a laptop case, but it works almost perfectly as one. It'll fit most 13-inch laptops, and I often use it for 11-inch ultraportables, an iPad, or sometimes both at the same time. There's a generous front pocket, with room for AC adapters or other accessories, and the interior is lined with canvas.
Sometimes you need to carry a laptop that's a little bigger than a 13-inch or ultraportable. That's when a more traditional briefcase-shaped bag is handy, as in this example from the Saddleback Leather Company. The larger of this company's two laptop-friendly briefcase styles (each of which comes in a couple of sizes) easily fits two midsize laptops, with AC adapters and accessories. The case is divided into two equal-size compartments, and a long shoulder strap can be wound through a metal ring to create backpack straps.
The case is heavy, weighing 6.5 pounds by itself, and the front flap shuts with large metal buckles, rather than a button or magnetic closure. Like the Jack Spade bag, there's no extra padding for laptops, but the leather is thicker than anything we've seen in a bag before, and the interior lining is pigskin, which the company says is "the second strongest hide in the world, second to kangaroo."