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Trade up to a leather laptop case

Ditch whatever high-tech, waterproof, ballistic nylon, gimmicky laptop bag you've been using and go back to basics with a high-quality leather case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Many laptop bags and cases have been reviewed on these pages, and the vast majority of them are well-made, functional, and completely appropriate for lugging a portable computer around town. The only problem is that you wouldn't want to be seen dead with the majority of them. No matter how many side pockets and shoulder pads they include, there's still a vestige of either college campus backpackor corporate stuffed-shirt nylon briefcase in just about every one.

That's why I keep finding myself ditching whatever high-tech, waterproof, ballistic nylon, gimmicky bag I've been using for a few weeks or months, and going back to basics: a leather case. The actual one has changed many times over the years, but the basic principles have remained the same: sturdy construction, clean design, buckles or snaps only, no zippers or Velcro, and a shoulder strap that isn't covered in foam rubber padding.

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.

In the following gallery, I've collected a trio of my favorite leather laptop cases, designed to hold small, medium, and large laptops. Of course, there are many other options out there, and don't be afraid to look for bags and cases that aren't specifically labeled as being made for laptops.