Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, co-founder of lifestyle magazine Lagom, founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, and an electronic musician.

Review: ColcaSac MacBook Air 11" sleeve

Posted on 22 September 2011 Comments

Article illustration for Review: ColcaSac MacBook Air 11" sleeve

Do you make cool stuff? Send me your product and in return I’ll give it a fair, unbiased review on the blog.

At the end of last week, I got an email from the folks at GearZap.com, asking if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their MacBook Air cases. I’m not a fan of hard cases and (being the hairy hippy that I am) lean more towards soft, handmade things; so I asked them if they could send me a ColcaSac MacBook Air 11" sleeve. In return, I promised them a fair, unbiased review.

The good

From the well-designed paper packaging, it’s clear that this was a product with great pride in its eco-friendly origins. I’m a sucker for nice packaging.

Photo of the ColcaSac MacBook Air 11 sleeve

I’m pleasantly surprised at just how ‘cosy’ the sleeve feels. I want to climb inside it! The wool-lined interior is clearly thick enough to protect from any scratches, but not so thick that the sleeve becomes bulky. I also like the way the wool is visible when the flap is secured — it’s a nice aesthetic touch.

Photo of the ColcaSac MacBook Air 11 sleeve

I threw the Air and sleeve into a small backpack and spent all of yesterday walking around Bristol, working from a couple of coffee shops and the studio. The whole time, the Air felt extremely well-protected. If it hadn’t been for other items I was carrying, I could’ve just taken the Air around in the sleeve, with no need for a backpack. It felt adequately protected in case it was dropped, and because it doesn’t look like a traditional laptop carrier, it gets bonus points for safety.

The not-so-good

Last year, I bought a handmade tweed sleeve for my iPad from Etsy and the way the device slots into it is just lovely. It’s smooth and the fit is spot-on. By comparison, the ColcaSac Air sleeve feels a little tight. That’s fine, since tightness prevents movement inside the sleeve, but when you put the power adaptor into the pocket, everything becomes a little too tight. In fact, this is one thing that puzzled me: for a pocket that is so obviously meant to house the power supply, it’s clearly too small. It fits, but only just, and the tightness of the pocket results in the fabric being pulled up everywhere else, which you can see in this photo:

Photo of the ColcaSac MacBook Air 11 sleeve

It’s a shame, because an extra centimetre or two would probably fix this entirely.

One other feature I like about my iPad sleeve that’s missing from this Air sleeve is the additional, larger pocket on the back. There’s definitely room for one on the ColcaSac and its addition would’ve allowed for more storage: an iPhone USB cable, perhaps, and maybe a mobile broadband dongle? They could sit in the smaller front pocket and the back pocket could solve the problem of the charger not fitting that well.

I mentioned earlier that the Air felt adequately protected should I drop it. That said, it’s worth noting that the corners may be very, very slightly visible if you attach the flap to the velcro in the normal position. For better protection, it’s worth pulling the flap down a little further so that the corners are properly covered, but this means that the velcro strips aren’t in full contact. It’s a tiny niggle, but again, one centimetre could’ve made a difference.

In conclusion

It’s a shame that the ColcaSac sleeve only has one pocket and it’s a pocket that’s a tad too tight for the Air’s power supply, but despite this, it looks great, it provides decent protection when closed tightly, and it has a personal charm lacking from most laptop accessories. Oh, and it’s made from sustainable resources, too. You can’t argue with that.

You can view my full-size photos on Flickr.

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