We Got It For Free: Berg & Berg’s Laptop Case

Mathias Berg of Berg & Berg emailed me this past spring to see if I might be interested in trying out one of his new leather goods. He and his wife Karin founded their company four years ago and since then, they’ve gotten a lot of praise for their neckties, scarves, and pocket squares. Jesse reviewed a linen and silk piece in 2010, and my e-friend Nicolas has been a big fan of them since around that time as well.

Recently, Mathias and Karin decided to expand into knitwear and leather goods. I received one of their laptop cases last May and have been using it on a semi-daily basis ever since. It fits my 13” Macbook Pro perfectly, and the interior (which is lined with cotton canvas) has a small pocket for business cards, receipts, or just miscellaneous pieces of paper. Two magnetic brass snaps hold down the flap-over cover, and the simplicity of the design allows you to have easy access to your laptop. Nice, I think, if you often use your laptop in-between short stops on the subway line like me.

The case is billed as being made from vegetable-tanned, full-grain, vachetta leather. I admit being a bit confused on this since I’ve always understood vachetta to be that untreated, natural-colored leather used to make the handles on Louis Vuitton bags. Over time, direct sunlight and moisture will darken those handles to a nice golden, honey tan, and for that patina, the material is highly prized. Berg & Berg’s case doesn’t seem to be made from the same vachetta leather that I’m familiar with, but it’s nevertheless nice and rich, and comes in beautiful colors. It does scuff easily though, but like with traditional vachetta, you kind of have to embrace how the leather ages. I’ve taken pictures of mine and lightened up the photos so you can see how it looks after four months of reasonably hard use. I personally like the wear. 

Berg & Berg’s laptop case is one of nicest I’ve handled, but it’s also pretty expensive. On the upside, they have a few on sale right now at half off. The leather isn’t the same as what they bill as vachetta, but it too looks really good (I love the soft colors). They also have some really nice leather belts, wallets, and iPad cases in both their non-sale and sale sections. All really great things that I think are worth a look. 

A Laptop Case Roundup

I’ve been looking for a good laptop case for the last few months. My two briefcases, a Filson 257 and Lotuff English brief, don’t have any cushioning on the bottom, so I need something to protect my computer when I set my bag down. Unfortunately, most cases are made from neoprene or ballistic nylon, and I prefer more natural materials.

Luckily, there are still plenty of good options. On the expensive end, there’s Vaja and Want Les Essentiels. Both companies make exceptionally good products and their cases strike me as a bit smarter designed than most. Unfortunately, they’re also very pricey, and you might end up with something that won’t work with your next laptop purchase. Still, if money were no object for me, I would probably start here.

For slightly more affordable options, I really like Calabrese, Carga, and Ally Capellino. Calabrese is an Italian manufacturer of high-end bags with refined and sophisticated designs. Their laptop sleeve comes in a very beautiful tan leather, as well as dark and light canvas materials. Likewise, Carga has a very nice, simple option made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather, and Ally Capellino’s is made from (what seems to be) a tumble-washed canvas. If you’re a student, you can take a 12% discount at Ally Capellino, which makes theirs a bit more affordable still. 

There are also some really nice contemporary designs by Scandinavian companies such as Mismo, c.dellstrand, P.A.P. Accessories, and wood wood. For something that has more of a traditional sensibility, consider Saddleback Leathers and Restoration Hardware. Saddleback Leathers is known for making very high-quality leather goods, but I suspect Restoration Hardware is using cheaper materials (though, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to handle it). I also like WM J Mills and La Portegna. Their sleeves have handles, which may be convenient if you plan to carry them on their own.

For non-leather materials, consider Hard Graft and Pack & Smooch. They have some felted wool models that don’t look too shabby. Additionally, there are coated canvas sleeves from Incase and McManus, as well as a denim sleeve that came out of an Incase and APC collaboration. Perhaps most affordable of all is Wrappers, where you can buy a basic, no frills linen sleeve for about $30.

Finally, should none of these excited you, try searching Etsy. You have to get through a bit of chaff, but if you put in the work, you can find some decent looking designs. Check out Harlex and Byrd & Belle, for example. 

As for me, I’m hoping that Calabrese will make something for 13” laptops soon. I’m pretty set on that tan leather model