Thule, the long-time maker of automobile bike racks and cargo carriers, got into the gadget-protection business a few years back; last year, I reviewed the company’s 13” Protection Sleeve. Since that review, Thule has added a number of models to the company’s laptop-sleeve line. The most versatile is the $80 13″ MacBook Pro + iPad Attaché, which is designed for those who like to carry both a laptop and an iPad. (The Attaché is also available in a 15-inch version for the same price.)
Like the Protection Sleeve I reviewed last year, the Attaché is made of sturdy, semi-rigid, high-density polyurethane with an embossed design reminiscent of Thule’s cargo carriers. Add the Attaché’s water-resistant zipper, and you get a case that’s safe to carry in the rain. A pair of nylon, lightly padded handles and a removable nylon shoulder strap with a thick, adjustable shoulder pad provide carrying options. Remove the strap, and at 13.6 inches wide, 9.7 inches tall, and 2.2 to 3.5 inches thick, and the case can fit inside a larger bag or suitcase. The Attaché weighs 1.7 pounds when empty and accommodates any 13-inch aluminum MacBook or MacBook Pro, any 13-inch white MacBook, and the 13-inch MacBook Air.
The Attaché uses a clamshell design—unzip the zipper and the case opens like a laptop. The bottom (the side closest to your body when you’re carrying the case) holds your MacBook, securing it with a 1.5-inch-wide elastic strap positioned horizontally across the middle of the computer. The top of the case is considerably deeper—especially near the hinge—and includes a mesh pouch that can hold your laptop’s power adapter and a few other similarly bulky items.
In between the top and bottom sections of the case is a rigid panel. On the side facing the top of the case are three slim pouches for an iPhone, a travel mouse, and some cables; you can also fit some standard-size documents or a magazine in between this panel and the top of the case. On the other side of this panel is a padded pouch for an iPad—bare or, at most, with a Smart Cover or a similarly thin case or cover.
This pouch fits an iPad fine, and it provides good protection by sandwiching your tablet between the rigid panel and your laptop. However, the pouch doesn’t have any sort of strap or flap to keep the iPad from slipping out. When the middle panel is flipped back against the accessory-storage side of the Attaché, there’s a Velcro strap that holds the panel—and, thus, the iPad—in place, but you have to be careful when accessing your other gear that your iPad doesn’t slip out of the pouch.
Thule says the Attaché is designed to let you use your laptop without having to remove it from the case. More accurately, you have to first pull your MacBook out of the case, so that it’s no longer held in place by the elastic strap, and then put it back in the case. You can then open the computer’s screen and work right in the case. (The top of the case is connected to the bottom by two elastic straps that keep the top from falling back.) It’s a tight fit to use your laptop in the case, but it works—with a couple caveats. The first is that because of the side straps, and to keep the weight of the top of the case from causing the whole thing to tip over, you can’t open your laptop’s screen much more than 90 degrees. Second, although the Attaché fits the 13-inch MacBook Air, the bottom of the case is really designed for the thickness of a MacBook Pro or MacBook, so the front edge of the Attaché extends above the Air’s wrist rests.
If you appreciate laptop-bag minimalism, the Attaché is an appealing carrying case that’s sturdy, protective, and reasonably priced. Unlike most rigid sleeves, it holds most of your basic portable gear, including your laptop, your iPad, your iPhone, and multiple power adapters. Thule’s signature look may not be for everyone—it straddles the line between X-games sporty and millennial professional—but there’s no question the Attaché’s appearance matches its water- and bump-resistant functionality.