Knomo Macbook / Macbook Air Sleeve (with shoulder strap) Review


Senior Moderator
I have to confess: I have too many messenger bags. I do not know why everything must turn into a collection; DVDs... books... glasses and sunglasses do not count as I just keep breaking them so can do with a few spare :p,... now messenger bags

Aluminium 13" Macbook owner. For that I currently own the
Knomo Stirling Messenger : Product Page | Youtube Review
Wrappers Cordura Sleeve : Product Page | My photos

The Stirling is mostly great. You can see the YouTube review which covers most of the good points (and bad), but not mentioned on there is that not only is it slim + upright, but also designed to hug your body - all of which is great for keeping it discreet and lower profile than a standard messenger bag.
But on some days I just do not want to carry all that much. I do not feel the Wrappers alone is sufficient, so off to the Apple store I went for a slim fitting sleeve bag with a shoulder strap. An iPod case was not all I purchased...

Contenders: Knomo v Incase
Knomo Macbook / Macbook Air Sleeve : Product Page
Incase Nylon Macbook Sleeve Plus : Product Page

Just these two in the store fitted the bill. Why did I discount the Incase? A v.helpful employee even went to the back and grabbed another colour choice for me to compare. Well firstly it does not look as nice in person as it does in published shots. And leather vs Nylon was only going to be one winner...
Second, the various clips and attachments were plastic vs metal on the Knomo. I am sure it was fine, and a form fitting bag has limited scope for heavy duty lifting but it mattered. And the Incase also had a few more pockets than the Knomo for adding bits and pieces. Wider too. Knomo only has main notebook compartment and two slim document-pockets either side. But I just wanted a no-frills slim sleeve with a shoulder strap, and I already own the Stirling. If I did not then I might still be at the store deciding!

How the Incase was superior:
Carry handles options. Could be cleverly tugged away into little flaps built into the body. More storage space pockets (see previous). Shoulder strap was nicely padded, unlike my Stirling's strap which can dig when the bag was packed. And so that leads us to -

Initial impressions
My Flickr gallery - Click to view all pics (+ max 4000x3000 res if you are a member). I have not linked to every photo. For example I took a few pics of the stitching and corners to get an idea of the finish. The sleeve is black leather. If it appears brown in some shots it was because of the overcast-light coming in through the window playing havoc. Ditto with the yellow interior. Note Stirling is brown leather
All pics are clickable thumbnails

Minimalist. Stylish. And a 'Thank you' sticker

Not a stitch or seam out of place. The shoulder strap is detachable and adjustable in length. Clips onto the Sleeve with two hooks on the inside of the back pocket
It is not padded at all so might rub against the skin, but the sleeve is not likely to ever be particularly heavy to carry...
Stirling has a flag with magnetic closure which I love. Silent and discreet. No velcro or zips to contend with. Knomo Sleeve uses zipped closure. No lip though on the inside so a worry about whether it scratches...
Two slim document-pockets have no zips, flaps or otherwise. Exposed - but I knew that when I chose it over the Incase with its flap cover

Next to Stirling

Water test

Featuring Crumpler Boomer L, Knomo Stirling and Knomo Sleeve (not pictured are other fabric messenger bags not intended for notebook use.) Very important test as the Sunshine State Britain is not. So armed with a bottle of water...

Note that the Crumpler has Velcro closing but top corners of the flap have exposed openings. Stirling is leather and nylon. Waterproof. From 3 months of use I can tell you nothing inside has ever gotten wet, except only slightly for anything in the back pocket, but that was negated by the fact it clings to your body

Here we can see the main body of the sleeve is waterproof. But I wanted to test the zipped closure. The pockets which do not have a zip or flap closing have tricklets of water flowing down.
Undoing the zip, some of the tissue paper padding insert that came inside was slightly wet at the point where the zips met. Pic looks worse than it was. It was slightly moist. I kept poking it until a hole appeared :p
Note that ordinarily you would have the zips closed at the side as this was just for a test, but something to bear in mind

Continued after the break due to image code limit...
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Senior Moderator
Fit with Macbook + power supply, and conlusion

The Sleeve was originally advertised as a "Macbook Air" sleeve, but this was later changed to include "Macbook". As can be seen from the pics, the Air will easily slide inside. Good fit for the Macbook. As there is no lip on the inside of the zip closure, I would advise that you need to always have the zips opened at either side when putting your Mac in or taking out

To test the front pocket, I also put in the second AC plug for good measure. Knomo just about there with the sizing, but confirmation then that anything placed in the two pockets will be exposed to the elements. At this point the sleeve and leather was quite stretched so I did not bother with the pocket on the back, but you could put in a magazine or such like. Nothing thicker though. Pockets then have enough room for AC plug, a phone, MP3 player, usb memory stick, magazine but not much else. No "etc" here. That's all you are fitting in. But you can't if its raining(!)
In light of that, the fact the shoulder strap has no padding is negated by the fact you will not be carrying much anyway!

To emphasise the near perfect form fit for the Aluminium Macbook, I also placed it inside the Cordura sleeve and then into the Knomo Sleeve. Very tight fit at the corners. Yep, it was the square corners of the Cordura sleeve slightly intruding on the zip closure! Needed a push. But its been over 24 hours and trying it just before I typed this, the leather was already stretched out sufficiently

How much padding is there? About 0.75cm I would say. Mountain biking companion it is not. Shoulder strap could be detached and you can carry it under your arms or put it inside a larger bag. I liked the overall classy look. Branding extends to the Knomo badge on the front and a serial on the inside. What you get is a slim form-fitting, messenger style sleeve with a little style for when you only want to carry your Macbook (Air) and nothing else.

What I liked
+ Slim and form fitting, with shoulder strap
+ Stylish
+ Well made + lightweight
+ As advertised in carrying your Mac and power supply only
+ Cheap? as stylish leather sleeves (with shoulder strap) can run into high numbers (e.g. Vaja)

What I did not like
- No lip on the inside of the zip closure. Should be one to prevent (fear of) scratches and to aid towards waterproofing. Note I have no idea if the zips will indeed scratch; its just conjecture
- Side pockets exposed to the weather. Perhaps a flap with magnetic closure? - but might break the look
- As advertised in carrying your Mac and power supply only
- Expensive? There might be better things out there like the Incase Nylon Sleeve and cannot necessarily be called ugly

If I have missed anything or there is a mistake that needs correction, or if there is a mistake such as with the thumbnail links then please let me know

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