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Tested: This is the leather backpack for MacBook Pro that Apple would make

If Apple made a leather backpack for MacBook Pro models, I’m pretty sure it would look and feel a lot like the Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack.

Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for premium leather bags, and I’m an equal opportunity guy when it comes to different leather styles and finishes. But if you look at things like Apple’s leather sleeve for the MacBook Pro, it’s clear that the company favors extremely smooth and soft leather, at a price that reflects the quality – and that’s exactly what we get with this backpack …

It’s available in two sizes, one for 13- to 14-inch laptops, the other for 15- to 16-inch ones. I tested the larger of the two, which comfortably accommodates my 16-inch MacBook Pro, alongside my 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard in a separate slot.

Look and feel

The backpack measures around 16 inches high by 11 inches wide by 2 inches deep. The shallow depth is deliberate: The pack is designed to hold a laptop and a few other bits and pieces, and to do so in as little space as possible.

It’s made from full-grain cowhide leather, in a choice of three colors: tan, black, and deep brown. The quality of the leather is absolutely first-rate. It’s a very smooth-looking leather and is buttery-soft to the touch. This is one aspect to which a review can never do justice, but if you’re familiar with Apple’s leather MacBook or iPad sleeves, it has a very similar finish and feel to those.

The main stitching is internal, and the visible stitching around the zips, exterior compartment, and backpack straps is really neat. Both zips are protected by rubber strips that completely hide the zip when closed.

This is a very expensive bag, but it really looks and feels the part.

Inside, there are two main slots, plus pockets for smartphone, cables, and so on. The smartphone slot is large enough to hold an iPhone 12 Pro Max. There’s a separate compartment on the outside of the bag with room for a power brick and cables.

In addition to the backpack straps, there’s a rear handle, and a slot for using it on a wheeled cabin bag.

In use

The backpack straps are comfortable, and the very slim design means you completely avoid the biggest drawback to backpacks: the danger of hitting someone or something when turning around.

There’s no leisure air travel in or out of the UK at present, but having used a similar slim backpack in the past, I’m confident that the bag would fit on top of a cabin bag in an overhead locker.

Of course, the two-inch depth does mean this is strictly a tech bag. A MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone, a few cables, and a power brick. This is not a general-purpose backpack, so you can forget any ideas about throwing in a water bottle and a sweater.

Pricing and conclusions

In US dollars, the 13- to 14-inch version costs $390, while the 15- to 16-inch version costs $418. Both come with free worldwide shipping.

That’s very expensive. But, given the quality, and the fact that Apple charges $199 just for a sleeve made from similar leather, I don’t think it’s out of line. This is a bag that stands up against some very well-known designer brands in terms of both look and feel. Whether it’s worth the money is a very subjective question, but I don’t think it has any problem justifying its price.

The slim design means that the Harber London backpack is definitely not the thing to buy if you’re a one-backpack person. But if, like me, you have different bags for different functions and occasions, this is a really great option to have when you want a comfortable way to carry a MacBook Pro and little else.

I also suspect it may become my standard second carry-on bag when we can travel again. The slim size means it’s not going to get any argument from airline staff about whether it qualifies as a laptop bag; the slot to fit over a roller-bag handle makes it super-convenient in airports; and a backpack is a more useful thing than a briefcase-style bag when wandering around at the destination.

The Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack is available in two sizes and three colors. It can be ordered from the company’s website, with pricing in a range of currencies, and free worldwide shipping.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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