Q&A: Traveling with technology

To send in your question for a Q&A post, contact me!

Should I take my MacBook to Europe? Should I invest in a NetBook instead? How do you keep your computer safe? -Eric

I say bring your MacBook if you want to fully document your travels with video and cut pieces while still traveling. Keep your technology safe by investing in the right pack and being uber-aware. I've written about the JanSport bag here, described the Alkr sleeve here, and here's a video on the Kata bags we used on location in Mexico with

Hope this video response answered your questions, and feel free to send anything my way!

Reviewing Alkr's Urban Protection Sleeve

Alkr Laptop Sleeve

I keep my MacBook Pro shinier than a baby's bottom. Never do I set my backpack down without taking extra care for my precious laptop. And when my travels brought me to Fiji in December, I needed something special to cover my silver slab of genius through the bumpy rides, sweltering heat, and cyclone weather. May I introduce my Alkr Urban Protection Sleeve; it's Fiji-tested.

The Melon Shock Sleeve

The dudes at Alkr are just like me; they love their technology and love to travel. They pose an interesting question, "Why not put your beloved gadget in something that excites you, much like the gadget itself?" With its cushioned interior and a flamboyant, durable neoprene exterior, it gets the job of protecting and invigorating...done.

The Urban Protection Sleeve offers the following:


Complete notebook protectionPadded at every angle, this sleeve absorbed the shock from multiple bouts of rough transportation, namely the carrier from the coastal highway to the inland valley of Namosi. Namosi means "valley of pain," since the journey to the interior on foot was a difficult one (the journey in the carrier not being that much better). Not only did the sleeve absorb the bone-rattling drive but also kept leaking tuna head juice on the floor from penetrating my laptop. That's some serious protection.

Form-fitting 3mm neoprene construction It certainly was form fitting, and this is one of the two reasons why I had a little difficulty with my sleeve. I have a 15" MacBook Pro, and placing it into the cover was always a tight squeeze, especially when I closed the zipper. I'm guessing it's essential to have the neoprene hug the computer in order to offer optimal protection, but a few millimeters here would have taken the pressure off the zipper and allowed it not to snag.

Heavy-duty zipper with closed-seam construction The closed seam and strong zipper, along with the tension of the tight squeeze, could be why the fabric holding the zipper became thin and unable to handle all the activity. It probably lasted a good month before I couldn't zip it fully anymore, for fear of not being able to take my laptop back out. These days, I simply place my computer in the sleeve and leave it unzipped, which still protects the laptop to a good extent. Sadly, one of the zipper handles also fell off because that which held it in place was bent from the pressure of zipping too strongly.

Cushioned interior with soft fleece lining As I said previously, the cushioning was fantastic, and the soft fleece lining superior. No complaints here!

Compatibility with many laptops The urban protection sleeve can accommodate the 13" MacBook, Air, and Pro, as well as the 15" MacBook Pro and PowerBook. Alkr is a new company, and their product line will grow in the future, possibly accommodating 17" MacBooks.

The Pro/Con Balance

My melon shock sleeve is one tight little case, as the appearance certainly reflects a creative and exciting air. I received my product mere days after the company launched its sales in certain countries, so I assumed I received one from a preliminary litter. Therefore, I was very understanding that it had a fit and zipper issue; it takes a while to perfect the product line. However, I would have preferred to have a fully functional case for my laptop in Fiji and today on my wee intra-state trips.

I didn't pay for this sleeve, but would I purchase my next one? Yes, because my issues with the sleeve's malfunctions would be covered in the warranty and replaced or repaired at no cost to me. I'd rather not go back to something dull and lifeless.


The Real Travel Situations I put my laptop and sleeve in a thin backpack on the floor of the carrier en route to the village. A woman sitting at the front of the bed had recently purchased a frozen fish head that was melting its juices in a stream toward my backpack. I didn't realize what happened until we grabbed the pack and smelt the odor. Thankfully, my laptop didn't smell at all like fish, and the sleeve easily rid itself of the smell in a simple hand wash.

I took at least ten trips on the village carrier, three-hour bumpy rides through rivers, potholes, and hurricane aftermath. My laptop never incurred any damages.

The zippers easily fit together to lock up, keeping unwanted guests from playing games and fiddling with my laptop.

The Bottom Line

Part of the reason why I'm still a fan of Alkr is the person behind it. Juergen found me via twitter after I inquired about laptop cases. His outreach was amazing, and I found him to be a very kind and reliable guy. I'm not interested in doing business with apathetic people, and as I've told many backpackers I've met around the world, I simply love Germans. Win...and win for Alkr.

Next time you consider buying a gadget accessory (a laptop sleeve perhaps), give Alkr a perusal, because if you like any color in your life, you'll be barking up the right tree.

These sleeves are sold in stores in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Netherlands and Switzerland, but they can also be shipped via UPS around the world for a reasonable fee.