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Rugged Laptop Case: Choices for carrying a laptop on a bumpy trip

Importance of a sturdy laptop case has always been evident to intrepid business travelers. But recent security related changes in cabin luggage has made the requirement of rugged laptop cases even more important. In many countries, airports are now banning all cabin baggage on outgoing flights.

A soft laptop bag doesn't really do well when shoved in with rest of the luggage put in the hold as well as sometimes rough handling by the baggage handlers. While an Adamantium based bag would be ideal,  it is currently not available in our universe. In this universe, there are several options and tips while choosing a rugged laptop case:

Hardback (Crush-proof) case: As the name indicates these cases have a hard outer surface, protecting the contents from impact of external objects or from being placed at the bottom of a heap of luggage (so the case can take the pressure and not the laptop). The 1080 HardBack Case from Pelican is an example of such a case. One suggestion is to put a belt around the hard case while traveling. These cases may sprung open when dropped (locks are sometimes not effective).

If you have a desktop replacement laptop (e.g. a 17" laptop), then the importance of a rugged carrying case is even more important. Greater surface area makes them, especially the LCD, particularly vulnerable. Also, it is more probable that you will land up checking-in a heavier laptop.

Waterproof notebook case: What level of water protection you need from your laptop bag will depend on the type of places you take your laptop to. If you are a marine scientist and take your laptop extensively on boats you should probably invest in a fully waterproof laptop bag. A good example of waterproof laptop case is the Injection Molded Mil-Standard Submersible Laptop Computer Case from SKB. This case is molded of ultra high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin, featuring a gasketed, water and dust tight, submersible design (MIL-C-4150J) that is resistant to corrosion and impact damage. Features a continuous molded-in hinge, patent pending "trigger release" latch system, comfortable, snap-down rubber over-molded cushion grip handle, automatic ambient pressure equalization valve (MIL-STD-648C), resistance to UV, solvents, corrosion, fungus and impact damage (MIL-STD-810F).

A Waterproof laptop bag doesn't necessarily imply a hard case. Soft waterproof laptop bags do exist. E.g. the Ortlieb Zip City is designed to be a very basic waterproof, airtight shell with welded seams and waterproof top loading zipper.

When checking a laptop in, it may be tempting to pack it in with your clothes. Unfortunately, there are many incidences of cracked LCDs due to pressure put on normal luggage suitcases. Also, remember that after airport security goes through your stuff, the laptop may not be packed with your intended cushioning around it.

Overnight roller/Notebook Case Combo For folks who prefer not to carry on the laptop with them on the plane (even when the option is available), a good option to consider is specially made rollers which act as a standard overnight case but have a special protective section for a laptop. One such example is the Targus 17" Trademark II Overnighter. Traditionally designed toward luggage, this case offers a carrying case solution for overnight travel as it resolves the issue of carrying too many cases. In addition, it also deters notebook thieves as it looks like a standard overnight case, but also carries large size notebooks up to 17 inches. This case also includes easy access storage for PDAs, files, cell phone, airline tickets and clothes. There's even a zip away clothes section so personal belongings are hidden away during business meetings.

If you are putting together your own padding around the laptop, you may consider EthaFoam. Art museums ship delicate pieces of art protected by the high quality cushioning provided by ETHAFOAM* HS-900 polyethylene foam. Ethafoam is easy to cut into the appropriate shape for particular purposes

Many frequent travelers recommend that when carrying a laptop or any other item in an expensive looking rugged case, put the rugged case itself in a old duffel bag. A gun coloured stylish Zero Halliburton boasts strength, durability and style, but also provides a juicy target for thieves. Keeping it hidden behind an old looking gym bag is probably not a good idea. Washington DC Police provides following guideline for laptop theft prevention: Carry your laptop in a nondescript carrying case, briefcase, or bag when moving about. Placing it in a case designed for computers is an immediate alert to thieves that you have a laptop.

BTW, when buying a Pelican laptop case, take note of their guarantee restriction: The guarantee does not cover shark bite, bear attack and children under five.

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