When it comes to protecting your Microsoft Surface – and in this case, the Surface Book 2 15-inch – there is everything from bags, backpacks, skins, and sleeves. The Thule Gauntlet 3.0 is one of the most popular brands for sleeves especially for MacBook Pro users, but it also works nicely with any 15-inch Windows PC.
I spent the last week with the Thule Gauntlet and here is what's good and bad about it.
Thule Gauntlet 3.0 design
The Gauntlet 3.0 is developed by Thule, which is based out of Sweden. The company has been around since 1942 is mostly known for its specialty in consumer bike racks, snow chains, horse trailers, and various other "transportation solutions."
The Swedish design prowess is shown off with the Gauntlet 3.0, which I unabashedly bought in "storm/lichen" for a color scheme. If you find my color choice offensive, don't worry— Thule also sells it in a more conservative black, and a more colorful "potion/Aruba" (purple and blue).
Design features of the sleeve are basic but include:
- A rigid exterior provides added protection to your device.
- Padded interior protects hardware from bumps and scratches.
- The clamshell design enables you to use your device while still in the case and helps protect from the elements.
- Internal dimensions of the product are 9.7 X 14.1 X 0.7 (W x L x D).
The cloth exterior protects a semi-hard-shell frame, which makes the Gauntlet different from most sleeves that are just large leather pockets. It felt more like a small suitcase than an envelope in that regard, but the weight is still very light at 1.05lbs (476g).
Even that cloth exterior is rugged and textured, with unique angles and dips to give the Gauntlet some personality. Thule does not consider this crush proof (like a Pelican), so it's not industrial-level rugged, but rather just adds more protection than a normal soft sleeve.
There are two heavy-duty zippers with flies that let you seal the Gauntlet from any starting point. The Gauntlet 3.0 falls under Thule's 25-year warranty for a broken zipper – something you usually never find when buying these products.
Finally, the inside is nicely padded with brightly colored cloth. Two side straps hold the lid from falling back completely. That's a smart trick as it means you can use your laptop without removing it from the Gauntlet – perfect for those outside, or who just need to do some quick work. There are no straps that latch down the laptop, however, so keep that in mind.
What fits in the Gauntlet 3.0?
Thule designed the Gauntlet 3.0 for 15-inch laptops. The Surface Book 2 15-inch fits, though initially it is is tight at the top and bottom of the Surface Book 2. After a few days and some breaking in the fit becomes a bit more forgiving, and there's enough room on the sides that you can leave the Surface Pen mounted to the laptop's side.
The Dell XPS 15 also had no problem fitting that into the Gauntlet 3.0.
Being a sleeve there's not much room for anything else including a charger. There are also no secondary pockets or handles — this is a sleeve for your laptop and nothing more.
Those with 13-inch devices like the smaller Surface Book 2 or Dell XPS 13 can use the Gauntlet 3.0 too, but there is a lot more space for the laptop to slide around. Sure, it's padded on the inside so your laptop will probably be fine, but it'd be better to get the smaller 13-inch Thule Gauntlet sleeve.
Gauntlet 3.0: A quality, unique sleeve
My travel and lifestyle needs led me overlook sleeves for laptops. I've been more drawn towards vertical messenger bags or even a high-quality backpack with a built-in laptop pocket. The Thule Gauntlet 3.0 changes that a bit for me. While I'll still use my preferred bags daily, the Gauntlet 3.0 is going to be my go-to choice for when I need to pack my Surface Book 2 in a suitcase, or I find myself in more rugged conditions.
The bright, lively color, which nicely matches my "Flyover" DecalGirl skin, the rigidity of the case, and the overall modern look make the Gauntlet 3.0 a winner. While I would have preferred a small grab-handle, that's not a deal breaker.
Toss in the 25-year warranty for the zipper and the high, but fair, asking price of $50 and I can highly recommend the Thule Gauntlet 3.0 anybody using a 14- or 15-inch laptop, even the awkwardly shaped ones like the Surface Book 2.
- Unique and modern design.
- More protection than just a soft sleeve.
- Long warranty on the zipper.
- Can use laptop while in the sleeve.
- Higher cost than most sleeves.
- A bit tight for Surface Book 2.
- Grab-handle would have been nice.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.