Until it fell victim to the Flexgate calamity, my MacBook Pro had been spending the past few months comfortably ensconced in a stick-on Toast leather cover. I’ve always been a fan of phones with leather backs, so when the opportunity arose to have the same on my laptop, it just seemed like a good idea. Or, at the very least, a fun one. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but I can recount the lessons I learned along the way for anyone else who might be curious.
Toast is a small Portland company that does business the way you might imagine a firm from that city would: everything is “proudly designed & handcrafted” in the USA, there’s an emphasis on care for the environment, and you can customize a bespoke design. In an effort to show off the latter, the company slapped a handsome Verge logo on the pair of review stick-on covers that I tested, which cost $169 ($99 for the top cover and $60 for the bottom) without the custom design, or $199 with it. Toast also do wood covers that start at $59.
I made two basic errors when choosing the leather cover for my MacBook. The first of them — no, I didn’t pick the wrong laptop model — was that, in my quest to try out something new and different, I opted for the “Moscow mule” color option. Only later would I find out that Moscow mule is the name of an alcoholic drink that’s typically served in a shiny copper mug. I do mean shiny. On the website, it looked like a reasonably demure, tan leather finish with plenty of cool texture to it. But in reality, this is what Toast calls a metallic leather, and the cover I received does indeed have a metallic sheen to it that really doesn’t look like leather.
Over the course of extended use, I discovered that it doesn’t age or feel much like leather, either. Because of whatever weird finishing treatment it’s received, the leather doesn’t build a patina the way it usually would, and that’s a shame. So my immediate tip is to not try and be clever with unnatural leather colors: pick whatever is most organic and closest to the leather’s original state.
My other miscalculation relates to the thickness of the Toast leather covers. Though they’re applied by sticking them on to the laptop, they’re nowhere near as thin as conventional stickers. At the edge of the MacBook Pro, the top leather cover is about as thick as the side of the display lid. The effect of putting two thick layers of leather on your laptop, it turns out, is that it really beefs up your portable computer. The MBP, like all laptops these days, is a ridiculously thin machine — so for a lot of people the leathered-up version will feel more substantial. And, because it’s softer and nicer to the touch than the laptop’s cold metal, the leather cover is more inviting too. But, for my purposes, the increase in thickness was unwelcome, and it made the laptop harder to fit when trying to pack my bag to the fullest.
What impressed me most about Toast’s leather covers is their ease of installation. I’m obsessive enough to appreciate the perfect matching of the MacBook Pro’s top and bottom parts, which makes the sides of the closed laptop feel as if they’re one, and I feared I’d never be able to apply a sticker on top of them precisely enough. But Toast provides a nice quick guide to applying the covers correctly, and once I was able to align one side, the remaining process was a matter of simply peeling away the protective sheet of paper and laying the cover into place.
After weeks and weeks of use, neither the top nor bottom leather cover ever slipped from the original position I laid it into. The bottom cover did start to wear down at the four spots of the MBP’s rubber feet, but otherwise, the Moscow mule finish has held up entirely unchanged. I’m sure I’ve saved myself more than a few scratches and bumps on the laptop with the help of these covers. And, lest you’re worried about the computer overheating because it can’t expel heat as well as without a cover, I’ve had zero such issues. The fan spins up exactly as often with the covers on as without them.
Beside the initial pecuniary cost, there’s another price you have to keep in mind with something like these sticker covers. They’re an absolute nightmare to remove. When I handed my MBP in to Apple to have the Flexgate problem fixed, the entire display got replaced, so the top of my returned laptop was lovely and beautiful, but the bottom part still had a ton of leftover glue from the removed sticker. So, if you do decide to leather up your aluminum laptop, you’ll probably want to keep that cover on permanently.
A good way to judge my experience of the leather cover is to ask whether I miss it now that it’s gone. The answer is no. I prefer the thinner, sleeker profile of the uncovered laptop, and I favor its hard metal exterior. It’s a machine that feels like a machine. And yet, I can see a lot of people absolutely loving the softer, friendlier, grippier texture of the leather cover, along with the added protection it provides. Maybe just avoid that Moscow mule madness.