The Highs: Bihn quality; light weight; pockets for charger and a phone; shoulder strap included

 The Lows: No grab handle; quality isn’t free; linguistic confusion is a no-cost extra

 The Verdict: Much goodness in a small package

The iPad covers available from Apple are great for use around the house, but what do you do when you leave the confines of your apartment or home? For maximum protection against shocks and drops, a well padded sleeve is in order. Tom Bihn’s Breve, (pronounced “breeve,” but more on that later) offers excellent protection in a good looking, durable package.

The Breve – which of course works with both the original and 2nd Gen iPads – is made with uber durable 1050d ballistic nylon, and is available in six nifty colors (“Steel” is shown here). The front of the Breve features two pockets, both of which are lined with Ultraseude for protecting your electronic goodies: the pocket on the left is perfect for a smartphone, and its counterpart is suited to carrying the iPad’s AC adapter, power cord, a pair of ear buds, and a package of chewing gum – there isn’t a lot of real estate available.  The back of the Breve features a single pocket for, as Mr. Obvious would point out, your iPad. Note that the back panel’s sewing divides it into thirds, adding visual interest and a bit of extra rigidity, a detail that you’ll not find on lesser bags:

All of the #5 YKK zippers on the Breve feature plastic sliders, so there’s no risk that your electronics can be damaged by contacting them.  The main compartment features open cell foam padding which is laminated to ultra soft brushed nylon. The Breve boasts typical Bihn quality materials and workmanship:

Stitching is uniformly excellent; the 1″ wide web strap removes in seconds, should you wish to use the Breve as a sleeve in your backpack or other bag.

The 1050d ballistic nylon has a pleasing texture and rugged feeling heft; other colors include Kiwi, Black, Forest, Cardinal, and Navy. Though no grab handle is present, the material’s tactile quality makes it unlikely that it’d slip out of your hand.

The smaller of the two front pockets is ideally suited to your iPhone or other smartphone.  Although the zipper tab is metal, the pull itself, again, is polymer.


  • Main fabric: 1050d ballistic nylon
  • Lining: brushed nylon (main compartment); Ultraseude (front pockets)
  • Shoulder strap: 1″ wide nylon web; removable
  • External dimensions: 13″ x 10″ x ~1/2″
  • Weight: 10 ounces; 285 grams
  • Made in Seattle, WA

What’s in a name?

The linguists among my readers are no doubt aware that the most common use of “breve” is the accent breve, that symbol ( ˘ ) which appears over a vowel to indicate that it has a short sound, like the “a” in “bat,” for instance.  The dictionary definition for breve features this guide to its pronunciation:  brēv. In this case, the accent macron indicates a long vowel; the word is to be pronounced “breeve.” Why the fuss? The Bihn site features a video in which the bag is referred to as “brev;” beneath the video link is an apology, as follows: “sorry that i’ve mis-pronounced breve. the correct pronunciation is bre-veh.” Egad. You know you’re in trouble when your own guys can’t figure out how to pronounce your product’s name.

In any event, the Breve, however you want to pronounce the name, is a lovely little bag/sleeve. Priced at $55, it’s certainly on the higher end of the market, but run of the mill sleeves generally don’t feature the kind of quality, nor the lifetime guarantee, that’s part of the Bihn experience.  See it here:  Tom Bihn Breve

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5 Comments on Review: Tom Bihn Breve for iPad/iPad 2

  1. Kevin says:

    An afterthought: breve is also a musical term.

    1. A musical note, rarely used in modern music, having the time value of two semibreves or whole notes.
    2. A written or printed mark (˘) indicating a short or unstressed vowel.

    Perhaps its use by Tom is an oblique reference to the fact that this bag can accommodate either of the two iPad iterations. Bihn uses this term elsewhere on his site; perhaps someone can offer an explanation.

    My point, which may be lost in all this (!), is that if the pronunciation of your product’s name isn’t obvious, a simple explanation may be in order.


  2. Michael W. says:

    I have gone over to the Rebel Alliance; I type this on a Mac mini. Actually on a Microsoft “natural” keyboard and MS mouse hooked up to the new Mac mini hooked up to a Viewsonic IPS monitor. So there is some irony in my shift of CPU/operating systems to the Mac world while keeping my accessory feet in the Win world – in addition, the Mac mini is SO much cheaper than the admittedly nice iMac, plus it has the added advantage of being indistinguishable, in my wife’s technologically myopic eyes, from the cheapie Zotac box it replaced (about the same “form factor” as the Mac mini, fortunately).

    Well to the point. Will your Macbook Air fit the Breve? Would you want a Macbook Air version? The new Macbook Air 11.6″ is SLICK and is apparently flying off the shelves at a much faster rate than the old Core Duo edition – the people have spoken, and they definitely want “i’s” as in i5’s and i7’s.

    I don’t think $55 is bad for this “sleeve with strap hooks.” $40 seems the going rate for other iPad sleeves, and they aren’t as versatile.

    I think when it comes to carry modes, I now favor the “two bag” theory. My daily bag, with the usual junk, plus a separate bag for my netbook or iPad. If I carried my computing device (that is so say, a computing device larger than the iPod Touch in my daily bag) daily, then I would have to think about “one bag to rule them all.” But in my “occasional” mode, I’d rather carry my netbook or iPad separately, in a neoprene case with handles, or in something like this Breve. The Breve is slick because it DOESN’T try to carry too much “other stuff”. Bravo for the Breve!


    Kevin Reply:

    In my draft of the article I mentioned the fact that if the Breve was ~1.5″ longer, the 11″ MB Air would fit, but deleted the comment as the bag is expressly designed for the iPad.

    Would I want one for the Air? Maybe, but remember that I have the Brenthaven sleeve, I have the built in sleeve in my Timbuk2 messenger, for the last week or so I’ve been using the Rickshaw MB Air horizontal sleeve with a couple of their messenger bags… but I’m hardly a normal consumer when it comes to bags. (Neither are you!)

    Personally, I don’t go anywhere with just the Air. If I’m walking around the house, I carry it naked. (The Air, not me.) Traveling outside the house, it’s usually in a daily bag that accommodates it, or at worst, in the Brenthaven sleeve, in a bag which doesn’t have provision for carrying a small laptop.

    Congrats on the mini!


  3. Scott says:

    Have one and I love it. I use it as a sleeve in my messenger bag (Bihn Ego) when I carry my laptop and I shove it in a backpack when I’m carrying camera gear. I use the pockets (tiny, for sure) for apple accessories like the charger and a stylus. I rarely carry it solo but I like the flexibility when I do.

    I now own four Bihn bags and they are all top quality. As I write this I am living out of an Aeronaut while on a week long beach vacation.

    I call it my iPad bag and forget tripping over the correct pronunciation.


    Kevin Reply:


    Thanks for the comment. I have no issues at all with the bag as stated in the review; the name issue is just me being cranky. Enjoy your vacation!


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