Lunatik is a brand name that has got one of the most uniquely designed accessories out there for Apple's portable devices. The company recently introduced its first ever accessory for the iPad that isn't a stylus but rather a protective sleeve. The Flak Jacket, an impossibly slim sleeve, is currently only made to fit the Retina iPad mini 2 as well as the original iPad mini with or without a Smart Cover attached to it. The concept couldn't be any more simple than that. However, Lunatik has managed to put its own creative take on the traditional sleeve concept along with a rather interesting mesh of materials. Hop past the break for a more detailed review on Lunatik's new iPad mini sleeve.
The reason why Lunatik is so forward with its unique accessory designs is because behind it stands an innovative design firm called mnml; which is in charge of creating one-off consumer product designs that are like nothing you've ever seen. But enough about that. We're here to talk about Lunatik's Flak Jacket. If you've seen our review on the Seismik case for the iPhone 5 from Lunatik, you already know that the Flak Jacket shares a very similar design language not only to the Seismik case, but to also Lunatik's Truss system incorporated into protective cases – which primarily consists of these micro triangular patterns that are responsible for giving the Flak Jackets its unique style. And I must say, this is one of the coolest sleeves that I have ever used and seen. It's so different from any other sleeve that its aesthetically pleasing design alone merits the attention of any iPad user and people who appreciate nice things. But the fact that the Flak Jacket is super slim, yet still offers moderate sleeve-type protection for the iPad mini is what makes it a mighty good if not an ideal option.
The Flak Jacket will cost you $40 which is obviously less that what you would pay for a leather sleeve of this kind such as the CalypsoTab, Sena UltraSlim or the Incase City Sleeve, albeit it's still arguably pricy. Then again we haven't seen anything quite like the Flak Jacket. It's still one of the slimmest protective and silicone glove-like sleeve available. The closest sleeve we know of in existence is made by SwitchEasy and is called the Thins. Pricing aside, the Flak Jacket is also available in black as well as in contrasting two-tone colors like this mint with charcoal and pink with charcoal.
The material and build quality of the Flak Jacket is actually quite brilliant. It's made using a protective three-dimensional polyurethane pattern you see being covering the entire face and rear side of the Flak Jacket with a mesh-like triangular pattern that almost feels and looks like it could have been inspired by a pair of Nike training shoes. In fact, it is indeed inspired by footwear and active outerwear. There's a strong sporty essence due to that unique use of materials that just isn't common in these types of sleeve cases. Underneath that polyurethane mesh patterned skin is a seamlessly fused composite microfber material (which looks a lot like felt) that is what makes the construction of the sleeve itself. Like a hybrid between an Apple Smart Cover and a refined suede material, the Flak Jacket's interior composite microfiber material allows you to easily slide in or pull your iPad mini from within the Flak Jacket whilst providing a decent to minimal amount of protection against impacts and scratches. And I say that because the material of the Flak Jacket is thin and lacks padding except for that three-dimensional rubber-like pattern across the front and back. In other words, if you're serious about protection I highly doubt the Flak Jacket will serve you right.
The border around the Flak Jacket is particular great for impact absorption in that there is a excess space between the iPad and the outer edge. So during a drop there's more crumple zoneage along the edge.
By design, the Flak Jacket is capable of having a naked iPad mini inserted into it with or without a Smart Cover attached. Lunatik says that it'll also fit other comparable 8-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX. But it will not fit the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. Now this obviously proposes an issue with regard to form-fitting fit. What bothers me a little is that there's always extra space inside the sleeve when using a naked iPad mini. If you're not someone who uses a Smart Cover like myself, then you will find the Flak Jacket to be on the more roomier side. It's much like owning a suit that isn't tailored to your body or putting on a glove that's one size bigger.
Other than that, the Flak Jacket wasn't designed to carry any additional accessories such as your charging cables. And if that's important to you, an all-encompassing solution would something like the Booq Viper Hardcase sleeve.
Still though, the difference in the interior capacity isn't too concerning. I been using the Flak Jacket with a naked Retina iPad mini for quite some time now and while I wish Lunatik would have offered a more precise fit for naked tablets, the fit and overall exterior look of the sleeve is still excellent. It's still very slim and you aren't going to notice any tablet shaking or sliding going on inside this sleeve. What you will notice is a bit of pillowing which is a bit of trapped air inside that causes the extra bit of space to thicken up the thickness of the sleeve itself. Again, not a deal breaker.
As durable as it may by now, it is questionable whether or not this layer of mesh skin heat-fused to the rest of the sleeve will be an issue during future wear and tear. I've seen these type of applied rubbery layers in shoes being problematic in that they would start to peel away countless times. But so far I have yet to run into a single problem with regards to the Flak Jacket's build quality and materials. The sleeve so far has held up remarkably well and as it should considering that it was designed with material durability in mind.
Taking a brief look at the front of the Flak Jacket we see that it is tastefully branded with the Lunatik name and geometric logo which are worked into the styling in a welcoming way, and I don't mind that at all.
Around the back however, the sleeve is muted and simple looking.
The top opening is secured using a clever magnetic closure tab that runs along the entire length of the sleeve. The tab is very simple to open and will automatically close on itself thanks to the relatively strong magnetic connection. In fact, the closure tab strip closes so flush together that it'll trap air inside the sleeve. As strong as this magnetic closure may be, I still found that if I would flip the sleeve upside down a shake a little that my iPad mini will just slide out. But the chances of that happening with normal use are negligible. Nonetheless, this type of magnetic closure is a lot more pleasing to use compared to Velcro and other forms of compartment security - notably zippers.
If we look closer we can actually see that this magnetic tab with the Lunatik branding on it is made out of a harder rubbery material which has a different kind of gritty texture to it compared to the rest of the sleeve that helps provide more grip as well as stiffening the closure strip so that it isn't as flexible as the rest of the sleeve.
It's worth mentioning that the Flak Jacket's magnetic closure does not put your iPad mini to sleep when you insert it into the sleeve nor will it unlock it and wake it up for you during extraction. And that really is my only small nitpick that I have found as soon as I starting using the Flak Jacket. While the idea would be quite simple to implement into the sleeve, to be fair Lunatik has not mentioned anything about the Flak Jacket having the ability to make use of the iPad's iconic magnetic wake/sleep functionality. A missed opportunity is all it really is.
While the Flack Jacket isn’t considered to be a form-fitting iPad mini sleeve, it does enable you to slide in your iPad with a slim protective back shell case or even a Smart Cover. In fact, you could even fit an iPad mini with a Smart Cover on including a slim back case into the sleeve. It may be overkill as far as protection is concerned, but having the option to use all three accessories simultaneously makes the Flack Jacket a versatile and highly compatible sleeve. Though the fit will be tighter than you may like. The Flak Jacket won't provide as much protection as a thick neoprene sleeve would, so keep that in mind.
For people who like getting handy with their tablets and all of their sleek profile goodness, using a sleeve like the Flack Jacket is quite beneficial. The fact that you will most likely be able to still use your sleeve for your next tablet and iPad mini purchase whatever it may be is one of the best reasons why anyone would want to purchase a protective sleeve. That is if you have a solid track record of not dropping your precious devices to their doom. While pricy at $40, you'll be hard pressed to find a better alternative for less...if at all. Since we do think it's a really great sleeve for the iPad mini with a fascinatingly fresh design, we think that it should be on your list if you're looking to get a slimline sleeve for your tablet. For that reason the Flak Jacket deserves a modest recommendation for its sleeviness prowess.