The Incase City has one of the sleekest designs and is at home in an urban setting. It has two primary storage areas and a dedicated laptop compartment that fits up to a 17-inch MacBook Pro. Incase's platform is rooted in the lifestyles of those who create on the Apple platform, so if you are an avid Apple product user, this is a very well-designed bag for use with Apple products. The laptop compartment has a soft faux fur lining and 360-degree padding, which made it stand out amidst the plethora of laptop backpacks we tested. The shoulder straps are a little bulky, and the lack of sternum strap didn't allow for any minor adjustments. The back panel is heavily padded, adding unnecessary weight to a simple design. While this pack is comfy, extended wear might become cumbersome. That said, we appreciate it's larger laptop storage capacity and overall protection.
Incase City Review
Cons: Not good for bulky items, pricey, doesn't repel water
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|Price||$63.99 at Amazon||$159.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Compact, good laptop protection||Durable, waterproof, cool features, stowable rain fly and helmet net, lots of storage, ultra protective||Great organizational capacity, effective use of space, comfortable, adjustable, separate laptop side-access||Versatile, great storage, water-resistant exterior, fantastic laptop protection, comfortable padding||Functional, plentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, inexpensive, versatile|
|Cons||Not good for bulky items, pricey, doesn't repel water||Expensive, not super stylish||Expensive, lacks cushioning on the bottom of the pack||Problematic fit, long torso, roll-down top is not stylish||Not super stylish|
|Bottom Line||This tends to be a comfy pack unless you have a large load; there are lots of great features to help stay organized and the 360 degree laptop protection is a fun feature (even though it felt as though the bottom padding sometimes slipped).||Our favorite backpack geared for any bike commuter, student, or traveler.||Our favorite for everything from lugging around electronics to going to the gym.||A perfect option for the bike commute to work or tromping around town.||This highly spacious laptop backpack offers functionality and value that is unmatched.|
|Rating Categories||Incase City||Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter||Incase Icon||Thule Paramount 24L||The North Face Borealis|
|Laptop Protection (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Incase City||Thule Pack 'n...||Incase Icon||Thule Paramount 24L||The North Face...|
|Volume (L)||25 L||24 L||17 L||24L||28 L|
|Weight||2.0 lbs||2.4 lbs||2.1 lbs||2.2 lbs||2.7 lbs|
|Number of Compartments||3||2||4||2||2|
|Dimensions||20.5 x 13.5 x 5.50 in.||15 x 6.7 x 19 in||19 x 13 x 9 in.||11.6 x 10. 20.5 in||19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 in.|
|Number of Large Pockets||4||1||3||2||2|
|Number of Small Pockets||13||2||14||2||9|
|External Side Pocket(s)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|External Water Bottle Holder?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
With the InCase City's sleek design and a dedicated laptop compartment that fits up to a 17 inch MacBook Pro, it is an excellent laptop backpack that has some great functions. However, it just wasn't a top scorer in any of the testing metrics (and this is coming from an avid Apple product user). The laptop compartment incorporates a soft faux fur lining that made using the sleeve enjoyable and 360-degree padding was great. Unfortunately, when stuffed with gear, the padding on the bottom seemed to slip away from the laptop sleeve, which allowed our laptop to hit the floor on several occasions. The shoulder straps and back panel add a padded airy feel that makes it comfortable to wear, but the lack of sternum strap and the large diameter of the shoulder straps make it feel clunky and bulky when traveling by foot and by bike.
The City collection claims to offer a 360-degree layer of protection for your laptop, encompassing it in its own separate faux fur-lined pocket. Although this is a nice feature, the bottom layer of padding tends to move around with different gear in the pack. Our laptop even ended up making contact with the ground once while in the sleeve, because the 15" Macbook slipped through the padding layer. While this was a contender for scoring high in laptop protection, the lack of a securing strap, a roomy laptop sleeve, and the variable bottom padding, ranks it the middle of the road.
This contender has all the makings of a very comfortable laptop backpack, though a few shortcomings rank it rather low in the comfort spectrum. There is adequate padding on the back panel, and the straps are wide and padded--maybe a little too wide. They tend to slip while walking (and especially biking) and since there is no sternum strap, we couldn't fix the problem. It is not adjustable and not versatile in its fit.
Since the Incase platform was designed around the avid Apple product user, this is a very friendly bag for all of your tech storage needs. There is a decent size zippered pocket on the outer pack. This pocket has a nice organization system in place for an iPad or tablet and also a few pockets for pens and other loose knick-knacks. There is plenty of room for gear, such as a jacket and a change of clothes. A great option for tech-users seeking a good laptop backpack option.
Ease of Use
With lots of pockets for keeping things organized and accessible in a pinch, the one complaint most of us have is the mesh inner pockets. The mesh in the main compartment can get hung up on the corners of paper and books when trying to take things out. The zippers also seem to have a few hang-ups with proper use and the plastic pull tabs are not as easy to use as webbing pull tabs. This arrangement is an all in all fine design; however, for the price, Incase could have put in a little more effort into installing a better zipper system.
This pack is not water-resistant. It became almost fully saturated within seconds of a simulated downpour. It leaked, especially in areas where the zippers met the backpack.
Like many other packs in the review, the City has a sleek look and clean lines. Not having a sternum strap made this pack seem much more suited to office and city living that many of our tech-users and city slickers appreciate.
The City is expensive. We don't think the product properly reflects the price, given its lower overall score.
This contender isn't a very high scorer, but it does the trick as a decent laptop backpack. Unfortunately, it's expensive, and the water-resistant is very poor. We like its organizational capacity and ability to accommodate a laptop that is 17-inches in size.
— Katherine Elliott