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 simplicity of the City made it great for short commutes that don't require a hefty amount of gear.
The Incase 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.
The faux fur lining of the Incase City made for a pleasant feel while using the sleeve; this performed sub par with the rest of the group.
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.
The lack of sternum strap on the City was unfortunate, as the width of the straps made it rather uncomfortable for carrying. It tended to pinch our underarm area.
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, although we prefer the Incase Icon, our Editor's Choice winner for nailing performance in this metric.
The top pocket is also lined with faux fur. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite big enough for our 11" Chromebook and we instead used it to hold our iPhones.
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.
The zippers frequently snagged on this backpack, making this a frustrating bag to use when in a hurry.
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.
This was the lowest scorer in the shower test and became saturated within seconds of our simulated downpour. Others in the test also became saturated but when the paper was removed, no water damage was seen. The Incase tended to leak at the zipper contact points, leaving the paper wet on the edges more than not.
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 simple design and large build made this a decent laptop backpack for short trips around town and to the office. It was not our first choice for longer commutes or travel.
This laptop backpack says it all with its name. It's a nice pack to use if you're in the city but not commuting by bike. The low levels of adjustability don't make it very versatile, but it does have a good handle on staying organized and spacious. There are also a few problems that we kept encountering like snagged zippers and papers. Overall a great pack for the city or somebody seeking a laptop backpack that can accommodate a 17-inch screen.
The Incase offers many great pockets for staying organized One complaint by many was that the mesh caused hangups on book corners and paperwork alike.
At $130, the Incase 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.
Here you can see the difference between the Osprey Flapjack's well-designed shoulder strap system which includes a sternum strap and hip belt (pictured left). The City had a large back panel and extra wide shoulder straps and there are many of options for almost any body size (pictured right))