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Incase Icon Review

Our favorite laptop backpack for keeping tech-heavy loads well organized and well-protected
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Incase Icon Review (Showing the relative fit for a large six foot five man.)
Showing the relative fit for a large six foot five man.
Credit: Amber King
Price:  $220 List
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Manufacturer:   Incase
By Amber King & Ben Applebaum-Bauch  ⋅  Dec 1, 2023
82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 14
  • Laptop Protection - 30% 9.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8.0
  • Storage - 20% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.5
  • Versatility - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Incase Icon is one of our favorite backpacks for those who have a lot of tech to tote around. It has excellent organizational capacity and protection with a simple design that is office-ready. It features two protective and separate side-access compartments that can accommodate both a 16-inch laptop and a tablet. Not only can you organize all your techy toys, but you can also store folders and flat objects in the main compartment. This pack features a wide array of pockets and 17 liters of volume. If you're looking for a durable, sleek, and exceptional pack that will keep all of your tech protected, this is our favorite. See how it ranks next to the competition in our review of the best laptop backpacks.
REASONS TO BUY
Great organizational design
Micro plush-lined laptop pocket
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
No water bottle pockets
Lacks cushioning on the bottom of the pack
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 1, 2023, to ensure that all information is up-to-date and accurate.

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Price $220 List
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Bottom Line A versatile option with great storage for electronicsA top-tier backpack with an exceptional array of pockets for easy organization, and comfortably padded back and shoulder strapsLarge volume, top-notch organization, good structure, and a massive laptop compartment ensure this pack is well-loved by travelers and daily commutersA pack with a lot of storage capacity and enough pockets for all kinds of tech and accessoriesAn inexpensive and versatile backpack with unique features and a touch of style
Rating Categories Incase Icon Timbuk2 Authority D... The North Face Recon Yorepek Travel Extr... Matein Travel
Laptop Protection (30%)
9.0
8.5
7.5
6.0
6.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
8.0
7.5
7.0
7.0
7.0
Storage (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.5
9.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
8.5
7.5
7.0
8.0
8.0
Versatility (10%)
6.0
6.5
6.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Incase Icon Timbuk2 Authority D... The North Face Recon Yorepek Travel Extr... Matein Travel
Compatible Laptop Size 16" 17" 16" 17" 15.6"
Volume 17 L 20 L 30 L 50 L 28 L
Number of Compartments 3 3 3 3 3
Number of Large Pockets 3 3 2 3 3
Number of Small Pockets 7 3 7 4 2
External Side Pockets Yes No Yes Yes Yes
External Water Bottle Holder No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Additional Features Key clip, sternum strap Key clip, sternum strap Key clip, removable webbing hip belt, sternum strap, reflective material, daisy chains Key clip Key clip
Weight 2.6 lb 2.3 lb 2.5 lb 2.2 lb 1.7 lb
Dimensions 19.0" x 13.0" x 9.0" 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.3" 19.5" x 13.0" x 7.0" 18.0" x 13.5" x 6.5" 18.0" x 12.0" x 7.8"

Our Analysis and Test Results

This tech-oriented laptop backpack is the one you should consider if you're looking for great protection and organization for a lot of electronics. It is best for those who prefer a techy style and aesthetic and desire many pockets and organizational features.

Performance Comparison


The Icon easily fits our standard load with room to spare for additional electronics.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Laptop Protection


The Incase Icon offers some of the more robust laptop protection in the lineup. The main laptop compartment fits a 16-inch laptop and sits at the back of the bag, boasting a substantial 1.5 inches of stiff padding buffering from the back of the user. This compartment is also lined with an ultrasoft micro-plush fleecy material, ensuring that electronics don't get scratched in transit.


There is also a second laptop sleeve in the main compartment that can accommodate an additional 15-inch device and an entirely separate side access tablet pocket for those who carry multiple devices. This tablet pocket uses some of the same padding as the main laptop compartment. However, it does not have the same fleece lining, so items slide around a little more (less friction) but still stay well-protected.

incase icon - the faux-fur-lined computer compartment features convenient side...
The faux-fur-lined computer compartment features convenient side access. It fits up to a 16-inch laptop.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The only letdown we found with this setup is that the primary laptop pocket doesn't have any suspension, meaning that thin devices that are stored here — like a Macbook Air — don't have any protection on the bottom if the pack is dropped on the ground hard.

incase icon - the side access (separate from the laptop compartment) is designed...
The side access (separate from the laptop compartment) is designed for tablets. This pocket is well-cushioned. Both this one and the laptop compartment make for easy access to electronics when your pack is stuffed with other things.
Credit: Amber King


Comfort and Fit


The Icon provides all-day comfort. We tested it while walking around town, bike commuting, and hiking in the wilderness. We also gave this pack to friends of different shapes and sizes to evaluate its relative comfort and fit. Our testers thought it felt good in most situations, but we learned that it truly does fit those with a longer torso better than those that are a little shorter.


This bag features adjustable shoulder, sternum, and load stabilizer straps (connecting from the shoulder to the neck of the backpack). The shoulder straps have a simple release and pull mechanism that is smooth and easy to use. The sternum strap is adjustable on two axes; it can be moved up and down with a simple slide and pulled tighter or looser, depending on what you require when you have a full pack. This arrangement provides better load balance, a feature common to backpacking packs but rare — and much appreciated — on laptop bags.

incase icon - a look at the adjustable straps on this backpack. left is the...
A look at the adjustable straps on this backpack. Left is the sternum strap. The middle is a shoulder strap. Right is a load-lifter strap.
Credit: Amber King

The foam padding throughout this backpack is burly. The back panel and the shoulder straps have most of the padding. The outer material of this pack is 840D (heavy-duty) nylon, but the areas that actually contact the wearer's body are softer. When wearing just a tank top, with the pack right against our skin, we were comfortable all day. The straps are thick and wide, helping to distribute the weight of the load throughout the shoulders during extended use. Though the padding in the back offers an ergonomic design that distributes a load well, it is not very breathable. After walking around town on a warm day, our backs got a little sweaty.

Our testers with short torsos found the back of the Icon to be a little longer than they wanted, even with the adjustment options. That said, those with average and longer torsos thought the back was just right. We recommend this pack for all genders and sizes — except those with a super short torso.

incase icon - the icon is padded and comfortable, distributing the weight of all...
The Icon is padded and comfortable, distributing the weight of all our electronics effectively.
Credit: Amber King

Storage


With three main compartments and at least seven smaller pockets (depending on how you count), this is one of the most organization-friendly backpacks we have come across. Though it only has a 17-liter capacity, we were surprised at how much it could hold. We found ourselves loading it up with all of our electronics in addition to a few last-minute items from the grocery store at the end of the day. All of the pockets are functional and useful (not the case with all packs we tested), even with the bag packed to capacity.


From the back panel moving forward, first is the laptop compartment, followed by the smaller auxiliary pocket for tablets. The second 'main' compartment is the largest and provides storage for flat items such as folders, documents, and books. The third large compartment offers several interior zippered and velcroed pockets for storing chargers, cords, pens, notepads, and more. Lastly, there is a smaller external pocket that is perfect for storing quick-access items such as a wallet or keys.

The main (third) compartment: Slide in all your folders, books, or...
The main (third) compartment: Slide in all your folders, books, or notebooks. A perfect place for binders, gym clothes, or even some last minute groceries.
The Icon has a variety of different pockets for superior organization.

This bag also has a few additional auxiliary pockets. The two external zippered hip pockets are best for storing flat items such as a phone, a phone charger, or a printed boarding pass. One of the side pockets has a “power pocket” with a hole that allows you to feed through a pair of wired earbuds without leaving the zipper open. A top access pocket has the same supersoft fleecy lining as the main laptop pocket, making it a great option to store a pair of glasses. Overall, we are thrilled with the organizational capacity of this backpack and found most of these pockets to be functional for gadget lovers.

incase icon - the top carry compartment is fleece-lined and perfect for a charger...
The top carry compartment is fleece-lined and perfect for a charger or small device like a phone.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Use


This backpack is one of the easier ones to use. The side-zip access of the main laptop pocket allows quick access to your computer without pinching your hand, and the side access of the tablet pocket means you don't have to dig through a bunch of stuff to get to it. The roomy main compartment is large enough to accommodate shoes, gym clothes, and a lightweight jacket, while the many pockets are perfect for organizing all your small gadgets and supplies.


The zipper pull tabs are long, so you can open and close the bag even with a pair of gloves. The only thing that we wish this backpack had was a water bottle holder. Disappointingly, there is nowhere on the outside of the pack to hold one.

incase icon - a look at the front and side profile of the icon.
A look at the front and side profile of the Icon.
Credit: Amber King

Versatility


This backpack isn't the prettiest or hippest out there, yet it looks more refined than our favorite school backpacks. Its squared-off form is simple and office-ready, and it comes in a few shades. Our testers liked its look for tech professionals and casual working environments alike.


This backpack also offers decent water and weather protection from the elements. Though it's not waterproof, it didn't allow water into either the laptop or iPad compartment during our spray test. The other compartments meant to hold papers and other electronics weren't as well protected.

incase icon - water beads well on the exterior of the icon after our spray test.
Water beads well on the exterior of the Icon after our spray test.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Should You Buy the Incase Icon?


The Incase Icon is one of the more expensive options in this category. With that in mind, the price tag definitely brings higher quality and a feature set that tech-minded users will appreciate. If you love to carry all your gadgets and you value organization, this pack is a perfect choice. It's great for commuting to work, taking to a coffee shop, or bopping around town. It is likely overkill for most people, though, and it doesn't have much outdoor crossover appeal. However, for everyday office use, this is one of our favorite companions.

What Other Laptop Backpacks Should You Consider?


If you want a high-quality backpack but don't need quite this much tech specialization, the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is where you should look next. For those who don't mind paying higher prices for great quality and want an open-compartment design, the Peak Design Everyday is a good choice. If you're more budget-conscious, The North Face Recon still offers high-quality performance, a versatile and durable design, and all-day comfort for a more affordable price.

Amber King & Ben Applebaum-Bauch