- Buyer's Guide
Incase Drops Their Iconic City Pack in Rugged Cordura
New for Spring 2020, Incase has taken their popular commuting backpack, the City Compact and swapped out the normal blended weave polyester with 500D Cordura. For those already familiar with the City Compact, a true classic for Incase for students and professionals alike, the change is strictly to a material that is lightweight, water resistant, and ultra-durable, while still maintaining all the organization and carry options the City is known for.
Your 16″ MBP is Fully Protected
The new City Compact measures 18 x 13 x 5 inches and weighs 1.75 lbs. This makes it slightly smaller in every dimension compared to the City backpack, but you aren’t missing out on any features. The pack has been updated to support up to 16″ laptops including the MacBook Pro, in what Incase calls 360 protection. What this translates to is a padded, plush, fleece-lined compartment that’s (slightly) suspended. What’s interesting though is they built in a padded strip that runs the width of the laptop compartment, directly under it to act as an extra barrier of protection. I have never seen this feature in a pack before.
Organization For a Mobile Office
Moving into the main compartment, there’s a single mesh open pocket that runs about halfway down the bag, perfect for laptop chargers and cables. Otherwise, it’s one big open space and actually holds a surprising amount. It’s perfect for flat documents (ideally collected in a folder) but also could easily fit a sweater or small packages.
As you’d expect with any Incase pack, the top faux fur-lined zip pocket is perfect for valuables and quick-access items. For me, that means sunglasses, work badge, and my phone and watch when I am going through security.
Finally there’s a quick-access front pocket with a simple built-in admin panel with three slots for your pens or markers, flanked by two larger slots for a notebook or checkbook, or some business cards. A wide large pocket behind that acts as a stash pocket for the rest of your gear.
Adaptable and Versatile
I have been working from home for the past three weeks, which has been a huge adjustment for me. You’d think that staying mostly at home means there’s no need for a pack, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Right next to my office chair is the City Compact, on a kitchen table chair. I have all my cables and chargers in there and work-related accessories. This means I know exactly where to reach when I need something, whether that’s a headset for a Zoom meeting or a pen for notes. At the end of the day, I actually put my MacBook Pro away which serves as a symbolic end of my work day, allowing me to transition to my home life, even though both are taking place mere feet away.
I am also lucky enough to have a communal lounge in my building which I can use for a change of scenery. I don’t visit unless it’s empty and more often than not, that’s the case. It has lots of natural light and a few tables and chairs and even a couch for a more comfortable seating arrangement. With my work gear always in the backpack, it’s very simple to transition from my apartment to the lounge.
Sleek and Comfortable
The top grab handle is nice and wide and feels very slightly padded. For me, top handles are a key requirement for any EDC pack because I interact with them on my bags, maybe even more than the shoulder straps. The one on the City Compact feels like a slightly narrower seatbelt material and has enough width to spread any weight across your palm.
Speaking of shoulder pads, these are a simple affair on the backpack. Padded and curved, they are no frills save for a single attachment loop on the right pad and this very interesting yet low-key piece of hardware where the strap connects to the bag. The back panel is padded with an air mesh type material and is a continuous pattern through the entirety of the rear.
In Incase’s line, I would consider the City one of the more understated yet stylish packs and the Compact is no different. They managed to find a 500D Cordura material that has a weave and handfeel that is quite similar to the previous polyester weave. The compact size combined with the no-frills design means you have a very sleek silhouette. There are no excess straps, lash points or webbing. This means less areas to get snagged when you’re going through security or grabbing the pack from under the seat in front of you, on a flight.
Incase has taken a classic and slightly tweaked it to support 16″ laptops and updated the material to 500D Cordura while still maintaining the key features that make it one of their most popular bags. Your laptop is protected by a fully padded compartment, there’s quick access to your valuables in a soft-lined pouch, room inside for documents and accessories, and a front quick-access pocket with organization and room for pens and a notepad.
At $119.95, the City Compact with Cordura is an ideal pack for students or the working professional who needs to transport their mobile office from point A to point B.