Incase, which designs bags and other protection for creatives, announced a new collection Thursday that puts a focus on using sustainable and recycled materials. Called ARC, short for "A Responsible Carry," the collection consists of three backpacks and a tote: the Travel Pack, Commuter Pack, Daypack and Tech Tote. All of the bags are made from recycled polyester with a polyurethane coating to protect them from wear and weather.
The shoulder straps and the back panels on the backpacks use eco-friendly Ortholite Impressions memory foam. The foam's open-cell design helps with breathability and moisture and also fights bacteria growth. Incase used nylon lining throughout the collection that helps inhibit bacterial growth as well.
The backpacks all have a well-organized tech compartment on the outside at the top. It has elastic straps for cables, a stretchy mesh pocket that's perfect for earbuds and a slip pocket that runs the length of the compartment. Behind that slip pocket is a zippered pocket lined with RFID-blocking material. The tote has a similar tech storage compartment that also has RFID blocking.
I had a chance to test out two of the four bags in the lineup, the $229 Travel Pack and $199 Commuter Pack. (My first impressions on those are below.) Prices for the UK and Australia weren't immediately available but those prices convert to £165 and AU$315 for the Travel Pack and £145 and AU$270 for the Commuter Pack.
The is a trimmed-down version of the Commuter Pack but can still fit a 16-inch laptop and a 13-inch tablet. The , has quick-access front and back pockets, and can be carried by its cushioned top handles or on your shoulder or across your back with its removable shoulder strap.
Incase ARC Travel Pack
The Travel Pack is a small suitcase that also has room for your tech. If you regularly take a second set of clothing for your commute, e.g. gym clothes and shoes, as well as a laptop up to 16 inches and a 13-inch tablet, too, this would be a great fit. It is compact and slim but it can actually fit quite a lot.
Organization inside and out is spot-on. The main compartment butterflies open and there are zippered mesh dividers to help keep your packing tidy. A separate, expandable shoe compartment accessed from the front keeps your clothes clean and has room and then some to fit my size-12 shoes (11 in the UK and Australia).
Using the shoe storage does eat into your internal space but you can open a zipper that wraps around the body to give you a couple of inches of additional storage space. There are compression straps on the outside to help cinch things down, however they look sloppy compared to the overall clean look of the bag. Similarly, with no way to secure the shoulder straps to the bag's back panel, the shoulder straps simply sag and flap around when you carry the bag by its side handle.
One of the bag's best features, an internal water-bottle pocket that's accessible from the outside, helps keep the outside of the bag looking tidy. It also lets you put the bag down on its side without the water bottle getting in the way, and it would make sliding it under an airplane seat easier as well.
There is a separate laptop-and-tablet compartment at the back of the bag with a YKK weather-sealed zipper. However, unlike the company's EO Travel Backpack, the compartment doesn't fully open and lie flat to make passing through airport scanners easier. There are also no loops on the zippers to add a lock to secure your tech or other belongings in the backpack.
Incase ARC Commuter Pack
While the Travel Pack is a mixed bag for me, the Commuter Pack is a winner. Again, organization is great, but this time the bag's design is more all-around thoughtful. For example, the zippered pockets on each side can be used to hold a water bottle or umbrella but can also be used to simply secure small items. It's also a good place to charge your phone on the go. And when they're not in use, there's no saggy pockets to look at.
The main compartment has plenty of room for a lunch, headphones, books or whatever, and there's a large slip pocket for files, too. There is also a set of elastic tie-down straps similar to what you'd find in a suitcase that are perfect for holding a jacket. Just like the Travel Pack, you'll find a separate laptop-and-tablet compartment with a weather-sealed zipper. The laptop sleeves are lined with faux fur to protect your tech and feel amazing to boot.
My favorite feature, though, is the hidden faux-fur-lined pocket on the top. It's a quick-and-easy spot to drop your phone or sunglasses, and it has a magnetic closure so stuff won't fall out. But the best part is that the pocket is accessible even when the pack is on your back.