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ATPM 13.06
June 2007




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Accessory Review

by Christopher Turner,

Rip-Stop Backpack


Developer: Incase

Price: $100

Trial: None

One thing I’ve learned from my obsession with computing backpacks is that it’s very hard to find a one-size-fits-all pack. I don’t mean that in the sense of physical size, but rather in the sense of task accomplishment. A pack that works for hauling around everything you need on a vacation or long-term business trip might not be ideally suited for your casual, everyday treks to the office, and vice versa.

For instance, I still love my Tom Bihn Brain Bag, mainly because when I do go on a week-long trip, I know I can stuff everything I’ll possibly need in it, and still have room in the bag. The Brain Bag degrades nicely for smaller cargo use, but some folks may still find it too cumbersome. Enter the Incase Rip-Stop Backpack.

The Rip-Stop Backpack, so named due to its rip-stop nylon material, is an outstanding everyday pack. It can handle any size portable Mac you can throw at it, from the 12-inch iBook all the way through the big boy, the 17-inch MacBook Pro. The laptop compartment is fake fur-lined to protect the beautiful lines of your ’Book. The laptop space was quite accommodating of my 12-inch PowerBook in its SleeveCase.


Packed and ready to roll. Yes, I’m re-reading Snow Crash.

Incase, a maker of some very nice iPod cases, didn’t forget the Mac’s favorite accessory, either. There’s a dedicated iPod compartment up top, with a slot to thread the headphone cable through, and this is also fur-lined. As you would expect, any size iPod will fit in the compartment. While I’ve always delighted in such spaces for storage, I’ve never used them as they are intended. For one, I hardly go any place where I’ll be in transit long enough to listen to tunes from the iPod stored in my backpack. Two, my Type A, control-freak personality would want some means of controlling the iPod from within the pack, and very few bags allow that. Still, those users who don’t fall into either of those categories can rest easy in knowing that Incase has sweat the iPod details for the Rip-Stop Backpack.


Top of the bag, showing the entry to the compartments, including the one for the iPod. The luggage tag is not included.

Inside the rest of the pack is plenty of storage space for books, magazines, and your assorted computing sundries. There’s even a “secret,” zippered pocket in the front compartment, ideal for storing documents or items you don’t want easily visible when opening the pack. I found that if I packed my usual vacation load into the Rip-Stop, it took it all, but it was a strain. It was a little uncomfortable getting certain items out during the flight, but nothing in the form of a deal-breaker. I was definitely pushing the limits of the bag, and most users would not stuff the Backpack as much as I did. My normal, everyday load would not constitute nearly as many items, and the Rip-Stop excels in that area.


The two main compartments.

The straps of the Backpack are padded and comfortable on the shoulders. I made good use of the chest and waist straps while hauling through two airports. Not only did these help stabilize the Rip-Stop for better balance, but they also take more of the load off of one’s shoulders. (That’s just good ergonomics, and all backpack users should utilize chest and waist straps, if available.) All of the straps were easy to adjust, even while standing in the middle of the aisle of a 737. (Somehow the left shoulder strap had gotten very loose during the flight, and needed to be tightened as I put it on to deplane.) The carrying handle on the top is very comfortable, and doesn’t feel like it’s going to rip out on you at any time, as some pack handles do.

The bottom of the Backpack is semi-formed, so as to offer stability when one sets it down. I say semi-formed, because right out of the shipping box, it was slightly compressed, and it took filling the bag with gear for a few days to stretch the material out. However, for the base to keep your pack upright, the pack itself must be properly balanced. I noticed that when I took my PowerBook out of the rear laptop compartment, but still had all of my other gear in the front portions of the bag, the pack would tip over on to its front.

The Rip-Stop Backpack is currently available only in a green/tan/black color combination, with no word from Incase when the all-black version, like the one I have, will be available again. The Rip-Stop is one of those packs that just feels solid. It feels, looks, and is well-made, and it is not going to let you down.

Reader Comments (5)

chris bryant · July 23, 2008 - 01:25 EST #1
thanks for the review, i just purchased one from apple!
Bill La Via · September 30, 2008 - 19:40 EST #2
Bag design is great. Workmanship is sub-par; mine started to fall apart just after the warranty expired (and I take very good care of it). See their response below:

"On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 12:57 PM:
Incase Contact

Message: I have an Incase backpack that is more than 1 year old which has a seam that is separating. It is otherwise in excellent condition but I'm concerned that it will continue to detiorate. Although it is outside the warranty period I'm hoping you'll agree to repair it since a product this expensive should last longer than 18 months. I can email pictures if you would like. Thanks.

On Sep 30, 2008, at 4:00 PM, Incase Consumer Support wrote:

Hello Bill,

Unfortunately we would not be able to process a claim for you,warranty coverage is effective for 1 year from the original date of purchase. All claims must be accompanied by a copy of the original proof of purchase. Any claims that are received without proof of purchase or are beyond the warranty period will not be processed.

The Incase Consumer Support Team

My response to them:
I had hoped that you would say that you would expect your seams to last longer than this too. I had a similar experience with my Spire backpack (after 3 years) and they repaired it for free. Sorry to hear that you don't take the same approach and I'll keep that in mind with future purchases."
Roger Johnson · November 12, 2008 - 22:51 EST #3
I'm in the same situation as Bill. My Incase backpack is less than two years old and the zipper has been ripped open due to weak threads attaching the zipper to the case. I can't get them to repair or replace it.

I should have been tipped off when I read the comments on apple's store website. Everyone loved the backpack, but quite a few said the straps tore off. I was extra careful with the straps and they still started separating from the bag, but at least they were still usable.

Bottom line: nice backpack, subpar quality that becomes apparent with everyday use.

I learned my lesson. With companies such as Jansport or LL Bean offering lifetime warranties, this company will never get my business again.
Zac · August 24, 2010 - 09:33 EST #4
I thoroughly enjoyed this backpack for the one year that it survived. I also loved the design. About 15 months into use, however, the zipper began to separate from the seam, and it became impossible to close it. The rest of the bag is in great shape, but, of course, I can't use it without the ability to zip it shut.

Out of warranty and out of luck. I won't be buying anything InCase for a while. Not too happy about my now-worthless $100 backpack.
Alexander · September 20, 2016 - 06:41 EST #5
I'm still enjoying my Rip Stop backpack I bought during a black week sale December 2006 (69 € instead of 99 €).
So it's in its tenth year now and still going rather strong.

Of course, after this long time of excessive use it starts to wear of here and there:
- The fabric at the bottom edges is wearing thin and getting holes.
- The cloth near the front top zipper now has a hole. Partly my fault, as some pen rubbed against it for some time.
- Some other smaller annoyances that are all related to wear of or personal faults...

All in all I'm very happy with this bag and its features. Nevertheless I'm slowly starting to look for a new one with similar features and wealth of pockets. Unfortunately in the last ten years Incase seems to have increased the prices alot :-/ The Icon line seems to resemble the old Rip Stop model the most, with the Icon backpack being the one I'd prefer. 199 US$ or 230 € though. Ouch! :-(

Everki seems to be some kind of good alternative.

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