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ATPM 9.10
October 2003





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Review: Sling Pack

by Lee Bennett,


Developer: Incase

Price: $50

Requirements: does not fit 17" G4 PowerBook.

Trial: None

What Came Before

Chris Turner has the right idea. A product like a computer bag should simply be judged on its own merits. Nevertheless, I would not be serving justice to why I chose to review the Sling Pack without stating that I nearly sprung for the TiBag. Something, however, told me to look around a little bit longer.

A Short Detour

You have to understand something about me, so I must share a little history before I start delving into the Sling Pack. My 15" 1 GHz G4 PowerBook is my sole machine. I’m one who is content with a laptop’s capabilities and doesn’t need a desktop tower. The bag I have used to date (and, admittedly, will continue using frequently) is like a portable office. Sure, it’s rather large and heavy to someone not used to it, but it does fit under an airplane coach seat and even has wheels and a retractable handle.

Items living in this case include a spare battery, A/C adapter, a plethora of various cables and adapters, a few CD slip cases, blank CD-Rs, a Podium CoolPad (I can even leave the risers attached), my checkbook, my ever-present bottle of Advil, and (the real oddball item) a Netgear MR814 Wi-Fi router. Its slim design is the perfect size for my big bag. I frequently find myself wanting to borrow bandwidth from friends or family whom I visit—people who have broadband but only a single computer attached directly.

I like my big bag. I’ve learned to ignore a friend’s razzing about always carrying such a burden. Yet, I increasingly find myself in situations where something smaller—even hands-free—would be smart.

I began considering backpack-style cases about a year ago, but my initial considerations were short-lived. One year ago this month, I was a passenger in a pretty nasty auto accident. I’m fine now, thanks for wondering, but I came out of it with an injury that prevents me from bearing much weight on my right shoulder for extended periods of time. Indeed, I’ve only even been able to sleep on my right side in the past couple months and, even then, only for an hour or two, tops. In any case, I’m no longer in the market for any product that puts weight on the right shoulder.

The Search Resumes

My desire for a backpack seemed pointless until I was reminded of the TiBag. I was interested, but some things bothered me. Never mind that it’s designed to rest on the right shoulder when worn messenger style—I’d have been content to only use it single-strap backpack style. When I really started examining it, though, I felt its design appeared a little haphazard. Granted, I’ve not held or seen one except in pictures, but the polyester material and its shape seem little more than just an everyday tote bag with a flap. I was sure I could find something more streamlined that might hold just a few more items in exchange for just a slight bit of extra thickness. The ability to close up securely instead of relying only on a flap of fabric to cover my computer was also high on the wish list.

Enter the Sling Pack

Naturally, the left-shoulder design of Incase’s creation was the first thing to catch my eye. Personally, I’m a fan of the sleek, angular design versus the tote bag-style TiBag.


Yes, it’s designed to be worn slightly crooked. No worries—it still feels extremely comfortable. A sturdy clip keeps the straps together.

Closer examination revealed that the exterior has a very clean-lined look. It’s made from a couple of types of nylon, which feel more sturdy to me than polyester—not to mention that they’re probably a bit more moisture-resistant.


The strap is extremely well-padded all the way around—right up to the clip. I can wear this thing virtually all day.


The exterior zipper pocket provided an ideal location for my big bag’s detachable pouch that contains most of my cords and adapters (you can see the long shape of it in the pocket).

Like the TiBag, there’s a place for a small accessory device such as an iPod, cell phone, or PDA. Unlike the TiBag, I’m not worried about something falling off or out. The pouch’s zipper is secure and doesn’t use a velcro strap that could get knocked open. The pouch itself has padding, like the strap, in case of a bump.


Pod pocket.

The back of the Sling Pack also has a zipper pocket. My spare battery lives here. The case material is soft enough that I don’t feel the battery against my back. I’d have preferred to put the battery inside…more on that, below.


The rear side is soft against your back.

The Sling Pack scores just as high marks for its interior features as it does for the exterior. The sleeve inside is a perfect snug fit for a 15" PowerBook. Sorry 17" owners, this bag is not for you.


Note the little clip snapped to the edge of the sleeve on the left. Extra touches like this are proof a lot of thought went into this bag’s design. A small key ring, for example, can be clipped here and quickly snapped off for use.

Besides the sleeve for a laptop, there is a zipper pouch at the top and two adjacent stretchy pockets below. The zipper pouch is a perfect fit for my A/C adapter and cable. Yet another very nice touch is the slip of fabric that covers this pouch’s zipper when closed, preventing the zipper from possibly scratching the computer.


Rather cavernous for such a compact bag.

Companion Products

Incase’s product list includes a large variety of other bag types, and the company is reasonably well known for protective guitar cases. A musician friend of mine had previously heard good things of the company, though had never seen the products. As someone I know to be able to recognize a great guitar bag when he saw one, I was happy to witness his “I want one” reaction when he examined the catalog and my Sling Pack, thus helping confirm that these products are well-made.

Perfection Scrutinized

Make no mistake, this bag is wonderful and is attractively priced—especially to those looking at Christmas present ideas for PowerBook-loving acquaintances. Three items come to mind that would complete this bag’s perfection for my use, yet I cannot justify any of them warranting a less-than-Excellent rating. None of them are actually problems with the bag—rather a perfectly acceptable design characteristic that I might have done differently.

The interior stretchy pockets will, technically, accommodate a PowerBook battery. Yes, a battery does physically fit, though it’s pretty snug. I might feel differently about certain materials and I might be completely incorrect about these pouches’ material, but I have a sensation that a G4 PowerBook battery’s corners are liable to wear through after plenty of rubbing against the pocket.

Flat items such as a Podium CoolPad will fit in the space between the laptop sleeve and the interior pockets. The space at the very bottom is even spacious enough to hold a CoolPad’s stackable risers. However, the Sling Pack’s interior dimensions would have to be only a half inch wider to not require careful pressure to get the CoolPad all the way in.

Finally, taking the Sling Pack on and off your back might take a minute or two of practice. A help would be if a small, well-stitched handle strap were added to the top of the bag. These are seen on many traditional backpacks. Such a handle would also aid in transporting the bag shorter distances when putting it on my back isn’t practical, i.e. getting it out of my car and carrying it the minute-or-less walk to my office.


The best test was how the Sling Pack handled through the process of taking an airline flight. For the first time in a couple years, I was able to make my way through the terminal and onto the plane with both hands free. Upon reaching my seat, the bag slipped off and found a comfortable home under the seat in front of me. Once computers were allowed to be used in flight, it was virtually effortless to lift up the edge of the bag, unzip it, and slide my PowerBook straight out—especially when sitting in the slightly larger exit row, but not significantly harder in a standard row.

Thus, my big bag will remain in my arsenal for many situations, most of which involve riding in the rear floor of my car. Without a handle on the top, the Sling Pack may not be the perfect choice for everyday toting around, but for medium- to long-distance travel, when having both hands free is important, the Sling Pack is definitely one to check out.

Reader Comments (36)

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 14, 2003 - 01:52 EST #1
A reader just asked me whether a 15" AlBook will fit in this bag. As you can see in one of the pictures, above, the 15" TiBook is pretty snug, but a good fit. The AlBook is about 3/10 of an inch wider than the TiBook, which translates to 3/10 of an inch taller when inserted into the Sling Pack. It seems to me that might make things a little challenging to get the zipper closed around the top of it.

I am going to mention this to the manufacturer. Stay tuned for an update either from me or directly from Incase staff.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 14, 2003 - 14:03 EST #2
When asked about the AlBook, Incase had this to say:
"We do have the new PowerBook and it does fit in the Sling Pack. Nice fit. We are doing some minor adjustments to future production to make the fit even better."
Daniel · October 31, 2003 - 04:08 EST #3
Thanks for the review. I almost ordered this thinking it was sort of a back-pack that you just swing over your shoulder sort of like carrying a real back-pack over only one shoulder. (This is what I wanted). Then Google found your review, and now, I'm not so sure this is what I want. Can you tell me, if this was just placed over the shoulder without doing the strap across the chest thing, would it be weird? My walk to work is less than 5 minutes, so I'm looking for something that I can toss over my shoulder, but that's not a briefcase-style bag. I've got a new 15" AlBook that is replacing my dear and trusty Pismo.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 31, 2003 - 09:53 EST #4
Daniel - I don't think that would work too well. It's definitely designed to be worn as shown.

The "walk" you describe is exactly why I said, in the review, that a small little strap handle at the top of the bag like most traditional backpacks have would make things much better for moving the Sling Pack a short distance.

Hmmm, now I'm going to have to try clipping the strap without wearing it, and draping it on my shoulder as you describe just to see how it does. My guess, though, is that the pack would ride in an awkward position to one side of your back and the area where the upper strap connects to the top of the pack would be holding the weight in an atypical/twisted position—possibly straining it enough to rip it.

Update: I attempted this maneuver, and it sort of works if you wear the bag on the right shoulder—something I can't really do except just now when I had emptied the bag and it weight virtually nothing. I wouldn't recommend wearing it in this manner for extended periods of time, but walks from a car to an office would be no problem. By the way, wearing it this way did require me to sort of keep a hand available to prevent the bag from sliding off my shoulder...and that was with no weight in it. So, you're likely to have to keep a hang on to it pretty much the whole time while a computer is inside it.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 11, 2003 - 02:16 EST #5
For those more interested in a similar quality product but are more interested in a brief-like tote, take a look at the Laptop Sleeve. Minimalist is the key word here. While you're at it, spend a few moments perusing Incase's web site. There are a lot of great products and you'll probably find something that best suits your needs--just like the Sling Pack suited my needs.
Leo Wiggins · March 19, 2004 - 14:00 EST #6
I picked up the Incase Sling bag with the 15" PB G4 and the bag does have a small strap along the top to grab hold of (similar to a backpack strap). Good to see Incase listens to it's community.
Brian Lee · February 22, 2005 - 00:39 EST #7
Great review very informative, I own an Incase Moya Deluxe used it for about 2 and a half years for my iBook and I just bought a Powerbook I'm planning to get the Sling Pack but I'm stuck between it and the Mamba.XS. When you ordered your Sling Pack was there an option for the size of laptop or do they just have one for all sizes from 15inch down to 12inch?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 22, 2005 - 06:29 EST #8
Brian - you can probably see in one of the pictures above that a 12" PowerBook or iBook would probably feel well enough at home in the Sling Pack, even though the pocket is ideally suited for a 15" PowerBook or 14" iBook.

From the looks of the product page, the Sling Pack is, just as it was when I reviewed it, a one-size-only option.
Chris · April 5, 2005 - 11:44 EST #9
Very nice review. A PowerBook 15" is on its way to me and I need something to carry it in. I dont know of any other single strap over the shoulder bags which would be suitable for this purpose and this looks pretty perfect.

My worry is that next year I will be travelling a fair bit around the city and may need to take my PowerBook with me. Would I be able to fit a small ring binder (folder) in there? Or a wad of papers? How much room is in the other compartment?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 5, 2005 - 15:34 EST #10
Chris - I believe you could probably put something up to almost an inch thick in there along with the PowerBook. Go to the Sling Pack product page and click on picture view number 2. The thickness of the book in that picture is pretty accurate to what I would be comfortable slipping in there.
Evan · April 24, 2005 - 17:07 EST #11
I am a 13 year purchasing a 14 inch ibook and im looking for a good pak to take to school and such. I travel to europe often and fly the country regularly is this the right product for my needs?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 24, 2005 - 17:26 EST #12
Evan - every current Apple laptop except the 17" PowerBook will happily live inside the Sling Pack.

Today, a year and a half after I first obtained the Sling Pack, I'm still very happy with it but keep in mind that I, unlike you, am no longer in school and do not have to carry a pile of textbooks. The Sling Pack is really only designed to be a compact bag to hold your laptop and important accessories—not many books. If you are looking for something that will hold a lot of books, the Sling Pack isn't an ideal choice, but if you're looking for a bag just for your computer essentials that is very streamlined and is easier to handle going through the perils of airport check-in, this just might be a great choice for you.
Windsor · May 13, 2005 - 16:43 EST #13
This looks like a great product, but I can't seem to find anywhere that will ship it to Canada! Can anyone help me out, the apple store for Canada doesn't seem to carry it either.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 14, 2005 - 01:05 EST #14
Windsor - according to Incase's FAQ page, they do, indeed, ship internationally.
Patrick · May 16, 2005 - 03:06 EST #15
I spoke to a representative from Incase. Currently their website is down, but she informed me that Incase is changing the Sling pack. It will now be able to fit the 17inch (or they're creating one for the 17inch, wasn't too clear on that point). The site will reopen in June.
Just letting you guys know.
-Patrick · August 5, 2005 - 06:51 EST #16
Ordered the new Incase Sling Pack. Now designed to fit all Powerbook sizes.

Here are some photos:

Here are additional photos of the new sling pack (scroll down to find 4 photos).

Josh Toy · November 2, 2005 - 08:50 EST #17
Hey, I just read your comment to Evan on April 24th. You said that it doesn't really hold that many books. I too am in school and was wondering if it could accomodate a 14" ibook and two 1" binders?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 2, 2005 - 09:28 EST #18
Josh - if you alternate the spines so that each faces the opposite direction, I believe it may just make it. Probably will be snug and you wouldn't get much, if anything, else in there. Echoing what I said above, the Sling Pack probably wouldn't be my first choice for something to hold my laptop and several schoolbooks. Having said that, most all of Incase's promotional photos show the Sling Pack with a laptop in the sleeve and a few books in the pocket, including one that's well over an inch thick, so it may be fine for you.
Jorge Duran · November 27, 2005 - 19:15 EST #19
I just got a 17" PB. Apparently now the Sling Pack fits the 17". I am currently torn between the Sling Pack and this pack which granted is not a Sling Pack but seem to be build with the same quality in mind. It comes paired with a sleeve with guarantees me the PB is completely covered when it is inside the backpack. The only thing that bothers me about the Sling Pack is that it does not "completely cover" the PB. It seems (from the pictures) that it only covers about two thirds of the laptop in the laptop compartment. Lee, do you have an opinion on that? Is the PB still safe although it is not covered completely inside?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 27, 2005 - 21:43 EST #20
Indeed, Incase updated the Sling Pack to accommodate 17" PowerBooks. As for covering, I think I know what you mean, but don't completely follow you. Sure, the sleeve that a 'Book slides into doesn't fully reach the edge of the 'Book unless you put a 12" in there, but that's just the inner sleeve. The outer zipper, when closed, completely covers everything inside. So maybe if you had something with metallic snaps or whatever resting inside the compartment for books and whatnot, it could scratch the outside of a PowerBook. I don't believe typical books would be a problem, though the metal of a spiral-bound notebook could be. In such a case, you might wish to consider a thin boot to slide your computer into before placing it in the Sling Pack. Personally, I am so done with school! :-p I never put anything in the book compartment that is prone to scratching my PowerBook.
Jorge Duran · November 27, 2005 - 22:42 EST #21
Thanks for the reply Lee. I am not in school right now either (but never say never). Anyway, the reason I was inclining towards the MacCase Backpack was because it includes a sleeve that then goes into the Backpack and the sleeve is held by a pocket mesh. I wish it came in a Sling Style, which why I still want the Incase Sling Pack. Oh well, I am actually going to the Apple Store tomorrow to check the Incase Sling Pack. I may get it and try to find me a sleeve or something as you suggested. Thanks again for your input.
Wallflower · February 20, 2006 - 17:32 EST #22
Thanks for the thorough review Lee. I really appreciate it. I'm heavily leaning towards the Sling Pack myself and I know now that it will accomodate a larger 17" laptop, but I'm wondering if that's only for Macs. I have a Toshiba Satellite you see and I'm not sure if those slight differnces in dimension make the Sling Pack incompatible for me.

Lee, Patrick, Jorge or anyone with a bag already: Do you think it will accomodate my 15.5"x11"x1.5" in the laptop compartment (able to be zipped closed and everything)? Or, do you think the bag will be too snug and busting out at the seams?

Most curious in BC, Canada.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 20, 2006 - 18:39 EST #23
Wallflower - keep in mind that the bag I received was made prior to revisions that allowed it to hold a 17" PowerBook. In my version, the pocket for the laptop seems to be about an inch deep on each side. Obviously the material will pull away further from the back in the center area, but the two edges are only about an inch thick. So a 1.5-inch laptop may be a tight squeeze—if it will fit at all. Perhaps you should inquire with Incase directly. My belief is the entire bag would not be too snug, but that the laptop will not fit into the pocket. Now if you maybe put the laptop in the open area in front of the pocket instead, it might be fine.
Wallflower · February 21, 2006 - 03:08 EST #24
Thanks for the prompt replay Lee (I appreciate it). Yup, I kind of figured your bag, being an older one, might not be a good reference; but I thought I'd give it a try here.

Maybe someone else with a newer version will reply sometime.

And yes, I'm waiting on a reply from the Incase people (as well as some other retailers I've ask - ex. Apple). Their site still seems to be under maintanence, but I wrote to the link anyhow just in case there's a response still.

Perhaps I'll make sure to post back if I ever get it all figured out.
Eric · February 22, 2006 - 17:02 EST #25
Hi everyone, im getting a powerbook 12 inch very soon and this Mamba XS looks very good. for the people who have it, id like to know where the laptop goes is there enough coverage from the zipper? my concern is if water would go in on a rain day
Reid Scott · April 21, 2006 - 09:50 EST #26
did they seriously stop making the graphite because I ordered a black colored one and It came grey. Now I look on and the black is gone and now there is only grey. GREY LOOKS TERRIBLE
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 21, 2006 - 13:22 EST #27
Reid - I agree that the black case is better. However I've not had any contact with Incase since shortly after this review was published, so I have no answer to your question. I would hope that you're able to contact them and voice your wish for the return of black.
Elena Petkov · July 10, 2006 - 12:29 EST #28
Hi Lee

I have purchased this bag through the Australian apple website and had it shipped out to a friend of mine.

I havent recieved it yet, but I have a concern about the bag and am wondering if you can answer my question.

Have you experienced this bag in the rain? If so, does the laptop and the rest of the bag get wet? I'm quite concerned as I live in Vancouver and we get SOOO much rain here.

Thanks in advance for aswering my question
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 10, 2006 - 14:59 EST #29
Elena - I'm afraid I've never experimented with the bag in the rain. Judging from the material, I believe the interior of the bag would stay quite dry for short exposures, such as getting out of a car and walking a short distance to a building. But I truly don't believe it to be completely water resistant. I would most likely begin to get damp inside with prolonged exposure—perhaps mostly by leakage through the zippers.
Paul Wilamoski · July 15, 2006 - 23:47 EST #30

I purchased one of the last bags that had and I have a question. Today I was walking down the street here in NYC and bumped into someone that had a similar bag. Same design etc but the external logo had a green icon while mine does not. Anyway, the problem is on mine, the main strap doesn't extend as much as this guys. His had the capibility to extend quite a bit while mine is really REALLY too snug. Any ideas why?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 16, 2006 - 15:54 EST #31
Paul - I'm sure it's a foregone conclusion that the developer of any product does well to always improve upon it. While I'm not really a large person and felt that the original Sling Pack's strap was of sufficient length, I can see how a larger body might have trouble with it. It doesn't surprise me that a later revision of the Sling Pack may have been modified to be more comfortable with some extra length in the strap.

As for the green icon—also not surprising since Incase introduced that logo some time after I reviewed the original Sling Pack.
Ryan Moore · April 10, 2007 - 08:59 EST #32
I have a 17" HP laptop. I was just wondering if it would fit in the backpack.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 10, 2007 - 11:59 EST #33
Ryan - I couldn't say for certain. The one shipped to me would not fit a 17" Macintosh PowerBook. But Incase seems to have released updated versions of the Sling Pack. If you had scrolled up to look at prior comments, you'd have found links to it.

However, here at ATPM, we're uninterested in tracking whether various Windows-based computers will fit since we focus strictly on the Macintosh community.
Luis A. Rivera · May 9, 2007 - 22:33 EST #34
Thanks for the review. This is what I needed to finally buy the Incase Sling Pack. I own a 15" Mac Book Pro and I think it will be perfect for work.
Renata R. Kloss · March 19, 2008 - 14:07 EST #35
Is the new version much bigger than the one you got?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 19, 2008 - 21:05 EST #36
Renata - you should contact Incase directly to be sure because I do not have access to the new style. Looking at the pictures alone, I'd have guessed it to be approximately the same size. The actual dimensions given on the web page do seem to indicate that it is anywhere from a half an inch to an inch larger in width/height/depth.

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