The Incase Compact Backpack (US$79.95) has been a surprisingly pleasant and functional addition to my commuting around the city with my 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Unfortunately, my MacBook Pro doesn't fit in my beloved Jost leather satchel. So, previously, I'd sling the satchel over my shoulder and put my MacBook Pro in a padded sleeve for my odd excursions out of the house with it (clutching it tightly to my chest with both arms, shielding it from the potential harms of public transport in London).
More recently, my work has required that I'm out and about a whole lot more, and with a few near drops and knocks, I quickly resolved to get a decent backpack.
Specs and performance
The Incase Compact Backpack is designed to be slim and, well ... compact. But it's in no way small. In fact, to me it's the ideal size. Small enough not to be overbearing, yet big enough to fit everything you need on a day trip.
In terms of the exterior, the bag is made from durable nylon. The external dimensions are 18.5" x 11.75" x 4.3". The back and adjustable shoulder straps are well padded. They're also covered with a breathable mesh, making wearing the back really comfortable and easy to adjust.
The front of the backpack has a zippered exterior pocket for small accessories, like a small notebook, keys, pens or headphones, etc. There's also a smaller zippered pocket down the right side of the backpack, near where the strap begins. It's perfect for keys or small items you may need to get at quickly. At the top of the bag, just ahead of the padded top-loading handle, is a dedicated zippered pouch with faux-fur lining for an iPhone or iPod, or something small that needs protection.
Within the bag is a faux-fur lined laptop compartment with breathable side panels. It snugly fits my 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The faux-fur is only on the back side of the backpack, while the front side of the laptop compartment is made of a padded nylon. It would have been nice if the faux-fur was on both sides of the compartment, but still, I feel confident my MacBook Pro is safe from bumps and drops.