The Best Urban Commuter Bag for Part-Time Nomads

The Incase Reform Action Camera Backpack is the best bag for city commuting, only because “best backpack for day trips, motorcycle riding, holding a macbook air, making photography with a mirrorless compact camera easier, and keeping a minimal stain-free profile” was too long of a title.

This bag is incredible, I’ve had it for nearly two years at this point and it is still one of my absolute favorite purchases of my life. I’ve told every friend who’s asked about backpacks to buy this backpack, and none of them have… so maybe I’ll tell you guys.

Made for a Mirrorless Compact or GoPro

There is a padded, protective pouch for camera equipment at the top of the bag. This can be folded away but is otherwise my go-to storage space for my Sony NEX-5T. The Sony a6000 also fits in there easily. On most days, I also have my GoPro Silver Edition in there. If I had another lens (i.e. this prime lens I’ve been eyeing for over a year) I’d sub that in.

The pouch is at the top of the bag and designed to be uber-accessible. The old saying “the best camera is the one you have with you” could not apply more here. I bring this bag just about everywhere. It’s my bag commuting to work when I’m in the city, and it’s my day bag when I’m walking around Prague. The only time I don’t have this bag is when I’m doing serious hiking or hot-weather adventures… then I sub in a hydration backpack.

Back to the point (sorry). I can swing the bag and pull out my camera in about three seconds comfortably, so there’s not a ton of shots you’re going to miss with it.

Work Horse: Holds a Macbook Air 13”

This may be unfortunate for some, but the backpack is designed specifically for the MacBook Air. It fits that like a glove (nice and soft inside, padded and protected outside). As that’s the computer I’ve gotten through work for the last three years, it’s been perfect for me.

It can also fit Chromebooks and similarly-sized Ultrabooks like the Samsung. There’s not a ton of extra room in there, but there is some. From a function standpoint, most of my overseas adventures have some sort of work schedule attached to them. I’ll take this bag out with a snack, power accessories, computer, camera, and maybe a light sweatshirt stashed away. That’s everything I need for (remote) work and play.

Water (and stain) Resistant

The backpack is not waterproof. If you pour enough water on it there will eventually be some moisture on the inside. Note, it’s never been wet on the inside. The surprising part to me was the stain resistance.

About 6 months into buying this bag, I had it under a table at a bar. I was busy competing in the skee ball championship when eventually I returned to find a bag covered in either fruit punch or bad red wine. Either way, I was a little crushed.

I decided I may as well try to scrub it off… and then it happened. With a clean sponge and some regular dish soap, I got 100% of the stain off. Christmas morning all over again.

Minimal, Attractive, Slim

This is a small backpack by most standards. It looks appropriate even on a smaller female frame (my ex was 5’1” and it was comfortable for her when she borrowed it). It’s slim profile also makes it pretty ideal for a second carry-on, a riding bag on a motorcycle, or just general lightweight travel.

Its heathered gray color matches a bunch of the other Incase bags (I recently added the roller) in case you’re going for a set.

Bottom Line

This is a really fantastic, great looking, small backpack. The side zipper on the main pocket will take you a week to get used to, but after that, you’ll never look back. This is easily the best bag for the money I’ve seen out there… and I was looking for over a year before I bought this.

Perfect for everyday commutes. Great for far-away adventures. It’s my #1 item on the digital nomad packing list.

If the article was helpful and you do want the Incase backpack, it’d be a great help if you used my affiliate link to purchase (a small thank you).


Note: there are several listings on Amazon for other models of the Reform bags. Some can hold 15” laptops and have “tensaerlite” which is essentially hard foam padding for your computer. Those do not have the top pouch for a camera.