By Jimmy Leslie
Big deal—it’s just another gig bag, right? Wrong! The Incase Tour Bag ($199 Web direct for the “Grizzly Deal;”
Incase products are also available at Apple retail stores) is the Swiss-army knife of gig bags with numerous pockets and pullouts, including a breakout laptop pack, an expandable gear pack, and a concealed backpack system. So ask yourself, “How much gear do I want to carry to the show?” With the Tour Bag, you can lug an amp in one hand, and let the bag tote your guitar, several stompboxes, cables, lead-sheet folders, laptop and CD-Rs, extra sets of strings, a stringwinder, a tuner, a bottle of water, essential copies of GP, headphones, and maybe even a change of clothes. If you use the symmetrical shoulder strap (which slides over both shoulders and includes lifejacket-style straps that fasten around your chest and belly), you’ll even have a hand free to open the door of the club.
The laptop case also features several outside and inside pockets, as well as its own symmetrical shoulder strap. If you’re bringing a Powerbook and an Mbox to the gig, it’s a snap to strap the laptop on your back, carry the Tour Bag loaded with goodies in one hand, and your amp in the other.
Incase seems to have thought of tote space for just about everything the gigging guitarist might need and the hippest way to carry the resulting load without turning musicians into overburdened pack burros. This is no accident. The Tour Bag was born when the folks at Incase got together with Blues Traveler’s Tad Kinchla, who helped them design the bag. And the stuff I’ve discussed so far isn’t even the whole shebang—if you go for the “Grizzly Deal,” you also get a high-visibility rain jacket (for the Tour Bag), a closet hanger, an Incase cap, a T-shirt, and free shipping via UPS.
Of course, none of the features would mean much if the Tour Bag wasn’t built tough enough to provide the necessary protection for your precious cargo. No worries. The impact-resistant bags utilize PP corrugated boards sewn into the nylon fabric—in addition to a layer of foam under the boards and a mesh interior—to diffuse shock and keep any crashes from trashing your goodies. There’s also an ingenious “neck brace” (a foam pillow attached with Velcro to the inside lining of the bag) which can be moved up or down to protect the necks of different scale guitars. Most standard-shaped guitars will fit snugly, and you can click to goincase.com to see if a custom or odd model can be accommodated. There are also acoustic guitar and electric bass Tour Bags to choose from.
It’s three cases in one: a guitar gig bag, an all-purpose backpack, and a laptop computer case. The Tour Bag’s unprecedented versatility makes it absolutely irresistible. Then there are the little touches and creature comforts—such as the generously padded handles and straps— which make a big difference when you’re weighed down with all your gig gear. As a brilliantly designed tool that transforms the horror of lugging tons of gear into an ergonomic joy, the Tour Bag truly deserves an Editors’ Pick Award.