Incase ICON backpack review: Woolenex armor for all your stuff

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Incase’s ICON backpack is just that: an icon in a see of shitty backpacks.

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Let’s start this off by saying that I did indeed receive the ICON backpack from Incase for review consideration. I didn’t go asking for it, but when someone offers you a cool new backpack to try out, you’re not gonna say no.

Incase recently started making its ICON collection out of “Woolenex,” which is essentially an abrasion-resistant fabric that’s tightly knit, “woven from two different thicknesses of polyester fiber.” I figured winter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is as good a time as any to test out the durability and weather resistance of a backpack like this, so here we go.

This is the Incase ICON backpack with Woolenex.

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A turtle shell treasure trove: Design

Not me, but I wish I looked that good with rolled up trousers.

When I say turtle shell, I mean it in the best way. This backpack is rigid. Actually, almost to a fault. I could foresee a bit of an issue if you took this on a plane and it was quite full and a flight attendant told you to stuff it under the seat in front of you. It just doesn’t want to seem to flatten. That being said, you may see that as its best quality. If you have a laptop in there (this one can hold a 15-incher) and any other expensive tech that you really would rather stay in one piece, this is the perfect backpack for you.

I got a pocket, got a pocket full of pockets. If you want to carry all the things, you can in the ICON. I count nine zippered pockets and within several of them are separate pouches (not zippered) of various sizes for pens, peripherals, and whatever else you feel like tuckin’ away in there. The two side pockets are kind of awkward in that you’d probably only slip a wallet in there or something, but one of them has a headphone cable hole and would definitely fit your phone. The inner lining of each pocket feel strong, like it could stand up to the everyday wear and tear of plastic binders and pens and pencils and other relatively pointy things.

My favorite pocket is the back laptop pocket, which seems to be lined with a (Zapp Brannigan voice) sweet, soft layer of supple, luscious velour. The outside of that pocket, which is what your back touches, features the comfiest of padding, which makes the rigidity of the whole affair seem almost oxymoronic in a way. I really didn’t believe something so sturdy could be so comfortable.

In terms of looks, the ICON is simple and understated, but an altogether elegant and stylish backpack that you could see a business-type businessman walking around with or a college student or even an elementary school kid toting to class. It’s aesthetic is that versatile. And the Woolenex material feels just as durable as Incase claims — scratching at it with my nails and various somewhat sharper objects, I was unable to put even the slightest mark on it. I’m always skeptical when a company makes certain claims, and I’ve had bad luck with backpacks in the past (Tracker backpacks, anyone?), so I was more than pleasantly pulled the ICON out and full-on felt the quality. I’m as frugal as frugal gets (look up “cheap Winnipeggers” and you’ll see what I mean), and I would honestly pay the $ 200 for this backpack.

The happy wanderer: Functionality

I don’t get out of the house too much, so I only had the chance to take the ICON for a spin a few times. So in order to really test its mettle in everyday situations, I asked my wife if she’d take it to work with her on a daily basis. I said, “Wife, please take this backpack with you every day and let me know what you think.” And she said, “What have I said about calling me that?” And after a time she agreed. She busses to and from work and is a shooter/editor at a local TV station, so she often has to grab her bag and hit the road. She loved how comfortable it is, especially with the chest buckle, which helps distribute weight and take the load off your shoulders and back.

Her only complaint was the lack of an exterior water bottle pocket. She said she didn’t really realize how much she relied on that aspect of a backpack, but not having it was actually a bit of a pain. I have to say I agree; on my recent excursions, the inability to just reach back and grab my water bottle on the fly made things a bit cumbersome and inconvenient.

On any given day, my wife ends up sitting around waiting for work to come in — sometimes for hours at a time — so she brings lots of stuff to keep her occupied, and she couldn’t fill up the ICON no matter how hard she tried. On any given day, she’d bring our 15-inch MacBook Pro, a couple thick books, a 3DS, her lunch, a binder for a distance learning course she’s taking, headphones, extra batteries, her water bottle, and other small, miscellaneous items. The ICON still wasn’t full, and thanks to that chest buckle, it didn’t feel heavy.

As for weather resistance, we’ve had a pretty snowy February and March, and the water-resistance of the Woolenex is superb — water just beads and rolls off. When I’d get place or my wife would get to work, the backpack would only be slightly damp and the inside remained dry as British wit.

When I ventured out to coffee shops, I brought along the laptop, a couple notebooks, some peripherals, and a book or two. This particular backpack might have been overkill in that instance, but I have an upcoming plane trip, and I’m particularly excited to take the ICON with me, since I’ll likely be packing books, a laptop, the 3DS, and possibly a ukulele (which fits!).

Should you pay $ 200 for a backpack? Absolutely

If you want to essentially buy a backpack that you’ll probably have for the rest of your life, the Incase ICON is a wonderful choice. It’s incredibly durable, holds all the things, is stylish enough to bring to school, the park, a business meeting, or the altar at your wedding, and it’s comfy as all get out, which I have found is pretty rare in a good backpack.

The ICON pretty effortlessly marries functionality and form (even if it is missing that all-too-convenient water bottle pocket).

See at Amazon

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Microbial Armor Could Protect Dying Coral Reefs

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It turns out that humans aren’t the only species that rely on their microbiome to stay healthy. Researchers at Ohio State University are looking at the microbial communities of corals, which appear to remain healthier in warm, acidic waters that would normally kill them when their microbiomes remain intact. That’s promising news given that warm, acidic waters are exactly what climate change is expected to deliver.

Led by researcher Andréa Grottoli, the team exposed two different species of coral to the high temperatures and high levels of acidity expected by the end of the century. Normally, when a coral experiences these conditions, it takes drastic measures: the coral animal, which builds the calcium carbonate skeleton you see when you go snorkeling, ejects its partner, a symbiotic algae that helps the coral make food. This process is known as bleaching, as the algae takes the structure’s color with it when it departs, and it usually will kill the coral.

The top two images show staghorn coral before and after exposure to higher temperatures and acidity. Bottom images show the seemingly more resilient yellow scroll coral.Courtesy of The Ohio State University
Above, staghorn coral before (left) and after (right) higher temperatures and acidity. Below, the yellow scroll coral before and after the same conditions. Image Credit: Ohio State University

Yet one of the corals that Grotolli’s team examined was relatively unfazed by the warm and acidic conditions. When they looked at the microbes living in a mucus layer on its surface, they also found the species living there were almost the same as before the stressful experiment. Meanwhile, the other coral studied bleached, in response to the changing conditions, and the bacteria living on it decreased in number and in diversity.

However, Grottoli’s team isn’t yet sure if the change in the microbes are just a correlation, or if they might have a causative relationship with coral health.

“There’s far more unknown than known,” Grottoli told Oceans Deeply. “We don’t know if it’s changes in the microbial community that are causing shifts in the physiology, or if it’s changes in the physiology that make the coral no longer a good host of the microbes.”

Researchers are hard at work trying to untangle that relationship. Early work certainly seems to suggest that like the humans microbiome, coral microbes help the animals to handle stress and fight off disease. The coral microbiome may even be flexible: Experiments in transplanting colder water corals to warmer environments show that the animals were able to take up new species of bacteria and survive.

This information could help scientists figure out ways to preserve corals in warmer and more acidic seas — whether that’s identifying areas with more resilient coral to protect, giving corals probiotics to bulk up their microbiome, or even breeding “super corals” that can better handle warmer seas.

Such action may be needed sooner than later. The most recent global coral bleaching event lasted over three years, and in many reefs wiped out between 70 and 100 percent of the coral there. Most reefs would need at least a decade to recover from an event of that magnitude, but scientists don’t expect they’ll have that long.

The post Microbial Armor Could Protect Dying Coral Reefs appeared first on Futurism.

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Two Layers of Graphene Make Diamond-Hard Armor That Can Stop a Bullet

Diamond-Hard Armor

The media tends to depict bullet-proof armor as something that’s thick and heavier than regular clothes. Despite being for bodily protection, the added bulk of that armor might restrict a person’s movements. But scientists at the City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) have found that diamond-hard armor doesn’t need to be thick. The key to less-bulky protection is graphene, a tightly-packed layer of bonded carbon atoms one million times thinner than a piece of paper.

The researchers discovered that two layers of graphene stacked on top of one another can temporarily become as hard as diamond — and just as impenetrable — when struck by, say, a bullet. The hardening of the new material, called diamene, only happens when exactly two sheets of graphene are layered together, according to the study published in Nature Nanotechnology. When more sheets were added, the hardening effect didn’t happen.

“Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film,” explained Elisa Riedo, professor of physics at the ASRC and lead project researcher, on the research center’s website. “But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond.”

Future Warfare

The team’s research could be used for more than just armor, and may be used in the development of wear-resistant protective coatings as well.

This isn’t the first attempt to lighten protective armor. In May 2017, Cadet 1st Class Hayley Weir and her professor Ryan Burke at the Air Force Academy created a substance that could stop bullets fired at close range, and could be used to make lightweight armor.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts the future of warfare. Soldiers wearing lightweight armor that makes them almost impervious to bullets would likely cause militaries around the world to shift to other weaponry. We know the United States is looking at laser weapons, while Russia is reportedly designing a missile controlled by artificial intelligence. Ironically, effective bullet-proof armor won’t count for much if no one’s using bullets anymore.

The post Two Layers of Graphene Make Diamond-Hard Armor That Can Stop a Bullet appeared first on Futurism.

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Safeguard your Samsung Note 8 in style with Spigen’s sleek and protective Hybrid Armor case [Sponsored Post]

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Spigen’s case is slim and light, increasing the thickness of your Note8 by a mere 0.1″, while still providing incredible drop protection and durability.

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Safeguard your Samsung Note 8 in style with Spigen’s sleek and protective Hybrid Armor case [Sponsored Post] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Armor Games has remade their popular turn-based RPG ‘Sonny,’ and it is out on the Play Store

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Fans of the flash games will quickly notice that this Android release is quite different.

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Armor Games has remade their popular turn-based RPG ‘Sonny,’ and it is out on the Play Store was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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The Big Journey – Big Journey from Armor Games makes me wish ngmoco didn’t implode


Big Journey is just about too cute. It’s a rolling fat cat that has to eat and grow as it rolls through a beautiful platformer. Quite an homage to Rolando and the days of past. It takes the simple premise of a rolling platformer and adds a few interesting twists to it while not making it too difficult. A real cute one and worth picking up, even if it’s just to remember how great Rolando was and complain about it being gone.


Available For: iOS

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Find more games in: Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle

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