This seems to be quite a popular topic, and thought I would give a brief rundown on what I ended up with and how its working. First, since I am in college as a Respiratory Therapy student, I needed a big bag that would carry my large binders/science books. I decided against a messenger style and went looking for backpacks. After looking around I found a nice bag called the Oakley Kitchen Sink Pack. I went down and looked at it, however the $175 price tag kept me away. After reading some more information, I was pointed into the direction of The North Face Surge. After reading about it for a few days, I went ahead and ordered it. Backpack: http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_...T<>prd_id=845524442592283&emssrcid=GoogleBase I received the bag and it is awesome. I need a HUGE bag and this one fits the ticket. I am able to carry my laptop, books, notebooks, swimsuit/towel, and misc stuff without a problem. On top of that, it doesn't add any strain to my back. Lastly, the bag is water resistant which is awesome for when it rains and you have your laptop in your bag. Oh yea, plus it has a lifetime warranty! Now I wanted to make sure that my laptop had the best protection possible. I had bought and returned the Incase Hardshell, but after NOT having it on, I just couldn't live without it. It gives the macbook a nice grippy feel and just makes it feel better all together. I would say the Hardshell is a must! Hardshell: http://www.goincase.com/products/detail/13-hardshell-case-cl57119 Next I wanted to make sure that my laptop was as impact resistant as possible. I began looking at sleeves and actually tried a few (applesac, be.ez larobe) which were returned. I didn't like the quality of either, and was looking for specifically a polyurethane (memory foam) type of case. The catch was, my macbook with the hardshell ON had to fit in the sleeve. I read around the boards and found out that the Incase sleeves worked just fine with a macbook that had the HardShell on. Problem was, they did not have the polyurethane as part of the materials. However, it just so happens, that Incase makes a product called the Slim Sleeve that does have polyurethane. Let me tell ya, this sleeve is awesome! The cushioning is amazing, the interior is made of plush, and it fits perfectly. This is the best sleeve out there imo. Sleeve: http://www.goincase.com/products/detail/13-slim-sleeve-cl57107 Well I hope this helps you all out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Thanks!