Hard-sided luggage certainly can protect your valuables from getting smashed, but when it comes to carrying your bag around, you pretty much have to rely on the hard-sided case’s wheels. There may be some that convert to backpacks, but imagine shouldering the load from airport to city, including at least 10 city blocks. Do you really want a hard case on your back?
The Arc’teryx Covert Case is billed as a carry-on-sized soft case, and it’s easy to tote about—whether hand-held, shoulder bag, or backpack style. The pack body is 500D ATY nylon 6,6 silicone treated PU. That nylon is an air textured yarn chosen for its durability and aesthetic properties. Silicone treatment helps prevent dirt, snow and water pick-up. The straps use the same fabric, and add EV 50 closed-cell foam (good cushion for your belongings, while also being foldable) and Burly Double Weave (stretch-woven fabric that feels good next to the body).
The shoulder straps stow away when you’re not using them, so you don’t have to worry about them snagging on things. The pack opens like a suitcase, with a fully opening main compartment. Two internal compression straps keep your goods all in one place and help with stabilizing the load, so things aren’t shifting around when you’re carrying the pack.
There are two internal zippered pockets (one is rather small) and an external zippered document pocket with a key clip. The foam is enough to protect your breakables during normal use, but rough-and-tumble travel may not be the best use for the case if you’re carrying very fragile electronics or other items.
The Arc’teryx Covert Case comes in two sizes: C/O and I/C/O, which correspond to carry-on and international carry-on, respectively. The C/O is a 40-liter case, measuring 11 inches high by 22.44 inches long by 14.9 inches wide. With the current domestic carry-on standard (45 linear inches, and typically no more than 14 inches wide by 22 long by 9 high), that technically falls outside the allowed size, but it’s so close that you might squeak by the gate personnel if you don’t pack the bag completely full. But then again, you might not. The I/C/O is 50 liters, and measures 11.8 inches high by 23.22 long by 14.9 wide.