Ironically, the humble backpack is one of the most underrated products in the world of luggage. While very few lucky folks around the world have found the backpacking equivalent of “The One”, most of us are still on the seemingly endless search for a backpack that can hold all our million gadgets, belongings, water bottles, keys, wallets, and a few hundred other things we don’t need to carry but can’t bear to leave behind (come on, do you really need to carry all those extra packets of M&Ms and Tostitos? Or your entire Maybelline collection?
If you’ve found a bag that can fit all this in without it giving up on you and ripping apart at the seams at the most inconvenient moments, kudos! But if you’ve ever had your backpack strap come right off while crossing the cobbled pathways on your dream European vacation or while trekking the beautiful Andes, we get you. Been there, done that, one too many times.
Yes, the above scenario may be a one in a 50 chance in most of our lives but that doesn’t change the fact that a good backpack that can last you through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, till (hopefully) only death does do you apart is of indispensable value.
Of course, it’s impossible to hope for a backpack that you could pack your entire house (and then some) into unless we’re talking about Hermoine Granger’s extension-charmed beaded bag. But you can hope for a bag that can safely accommodate enough travel gear for the duration of your vacation, whether it’s a weekend or a few months! Or your gym/ work/ study gear, as the case may be.
Luckily, there are those few rare jewels out there who manufacture great backpacks and have happy customers the world over. Chrome Industries is one such jewel, with many of the company’s customers swearing that they won’t ever need to buy another bag after getting one from Chrome. Today, we give you a low down on Chrome Industries, why you should choose them and review six of their top-selling backpacks.
Table of Contents
If you’re looking for a one-stop backpack, this is it. The Summoner Backpack is a solid contender not just among its Chrome Industries’ counterparts but all backpacks in the luggage world. With great looks and even better functionality, the backpack is a part of the Modal Collection, a baby born to origami’s efficiency and urban landscape energy as the manufacturers put it.
Capable of holding 32 liters worth of belongings, the Summoner Backpack is highly durable, thanks to a 600D polyester construction with a twill pattern that’s not only pleasing to the eyes but also serves to minimize the accumulation of dirt and dust. The backpack also has a harness system, with high-density-foam-padded shoulder straps for comfortable carrying.
Inside, the backpack has three quick-access pockets and two compartments, with a separate compartment for any 15-inch laptop; along with the book-like opening, these features ensure that organizing and accessing your belongings has never been quicker or easier.
There are many reasons why the Summoner backpack is our top-rated pick on the list. Not only is it comfortable but also super sleek and quite the looker! What we totally dig is the fact that the aesthetics aren’t just frills; the pattern has its own function of keeping the bag dust free. In addition to this, the design’s completely unique, inspired by a very unlikely but super-working combination of origami and urban landscapes.
Of course, it’s no carry on; it also won’t work well if you want to use it as a daily backpack to carry essentials once you reach your vacation spot and may call for a separate day pack. You may also find the other cons quite frustrating, but the Summoner is still a great backpack to consider.
Chrome Industries’ Barrage Cargo Laptop Backpack comes a close second to the Summoner backpack; if the latter is a 9, this one’s an 8.5. Designed specifically for use in the city, this backpack’s garnered quite the fan following among cyclists and bike commuters. Considering its 22-liter capacity, water-resistant construction, buckle closure roll-top and plenty of pockets, it’s not hard to see why!
Rugged, well constructed and durable, the bag also has a separate laptop sleeve, tarpaulin incorporation in its interior, a pocket with zip closure on the outside, and two side pockets for water bottles. It also comes with a tough cargo net (backed by 4 adjustable clips to hold stuff in place), one of its major selling points, which lets you strap your helmet into it instead of hanging it from one of the exterior straps, or store your shoes. The comfortable back panel and straps make it a great option for short bike journeys.
Slightly cheaper than the Summoner backpack at $160, the Barrage Cargo Laptop Backpack is a great pick for commuters and bike riders in the city, designed specifically to suit the needs of this group. Its fully-waterproof construction, the cargo net, and durability are the cherries on this Chrome Industries cake, and though it is slightly expensive, lacks sufficient exterior pockets, and is heavy, it more than makes up for it with these features, especially the durability and waterproofing. However, keep in mind that long rides with this backpack could wear out your back and leave you feeling uncomfortable; if you have the option, we’d suggest a lighter backpack for long distances.
With a name containing “2.0”, you know that there’s going to be some next-level awesomeness. And guess what? This backpack is just as cool as its very cool name. Versatile, waterproof, uniquely and ergonomically designed and guaranteed to get you through any situation that requires a backpack, the Bravo 2.0 is one of the best backpack options in the market. It also doesn’t hurt that the bag’s a looker!
The Bravo 2.0 can hold 28 liters and like its bigger brother, the Barrage Cargo Backpack, comes with a roll-top closure that lets you store that little bit extra when required. It also comes with a laptop compartment (for 15inch laptops) along with a roomy welded-waterproof main compartment that makes it a great option when it comes to both weather resistance and spaciousness.
The padded and ergonomically-designed shoulder straps and back panel ensure comfortable carrying; along with the quick-release sternum strap that ensures even weight distribution, the Bravo 2.0 is a highly comfortable backpack indeed!
Though it may look like the cons outweigh the pros in this case, we assure you that it isn’t so; the pros are much more substantial than the cons. That isn’t to say the cons don’t matter; after all, it may seem small and trivial but when it comes down to it, no one wants to walk around with burning hands from all those Velcro scratches!
Additionally, and the most significant con, is the fact that the bag isn’t entirely waterproof; its tarpaulin lining and welded waterproof factor only extends to the main compartment. Some users have also reported it to be heavy and the side pockets too small, without the capacity to fit even the average 16-ounce water bottle.
That being said, at $150, the Bravo 2.0 is stylish, solid, well built and a highly popular pick in the range of 28-liter backpacks.
Like the Barrage backpack, Chrome Industries’ Hondo backpack is also aimed at urban commuters and accordingly, is durable and spacious. Whether you want to take the backpack along on a trek or carry your daily essentials, the backpack is an ideal choice thanks to its great functionality.
Built of 1050D nylon, the Hondo backpack comes with a U-lock (quick access), a zip-closure wide-opening top, a specific wallet and water bottle compartments. It also has a water-resistant tarpaulin liner (300D) which also reinforces its durability. Consequently, this makes the Hondo a great backpack for daily commuting and other daily activities, as does its lightweight and abrasion-resistant nature. The backpack is also highly secure, providing additional security to your gadgets in the form of a padded bottom panel and laptop sleeve.
With 21 liters of capacity, storage space will hardly be an issue either; you can pack in all that you need, want and don’t need and want in the spacious compartment! The backpack is lightweight without compromising on its spaciousness, which means your back won’t take a beating even if you are carrying a heavy load.
There are no illusions about what the Hondo backpack is; it’s simple, tough, decent looking, and great for everyday usage. Thus, this isn’t the bag to consider if you’re a frequent flyer or traveler. It’s also quite inexpensive at $100 and especially great for those who commute by cycles and motorbikes within the city, students or those looking to carry the same amount as a student does without destroying their bank balance. It’s durable and serves its purpose quite well.
The Hondo backpack is solid, easy to carry, holds its shape, can stand on its own proverbial feet and is one of the best options in the given price range.
The Chrome Industries Unisex Rostov is the embodiment of “sleek”, thanks to a Cordura construction, but this doesn’t come at the cost of its durability or functionality. The bag is a great choice for everyday or casual usage, whether you’re a commuter, a student or a starry-eyed vacationer in a fairy tale city in Europe!
Made of Cordura, the backpack has rain-covered zippers, two comfortable straps, a handle to hang the bag, a front quick-access pocket, a laptop sleeve, and other pockets to stow away your tiny (in size only!) essentials. Equipped with reflective webbed loops on the straps, the bag is super lightweight and has a generous capacity for storage that doesn’t take a toll on your shoulders or back, thanks to adjustable straps that support various shoulder widths and don’t let you miss the presence of a hip belt.
To further the wearer’s comfort, the back panel is EVA foam-padded. The backpack strikes the right balance between functionality, durability, practicality and great looks!
First and foremost, the Unisex Rostov is a great lightweight option that can comfortably accommodate 23 liters’ worth of belongings, whether you belong to the fairer gender (though you’d have to be on the taller side) or otherwise. At $115, it’s only slightly more expensive than the Hondo, so you still won’t be burning an ozone-layer-sized hole into your wallet. Compact, stylish and lightweight, the bag has a generous capacity but you won’t be complaining too much about the heavy load thanks to the extremely comfortable shoulder straps and back panels.
The Unisex Rostov is a more-than-worthy investment for the $115 you’re going to shell out.
This 28-liter backpack, specifically designed for the long haul, is a great option to carry the substantial amounts of gear that the haul requires! Constructed using knurled welding that’s also lightweight, the Urban Ex Roll-Top Backpack is an improvement on the previous version, giving users an additional 10 liters of storage space and a ton of new features, such as a waterproof compartment for quick-access objects, additional pockets in the interior for better organization, and an improved shoulder harness system for extreme comfort.
As mentioned, the Urban Ex Backpack is designed specifically for the long haul, letting you carry the maximum amount of load with the minimum amount of effort and stress. The roll-top closure adds an extra 10 liters of storage space, whereas the multiple pouches ensure that your belongings are all well-organized and stored safely, thanks to the main compartment’s watertight nature.
Ideal for all types of cyclists, regardless of gender, shape, and size, the backpack comes with an upgraded shoulder harness system that ensures superior comfort during usage and commuting without compromising on its resilience or toughness.
At a price tag around $140, this is one backpack, despite its name, that you don’t want as an ex; it’s so efficiently waterproof that it could quite safely get your belongings through “2012”-style end-of-the-world flooding! Bad jokes apart, the Urban Ex Roll-Top Backpack is all kinds of durable, functional, and efficient, packaged in a good looking, minimalist package. Its biggest selling point is the knurled welding and the fact that the whole bag, including the exterior pocket and the zippers, is waterproof and not just the main compartment, unlike most other Chrome Industries’ backpacks.
All things considering, the Urban Ex Roll-Top Backpack is a great investment, surprisingly lightweight for a bag of its capacity and therefore, perfect for a range of users from cyclists to students to commuters. No promises that you may not feel a slight burn in your wallet, though.
Like any global brand, Chrome Industries not only manufacturers backpacks and messenger bags, but utility cycling gear such as footwear and apparel, as well. Starting off in Colorado’s Boulder in 1995, the company shifted base and started operating out of Denver and then San Francisco (2002) for a while, before finally settling in on “The City of Roses” in 2017. With retail stores across major American cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle and Portland, and offices in Denver and Washington D.C (apart from San Francisco), it’s no wonder that Chrome Industries dominates the world of backpacks on the home ground as well as away — it’s got both a great reputation as well as a huge global customer base.
A few of the other reasons why the company enjoys the popularity it does can be attributed to the excellent quality of its products, all the ideal combination of utility, durability, and functionality (they wouldn’t be giving you a lifetime guarantee if they didn’t have faith in their products, now, would they?). Their most popular lines of messenger bags, the Mini-Metro, Metropolis, and Citizen series, carry the company’s signature — a seatbelt buckle release that you can also use to open up that bottle of chilled beer. The company has retained its manufacturing process of using salvaged items, such as seatbelt webbing and buckles, in its product offerings, borrowing from its initial days of manufacturing bags in a garage.
Today, the company also has a best-selling apparel line (you’d agree if you ever both their merino-wool Cobra hoodie) as well as a shoe line that’s captured feet everywhere with products such as the Kursk street shoe. They also sell other gear such as skid-resistant soles, crashpad insoles with polyurethane contouring, reflective hits and shoelace garage. Chrome’s products are also now available online on Tilt, which further cements their position as a global brand.
It isn’t just the common folk who swear by Chrome Industries; the company’s also sponsored professional skateboarders such as Alonso Tal, Massan Fluker, John Cardiel, and Damian Riehl. They’ve also pulled off successful partnerships with a range of entities such as Motorhead, Tim Kasher, Bad Religion and even organizations such as the World Food Program the St. Anthony Foundation based in San Francisco.
Let’s take a minute to talk about what features actually define a good backpack. Good backpacks should have a variety of features, such as:
A common question that most users face is whether the size of a backpack really matters. There isn’t a standard size that’s deemed the best option; it depends on your comfort and how much you wish to carry. It also matters what your build is, as this could affect the weight distribution of the backpack and result in issues like backaches. Look for a backpack that can comfortably fit your belongings as well as your body!
Additionally, if you intend to use your backpack for travel, get one that’s IATA-size approved. This means that you could save quite a bit in baggage fees and skip long queues at the check-in counter as your bag will be treated as carry-on baggage.
If you’re also debating whether to get a suitcase or a backpack, no prizes for guessing which one you’d rather have when you’re climbing the stairs to your room at a heritage Sicilian villa that refuses to use lifts or bellhops. More realistically, think about which you’d rather have when walking long distances, especially if the terrain’s uneven. Additionally, your luggage is going to face a lot of abuse, being thrown about in the backs of buses and flight cargo holds and bumping into lamp posts and corners everywhere.
Backpacks present a world of convenience; they’re easier and lighter to carry, with you at all times, can fit into relatively tiny spaces, don’t have to be picked up and placed when you’re switching ground levels (such as escalators or stairs), and several models also double up as suitcases when you need them to! They’re also a much better option if you intend to travel to a lot of places during your vacation, as opposed to staying put in one place. Suitcases are better suited for short trips.
If you were ever considering getting a backpack (which you totally should, for the comfort, versatility, and functionality) and were wondering if Chrome is a good pick, we hope we cleared some of the air around the debate. There’s a reason these guys enjoy the popularity and market share they do; it’s evident in their products. Additionally, all Chrome bags come with a lifetime guarantee, an indication of the company’s faith in its products.
So take your pick, or not, as the case may be, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find bags that are such ideal combinations of functionality, style, durability, and efficiency elsewhere.