Our Favorite Chrome Industries Backpacks Reviewed

  • October 7, 2020
  • / By Keith Terrell
Man on the Street

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.

Man on the Street

Today, we give you a low down on Chrome Industries, why you should choose them and review six of their top-selling backpacks.

Image

Name

More Info

Summoner

Best Overall

Summoner

Barrage Cargo

Runner-Up

Barrage Cargo

Bravo 2.0

Best for Commuter

Bravo 2.0

Hondo

Best Budget

Hondo

Unisex Rostov

Best Unisex 

Rostov

Urban Ex Rolltop

Best for Long Haul

Urban Ex Roll Top

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.

Summoner

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • Side zip opening
  • 2 separate compartments
  • A front zipper (top to bottom) to access the main compartment and a zipper on top to access the back compartment
  • Multiple access pockets, including mesh pockets and organization pockets
  • Fits a 15-inch laptop in a dedicated sleeve
  • Dedicated tablet sleeve
  • Duraflex Stealth buckles and YKK zippers
  • High-density-foam-padded shoulder straps
  • Compression straps
  • Made of 600D Polyester Twill and 70D nylon liner
  • Available in 2 colors — black and Ravenswood camo
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 13 x 8.5 inches
  • A weight of 2.54 pounds
  • Sternum strap
  • Attachment points on the front straps
  • A flexible back panel of dense foam
  • Top and side handles

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • The laptop sleeve is a “floating” compartment, meaning that your laptop doesn’t touch the bottom of the bag, keeping it safe even if you should accidentally drop your bag.
  • Comfortable carrying thanks to the harness system
  • Dust and dirt accumulation is minimized thanks to the twill pattern.
  • Durable construction
  • Can be used as a backpack or a suitcase
  • The bag opens like a book, making it easy to access belongings.
  • High-quality, durable zippers

Cons

  • Unorganized compression straps
  • You need to open the bag entirely to access the organization pocket or feel around blindly until you find it. 
  • Though the backpack can fit a 15-inch laptop if it’s naked, the Velcro and the sleeve itself aren’t generous enough to accommodate a separate laptop cover, if your laptop has one. 
  • Some users have stated that the organization pockets are not sufficient in number and size, restricted to only small items like pens, shades, dongles and the like.

Our Verdict

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.


Barrage Cargo Laptop Backpack

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!

Barrage Cargo

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Quick-release sternum strap
  • A back panel of EVA foam 
  • Roll-top closure (the roll-top is expandable and 100% waterproof)
  • Water-resistant - welded waterproof lining and nylon construction
  • Watertight compartments (tarpaulin lining on the interior)
  • U-lock holster on the side 
  • A 15-inch laptop sleeve
  • 2 outer pockets for water bottles 
  • An adjustable cargo net on the exterior with 4 adjustable clips 
  • Outer pocket with zip closure 
  • Metal buckles on the chest strap 
  • Dimensions: 21 x 11.5 x 5.5 inches
  • A weight of 3.35 pounds 
  • Can hold 22 liters

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • Perfect for all weather conditions; fully water-resistant and waterproof
  • Highly durable; abrasion-resistant nylon shell and high-quality buckles and zippers
  • Is quite spacious; the expandable roll-top closure ensures additional storage space
  • The cargo net; a rare feature in most backpacks and to further sweeten the deal, is expandable
  • The quick-release sternum strap is great for even weight distribution.

Cons

  • Only one exterior pocket that isn’t compartmentalized, meaning your belongings will be all over the pocket’s space or in a jumble
  • The zip closure on the exterior pocket is vertical, which doesn’t provide a lot of security assurance for your belongings
  • Ideal only for short distances; it’s quite heavy due to the metal buckles, adjustment clips and the backpack’s material itself 
  • On the expensive side

Our Verdict

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.


Bravo 2.0

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!

Bravo 2.0

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • Welded waterproof main compartment
  • Separate quick-access laptop sleeve for a 15-inch laptop 
  • Made of 1050D nylon that’s resistant to abrasion 
  • Extra water-resistant PU coating 
  • An external waterproof compartment in front with zip closure
  • EVA-foam-padded back panel 
  • A padded shoulder strap system 
  • Custom push plate buckle on the sternum strap 
  • Metal buckles and fasteners
  • 18oz tarpaulin lining in the interior 
  • A cross-strap system
  • Dimensions: 27 x 13 x 6 inches
  • A weight of 3.73 pounds 
  • Roll-top closure
  • Volume capacity of 28 liters 
  • A separate Velcro-closure area in the main compartment 
  • Exterior cargo straps

Benefits

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!

Pros

  • A handy external compartment and pockets in front for quick access and organizing of belongings
  • Ergonomically-designed padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and back panel to ensure superior comfort
  • Highly durable - welded-waterproof main compartment, strong, high-quality Velcro, abrasion-resistant construction, and PU coating in the back for water-resistance
  • Roll-top closure ensures additional storage space when required
  • Great for those who commute by bike or cycles 
  • Top loading for easy packing

Cons

  • The biggest con is that only the main compartment is waterproof; the laptop sleeve and other packets are only partially waterproof.
  • Though the company says the laptop sleeve is “quick access”, you’ll have to go through the main compartment to access it, which means that if you’ve packed your gear in before putting in the laptop, you’ll have to unpack and put the laptop in first.
  • Additionally, your belongings in the main compartment could take up the laptop space as both compartments are super-close together.
  • Velcro straps, though high quality, are generally non-durable; they are also prone to dust and dirt accumulation and can catch onto your clothes (possibly ruining that favorite sweater).
  • Some users have reported that the velcro cuts and scratches their hands. 
  • The Velcro straps are also really loud. 
  • Only one cup holder Due to it being wedge-shaped, it’s difficult to push belongings all the way to the backpack’s bottom.

Our Verdict

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.


Hondo Backpack

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.

Hondo

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • A padded laptop sleeve that can fit 15-inch laptops
  • A padded bottom panel
  • U-lock system (facilitated by a long strap on the top and two smaller straps at the bottom)
  • 1050D-nylon construction
  • 300D tarpaulin lining for water-resistance 
  • MOLLE webbing on the surface and harness (minimally reflective)
  • YKK 10 zippers
  • Dimensions: 17.5 x 11 x 5.5 inches
  • A weight of 1.97 pounds 
  • Comfortable strap system 
  • Padded back panel 
  • A detachable sternum strap
  • 21-liter capacity 
  • Has a tablet sleeve, 2 pockets for pens and an additional sleeve, along with the main compartment, quick-access pockets in front and a laptop sleeve

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • A great option for daily commuters or day-to-day use
  • Highly durable and tough 
  • Water-resistant and abrasion-resistant
  • Generous storage capacity 
  • A padded laptop sleeve and bottom panel for improved protection 
  • Relatively inexpensive 
  • Reflective webbing and harness for visibility in the dark 
  • Wide-open top for easier packing and access to belongings 
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Only the interior is water-resistant (not water-proof, which means that water could leak into the interior compartment during heavy rain, despite the tarpaulin lining).
  • Not enough pockets for organization of belongings
  • Some users have stated that the fit of the shoulder straps is uncomfortable.

Our Verdict

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.


Unisex Rostov

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!

Unisex Rostov

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • 27-liter capacity
  • EVA-foam-padded back panel 
  • Adjustable sternum strap with custom metal web-hooking
  • Shoulder-width-adjustable shoulder straps 
  • Handle at the top
  • Compression straps (quick release)
  • Waterproof liner (18-ounce truck-liner tarpaulin) in the interior main compartment that’s also protected by welded zippers that are waterproof
  • Padded laptop sleeve for 15-inch laptops 
  • A separate tablet pocket, two pen pockets and an additional pocket in the interior
  • An external pocket with zip closure for quick-access objects 
  • A side pocket for water bottles 
  • Abrasion-resistant 1050D-nylon construction
  • Industrial-grade plastic compression buckles, as well as compression buckles in the underarm area
  • Industrial-grade metal D-rings on the shoulder straps to attach extra gear
  • Industrial-strength mounting straps for hook-and-loop accessories 
  • 1680D ballistic nylon bottom panel 
  • YKK zippers 
  • Bottom webbing loops that are reflective

Benefits

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!

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Spacious
  • Waterproofed main compartment with waterproof zippers to prevent water leakage
  • Easy-access exterior pocket with a side zip that lets you reach for stuff inside without taking the backpack off
  • Lightweight 
  • Sufficient organization pockets
  • Comfortable back panel and shoulder straps to ensure comfort even while carrying heavy loads
  • Even weight distribution ensured by the adjustable sternum strap and compression straps

Cons

  • The top of the shoulder-strap harness system digs into the back of the wearer’s neck; adjusting the straps compromises the backpack’s stability.
  • Improperly stitched logo (the seams stick out)
  • Again, only the interior compartment is entirely waterproof.

Our Verdict

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. 


Urban Ex Roll-Top Backpack

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.

Urban Ex Rolltop

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • 28 liters of capacity
  • A single pocket with zip closure for quick-access items 
  • One main compartment 
  • Roll-top closure 
  • Synthetic-rubber-reinforced base 
  • Bar-stitched handles (5) and straps
  • 100% waterproof 
  • Two-strap harness system
  • 15-inch laptop sleeve 
  • A padded sleeve for tablets 
  • Knurled-welded (radio-frequency welds) seams
  • External hoops for bike locks 
  • Padded shoulder straps 
  • Two carry handles on the top
  •  Constructed using a combination of nylon and polyester shell
  • Reflective molle webbing on the harness and face 
  • Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 6 inches

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • The roll-top closure allows for extra storage space.
  • Completely waterproof and not just the main compartment, reinforced by the knurled welding
  • Simple, minimalist and efficient
  • Generous capacity for belongings
  • Lightweight
  • The use of radio-frequency welds for bonding seams means that they are 1.5 times stronger than traditional lap welds.
  • Can be used as a carry bag, thanks to its handles, and not always with a rolled top

Cons

  • Due to its large size, the backpack is quite wide across the back, obscuring your over-your-shoulder view; this can be a potential obstruction while cycling.
  • Some users may find the bag too minimalist, as it only contains one main compartment. 
  • Items in the bag tend to shift because of the smooth and silky interior. 
  • No water bottle holder on the side
  • Some users find a lack of sufficient organization pockets.

Our Verdict

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. 


Chrome Industries - the Titan of Backpacks

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.

Man with Backpack

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.

Why Choose a Chrome Industries Backpack?

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:

Rain in the City
  • Water-resistance (in the material used to make the backpack); even if the bag itself isn’t water-resistant (though we highly recommend that you get one that is!), it should at least come with a rain cover
  • Security in the form of lockable zippers
  • Multiple, specialized compartments for increased organization and packing efficiency
  • An internal frame (instead of external, where the rods stick out); this makes the bag more compact, lighter and easier to move, and frankly, better looking!
  • Padded and adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps for comfort and even weight distribution
  • A contoured or padded back that’s preferably air-mesh ventilated
  • A front-loading backpack for easier packing and access to your belongings

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! 

City Commute

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. 

Conclusion

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.