When you start the conversation about bags for carrying things on a bike, there are two companies that are going to come up, Timbuk2 and Chrome. Sure, there are other companies making competitive products, but Chrome and Timbuk2 have, over the years, become synonymous with messenger bags and backpacks for urban cycling.
It’s gotten to the point where it’s impossible to even have the conversation without discussing at least one of these companies. Fortunately, it’s a well-earned reputation. They both make great products that will last years, but they aren’t exactly the same.
Years ago, I used to take my old Timbuk2 with me for bike trips to the grocery store. That bag, which I still own, was a promotional item for the original Tech TV; for those in the US who may be old enough to remember that time frame. When it was time to update that bag, I looked hard at both Timbuk2 and Chrome, but at the time, Chrome didn’t really offer a good option for carrying a laptop. And that’s long been one of the big differentiators between Chrome and Timbuk2. Timbuk2 has offered more gear tailored at being off the bike while Chrome offered a more limited range that was really tailored to on the bike use.
Fast forward several years, and now I’m in Portland, where it rains more than I care to remember, and it was time to look at a new option for carrying gear, including a laptop, when cycling in both wet and dry. Chrome now carries a variety of laptop capable bags as well as a variety of waterproof bags, and I took a look at the Chrome Barrage Cargo.
The Barrage cargo retails for $180 and has a main compartment constructed of 600 denier truck tarpaulin which is seam welded with a roll top closure. It’s completely waterproof. If you’ve ever used a dry bag around water, this is essentially the same setup. It’s waterproof without question, and in this case, can hold from 22L to 34L internally.
The main pocket has a small pocket at the back that can be used to hold a laptop, and there are also a bunch of options externally to hold things that don’t need to stay dry. The external cargo net on the back is particularly nice for carrying a helmet after you’ve arrived at your destination.
The bag admittedly took some getting used to. I wasn’t sure I was a fan of the way it sat so high on my back. Walking around before my first ride, I was actually sure I hated it. I feared it would jostle around or bother my back. Once on the bike, however, it was completely forgotten. So forgotten, in fact, that I freaked myself out twice when checking for cars and catching the edge of the bulky bag in my periphery. No cars, just a large bag on my back.
After multiple rides in the pouring rain, I’m really happy with the waterproof feature. It keeps everything dry. I do wish it had a better place for a laptop. I’d prefer a designated, padded area versus just jamming it into the smaller pocket and hoping for the best. But it hasn’t failed me yet.
The bottom line is that Chrome is one of the biggest names in “durable gear for living and riding the city”, and it’s a well deserved mantel. The Barrage Cargo Backpack does not disappoint. It’s completely waterproof, comfortable on your back while you ride, and is able to carry a laptop while also being one of the most stylish options out there.
It’s not a cheap option when you look at the price tag, but Chrome offers a lifetime warranty, and this bag is likely to hold up as long as you feel like keeping it around. In fact, one piece of advice, make sure you think hard about the design you choose because you are going to have it a long time. If you have a need for a commuter backpack that can handle any weather, carry a lot of gear, and carry a laptop, you’ll do well taking a look at Barrage Cargo Backpack.
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