Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag Review

by Reads (72,118)

Introduction

My choice for a new bag came down first to a messenger bag. I was tired of all the backpacks I’ve owned and just wanted a change. I was then led to several different companies including Timbuk2, Crumpler, SF bags and Tom Bihn. They all offer high quality, waterproof, lifetime warranty messenger bags, but I liked the extra features the Chrome bags had to offer. So here’s a review of my final bag selection, the Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag.

Basic Specifications and Features (adopted from www.ChromeBags.com )

  • 1000D Cordura shell
  • 18oz. PVC truck tarp liner
  • 28 in. X 14 in. X 7 in. (flat)
  • 2000 cu. in. (not taken from flat dimensions)
  • Weatherproof independently suspended PVC interior
  • Anatomically correct EVA foam shoulder strap
  • Quick release seat buckle closure allows for on-the-flyone-handed tightening and loosening of shoulder strap
  • Built to last a lifetime: guaranteed
Size and Capacity

This bag is big, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not huge. Its size is comparable to the competing Timbuk2 XL bag. It’s a manageable big, the second largest Chrome offers, with a capacity of 2000 cubic inches, but unlike a backpack of the same size, it features a single massive compartment so you can fit a lot inside — and then some!


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My Chrome next to my previous Wenger backpack.

 
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Here’s a picture of what I might take with me on a regular day


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A change of clothes, the laptop is in a Sumdex sleeve, accessory bag, Nalgene, two hardcover books, lock, at least one paperback book, and some stuff here and there. And here’s what that all looks like in the bag.

 
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The bag easily fits it all with room to spare.

How about just books? Better yet, what about just hardcover books.


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Well here we have, the Peanuts Treasury, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, A History of the Modern World, The New Atlas of the Human Body, The New Oxford Classical Dictionary (Latin), and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. No one in their right mind should ever carry this many books at once, but it did fit (granted barely) and I was able to carry it around for a while before I got bored of marching around with 40 lbs of books on my back. If I had removed the LOTR or replaced it with several changes of clothes and a laptop, it would have closed much easier.

 
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Personally, I doubt I will ever in the normal course of events have to max out the capacity of my bag. In normal everyday use, it will easily carry everything you use daily and eat up anything extra you can throw at it, including the LOTR trilogy in hardcover form. It is also perfect for a weekend trip, able to fit several changes of clothes and some work.

Design

Aesthetically, I am of the opinion that this bag is one of the more unique messenger bag designs currently offered that still maintains functionality. They’ve taken the typical messenger bag design, and made it more comfortable with the nice strap. Of course this is purely subjective, but I trust my judgement, and maybe you should too.

The strap is designed so that the bag can be worn over the left or right shoulder across the chest (you can order it either way). But even with the left shoulder designed bag, which I have, I have found that it sits comfortably like a backpack on the right shoulder. The shoulder strap is heavily padded EVA foam and very comfortable. The best part is that it is built in, as opposed to being some add on piece that does little more than delay the on coming pain and slide around. To top things off, the strap has the cool (in my opinion) chromed out vintage-throwback-old-school seat belt buckle.

 
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The buckle has already proven itself helpful with removing large loads from my back (see books above). Especially if you’ve tightened the strap to stay on your back, instead of struggling like an idiot to get the bag over your neck, you simply hold onto the top of the strap and push the button. It’s a very useful feature to have.

The strap also features a neat D ring mechanism that allows for easy one handed adjusting of the strap’s length while the bag is being worn.

Simply pull on the end of the strap to tighten and pull the D ring to loosen.

The bag is made of a very heavy 1000D Cordura shell and “military spec” stitching is used throughout with nylon 69 thread. Now I’m not sure what “military spec” stitching is, and I can’t say I am terribly familiar with my nylon thread grades, but I am assuming it is very tough, and made to last given that it’s backed up by the warranty. The interior is 18 oz. PVC truck tarp liner, its heavy plastic and is thoroughly waterproof. To further ensure the waterproofing ability of the bag, the interior plastic is completely separate from the shell, attached at only the top seam and by a Velcro strip. This way, any water leaking past the Cordura shell or at the seams still cannot reach the contents of the bag.


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All of the Velcro used is very strong and I have no doubts as to its ability to keep my bag secured shut. Also, there is an abundance of reflective straps to keep you from being hit in the dark.

Color

Chrome’s messenger bags are available in a wide variety of colors for both the Cordura and the PVC here. Unfortunately, they do not have the full customizability of Timbuk2 or some other manufacturers. I’m not sure what their position on customizing bags is, so if you have to have it in your favorite scheme which they don’t happen to have, this isn’t the bag for you.

Features

Though the Metropolis does not have all the nice little pockets here and there that other messenger bags or backpacks offer, it has its share of pockets. Obviously there is the front main pocket and zippered pouch.


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The zipper is huge and won’t peter out anytime soon. Behind the zippered pouch is another pouch that runs to the bottom of the bag, offering nice storage for whatever.


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On each side of that full length pocket are two water bottle sized sleeves for whatever you might need to put in there, especially water bottles.


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The picture shows my slimmer Nalgene but I have no doubt it’ll fit the full size ones too.

A neat feature that very few if any other bags have is a full length velcro strip on the strap.


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This is perfect for anything that has a belt loop or what not. Chrome also has available cell phone, iPod specific, and radio (walkie-talkie a la real messengers) holsters that can be attached there.

It’s a nice touch and could prove useful for whatever you can find for it to secure.

On the note of actual bike messenger use, or just bicycle use, the bag has a stabilizing strap that can attach either under the armpit to the strap, or lower on the strap, going around your mid torso.

 
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This helps to keep the bag securely on your back while you ride your bike and wear the bag. Otherwise, the strap kind of dangles or can be kept under that Velcro strap.

 
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The bag also has extra clips so that you can carry a poster mail tube securely, or an umbrella, or bazooka — take your pick.

 
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All these other features can be found on the other Chrome bags for the most part, but once you get to the Metropolis and larger, you get an extra bonus feature, the stash pocket. Now don’t ask me what the stash pocket is supposed to stash, but it’s there, it’s inconspicuous, and it took me 15 minutes to find it. To save you the trouble, and since Chrome likes to be all hush hush about it, here it is.


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On the bottom side of the bag, hidden neatly by some very strong Velcro, you can fit half of my Nalgene bottle inside, have fun finding things to put there.


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Customer Service

Although I ultimately purchased my bag through a third party, I did email the people at Chrome several times and received prompt replies within the day sometimes. If you have any questions concerning the bag, especially color availability, don’t hesitate to call. I know of a girl who actually got a limited run Pink bag of which only a handful were made. For those of you for which the bag is not exclusive enough, you never know what they might be able to hook you up with.

Final Thoughts

This is a great bag from a great company that has a history with the bicycle messenger crowd, which is a very tough crowd indeed. The build is great, the stitching is tight and military spec and the bag both from my analysis and the word of others, is very waterproof. The strap is very comfortable, and there are a lot of neat extra features that cannot be found on other bags. As mentioned before, I can wear the bag as it was intended over my left shoulder and across my chest, or I can wear it like a backpack over just my right shoulder (the opposite is true in the case of the right shoulder designed bags). Being the image conscious college student that I am, tt came down to the Timbuk2 or the Chrome. The Timbuk2 is nice, but I personally think this one is better. I was impressed by the extra waterproof measures, padded shoulder strap, and I’m just a sucker for the chrome seat belt buckle.

Pros
  • High quality construction
  • Heavy and durable materials
  • Huge capacity
  • Separate plastic liner for full protection from water
  • Comfortable, one hand adjustable strap
  • Seat belt buckle for quick release of bag
  • “Stash” pocket
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Seat belt buckle could be disengaged by idiot companions who want to see if it really works
  • Could use more internal organizational pockets
  • Pricey ($130US)

Chrome Bags’ website www.chromebags.com


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