Shopping trips are often a pain on the bike. Panniers are undoubtedly useful, but the rest of the time they feel clunky to me. Therefore, I often rely on a large gym bag strapped over my shoulder. When full of shopping, its large diameter makes it difficult to cycle. Until recently, it was the best solution I had. That is until Chrome shipped me over the new Chrome Bravo bag to review.
I get plenty of emails from Chrome about new bags and most of the time I hit the archive button, thinking “seen it – none of my readers will be interested”. However, the Chrome Bravo seems to solve a real problem.
Let’s take a look at how it does that..
When the bag is in its “normal” state, it fits 20L worth of gear. This isn’t a huge amount but certainly enough for most commuters. However, the magic really starts to happen when the bag cleverly expands to 40L worth of gear. It does so through the compartment at the top which unfolds to provide extra space. At full capacity, the Chrome Bravo can fit three very full bags of shopping.
The reinforced panel at the back provides some protection. However, in practise a fully loaded bag will feel uncomfortable on your back after a while. Fortunately, you don’t feel any strains on the shoulders, thanks to the padding.
Waterproof laptop compartment
Besides the huge main compartment, the bag also has a waterproof front pocket. This has a space to fit a 15” laptop. I’d be wary of having the main compartment fully loaded while there’s a laptop in the front pocket, as it could potentially push the laptop out of shape. I’ve had this happen previously with my laptop which eventually caused the screen to crack.
For those carrying even larger loads that can’t fit inside the bag, the straps at the back provide the ability to attach items. Such as a bike frame or a wheel.
The bag also has very strong Velcro straps on the shoulders, making it easy to attach items, such as an iPhone case with a strap.
That’s the good. So what’s the bad?
The expanding compartment is a great feature to have, in case you need to carry large loads. However, it brings some disadvantages to the Chrome Bravo in practise.
For a start, it’s hard to quickly access items inside the main pocket. You have to reach really deep down to get to the bottom. You can get around this by storing things you need to quickly access in the front pocket.
In general however, it becomes frustrating when trying to quickly access the bag. Something that messenger bags are well known for.
When the bag is fully loaded, it somewhat towers above your head. This makes it difficult to spin your head round to see the traffic coming up behind you.
The other slightly odd design feature I found, is that when the bag is fully loaded, there’s no way to fully close the top. You can pull the cord, but this leaves a gap. The make shift solution is to form a knot with the cord, to close the top part. Perhaps something a little more clever could have been achieved here by Chrome.
Should you buy the Chrome Bravo bag?
The Chrome Bravo costs $160 (around £100, but with import taxes etc £132.99). It’s not a cheap purchase. However, you are buying a bag for life. It’s far more likely you’ll get bored and grow out of it, than it will fall apart.
Despite it being a bit of a pain to get things in and out of the bag, especially for those used to the quick access of a messenger bag, you have to marvel at the capacity, easy on the eye looks and no corners cut, comfortable design.
For those who want to pass by the supermarket on their way home, or occasionally carry big loads, you’ll like the Chrome Bravo.
More details can be found on the Chrome website:
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.