One of the best cycling related purchases I’ve ever made was a proper messenger bag for carrying my stuff around, it took me many tries to find one though.
I’ve had a Timbuk2 bag. Great for walking around and looking stylish, but mostly useless for actually riding around, and it won’t keep your stuff dry.
I’ve had a MEC messenger bag that has no current equivalent version I can see. It was a bit more comfortable but leaked like a sieve. Really it was just barely a bit more comfortable, it wasn’t really built for 10km pouring rain commutes.
Then I came across Chrome and fell in love. Chrome makes real messenger bags. When I made my first purchase from them almost all they did was build messenger bags. Sure there was a bit of clothing, and a backpack if I remember correctly, but it was all hard wearing awesome looking gear.
An Ode to Chrome Messenger Bags
I have personally owned 2 Chrome Metropolis bags. The second was only purchased due to a ridiculous situation involving a favour for a friend which ended up sticking me with a 2nd brand new bag. The buckle was a bit cooler on the new one so I kept it. My first one went in to daily commuting use with a friend and it’s still ticking along with nary a concern at 7 hard working years of age.
While many messenger bags are called ‘messenger’ simply because of their strap style, the Chrome bag truly deserves the name. The main compartment is totally waterproof because of the hanging vinyl bag inside. It’s secured by very sturdy velcro on one side so you can even stuff your wet stuff on one side while keeping your dry stuff dry.
Don’t forget about the wet/dry separation either. The waterproof bag is sewn in on one side and attached with velcro on the other. So when you have a set of wet gym clothes just put them outside the interior bag and the rest of your stuff will stay dry.
It does not have a laptop sleeve of any sort, so you’re going to want to have a case for it. I grabbed some $20 padded case for my 13″ MBP from the local electronics shop which has worked fine.
The Extra Stuff that Makes it Extra Awesome
All the stuff listed above is nice, but it’s really just the basic features required to even be considered a decent messenger bag in my books. What really puts my Metropolis over the top are all the little touches.
First up is the buckle. No one can deny how awesome the Chrome logo looks on that seatbelt buckle. Nor can the utility of removing heavy loads without having to lift the bag over your head be denied. What really makes it awesome, is the bottle opener that is included in the realease buckle. Sheer awesomeness added to a bag.
Next, the secret pocket. It’s so damn secret that I didn’t even know about it till my buddy mentioned it on his bag. That was 3 years after I first owned the bag. Sure enough I looked and there was a secret pocket hidden in the seam. Big enough for a bit of cash and your ID. Great place to store it and keep it accessible but remember it’s not waterproof so bag any items you put in there that would suffer damage.
Finally we have the shoulder strap that doubles as a place to hold things like your iPhone. The outer section of the strap has a belt like section of velcro that makes it easy to strap on anything that would fit your belt. I’m partial to sticking my LifeProof (Amazon) encased phone there while riding, making it easy to access when I need it running errands.
Despite how awesome this bag is, I have a few minor gripes. First I wish that it had some sort of key tether built in. Maybe a 1 foot piece of tubular webbing with an elastic down the middle. Right now I put my keys on the zipper pocket sipper pull. While it’s functional, it’s not always the easiest thing to get a key to the locked item in question without removing them. This means you need to have the keys on a carabiner of some fashion so you can take it off easy. That also means someone else could get it off easy and you may never notice.
Second up is the grocery carrying. Since anything you put in it swings around to your back, changing orientation, you have some things that just can’t be carried without squishing them. Packing a backpack with your eggs at the top it totally possible, not so with a messenger bag. Not a knock against the Chrome bag, that’s just the nature of the messenger bag beast. Chrome makes a number of backpacks (check out this review from London Cyclist) all of which are built awesome and would fix this issue.
Learn to pack the bag people. When my friend Brian inherited my old bag the first item of advice I passed on was to learn to pack it properly. That, dear reader, is one I’d pass on to you as well. If you don’t learn to pack the bag right, you’ll know it. I spent a number of 10km commutes cursing a laptop jabbing painfully in to my spine. The best way I’ve found to pack it when your just getting one, or packing it totally full, is to lay it down flat with the flap open. Then put stuff in. The flat surface will mimic your back and you can be reasonably sure that you won’t have something odd jabbing you.
If you need a hard wearing bag that can be out in the rain with no worries Chrome makes it. It’s totally worth the price.
If you liked what you read and want to get a new Chrome bag I’d appreciate you supporting the site by using my Amazon Link to purchase one.