Gear Review: Chrome Soyuz laptop bag

Being a bike commuter in Finland means that you have to tolerate the four seasons (although I’m only planning to do three of them) and since in Finland three out of four are wet and cold seasons, having the right equipment is important. I started off with my over a decade old Everest bag and it still functions perfectly, but it’s not waterproof. So I started my hunt for “a perfect laptop bag that will stand up to the elements”. The first bag I came across was Mission Workshop’s Vandal, which really piqued my interest but as with most fun stuff, you can’t get it easily in Europe, let alone in Finland. So my search continued.

I came across the “Bag Week” articles from Crunchgear and that got me on the way.

I started digging the interwebs and came by Chrome Bags, who are supposed to be some kind of trendy and cool, but luckily I had none of the prejudices against any makers. Obviously Chrome is a trendy big enough brand, that all the major sites reviewed it, even Wired in their article.

My goal was to get a:

  • Big enough backpack for me to carry all my commuting stuff, towels, change of clothes, work stuff etc.
  • Not be too bulky that would make it annoying to carry
  • Fit my 17″ MacBook Pro safely (ie. have padding)
  • Be waterproof all around
  • Not have any weird things hanging from it, tighteners etc.
  • Be a solid and lasting backpack, and
  • Optional: Not look like crap

Since a backpack, at least for me, is always a lifetime investment it doesn’t really matter if the bag costs 75 or a hundred euros – so price in a way wasn’t an issue. I read reviews online, saw that it matched my requirements and ordered it online. After I found their European web store that is, from Chrome Europe and boy did I appreciate good site naming then.

I sent out the order and got it a few weeks late, but thanks for them being late, I got Chrome’s cell holster along with the deal (saving a nice 20 euros in the middle) and that was a good thing since the bag doesn’t actually have a good place where to put your phone.

Now, having used the bag for about a month, I’m really happy with it. It’s light, it’s sturdy and it’s not big enough to keep stuff lingering in the bag – at least compared to my Everest bag. The bottom end of the bag is slimmer than the top end so it’s nice to bike with, but as with all bags, it still gets pretty darn sweaty when biking with it.

The bag has a messenger style back compartment that’s right next to your back and it’s huge and fits pretty much everything. It also has a side compartment for the laptop that barely fits my 17″ laptop and a few extra pockets for smaller stuff. So far I haven’t come across a situation where I’d need more space. There are two lacking parts – no room for a water bottle with easy access and the same applies for your phone and/or mp3 player, but that’s where the cell holster comes in.

The build quality is very, very strong. I’m pretty sure the material could stop stray bullets, there’s more velcro than in a space ship and this is the think, sturdy kind of velcro. One thing I also like is the use of metal in clamps is very rare these days in any bag. The back padding is adequate even though nothing special and it also circulates air quite well. The ergonomics of the bag are well thought out and it sits quite nicely on your back whether you’re walking or riding.

Some people have complained that it doesn’t have a waist belt, but personally I’ve never liked them and thought them just to be in the way.

The price is a bit steep, some 150 euros plus shipping and handling, but as I said earlier, this should last a lifetime (and comes with a lifetime warranty) and the price per day will go down every day.

Our verdict: ★★★★☆

All and all, it’s a recommended bag for anyone who needs to have their stuff dry while commuting, using a 17″ laptop and don’t want to look like a dork ;)

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.