At any rate, it’ll be a regular document available for bookmarking and receive updates as events warrant.
I’m mixing it up today and left the Barrage at home to be a little lighter. This is my Mission Workshop Rambler, a smaller rucksack (1000 cc) but with better division of space in that it had more than one flap to separate thing one from thing two.
There is a larger version of this bag called the Fitzroy, but I don’t know that I’d want it, considering I already have a Rambler which expands to a monstrous cargo hold as needed.
While writing about the Chrome Barrage recently I mentioned having pouches for odds and ends is very helpful so that you can find what you’re looking for in an expansive damn-near-bottomless bag.
Many messenger bags are designed to provide one huge space for things you carry and maybe some smaller organization pockets here and there, but it’s almost impossible to find one that offers either enough organization without assistance and when you can do it better there isn’t that much of a need for it. Sometimes you find satisfaction in changed expectations.
WaterField makes the very finest laptop sleeve cases and they also make great pouches for carrying just about anything in your bags. That’s why they’re getting their own section in this list.
Something wet and you don’t want to get other things wet? Something dry and you want to keep it that way? Packing for a weekend trip and want to stuff as much as possible into as little space as possible? I have a couple of these I use pretty often for just such occasions.
There is something so frustrating about looking for reviews of new bags.
For starters, I was very recently searching on the Google Machine for “review chrome barrage backpack” and got dozens and dozens of “reviews” that were actually just reprints of the press release and/or the very product description and recycled photographs of the product that are already available on the Chrome Industries website. That bothers me almost as much as the very notion that Rick Santorum was a serious contender for President of the United States!
This is compounded by most manufacturers of bags not addressing some of my most pressing questions about their products on their website, so finding dozens and dozens of websites that just parrot the same information wastes valuable time. I’m going to my part as a citizen of the Internet and give some thoughts about the new Chrome Barrage without repeating the same list of specifications and same ol’ photos in the hopes that someone looking for information about this bag beyond the most fucking obvious facts and figures will appreciate it.
Over time people get the bags and start doing what I’m doing; namely putting Words on the Internet about them. This is an uncomfortable silence for the bag-happy folk, for sure.
I own several bags of various styles. I have some shoulder-carried musette style bags, some messenger bags, and some backpacks. My life-long dilemma is that I prefer messenger bags ((being able to get access to the contents without taking the bag off is the best feature)) but also finding them uncomfortable for extended wearing due to strain on one shoulder and uneven distribution of weight. I find backpacks more comfortable but they aren’t without some compromises. You can’t get things in and out of them very easily without taking the bag off, they can get much hotter in warmer weather causing Unsightly Back Sweat, and they can be unwieldly on public transit if you aren’t careful.
The Chrome Barrage is a backpack with two interior storage sacks and an external cargo net for odds and ends. The inner-most section is welded and waterproof, you can pour liquids in there and it isn’t going anywhere. There is a modest pouch opened up on the side closest to your back that can accommodate a laptop, notebook, iPad — I keep a Retina MacBook Pro (in a hard shell case) and a padded envelope with my iPad in that back pocket, and some other bits too. The other side of the bag is under a zipper in the roll-top flap, and is largely water-resistant but isn’t completely watertight like the welded part. It’s where you can shove a wet towel and not get anything important damp. I put a dry sack containing a spare change of clothes and diapering supplies for my daughter in there, and a spare grocery bag.
Since the main storage compartment is essentially one giant semi-shapeless sack like a lot of messenger bags give you, it helps to have some sort of organization in the way of pouches, rolls, and small containers for things you want to be able to fish out by touch.
I like this bag a lot and will be using it regularly. I’m never 100% satisfied with any bag and opt to diversify my bags rather than demand a perfect one. I will have more thoughts on it to share after some more use, I’m sure. It is clearly well made, in the United States, by the skilled craftsmen at Chrome. It holds an awful lot and the unstructured messenger-bag roots will either frustrate you or delight you, and that largely depends on what you carry and what methods you have available to keep them straight.
Special shout-out to Hank the Customer Care Guy, who did me a huge solid on shipping and was pretty awesome in general.