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Chrome Industries Blckchrm 22X Bravo 3.0 backpack review

29 Apr 2020
Verdict:

The Bravo 3.0 is an über-backpack with lots of commuter-friendly storage. It feels rugged, but it is expensive and quite heavy

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Good carrying capacity • Waterproof • Feels very robust
Against 
On the heavy side • Expensive

Oregon-based Chrome Industries has been making bike luggage for 25 years, starting with messenger bags. Chrome Industries Blckchrm 22X Bravo 3.0 backpack is one of 60 products in its latest catalogue, which runs from phone packs to panniers. Prices range from £20 for a simple pouch up to £320 for its flashiest pack, with the Blckchrm range being made of tough cordura sailcloth that Chrome Industries says is lightweight and durable. It’s got a diamond weave built into it for extra strength.

The Blckchrm 22X Bravo 3.0 certainly feels as if it will serve the bike commuter for years, offering both durability and versatility, although at 1450g, it’s a hefty weight before you even start lugging your kit around.

There are a huge number of storage options in the pack’s 35 litre capacity. That starts with a large, lined main compartment with a roll top, to keep the rain out. It’s secured by a single hook and loop strap with a suitably robust-feeling buckle. There is a substantial carrying loop between the shoulder straps and another on the front of the roll top.

Velcroed inside the bag is a removable nylon carry bag with straps, so you can lug your work around the office leaving your pack in a locker, separate your office clothes from your towel and cycling kit or use it for shopping while keeping your pack out of the way on your back.

At the front, there’s a second pouch with a padded sleeve for a 15 inch computer, another sleeve for documents and slots for storage for pens and pencils. It’s got a fold down flap secured by velcro. It’s not as waterproof as the main compartment but should keep out all but a major deluge. There’s a long, shallow zipped pocket under the flap too.

Buy now from Chrome Industries for £180

A couple of zipped side pockets for phones etc and open sleeves for water bottles mean that there’s even more storage capacity.
You can top off the carrying capacity by using the two diagonal straps on the back of the pack to lash on further loads - Chrome Industries shows a helmet.

But since there’s no lower retention, I’m not sure I’d want to consign kit to these. The straps are removable though, if you decide you can do without them, and you can reposition their top hooks to use them to lower the pack’s volume.

Sweaty backs are reduced by the inclusion of a semi-rigid panel with raised bosses to improve air circulation. I found that it’s pretty effective and the protrusions weren’t uncomfortable when riding, due to their smooth sides. It’s stiff enough that awkward shaped items don’t dig into your back.

With all that carrying capacity, Chrome Industries’ shoulder straps are suitably wide, to spread the load. But when loaded up, there is still quite a lot of weight on your shoulders; it’s fine for a shortish commute but a bit uncomfortable if you’re going further.

The shoulder straps have more potential lashing points to their looped sections, while there’s an adjustable chest strap to help stop the pack swaying. I found that the Bravo 3.0 was stable when riding and didn’t rock around much, even when out of the saddle.

Buy now from Chrome Industries for £180

All-weather commuters will want as much reflectivity as possible. That’s one area where the Blckchrm 22X Bravo 3.0 feels a bit deficient. There are long reflective strips on the shoulder straps and the cord pullers for the side pockets include reflective threads.

But there are no reflectives on the rear of the pack, which feels like an oversight.

Price: 
£180