Chrome Messenger Bag, anybody?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by buebo, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. buebo

    buebo SC Rookie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Those bags aren't around as much here in Germany as I'd imagine them to be in the states and so far I've never seen one in the real world. After pretty much randomly finding them on the web, I have to say I do like their looks, but I'm a bit concerned about practicability. So if there's an owner of one of those around, what are your thoughts about these points:

    • Accessibility: How fast is it to get to your stuff? Are they practical for a small set of photo equipment - say a mu43 body, two or three lenses and a minimal tripod or gorillapod?
    • Do you you use some kind of insert for the camera and lenses? Would you recommend a specific insert?
    • Are really as downpour proof as everbody claims?
    • Ever used one on a motorbike? How do you recon they'll behave at higher speeds? (I realize it's probably a none-issue for most people, but it doesn't hurt to ask)

    I pretty much would like a bag for - but not limited to - photo equipment, that looks cool but inconspicuous (and not like a camera bag at all), that I can carry around all day long and use on the motorbike in good and bad weather.

    The thing that draws me to the chrome is their cut or layout. While most messenger bags are pretty much cut symmetrically, the chrome cut should make sure the bag stays high on your shoulder. I guess that would mean they fit pretty tight and won't flap around as much even when used on a motorcycle.

  2. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    :confused: Can you provide a link please?
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I have a pretty enormous one that I used extensively as a bicycle messenger bag. I was not a messenger but I used it on the bike for doing errands around town, buying light loads of groceries, etc, and for a while while I was still commuting to work on my bike. If you're just planning to use it as a camera bag while walking around, its probably overkill, but would certainly work. They're great for on the bike because they have a small side strap that stabilizes the bag on your back and keeps it from swinging around inadvertently. But they sit at such an angle on your back that if you had a camera insert in the bag, I'd think stuff could fall out of the insert and into the main part of the bag and could bounce around more than you might want. This might be less of an issue with their smaller bags, but I think they're all designed to sit on your back at a pretty serious angle. To address your specific points:

    * Its pretty quick to get to your stuff, but they tend to be deep and narrow (front to back), so I've seen camera bags that are easier to get your stuff out of. But they swing around from your back to your front very easily as they're designed to do.
    * I think you'd want an insert, but as noted above, it should hold your gear pretty securely because of the position of the bag on your back.
    * Yeah, they're very very good in the weather. There are open edges, but there's an awful lot of overlap of the flap, so you'd almost have to try to get water in there. And the material is highly water-proof.
    * I think they'd be fine on a motor bike - its the pedaling motion and the getting in and out of the saddle that can destabilize a load on a bicycle, but the straps are set up to limit movement and work quite well. You'd be sitting much more still on a motorbike and I don't think the speed would make any difference at all.

    One other thing - they have some pretty serious hardware. The main strap has essentially an automobile seatbelt buckle so that you can put it on and take it off with a heavy load without lifting it over your head. Its pretty high quality gear, but its a big honkin' piece of metal on your chest and might not be a good idea if you also have a camera hanging on a strap while you're using it.

    They're great bags but they might be overkill as a camera bag. At least the big ones. The small ones might be better, but then there are any number of camera bags that can also operate as a sling bag that are purpose built that might serve you better. Never occurred to use my Chrome bag as a camera bag.

  4. buebo

    buebo SC Rookie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Thanks for your reply Ray. I guess I just have to order one and see for myself. If it's a no fit or not as nice as I expect I just have to return it. Although I might wait until it's at least a bit warmer around, we have around -10°C right now, so a test ride is pretty much out of the question, but you would wonder how fast most lighter messenger bags start to levitate behind you, once you're at the highway and above 120km/h or so.

    I'm currently looking at either the mini metro or the citizen, everything bigger just looks too gigantic for my taste.
  5. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Even the mini-metro looks pretty big for a camera bag, if you're primarily getting it as a camera bag. Then again, they also have a camera specific bag on the site, so I'm guessing you're getting it with more than cameras in mind. I think I have the Metropolis, which is pretty large, but I thought I recalled a larger model available back when I got mine, so maybe I have the older equivalent of the Citizen of something. And mine is not quite as large on my back as the largest model appears to be on their rider's back, so I guess I'm not sure. You can see in some of the photos on the website how the bags ride on your back, so that should give you some idea of what I was talking about.

    Have you checked out Bailey Works bags?? Back when I was into riding, they were sort of the underground cult favorite bag of all of my cycling friends. I never bought one, but they looked nice. And priced accordingly. Though its hard to tell for sure, their buckles look a bit less likely to damage a camera. Here's a link, if interested...

    Our Bags: Find Your Fit » BaileyWorks Bags

  7. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    I'm looking at Porteen gear for my next "dont want it looking like a camera-bag" bag. I'm particularly attracted to the medium size. One of the people on one of my other forums swears by Robyn's work, its all hand made and apparently she is VERY particular. Given that you can design your own, you might be able to get her to make you something that's completely downpour-proof. I think most of her stuff is water resistant at the least... Best thing is that she's not very expensive.
  8. Booka

    Booka SC Regular

    Jul 5, 2011
    I've used a Chrome bags for the past eight years and they are definitely well built and well worth the price.

    Accessibility: In order for the bag to be stable while riding it fits fairly high up on your back so when you twist it around to open it, the bag stay at chest height under your chin with the flap opening by your face. Most shoulder camerabags will hang down around your waist making it much easier to access but that causes them to dangle worthlessly around while riding.

    Inserts: Ive looked around for different solution but have settled for a few different fleemarket camerabags that I simple stuff into the bag. Click Elite, DAkine, F-stop bags make a few inserts.

    Stabilty: I have no idea how the bag will handle at motorcycle speeds but the bag does get a little bouncy when you're pedaling at full speed. Almost all Motorcycle couriers have boxes on their bikes so maybe a bag isn't ideal.

    messengerbag vs. Backpack I have gone from using Chromes shoulder messenger bags to the more traditional Backpacks.
    The messenger bags are great for using while riding but the asymetrical design has caused havock on my back but it fits like a glove (while riding the weight rest on your back but while walking it rest all on one shoulder) The backpack is better if you are going to be walking around a lot but the easy access to the bag is lost and the rear/side vision can be somewhat limited while riding.

    Yes the bags are great/overkill but I used a bag everyday for 4 years, in every weather conditon and they are allways ready to take more abuse.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Booka

    Booka SC Regular

    Jul 5, 2011
    If you're in Germany you can take a look at some ortleib bags, Chrome bags liner are made from the same material but then anoter layer of cordura canvas on the outside so they are super sturdy.
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