Your bookbag served you well all those years, ferrying your texts from class to class and serving as a roaming billboard for your favorite bands, buttons, and movies. Now that you're all grown up – mostly – it's time send your long time companion to that locker in the sky and upgrade to something a bit more adult. You're not ready for a briefcase, or intrigued by it's limited design options and capacity, so like most of us, you start thinking of a messenger bag. Next thing you know you're at the Army Surplus store throwing down $18 for a cheap canvas bag, partially because of price and partially because the sign said it was an Israeli Parachute bag. Or a Swedish Medic's bag. Either way, a year later you're in the same store, looking at the same item because the cheap canvas bag turned out to be a cheap canvas bag.
Maybe six months later, when your tough military bag is stained and ripped again, you decide to step it up a notch and buy a messenger bag from a more respected source. Somehow you end up at The Gap or American Eagle and spend eighty bucks, seemingly not making the connection that a clothing store is not your best bet for buying a bag that's going to last through the rough and tumble lifestyle of carrying your laptop, gym clothes, magazine collection, and beach towel – sometimes all at once.
Now that you've torn through that waste of money, what next? First, my friend, you must decide what you want out of a bag. How often do you use it? What do you carry? Is your laptop gigantic? Do you carry a power supply, an adapter, a mouse, some notebooks, pens, paper, tablets? Are you interested in carrying your gym clothes to the office with your presentation supplies? Are you looking for an easy to carry overnight bag?
If you answered yes, or even maybe to any of these questions, you're more than ready to step up from crappy canvas sacks. So if what you're looking for is a legitimate messenger bag, the kind that actual messengers use to safeguard their deliveries, why not buy a real messenger's bag from a company that knows what it's doing?
When you're ready to make that step, step up to Chrome, a company that is very serious when it comes to bags. Sure, you'll pay more, but you also won't get where you're going and then realize your laptop is in seven pieces scattered across the sidewalk. Chrome bags are lined with a waterproof material, so when your water bottle breaks, your gym clothes are wet, but anything in a separate pocket is dry as sand. Flip it over, mop it out, spray it clean if you have to, wipe dry, return to use. You don't have to hang it in your shower over night to get it to that dried, crusty stage either.
When it comes to tough, these bags fit the bill. Most close with a combination of buckles and velcro, some have zippers. the straps are made of the same seat belt material that stops you from flying through a windshield in the middle of an 80mph crash. Some even have seat safety buckle closures, making sure they only come off when you want them to. The stitching on the bag is to the same certification the military uses meaning that even if you overload this sucker, it's not going to come apart at the seams.
Chrome doesn't care how much you have to carry either. If you're looking for your standard bag that can carry your laptop and some books, you'll want the lightweight Corsair, meant for regular daily use. It's a good looking bag with minimal frills, a large lined pocket, a medium pocket, two small pockets, and a zippered compartment.
The next step up is the Citizen, the bag most associated with “real” messengers. It's built to take abuse and last a long time, slings over you shoulder with a padded foam strap, seat buckle closure, and is one-hand adjustable. It's retail is around $160, but this bag will last as long as you don't make a habit of crashing your motorcycle or getting shot and stabbed.
Still not enough space? Fine. Go one more. At $180, the Soyuz is a serious bag. They call it a laptop bag, but you could almost fit a desktop in it. Worn like a bookbag, but looking much cooler, the twin straps connect in the front via buckle to make sure it stays put while the ribbed foam backing makes it comfortable. The bag is a maze of pockets of all sizes. The laptop compartment is padded and could safely hold two 17″ computers. That also leaves you with two long pockets for accessories, a smallish zippered compartment, and another pocket that is full of more lined pockets. If it sounds like it can hold a lot, take a time out, because I didn't even tell you about the last pocket. Velcro enclosed and water resistant, fully lined, there is one gigantic pocket if you wanted to carry, I don't know, two changes of clothes in addition to all your other stuff. This bag isn't gigantic looking, but it's loaded with storage space. If you wanted a high end survival pack, you could easily load this bad boy up with bottled water, food, knives, fishing line, water tablets, matches, and a survival blanket. All after you already put in your iPod, laptop, a pair of shoes, and some reading material. Even then, you'd have pockets left over for cool stuff you find on the trail. No joke, this isn't even their biggest bag, but it has more storage than I could even foresee filling up, but then again I'm a light traveler.
At the end of the day, you need to come grips with your storage needs. Are you done fussing around with cheap ass canvas bags? Ready to carry your stuff like a stylish man? Throw down a few extra bucks and splurge on an item that is tough, functional, and great looking. You're at an age, and an income (hopefully), where you need to stop spending money on items and start investing in items. Chrome makes a bag that will last you years, so if you're ready for a grown-up bag, make an educated and durable choice.