A Great Messenger Bag with Clever Urban Camouflage
The Chrome Industries Citizen Messenger Bag, what else can I say about this that hasn’t been said before? While there are a lot of reviews on the interwebs and youtube by hipsters and fixed gear fanboys touting the greatness of this bag, I’ve yet to really come upon a review that gives a dispassionate take on its merits and shortcomings, besides Carryology.com. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a fixed gear fan boy myself but I also value functionality of my gear and not just what everyone else says about this bag.
So here goes, I used the bag for a month but realized that it just wasn’t suited to what I needed. There are some great things about this bag that I really liked, but there were enough downsides for me that I ultimately sold it on ebay for a slight loss and got a Mission Workshop Rummy instead. Now I’m not saying that bag is perfect either, but it was more suited for my needs.
I’m going to go over the great things about this bag and there are a few technical details and innovations that Chrome Industries got perfect with the Citizen Night. I LOVE the way it looks. The outline of the bag is modern and sleek, the big reflective stripe running across the front flap is bold and really makes the bag pop. I like the placement of the Chrome’s logo on the front as well, the black and white fastening straps and the reflective area on the lower flap. Aesthetically, this bag is beautiful and it really has the classic rectangle and rounded corner bike messenger shape. The densely woven ballistic nylon is also weather proof. It’s not waterproof persay since water will eventually soak through nylon if it sits on there long enough, but the bag is also protected with an 18oz tarp liner which will definitely keep everything inside dry.
My favorite feature of the bag is the camouflaged reflective surfaces. Chrome used a special type of 3M reflective paint that appears silver/white during the day, but turns into a extremely bright reflective strip at night when any type of specular lighting or head light shines onto it. The entire bottom half of the flap is dotted with this paint also and gives off a bright shimmering reflection as your riding in the dark. I wish more bags had this function or used this paint, it’s simply amazing combined with the sleek and modern look of the bag. Love Love Love this feature! But there is also a caveat, despite how great this paint is. For some reason on my bag, the paint started to chip off after just a couple days use of tightening and loosening the fastening straps. I thought that was really strange for a higher end bag like this and it didn’t sit too well with me. I had a strong feeling that the paint could potentially flake off after a couple years of heavy usage and that just wouldn’t be worth it. I’ll never know if that will really happen, but the fact that it started flaking off so soon after a couple thunder storms didn’t sit too well with me despite how awesome and helpful it is at night.
The inside of the bag is compartmentalized very well with separate compartments for your water bottles, notebooks, tablets and keys. The problem with the Chrome Citizen is that when the bag begins to fill up, it gets harder and harder to reach for the items on the outer most compartments because the inside if pushing against it. It’s best to use this bag at slightly less than its full capacity or else it will be hard to pull out your smaller, but no less important items.
The aesthetics inside are also beautiful. I love the waterproof tarp lining which can be separated from the outer wall of the bag so you can potentially store clean clothes/soft items that you don’t want to get dirty or wet. I wouldn’t suggest putting anything delicate in that spot because without the liner, all that is between that “item” and the ground is the nylon fabric which probably won’t do a very job of protecting it. Items in the tarp liner get an extra bit of protection due to the liner’s thickness. But by no means can you toss your 17 inch Macbook around in this and expect it to not break. I always set my bag down gently on the ground.
This bag can store a ton of stuff, approximately 27 liters worth. It can’t really store much more than that because doesn’t really use a roll top design. So as you store more items in there, you raise the top flap more and more which will expose the interior to the elements. Even with the bag at less than full capacity, shown above, rain water was already getting into the inner flap of the bag. It is easier to “pull stuff out in a hurry” with this bag due to the lower front lip, but you have a higher risk getting your items wet during a storm.
At full capacity, your pens are definitely going to get wet 😛
One of the features that everyone likes about the Chrome Citizen is the seatbelt buckle. I’m actually not a huge fan of it because it’s so heavy and swings like a pendulum when disengage it. No matter how careful you are when you take it off, it will find something to bang against make a racket. When I used it, I usually just threw the bag over my head to take it off. Another thing that I didn’t like was the fabric used for the strap. It’s supposedly seat belt material just in appearance, the webbing is actually very supple and it doesn’t feel very strong. There were many times where it got tangled and twisted up in the buckle as I was using the quick release to lengthen and shorten the strap.
The major downside of this bag is the design of the strap. It is thick and comfortable, but that’s only when the bag is at about half capacity. Due to the way the strap is attached to the bag, items will start to protrude into your back since the strap does not allow the objects to away from your back. It’s a bit hard to explain, but you’ll find out when you purchase the bag and decide to really fill it up, it’s just not very comfortable and does not hug your back when fully loaded, the way that the Mission Workshop Messenger bag does. Because of that I had to pass it down to someone who didn’t fill it to the brim all the time.
Overall though, it’s a good messenger for students, parties (since there’s a built in bottle opener on the front buckle) and a trip to the beach. The major downside is that it’s just not that comfortable to wear once it’s fully loaded and that was disappointing because I really love the way that this bag looked. Agree with me, don’t agree with me or have any questions? Leave them in the comment section below!