Chrome Industries 37L Rolltop Excursion Backpack

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An Excellent Urban Alternative to Your Standard Dry Bag

I wanted a dry bag that looked a little more sleek than your average sports outlet offerings.  I’m glad Chrome came out with a the Rolltop Excursion because it’s a hell of a bag.  The materials are top notch, it’s lighter weight than a lot of the laminated and plasticky feeling bags out there on the market and it looks so sleek.  You can kayak in style with one these, this isn’t just a waterproof bag to get you through those downpours on your bike.  Let’s take a look some of this bag’s features.

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The main weight saving feature this bag has is the knurled Welded seams which truly makes the bag water tight even at the seams where most bags suffer from water penetration.  With Knurl Welded seams, it looks like the sides and edges of the bag aren’t sewed together, but pressed together extremely tightly with an interlocking pattern which utilizes the 50% more surface area between the 2 meeting fabrics.  This saves material which saves weight, but also creates a bong between the two fabrics that’s 1.5x stronger than your usual seams.  I guess the saying “becoming undone at the seams” will never apply to this bag.  As Chrome says, this bag is bombproof, waterproof and overall, life proof.  I would have no qualms taking this bag to go kayaking and even dropping it in the water because I know nothing inside will get wet.  Additionally, the inside of the bag is lined with a rubbery material.

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Here’s a closer look at what Knurled Welding looks like.  There are 2 types of fabric used to create this bag.  One is your standard 600 Denier Cordura fabric that is also TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coated.  This treatment makes the back more abrasion and heat resistant than non-TPU treated bags.  In other words, you can drag it across the ground and it will be really hard to to tear this type of fabric.  The Cordura makes up the upper half of the bag.  As you can see from the photo, the bottom of the bag is made with a different type of material with slightly more sheen to it.  This is Hypalon which is a really cool water proof, heat proof and UV resistant material that is used in US Coast Guard life rafts, kayaks and even in roofing.  It stays a deep black no matter how much you’ve used it or exposed it to sun.  You can let the bottom sit in water for years and water will never get through.  I really like the feel of Hypalon because its texture is smooth with just the right amount of roughness to give your finger some resistance if you slide it along the fabric.  It’s a little bit tacky to the touch.  I can’t really explain it, you’ll just have to try out the bag yourself.  In a way I wish the entire bag was made out of Hypalon, that’s how cool the material is.

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We’ve got the iconic Chrome logo at the bottom for good measure the white on black is a very sharp and gives a the bag a nice edgy look to it.  It’s a lot cooler than some dry bags out there that have really bright colors and the name and logo of the company splashed across the entire bag.  Chrome Industries is subtle and understated, giving it just the right amount of cool.

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The back of the bag is padded and it seems like there is a sheet on the back which keeps the bag flat and items from poking into you.  The padding on the back is comfortable and the raised areas on the padding I assume are for airflow to prevent my back from getting too sweaty.  I hiked a few miles to the location I needed to be with the bag fully loaded and the straps were relatively easy on my shoulders.  I wish the straps were slightly more wide, they just seem a little bit narrow for a bag this wide and large.  The miniature seat belt buckle for the chest stabilizer works like a charm as well and adds a really cool artistic touch to the entire set up.  Even the adjusters for the shoulder straps are metal.  I forgot to take a picture of them, but they sort of resemble a metal claw clamp that bites down onto the fabric in order to prevent it from moving at all.

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I think the only gripe I have about this bag are these wannabe “MOLLE” loops in the front.  I’ve used real military MOLLE loop bags before and I don’t know how this even resembles one of those legitimate tactical MOLLE systems.  A true MOLLE system has interlocking straps that let you cross weave other MOLLE system bags very securely together with the existing bag.  I don’t know how these supposed MOLLE loops on the Chrome Roll Top Excursion are to work with existing MOLLE bags.  These are just some random loops where you can put a bike look through or something.  There is no way to attach another bag onto the Rolltop Excursion via these loops.  They do seem pretty strong though so putting a bike like into between them and perhaps a carabiner with your keys is an effective way of using them on this bag.  Other than that, they are just for show.  I guess they needed some texture in the front to break up the front of the bag a little bit.  If Chrome is planning to develop some smaller bags that will allow you to use the Roll Top Excursion like a modular bag, that would be awesome!

So what can it carry?  This thing is a beast and will swallow your kitchen sink and a couple small children.  The bag can hold a whopping 37-43 liters worth of gear.  There is also a slot inside where you can fit a 13inch laptop, a notebook and some pens/calculator.  The top of the bag rolls down and on the sides of the top, there are 2 plastic fasteners that let you pull the top tight once you’ve rolled it down to ensure maximum waterproofness.  So what did I decide to put in it?

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An entire reflecting telescope system that weighed 35lbs.  The Chrome Roll Top Excursion was able to hold the tripod, counterweights and the main telescope easily.  That’s how incredible this bag is.  I only wish they made a size that was in between the only 2 sizes they currently offer which is a 18L and a 37L.  The one that I bought for this review is much to big for my daily purposes.  It’s not like I go camping in the woods every single month or need to carry this much gear on a weekly basis.  Perhaps this bag is good for someone who does that, but until then and for the price, I’d be better suited to the cheaper 18L version, which I’ll be returning this one for!  I hope this review helps you make a decision in your quest for a dry bag.  Give the Chrome Roll Top Excursion a try, you won’t be disappointed!

 

More Adventures in the South

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It seems like everywhere you are in the South, there’s a picturesque place to find and explore.  Fields that stretch for miles that are just minutes away from big cities, nature everywhere waiting to be photographed and most importantly, experienced.

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Horses and mules hang out behind the backyard in North Carolina.

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Kayaking is always fun, especially as the leaves are changing colors as Fall comes to a close.

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The waters are chillier in October, even in the South, so be sure to put on a sweater!

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Kayaking into the sunset, we just wish we could stay beyond closing time and admire the stars the way that they should be admired, in pure darkness.

Fast Rubber: The Continental Grand Prix 4000s II

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The Quickest and Stickiest Rubber You Can Buy for the Road

You can just keep moving on, we’ve seen all the reviews about how great this tire is, but hey, if you have a couple minutes, stay on my page and read my experiences with it too.  This is coming from an avid commuter and lay-man bicyclist that just enjoys going as fast as I can or as slow as I want.  I’m a city cyclist with an occasional taste for the finer things in life, sometimes I like to use what the pros use and the Continental GP4000s ii is one of those items.  Now that they supposedly fixed the “1000 mile blow out” problem of the version I, this is even more reason for me to use them.  The version 2’s are exactly the same the version 1’s.  The only difference now are the new color options and sizes.  With the version 1’s, the tires had to be all black.  It was the only way Continental could get the black chili compound in there.  But now they’ve figured out how to include Black Chili and make the tires in different colored trims.  This isn’t a big deal for me, but for people who wanted a 700×28 tire, they have that option now.

Is this tire overkill for my needs? Probably, but if I’m going to be biking over a thousand miles on my bike a year, I think safety and comfort are worth the $100.  I’d rather buy the best that I can afford when it comes to tires.  Like cars, you can’t skimp on tires because they’re the only things touching the road.

The GP4000s ii is the 2nd version of the acclaimed GP4000s I.  Both tires have the special black chili compound mixed in which gives the rubber a really soft and tacky feel to it.  This tire throws up all sorts of debris when it goes over small rocks or when I’m riding in the gutter, the rubber just latches onto whatever touches.  I have ridden through heavy rains without fail for over 800 miles so far except for a flat in the rear tire.  That was mainly my fault caused by riding through an awfully large mound of broken glass just to see how well these tires would hold up in wet conditions.  As great as the GP4000s II is, it’s not quite up to snuff as the Gatorskins or 4Seasons when it comes to rear puncture protection.  Because of that I changed my rear tire to a Gatorskin Ultra to withstand the extra weight since I usually ride with about 15 lbs of stuff on my back.

I have leaned heavily into corners on slick cement (as far as a Bianchi Pista can let me lean, which is a a lot since it has a really high bottom bracket) without fail or feeling skiddish in the rear.  The tires roll very smoothly and I can definitely feel a difference when starting from a stop.  As far as the bike feeling faster overall, I doubt there is much difference.  You’d have to get much lighter wheels or just work up your cadence and muscles if you want to go faster.

The GP4000s ii on the front holds up very through extremely poor road conditions, light pavement gravel, small rocks, pebbles, craters, bumps and the occasional piece of glass and metal.  I would be extra careful on the rear if you using these.  There’s a nice amount of protection in the middle of the tire with Conti’s Vectran belt and I’ve ridden 800 miles before i got a flat in the rear, but still this tire should last a lot more than 800 miles.  I am also quite light at only 155lbs.  If you’re over 200lbs and riding with back full of gear than perhaps some 700x28s would be in order instead or at least a tire with a bit more protection.  If you’re heavier and want to stay with the 23 or 25s, then you should be a a litte cautious going over too much debris and try to the stay on the smoother parts of the road.  If you’re using this mainly on bike trails then you should be ok either way.

People have complained that the rubber is softer and that it wears a bit faster in the GP4000s i & ii, but for the performance, it’s something that I can live with.  If you’re a “i don’t need your opinion, I need hard facts” kind of guy, than check out Slowtwitch’s in depth data analysis of the GP4000s ii’s rolling resistance and power needed to propel, compared to other tires.

GP4000s ii Data