Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Review: A Tough, Waterproof Urban Backpack


Chrome barrage review

The Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack is an extremely, tough, waterproof, and versatile backpack designed to tackle really harsh environments. This is one of the Most Durable Backpacks out there and today we’re going to do a proper hand’s on review of it with lots of pics.

The Barrage Cargo Backpack makes an excellent rough & tumble commuter, especially for cyclists. It is a rolltop-style backpack constructed with a heavy-duty abrasion-resistant exterior and a removable welded waterproof tarpaulin liner for maximum protection through rain or snow. The unique cargo net on the front of the backpack is great for helmets, sneakers, bike locks, or any items that would take up to much room inside. The Barrage offers excellent laptop protection, a thickly padded back panel, and shoulder straps for an exceptionally comfortable carry.

The Barrage Cargo backpack makes an especially good choice for folks who live and commute in unpredictable weather.

Price

Barrage packpack review

The Chrome Barrage Cargo was listed at $160 at the time of publishing this article.

Chrome does offer different versions such as the Night version($165) with a reflective panel as well periodic Limited editions (~$180).

Note: Keep in mind that prices may change especially with inflation these days.

Specs

  • Capacity: 22L
  • Fabric: 1050D Nylon
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Waterproofing: removable 22oz 1000D TPE Tarp
  • Safety: Front and rear reflective hits
  • Sternum strap: with retro seatbelt buckle
  • Eva foam back panel
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • YKK zipper front pocket
  • 5 point cargo net system
  • Shoulder strap accessory loops
  • Laptop Compartment: waterproof
  • Side U-Lock/Water bottle pockets

First Impressions

  1. Definitely A Unique Look: With the rolltop and the front cargo net, the Barrage Cargo has a refreshingly different look than typical backpacks. It’s a head turner.
  2. Minimalist Design: It has one compartment, a zipper pocket on the front, and pockets on either side. With a the waterproof liner and an extremely abrasion-resistant exterior, this bag was built to last a lifetime.
  3. Lots of storage: The main compartment can carry a lot of supplies, and the front zipper pocket is deep, running the entire width of the backpack. The cargo net is a great place to place any bulky items as well.
  4. Hi-Visibility at night: large front and rear reflective hits allow drivers to easily see you at night, increasing the safety of your commute.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Extremely comfortable foam padding
  • Quick access front zipper pocket
  • Convenient Front mesh for extra storage
  • Excellent Laptop Protection

Cons

  • Non-removable sternum strap
  • Cargo straps hang

Field Test

While I am not a cyclist, I do wear a backpack almost daily for commuting to and from work on foot. Having a backpack that is comfortable, durable, and functional is extremely important to Me. So, its within this context that I’ll be reviewing the Chrome Barrage Cargo backpack.

Organization

Main Compartment

chrome barrage liner

The Barrage Cargo Backpack is a slimline 22 L capacity bag with a tall rectangular main compartment. It’s especially efficient at carrying rectangular objects like books, files, and laptops. Steer away from packing it with bulky items greater than 6 inches thick. The Barrage is more suited for light commutes, trips to the gym, or carrying books around campus.

Waterproof Liner

The Barrage backpack is lined with a tough 22oz 1000D TPE tarp which is welded at the seams. Having the seams welded instead of stitched allows the liner to keep its waterproof integrity.  After heavy downpours, simply remove the liner and hang up the backpack for rapid drying before tomorrow’s commute.

Laptop Compartment

laptop compartment

The laptop compartment is quite simple but functional. Your computer stows safely inside a sleeve located within the main waterproof compartment. Having your laptop protected like this gives plenty of peace of mind no matter how torrential the rain may be.

The compartment can swallow a laptop up to 15”, and Chrome Industries recommends that you keep it inside a laptop sleeve. I’ve been impressed with Chrome’s laptop sleeves too.

I own a 13” MacBook Air, and with a sleeve I find it very snug. If you have a 15” laptop, you probably won’t be able to fit it in with a laptop sleeve as well. Of course, you to simply put your 15-inch laptop and sleeve inside the main compartment instead.

For added laptop protection, the interior sleeve has a false bottom that cradles your laptop and prevents it from being jarred by direct contact with the ground when you set the bag down. What’s the point in keeping your laptop nice and dry if it gets bashed up every time you set the bag down?

Vertical Zipper Pocket

chrome barrage vertical pocket

The Barrage has a quick-access vertical zipper pocket beside the cargo net. It is an excellent place to store your smaller items such as headphones, a wallet, passport, keys, etc. It’s a decent-sized pocket with a depth reaching all the way across the backpack and roughly 8 inches from top to bottom.

Cargo Net

The Cargo Net is ideal for those bulky or dirty items that you don’t really want inside the main compartment. To load it, detach the side clasps, pull the net back, place the item, reattach the clasps and cinche the net down.

I use the cargo net for holding my indoor training shoes, but it can also be used to store your bicycle helmet, your school binder or sweater. 

Shoulder Straps

The shoulder straps are a single piece as opposed to the traditional two separate straps. On the front of the straps are reflective hits integrated into daisy-chain loops. This allows you to attach accessories. Also, on the top of the straps are D-rings.

The metal ladder lock buckles at the bottom of the shoulder straps are above the bottom of the strap itself. This may not be something people notice, but what this does is it prevents the buckles from digging into your underarm.

Side Pockets

The Barrage Cargo backpack has pockets on either side big enough for a medium water bottle or a bicycle U-lock. However, if you have the backpack stuffed full, it will be difficult to get a water bottle inside the pocket.

A grommet at the base of each pocket allows rain to drain out instead of pooling in the pocket.

Sternum Strap

The sternum strap does a great job of stabilizing the shoulder straps and preventing the backpack from swaying side to side while running to the bus stop or cranking your bike up a hill.

The sternum strap can also slide up and down on the shoulder straps, but cannot be removed if you decide not to use it.

My favorite part, of course, is Chrome Industries’ iconic seat belt buckle clasp. Its as functional as it is cool looking.

Quality & Workmanship

The overall quality of the Barrage Cargo Backpack is what I’ve come to expect from Chrome Industries: Durable, well constructed, and with careful thought to functional design and details.

All the stitchwork is tight with proper box stitching on all the anchor points for buckles and clasps.

My favorite style feature of Chrome bags is their all-metal retro seat belt buckle clasps. They are just plain cool! They remind me of my late uncle’s old Cadillac.

The Barrage Cargo Backpack has a miniature polished-chrome version functioning as the sternum strap release buckle.

The front pocket has a YKK zipper with reflective hits on the pull string. Even the external pocket has a rain protector preventing water ingress via the zipper.

Chrome is definitely proud of their logo but besides one bright red rubberized logo patch, everything else is understated.

I did find a few frayed threads on one of the webbings that attached the side buckles. While it wasn’t a structural issue, I mention it nonetheless.

Comfort & Carry

Thanks to very generous padding the Barrage Cargo can carry a lot of gear very comfortably. When pulled tight, the backpack sits nice and high on the back.

The sternum strap also keeps the backpack very stationary regardless of how much weight you’re carrying.

The EVA foam back panel is extremely comfortable with a mountain-valley design which allows for good airflow. Nobody likes a sweaty back!

Functionality

Being a rolltop bag, you can open the bag wide enough to allow you to see mostly everything inside.

The Barrage Cargo only has a single main compartment. For organization freaks, this may be a difficulty. However, I haven’t found this to be an issue personally.

With 22L of capacity, The Barrage Cargo isn’t a huge hauler. However, it is sufficient for carrying a few textbooks to class along with a laptop.

I’ve used this as well to go to the gym, which would have all my clothing and shower kit in the main compartment, training shoes stored in the cargo net, and a water bottle in one of the side pockets.

The top handle of the Barrage Cargo isn’t fancy but it is large enough of an opening to get a good handle on the 1” webbing.

Fabric

The exterior fabric of the Barrage Cargo backpack is a combination of both 1050D Nylon and 22oz 1000D TPE tarp. The main fabric is 1050D Nylon which is an extremely abrasion-resistant material used in military-style backpacks. It will keep your backpack in great shape for a long long time. The 22oz 1000D TPE tarp covers the bottom of the backpack forming a secondary waterproof layer.

Even if you set the Barrage down in a mud puddle the contents will remain bone dry.

Hi-Viz Features

The Barrage Barrage Cargo Backpack has Hi-Viz reflective hits both on the front and back to alert oncoming traffic at night regardless of which direction you’re traveling in. 

Standard Barrage Cargo backpacks have one reflective stripe on the back which is running down the strap attached to the main buckle, and you have two reflective strips on the front which run down each shoulder strap. The reflective spots on the shoulder strap are up high so that if you’re cycling and you’re hunched over, oncoming traffic will still be able to visibly see the reflective material.

For added visibility, Chrome Industries also has a “Night Version” of the Barrage Cargo Backpack, with extra reflective hits and a large reflective panel. Most notably on the cargo net itself and the exterior TPE tarp on the bottom which has a large surface area.

Style

The Barrage Cargo Backpack is certainly unique looking and it’s urban/tactical styling certainly isn’t for everyone’s taste. This is not your top zipper backpack. The roll-top design is far-superior for protecting your gear, but also very unique and stylish. The 5-point cargo net, retro mini belt buckle, and slimline rectangular profile all combine for a refreshingly different design without losing practicality.

Conclusion

Style-wise the Chrome Barrage is certainly a refreshing break from the ordinary. This is a an urban workhorse ideal for cyclists and commuters facing frequent inclement weather. While it has limited organization, You will be hard-pressed to find an urban backpack more versatile, rugged, and waterproof than the Chrome Industries Barrage.

For more ultra-rugged backpacks check out this post.

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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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