It’s pricey but the Barrage Cargo has unbeatable durability and a payload capacity that can be loaded far beyond what the numbers would suggest, just make sure you pack it right
Super tough construction
Can hold a surprising amount of stuff
Zipped quick access pocket
Lumpy if not packed right
Back can get hot if riding hard
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Chrome Industries know a thing or two about making ultra-tough, ultra-durable bags. For the past 25 years, Chrome has been producing messenger bags and backpacks that are designed to handle the extreme demands of bicycle couriers who rely on their equipment day in day out. Chrome Industries has since been able to expand as a wider urban brand but at its core are still the backpacks and messenger bags.
The Barrage bag range has recently been expanded and now caters to everyone from professional messengers with the Barrage Pro’s monstrous 85L capacity down to those looking for a stylish pannier and to take the weight off the back. The Barrage Cargo is a rugged 18L backpack that’s the perfect size for all-weather commuting and day-to-day about town hauling. We have had the premium BLCKCHRM 22X Barrage Cargo backpack in for test to see how holds up and after a year of use, we think it could be one of the best cycling backpacks available.
Design and aesthetics
To say this bag is overbuilt is an understatement, the 22X nylon shell with Cordura TPX laminated technology means better tear strength and abrasion resistance. While Cordura TPX has a waterproof finish Chrome has doubled down with a 1000D tarp liner. Not only is this 22X shell tougher, but it's also lighter than the standard Barrage which uses 1050D nylon outer.
The straps are wide and padded and feature a webbing ladder and D-ring mounting points on both sides if you want to strap on any extra pouches or accessories. There is a sternum strap to help stabilise loads and fastens using Chrome’s trademark mini belt buckle. As expected from a brand that prides itself on durability, all strap fasteners and fitments are metal too. The back panel is made from EVA foam and has padded sections with channels to help with the airflow.
The rolltop opening measures roughly 27cm by 14cm which rolls down and fastens using a large plastic buckle and is flexible if you need to push the capacity a little further. There is an unpadded 15in laptop compartment inside and a quick access zipped pocket on the front. A five-point cargo mesh is attached along the bottom and secured using four buckles that have up to 21cm of adjustment for carrying extra bulky items. Finally, there are two side pockets that will fit a water bottle or small D-lock - and if you're wondering, this is where I stored the Yuccas.
The capacity that is offered by the Barrage seems to be far beyond what you would normally expect from an 18L backpack. It has a rigid rectangular shape, and with some careful Tetris-ing, will easily swallow a decent sized shop or enough clothes for a weekend away. Additionally, if it isn’t raining outside, the Barrage can be half-rolled or even left open to greatly increase the available storage should you need to carry a few extra things or something long. The two side pockets are the perfect size for bottles of juice, cans of beans although if you want to get a D-lock in there it will need to be on the narrower side. The front netting adds an invaluable area for carrying extra stuff whether it’s a helmet when off the bike or awkwardly shaped boxes that won’t fit on the inside.
Chrome’s background in messenger bags is evident with the way the Barrage handles heavy loads; it can easily handle weight beyond what I was comfortably riding with - I found this out when stocking up on 10kg of rice. The wide straps don’t dig in and combined with the sternum strap it does a great job of stabilising loads to avoid the heavy load swinging you off the bike.
Durability has been outstanding, after almost a year of frequent shopping and general hauling, the Barrage still looks brand new. There are zero marks on the exterior, no damage on the roll-top folds and every stitch is still in place. It cleans up well so if you are out in the rain it doesn’t take much cleaning to get it looking fresh again.
If you are looking for a bag that can commute, get groceries and transport belongings around town every day and in all weather then the Barrage Cargo is never going to let you down. It’s heavy and expensive, but that’s what it takes to create a bag this durable. Capacity is cavernous beyond its humble 18L would suggest and the front cargo net supplements the storage for bulky items too.
Tech specs: Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Barrage Cargo backpack
- Weight: 1.47kg
- Capacity: 18L (rolled 2 down) 22L (unrolled)
- Size: 21" H | 11.5" W | 5.5" D
- Waterproof: Yes
- Price: £190.00 / $180.00
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Graham has been part of the Cyclingnews team since January 2020. He has mountain biking at his core and can mostly be found bikepacking around Scotland or exploring the steep trails around the Tweed Valley. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has gained a reputation for riding fixed gear bikes both too far and often in inappropriate places.
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