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The Chrome Barrage Freight Backpack is an absolute monster of a messenger bag that is comfortable on the back and full of useful features beyond just its huge size. It's not cheap, and it's not light, but it is excellent.
The first thing to say about this backpack is that freight is a great choice of name. It is very much like a rough and ready vehicle with a cargo net and huge capacity. It is also impressively weatherproof and well made; it's the kind of bag that you would expect to see a grizzled bike messenger still using in 20 years time.
The Barrage Freight sits between Chrome's Barrage Cargo and Barrage Pro models, and in my opinion is the most convenient size of the three. The Cargo seems a little small given the rigid design of the bag, and the Pro is so big that if I see people with it I assume they're transporting a dead body as there can surely be no other reason to need a bag that big on a bike.
So just how big is the Barrage Freight? Unrolled it has a capacity of 38 litres, reducing to 34 when rolled down. For comparison, the bag I would normally commute with is around 20 litres, so this is almost double. (The Cargo is 18/22L, while the Pro is 80L.) To indicate just how much space the main compartment provides, I managed to fit enough clothes and shoes for me and most of the necessary kit for a four-month-old baby for a three-night stay in two different compartments and could still roll down the top without any issues.
Adding to this capacity is the well-designed 'cargo net' at the front of the bag, which allows you to chuck larger kit in if you need extra room or if you want to keep things separate for quick access. I found it most useful for holding my bike locks when on a trip with multiple stops.
Rather than being elasticated, this cargo net is made from strong, almost seatbelt-like material, which adds to the robust nature of the bag. The net's hold on any contents relies on the straps on the side of the bag that reduce (or increase) capacity in the main section of the bag. Here, as you tighten or loosen the net you are also tightening or loosening the sides of the bag.
It takes a bit of getting used to if you're trying to increase or reduce the size of the main compartment, as you can need to adjust four straps to do it, but it gets quicker and easier the more you do it.
Across the bag there are five pockets, giving you a certain degree of organisation for your kit. At the front there is a large pocket that you can access from the right of the bag which is useful for larger items like notepads or tablets, and on the left is a smaller pocket that's really useful for phones, keys and a wallet.
The main compartment is split into two, with one side being open and the other a zipped compartment. Within the open compartment there is also a laptop sleeve, which my 13-inch laptop fitted into easily (anything up to 15 inches will fit, apparently).
Rounding things off, there is also a bottle pocket on the side of the bag.
On the back, this bag is really comfortable for something this large, and it even offers pretty good ventilation thanks to the fairly rigid panel that maintains ventilation channels to allow air to flow effectively. With traditional large roll top bags there is often a danger that they will basically envelope your back, which then leads to a hot and sweaty mess. However, the Barrage Freight maintains rigidity across the back, making it comfortable to cycle with.
The straps have a decent amount of padding and their part-mesh design helps to dissipate heat and help with comfort. They also offer impressive adjustability, with straps above the shoulder to change the weight distribution and make sure the bag sits as comfortably on your shoulders as possible.
A strong chest strap also helps take some strain and keeps the straps in place on the shoulders.
This bag is also 100% waterproof and basically indestructible; all Chrome bags have a lifetime guarantee and I would not be surprised if the guarantee won. I took this out several times in the rain and at one point even just hosed it down, but nothing got in when it was properly closed, with even the pocket zips being taped.
The bag closes with a strap and clip, which works well and allows the bag to be effectively rolled and unrolled when required. The strap also has a large reflective strip that runs up the centre, which helps to keep you visible in low-light conditions. The only slight disappointment is that the clip is plastic rather than metal or the famous Chrome clip. It still feels robust, and is likely to last years, but a metal buckle would be... nicer.
As you might expect from a large bag that maintains its shape, it isn't exactly featherlight, hitting the scales at 2,450g. It's definitely not the kind of bag you're likely to throw on your back for a long tour, but for commuting in urban environments the weight isn't too much of an issue.
At £200, it's at the upper end of the price range of backpacks we've tested on road.cc, but given the quality and how long it's likely to last, it'll earn its keep.
In terms of features you could compare it to the the Braasi Industries Webbing 18ltr Urban Backpack which is now £115, but despite having a similar webbing design and zip pockets it doesn't come close in terms of capacity, ruggedness, or weatherproofing.
The 60-litre Scott RC Raceday 60 Backpack costs £159.99 but has a very different function. It is more luggage than backpack, with more sorting ability, less ruggedness and less weatherproofing.
It does look expensive compared with Ortlieb's 39-litre Messenger Bag, though, at £110, and then there's the 30-litre Craft Cadence, which we tested back in 2018. It's gone up since then, but is still only £79.99 for the latest model.
Overall I really like this bag, it offers a huge amount of practical storage space with more than enough pocket separation to keep things practical and organised. I also like the cargo nets, subtle high-vis elements and, most importantly, its incredibly robust material and hardware that make it very impressive. There is no getting around the fact that this is a very expensive bag, but I'd argue that the price is justifiable given how long I would expect this bag to last. If you need the capacity, this bag is an excellent choice.
Brilliantly robust and well-designed bag likely to last a lifetime
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Barrage Freight Backpack
Size tested: 34 - 38L
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is a large capacity everyday bag that can be used for commuting and deliveries, or more leisurely purposes. It is designed to be durable and long lasting.
Chrome says: "34 - 38L version of our durable 100% waterproof backpack. Built twice with 100% welded waterproof liner and abrasion resistant coated nylon shell. Mission ready."
This is an accurate description; it offers impressive durability, weatherproofing, and capacity.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
23" H (rolled), 30.5" H (unrolled) | 13.25" W | 6.5" D (bottom), 10" D (top)
34 L (2-rolls down) - 38 L (unrolled)
4.7 lbs | 2.13 kg
up to 15"
I think you would struggle to find a more robust bag. The material is thick but with enough flex that it won't crack, the hardware is excellent, and despite throwing it about a bit it still doesn't have a mark on it. The only thing that's stopping me giving it a 10 is that the main clip is plastic rather than metal.
Does exactly what I needed it to. I could fit in a huge amount of shopping and could even pack in enough kit for me and my daughter for a three-night stay away.
It's early days, but all the signs are you will struggle to find a more durable bag.
It is not designed to be a lightweight piece of kit.
Surprisingly comfortable to carry for a bag of its size, thanks to the adjustability of the straps, the chest strap, and the rigid back.
There is no getting around the fact that this is an expensive bag. However, given how long this is likely to last I would rather spend a bit more initially and not need to replace it for the next 20 years.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, it has more than enough space to pack away almost anything, is comfortable on the shoulders, and has useful pockets and zips to keep everything organised and secure.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cargo netting is a really nice addition allowing for quick access or additional storage if needed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There is no ignoring the price – this is an expensive piece of kit.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
In terms of features you could compare it to the the Braasi Industries Webbing 18ltr Urban Backpack which is £105, but despite having a similar webbing design and zip pockets it doesn't come close in terms of capacity, ruggedness or weatherproofing. There's the 60L Scott RC Raceday 60 Backpack which costs £159.99 but has a very different function, more focused on being luggage rather than a backpack with more sorting ability, less ruggedness and less weatherproofing. The Craft Cadence does make it seem very expensive, though, the latest version costing just £79.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a superb piece of kit that could survive a hurricane and still keep everything inside dry. I would not be surprised if this bag outlasts me. It's expensive, but if you have the money it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.