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The Chrome Buran III Messenger Bag might just be the ultimate companion to your daily commute. With its thoughtful design, waterproof liner and padded pocket, it'll keep your valuables safe and secure as you slink your way through traffic. The only drawback is the price.
Having sworn by backpacks thanks to their secure nature and comfortable riding position, the prospect of commuting with the Buran III didn't fill me with ease. I had reservations about the security of the design and the overall comfort of riding with a shoulder strap. However, the Buran III had removed any doubts by the time my first ride was complete.
If messenger bags just aren't for you, check out our guide to the best cycling backpacks.
One issue with riding with a backpack is the interference you get with a helmet if you wear one – backpacks tend to ride up and you can feel them rubbing against the back of your lid, especially when looking around. The design of the Buran III, as with all messenger bags, and the way it's slung over your shoulder, ensures this isn't an issue.
With its chunky, seatbelt-style buckle, and an under-shoulder security strap, the Buran III sits comfortably and securely when you're on the bike. The strap is padded to ensure it doesn't strain your shoulder, and its reversible design means you can switch between the left and right shoulder depending on your preference.
With its considerable unladen weight (1,260g), I was concerned the Buran III would feel restrictive for my general commuting. However, such was the design of the three-point shoulder strap that it felt like the bag was laid gently against my back without noticeably dragging me down on one side.
As expected, when out of the saddle, the bag does shimmy slightly, but not enough to annoy you or concern you that it might knock you off balance.
The Buran III isn't the largest messenger bag available. With a total volume of 24L, it's slightly smaller than the Altura Grid Messenger Bag Lara tested last year, and also weighs twice as much. However, it's clear Chrome spent plenty of time planning and designing the Buran III as it maximises the space available to good effect.
It also benefits from a practically symmetrical design, ensuring that whether you ride with it slung over your left or right shoulder, it's just as practical.
With an abundance of pockets, it'll satisfy those who like to organise their gear. As demonstrated in Chrome's walkthrough video for the Buran III, you can separate your gear into individual pockets. You even have plenty of space for a water bottle if you don't have cages installed. There are also a number of zippered pockets for keeping your valuables secure.
The separate padded laptop sleeve is a nice touch. It keeps your laptop safe, offers easy access and is capable of carrying around 15in models (and 17in MacBook Pros).
However, the large main pocket was the standout for me. It splits into two separate compartments – a dry area that's completely surrounded by tarp, and a wet area that is still water-resistant. I found it ideal as I could carry my shoes and lunch separately to my clothes.
The Buran III features a two-step manufacturing process whereby a DWR-coated 1050D nylon outer has been combined with a 500D TPE tarp. This ensures your gear and valuables remain dry, even in heavy rain. On the outer seams where the nylon and tarp meet, you can see they have been stitched twice to ensure durability.
I couldn't fault the overall construction of the Buran III – there were no loose threads or frayed fabric.
Chrome's signature seatbelt buckle is a fantastic touch, adding to the secure feel of the Buran III and ensuring it stands out from the crowd. Its intuitive design also makes it easy to remove the Buran III as and when required. I'd also expect that by not using a cheaper plastic clip, the overall reliability and lifetime of the bag is increased. The buckle and clasp do weigh a healthy 186g, though.
Chrome offers a lifetime guarantee on all its bags. It's rare for a brand to offer extensive warranties, especially on practical, daily items such as the Buran III, but Chrome clearly stands behind its products.
The Buran III looks and feels expensive. Indeed, the quality of manufacture is impressive, as you'd hope considering its eye-watering price tag. Ranging from £179 to £210 (the Fog colour we tested is £200), the Buran III is quite possibly the most expensive bag I've ever used.
That said, it's cheaper than some: the Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag that Matt tested in 2019 was £220 and has gone up to £230.
Yes, the Buran III comes with a lifetime warranty, but it's hard to say it's good value for money when you look at others we've tested that do a similar job, such as the Altura Grid Messenger Bag I mentioned earlier, which is bigger and costs £60. The Heritage Messenger Bag that seems to have superceded it is £70 – still a lot less than the Chrome.
It's clear Chrome has spent plenty of time planning and designing the Buran III. With its dual construction, DWR-coated nylon and truck tarpaulin construction, you can ride knowing your valuables will be protected from whatever the weather throws at it. The seatbelt-style strap and unique Chrome buckle provide a reassuring sense of security, and the overall combination allayed any doubts I had about the Buran III moving around, especially when riding out of the saddle.
The only downside is that its quality, durability and practicality add up to an expensive proposition.
Durable, thoughtful and well-designed messenger bag ideal for daily use... if you can afford it
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Buran III messenger bag
Size tested: 24L
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?
Chrome Industries says: "Our badass tech messenger with heritage DNA and tech organization and access. The Buran III allows you to truly work from anywhere."
Tough tech messenger with iconic seatbelt buckle
Reversible shoulder strap for right or left carry
Quick-release buckle with bottle opener
Weatherproof tarp liner with durable nylon shell
Padded, quick access laptop sleeve 10" H x 18" L
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
CROSSBODY WEAR WITH EASY SWING AROUND ACCESS
REVERSIBLE SHOULDER STRAP FOR RIGHT OR LEFT CARRY
PADDED LAPTOP SLEEVE, CAN ACCOMMODATE SOME 17" LAPTOPS
PU BACKED, DWR COATED NYLON SHELL AND WEATHERPROOF TARP LINER
QUICK-RELEASE ICONIC CHROME BUCKLE CLOSURE WITH BOTTLE OPENER
LEGENDARY QUALITY, LIFETIME WARRANTY
Comfortable to carry and easy to use.
The amount of storage available, and the way it's been designed, ensures you can maximise the space available.
No issues at all during use.
The outer seams have been double stitched where the nylon and tarp meet to ensure additional strength.
It also has a lifetime warranty.
Heavy, not helped by the iconic seatbelt-style clasp.
Comfortable to wear. Padding on the straps helped. Would have liked the undershoulder strap to have a bit more play.
It does have a lifetime warranty, so it should be the only one you ever have to buy... but it's more expensive than others that do a similar job.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The ideal companion to your commute. Plenty of space for clothes, shoes, lunch and even a microfibre towel, although you might need to leave your jacket at work during winter.
It's considerably more comfortable than a backpack, and doesn't interfere with the back of the helmet (at least in my case).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproof outer, multiple pockets for organisation, and the size – perfect for your daily commute, including clothes etc.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Weight and price – it's prohibitively expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's expensive – though not the most expensive we've tested on road.cc – the Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag that Matt tested in 2019 was £220 and has gone up to £230.
But others do a similar job for less, such as the Altura Heritage Messenger Bag at £70.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but only on sale.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's hard not to like the Chrome Buran III. It ticks all the boxes for a daily bag: it's comfortable, well designed and waterproof, ensuring you won't get caught out in bad weather. The quality of construction is top notch and I'd find it hard to believe the Buran III wouldn't last a lifetime... and if it didn't, it comes with a lifetime warranty. I could live with the weight, especially considering you get an iconic Chrome buckle, but then there's the price. Sure, you can use it off the bike, but you can pick up decent messenger bags for a lot less.
About the tester
I usually ride: BMC Teammachine SLR ONE My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding,