Chrome Avail Backpack Review: Comfortable For Commuters

A decade in the past, the Chrome Citizen messenger bag had a sure cachet amongst commuters. The bulletproof bag with the large, shiny seatbelt buckle was somewhat extra rock-and-roll than the ever-present Timbuk2 messenger. The seatbelt launch had a bottle opener. The liner was constituted of a truck tarp! If messenger baggage have been characters in The Goonies, the Chrome Citizen was Brand, not Mikey; it was Bikini Kill, not the B-52s.

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The Avail represents a unique path for Chrome. While it nonetheless has a smooth, minimalist exterior, Chrome has billed the Avail because the “probably the most comfy bag you’ll ever put on.”

Over the previous few months, I’ve introduced the Avail alongside whereas climbing, biking, and flying cross-country. I’m not fully certain whether or not its form or options add to (or detract from) the bag’s utility. Put it this manner: I can see why lots of people would possibly just like the Avail, however to me, it is somewhat bizarre.

Hips Don’t Lie

The very first thing you’ll discover concerning the Avail is its distinctive teardrop form. Seen from the aspect, it’s narrower on the prime than on the backside. This form forces you to pack as in case you have been a bike owner. Your bulkiest, heaviest gadgets go to the underside of the bag and sit on the base of your backbone, as if the Avail have been a lumbar pack in disguise.

Cyclists put on lumbar packs—also called waist packs, hip packs, or fanny packs—as a result of these baggage are decrease to their middle of gravity. A hip pack frees the shoulders, retains the burden nearer to the seat of the bike, and makes it simpler to maneuver the handlebars.

But this form makes much less sense for a multi-purpose or commuter bag, for 2 causes. The first is that in case you’re strolling somewhat than biking, it is extra comfy to hold weight near the middle of your again, somewhat than resting in your hips. Second, if the bag is larger on the backside, you simply … lose issues down there. While touring with the Avail, I consistently had half an arm buried in it, fishing round for my sweater or bag of snacks that had dropped to the underside.

It doesn’t assist that within the heather grey colour, the inside is a darkish (and really classy-looking) ripstop nylon, which makes it inconceivable to see something with no flashlight. While scripting this assessment, I pulled out an previous, half-eaten croissant hidden on the very backside.

Regarding materials, the Avail is a fantastic bag. The tester that I acquired is a 780-denier nylon/poly mix that underwent hikes and bikes within the rain, and getting shoved beneath an airplane seat with out displaying a mark. The backpack additionally is available in a wide range of colours from Chrome’s current material library, in a sturdy 1000-denier, TPE-laminated white, in addition to a TPU-laminated, 420D nylon. Since all of them value the identical, I’d go along with the sturdier, higher-denier material.

The zippers are tidy, hidden reverse coils, with reflective plastic pulls. However, they don’t seem to be water resistant they usually haven’t got zipper garages, which implies that you are actually rolling the cube in case you exit with electronics within the rain.


I did just like the Avail’s minimal organizational components. It has a surprisingly small 18-liter capability, and holds a 13-inch laptop computer in a suspended, padded compartment that has a lip excessive to guard it from any rain that may seep in. The bag additionally has a medium-sized inside zip pocket, along with just a few pen and pocket book pockets. On the outside, the bag has a small, quick-access pocket by the deal with; an elastic water bottle pocket; a small loop for a motorbike mild, and a reflective, elastic strap that ought to maintain a mini U-lock however didn’t match my battered previous Kryptonite U-lock. Sorry, boy.

Easy Breezy

Both the again panel and shoulder straps are plush, whereas maintaining as a lot floor space off your physique as potential. To that finish, the again panel is configured in what Chrome has christened a WindGrid. Long tubes of perforated EVA-molded foam run down the size of the backpack, beneath a skinny polyester mesh.


The straps are additionally fabricated from two layers of perforated, EVA-molded foam. They’re coated by a knit nylon layer, which has channels woven into it to theoretically cut back the floor space in your pores and skin. The straps even have a small sternum strap on sliding rails that clips throughout your chest.

At 18.5 inches tall, the Avail is barely too lengthy for my 5’2″ body. But after climbing, biking, and sprinting by airports at ungodly hours of the morning, I can report that the plush EVA padding is certainly very mushy and cozy. However, I couldn’t recover from one element: The Avail is designed to hold the vast majority of the burden on the base of the backbone, however there’s no waist strap to maintain the burden near my physique. I don’t all the time use a waist strap, significantly when the strap is not load-bearing. But right here, I missed it.

I couldn’t take a look at if the Avail saved my again cool, as a result of it is winter proper now within the Pacific Northwest. When I bought sweaty, it was as a result of I hadn’t stripped my layers off quick sufficient, not as a result of my again wasn’t ventilated. Since the channels run vertically, I’m certain the Avail stands an opportunity of cooling you off in case you’re leaning over a motorbike’s handlebars. But in case you’re strolling, its advantages are somewhat iffier.

That sums it up: If you are an off-the-cuff bike commuter, you are more likely to discover this bag extra comfy, and helpful, than anybody else. The Avail seems to be stunning, and I cherished how the pockets have been organized. But for the worth, the Avail would not have very a lot capability, would not have Chrome’s trademark climate resistance, and distributes its weight awkwardly. in case you get to work by another implies that biking in sunny climate, it is best to in all probability look elsewhere.

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