Made in the USA and used by bike messengers and commuters around the planet, the Warsaw backpack from Chrome is an iconic piece of gear.
Built to last with industrial-strength materials, the pack has an iconic price tag, too — more on that below. First, some accolades:
I’ve been testing the Warsaw for five months, riding almost daily with the pack and toting loads ranging from a laptop and lunch for work to massive hauls from the grocery store. The pack is bomber all around, starting with its heavy-duty materials and stitching made to support 50-plus pounds.
The exterior is a handsome gray Cordura nylon. Under the face fabric, Chrome adds a waterproof tarpaulin liner that neither rain nor road spray can penetrate. There is no frame, so heavy loads can be hard. But the pack’s padded shoulder harness, metal-cam strap adjusters and foam back panel let you haul serious weight, when needed.
My rides are far lighter. Ten to 15 pounds is about the max for a common day, and the Warsaw holds that weight with ease. Its capacity is huge. The bag gives about 55 liters (about 14½ gallons) of storage space — that’s equivalent to an internal-frame backpacking model.
A single buckle closes the main lid flap. Inside, pockets and organizer slots abound. I keep my keys and phone in the outside pouch, which sits near my hip, for quick access.
Overall, the pack is nearly perfect for a city bike rider. It sits large across the back at 21 inches wide, but it is comfortable and supportive as you pedal. That iconic price tag I mentioned? $280. Yep, a lot of cold cash for a backpack. Chrome justifies the cost with a lifetime guarantee. You also get a markup with the “made in the USA” status. Chrome builds its bags in Chico, Calif.
Durability is a hallmark of the pack. The Warsaw, I can tell, will last for many years. Its tough, thick fabric, strong stitching and metal strap buckles are unlike anything I’ve seen in the category. You can spend $100 less on other brands and find a great pack for riding. But if you want the best — waterproof, comfortable, functional, durable and good looking — the Warsaw is the complete package.
Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.