Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack Review
The Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack expands to fit more gear and offers excellent water resistance, although its structured nature may overwhelm some.
- Interior lining adds to water resistance
- Large gear fits in cargo netting without taking up internal space
- Expands seamlessly from 18 to 22 liters
- Pack is heavy for its size
- Structured back panel can feel stiff
- Water bottle pockets only suitable for small bottles
3 lb (1.4 kg)
20 in x 11.75 in x 6 in (50.8 x 29.8 x 15.2 cm)
Nylon, Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE), Duraflex Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
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We get a lot of recommendations about the Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack—and we understand why. It’s one of Chrome’s best-selling packs and has a unique look we haven’t seen replicated very often. We’re curious how well the cargo netting works for gear and whether the materials are as water-resistant as they claim to be—so without further ado, let’s dive in!
We’ve got two unique materials to work with here—one on the exterior and the other on the interior. On the outside, we’ve got 1050D nylon. It’s incredibly durable and abrasion resistant—even as a commuter bag on more rugged adventures, it can handle all the smoke. We have noticed a few loose threads, though nothing you’ll see without putting the pack under a microscope. Well, you might notice them, but you get the point. Overall, this thing is a fine-looking travel daypack.
The other material is a 1000D TPE Tarp lining the interior. Although we’re talking about the exterior, this is a crucial component of the pack as the fabric is waterproof. It feels like something you’d use on an industrial project or the liner you’d want to go under the shingles on your house. Given its water resistance, it isn’t as malleable as the nylon that coats it, which can affect how much gear you can stuff inside—we’ll get there shortly.
We’ve got a similar material on the boot of the backpack. If it was nylon instead and you set the pack on the wet ground or cycled in the rain, the bottom of the bag would get soggy and heavy. This material is straightforward to clean, so if it gets dirty on the floor or you have a straight line of muddy water up your back from cycling, you can remedy the issue quickly.
Even though the liner is waterproof, this pack is not. There are still ways for water to get inside, although this hasn’t been an issue in testing. Your gear will likely be just as dry coming out as when it went in—which is a great perk of this pack.
The Barrage Cargo Backpack utilizes Duraflex hardware for the main compartment closure system and on the sides of the front cargo pocket. The adjusters are easy to use, snap closed quickly, and don’t pop open when you don’t want them to.
We’ve got just one zipper on this thing, and it’s from YKK. As usual, we have no quarrels with the zip. The pull is a paracord-like material knotted at the end, which is easy to grasp, even in inclement weather.
The front of the pack has a large cargo net. It’s adjustable from all four corners and can stow larger gear you don’t want to stuff in the main compartment. A bicycle helmet can fit here unless you have a larger model. Then, you might struggle to slide it in. It also works well for a travel jacket or other gear you want to access quickly.
The cargo net adds a neat aesthetic that we dig. You always feel like you’re up to something—even if that something is getting groceries or going to the doctor’s office. Let’s be honest; throwing a reusable grocery bag full of organic produce is pretty gangster.
The pack features dual water bottle pockets on the left and right. They don’t have any elastic as they’re crafted from the same nylon material as the pack’s exterior. Because of this, you can’t fit larger bottles like a 32 oz Nalgene—smaller bottles in the 12-18 ounce range should work fine.
You probably expected this (or read it in the specs above), but the Barrage is heavy. It’s 3 pounds before you load any gear into it, which is pretty hefty for its 18-liter size. Although you can expand it to 22 using the rolltop, that’s still on the higher end for packs that size. You’re getting excellent water resistance and durability, although it comes at a cost.
The molded back panel on the Barrage is very structured. It’s comfortable, though you can feel it, especially during more active things, like cycling. It’s firm from top to bottom, even more so if you have a large laptop. However, if you stuff the bag to the gills, it doesn’t mold to your back so well. For the most part, it’s comfortable.
The shoulder straps are pretty malleable. There’s some padding and mesh, which helps with breathability. While they conform well to your body, you might be left hoping for more if you like something more structured.
The front of each shoulder strap has a metal D-ring on the top for attaching gear. They’re durable and haven’t chipped, which we dig. Below, two reinforced loops on either side allow you to connect more gear.
The sternum strap is on a rail so that you can make micro-adjustments. Once you’ve got it in a place you like, it stays put. The buckle is aluminum with the Chrome logo, which we’ve seen from their brand before. If you aren’t familiar, it’s similar to an old-school car seat belt buckle or the secondary strap you put on while on a rollercoaster—you know, so you don’t fly out. The buckle came off on one occasion, although it may have been a user error. We didn’t have another issue with it, although it does take some getting used to.
Inside The Pack
We’ve got just one secondary compartment on the Barrage. It’s underneath the cargo net on the front of the pack, which can make it a little hard to access. This can be a good or a bad thing. If you need your wallet to catch the ice cream man as he drives away, it’s a bad thing. If you want an extra layer of protection from a potential thief, it’s a net positive.
Flat items do well here—there isn’t a ton of depth. You won’t want to put anything fragile here, especially if you plan to use the cargo netting. The bike helmet that protects you (within reason) in an accident with a car can do a number on a naked iPad.
We already chatted about the main compartment materials. Before diving in further, let’s go over the closure system. It’s a rolltop, which means you can roll it more if you have less gear and less if you have more equipment—that’s a fun little inverse. At its smallest, it’s 18 liters, and at its largest, 22, which isn’t a huge difference, yet it can mean fitting a few more items on a weekend trip.
The main compartment is a big open chute. Seriously—there’s almost nothing in here. A laptop compartment for up to a 15-inch computer is on the back wall. While the molded back panel protects one side of your laptop, there isn’t any other protection on the sleeve. Chrome recommends using a laptop case of some kind—although if you aren’t bringing anything else rigid or heavy, you’ll probably be okay without it.
As we mentioned, the internal liner is waterproof, protecting your gear from outside elements. However, it can be problematic on the interior. If water does sneak inside or you have a leaky bottle or wet article of clothing, water isn’t going to escape. A little moisture might escape through the rolltop. However, for the most part, what’s inside is inside. It’s not a massive issue if you don’t put wet things inside, though if you plan to transport something damp, it’s best to air it out or check on it every so often.
While you can stuff a ton of gear inside, your best bet is to use organizers or packing cubes to add some segmentation. Without it, your gear will quickly become a bog of chaos , even if you’re organized. If you’re new to the packing cube world, check out our guide for inspiration!
- Materials are extraordinarily durable and weather resistant
- Back panel has ample padding and channels for airflow
- Buckles are large and snappy but hard to open, at least at first
- The cargo pocket works well to stow larger items, like a bicycle helmet
- No issues with water making its way into the main compartment, even in the rain
- The back panel can sometimes feel a little awkward due to its structure