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Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack Review

The Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack offers a ton of versatility in a simple package, though we wish the laptop compartment had a false bottom.

Our Verdict

7.6 /10
Good info

Form

73/100

Design

77/100

Value

80/100
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Pros

  • Âľ length zipper on main compartment adds versatility
  • Bright paracord zipper pulls are easy to find and use
  • Front stash pocket has independent capacity

Cons

  • No false bottom in laptop compartment
  • Internal zippered pocket is awkward to access
  • Mesh material feels like that on a kids’ backpack—not very premium

Technical Details

85 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 123/145 Airlines

76 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity

    23l

  • Weight (lb)

    1.63 lb (0.7 kg)

  • Denier

    300D

    Body

  • Denier

    900D

    Bottom

  • Dimensions

    19.5 in x 10 in x 6 in (49.5 x 25.4 x 15.2 cm)

    11.25 in. width of base

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Polyester, Duraflex Hardware, YKK Zippers, Paracord

  • Manufacturing Country

    Thailand

  • Laptop Compartment Size

    15"

    actual size 14.5" x 11.5"

  • Warranty Information

    Chrome Industries Warranty

Buying Options

Brand
Price
Deal
Moosejaw Logo
$119.95 
—
Backcountry Logo
$100.00 
—
Amazon Logo
$100.00 
—

Full Review

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Daypacks are a great choice for those wishing to pair their roller bag with a versatile personal item or to push the boundaries of minimalist, one bag travel. The Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L fits this bill by offering simple yet versatile features for those that want a bag that can pull double-duty between everyday carry and globetrotting adventure.

Chrome Industries got into the industry by making bags for cyclists but have continued to branch out over the years. The Ruckas 23L is a good example of how the brand’s product selection has evolved by forgoing some of its trademark features, like seatbelt buckles, in lieu of a more streamlined look.

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-full
The Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack in the studio.

This bag is a great option for those looking for a do-it-all daypack with a clean form factor that won’t break the bank. The ¾ zip main compartment makes packing and unpacking a breeze, and the front stash pocket provides quick access to your essentials while exploring a new city.
How do the other features stack up? Let’s take a look!

External Components

This bag sports a 300-denier recycled polyester ripstop fabric on the outside with a 900-denier reinforced bottom for extra protection when setting it down on rough surfaces. The material doesn’t feel super robust, but it withstood multiple trips to the local climbing gym, a hike, and various impromptu trips around town without any issues. The Chrome Industries logo is located on the front of the bag in brown leather, offering a bit of a heritage vibe in an otherwise modern-looking pack.

One of our favorite features is the bright paracord zipper pulls attached to the bag’s YKK zippers. They help ensure quick access, whether you’re grabbing a jacket from the main compartment or a laptop out of the side-access laptop compartment after you sit down at Starbucks to finally fulfill your dreams of writing a Hollywood screenplay that will never be made into a movie due to “artistic differences”—whatever that means…

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Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | We dig the bright paracord zipper pulls

The bag includes a top grab handle, which is useful for pulling it out from under the seat in front of us when we’re ready to deplane. That said, it’s rather flimsy and doesn’t offer any padding, so we wouldn’t recommend using it for prolonged periods. It also has a luggage pass-through strap on the back panel that can be used with a roller bag, which is a nice touch. It has a wide opening to accommodate a range of handle widths, and the strap is oriented vertically along the back panel, so the bag sits sideways when placed on top of a roller bag. We don’t mind the sideways orientation, but it leaves us choosing between having the water bottle pocket on top or having better access to the main compartment. This is a small inconvenience, but one we feel is worth noting.

The shoulder straps provide a comfortable carry, despite being on the thinner side. They also have mesh on the inside to provide a bit of extra breathability for those impromptu hikes. Speaking of breathability, the back panel offers a generous amount of mesh and an air channel in the middle to help increase airflow and provide space for the luggage pass-through. In practice, we find that the channel isn’t deep enough to help much with the airflow. We also find that the mesh material feels somewhat cheap compared to other packs we’ve tested because it reminds us of school bags we used growing up. That said, it did help us stay cool when we tested it on the trail, so it gets the job done.

Attached to the shoulder straps is the sternum strap, which has a unique two-sided adjustability feature. We like this because it allows us to keep the buckle centered on the chest. It also helps prevent the strap from twisting around the shoulder strap, which we’ve come across in other designs. Plus, there are strap keepers on both sides to keep things tidy. Using the two strap keepers feels a little bit like tightening a bowtie—Steve Urkel would dig this design, and we do too!

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Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | The sternum strap buckle sits centered.

The back panel doesn’t have a lot of structure built into it, so what we put into the bag and how we organize it changes the comfort of the carry. Having a laptop in the laptop compartment is helpful in this regard. If you put bulky, awkwardly-shaped gear inside, you’ll feel it against your back. In most cases, this can be remedied with smart organization, but this might not be the pack for you if you need structure or a strong barrier between your back and the contents.

Fit Notes

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-side-by-side
Left: Austin Tucker, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 18” (48 cm) | Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

As mentioned above, the comfort of the bag is largely dependent on what’s inside. That said, multiple members of the Pack Hacker team tried it on and found it comfortable. At 23 liters, the bag works for both larger and smaller individuals, though your mileage may vary.

In general, we like the simple aesthetic that Chrome Industries gave this bag. It has more of a casual style, but our sample in the black colorway could be used in a professional setting as well. It also comes in two other colorways for those that prefer something brighter.

Inside The Pack

The front of the pack sports a quick-access stash pocket which is handy for small to mid-sized items like chargers, a Field Notes Notebook, or a collection of Steve Urkel-inspire bowties. The pocket has a flap on top that provides protection without impeding the zipper. It also has independent capacity from the main compartment, so they don’t compete for space—we really dig this because it means you can fit more in the front pocket without sacrificing space in the main compartment.

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-in-use2
Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | Front stash pocket is convenient.

The bottle pocket on the side of the pack is gusseted, so it expands and allows you to fit a range of bottle sizes. The depth sits right in the middle of the spectrum—not too deep to lose things inside, and not too shallow for things to easily fall out. We did run into a small issue where the water bottle blocked the zippers to the main compartment, but it became easily avoidable as we got used to the bag.

The laptop compartment is accessible through a zipper on the side of the pack, which we like for its efficient use of space. The inside of the compartment is padded and lined with a scratch-resistant material to make taking a laptop in and out smooth. Although the compartment has an ample amount of padding, we question its ability to protect a laptop from a fall because of the lack of a false bottom. We’re able to remedy this concern by using a laptop sleeve, though that’s inconvenient if you don’t already have one on hand.

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-bottom
Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | No false bottom in the laptop compartment

The main compartment is made with a 15-denier polyester liner and is bright yellow, which we find helpful for quickly finding our gear. The back of the compartment holds an admin panel with a tablet sleeve, pen slots, and a medium-sized pocket. The front of the main compartment has one vertical zipper pocket, which is our least favorite to use because the orientation makes it awkward to reach.

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-empty
Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | We dig the bright interior of the main compartment

We wish there were one or two more zippered pockets on the admin panel to keep smaller items secured. For tiny accessories, we find that a tech pouch keeps things organized since the only zippered pocket on the inside is inconvenient to use. When packed strategically, the side with the zipper that extends to the bottom can be used as additional quick access for something like a jacket, or even a camera, which is a good representation of the bag’s versatility.

chrome-industries-ruckas-23l-backpack-in-use
Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack | The side with the full-length zipper can be used as additional quick access.

For those looking for a simple, do-it-all daypack that handles a daily commute as well as travel, the Chrome Industries Ruckas 23L Backpack is an excellent choice.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Full-length zipper on the side seems convenient
  • Bright paracord zipper pulls are easy to find
  • Luggage passthrough strap looks like it can accommodate a range of handle widths
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Dust sticks to the material but comes off easily with a damp cloth
  • Zippers remain smooth and easy to use
  • Bright yellow interior has stayed free of staining and marks
By Pack Hacker Team
Created July 3, 2023 • Updated July 3, 2023
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