I’ve had a number of shoulder bags over the years, but I’ve always wondered how those crazy roll-top backpack riders live. Thanks to a nasty wreck at the velodrome, my left collarbone is permanently sproinged off my scapula. The injury doesn’t bother me too much, usually, but if I happen to have my laptop plus a pile of groceries in my shoulder bag, it can get a little annoying, meaning I’m even more motivated to try a double strapper.
When I got a chance to get my hands on a new Chrome roll-top bag called the District, I leapt at the chance, which is to say, I sent the Chrome folks a nice note to ask if I could check it out. Brian from Chrome let me give it a crack, and I waited eagerly for it to arrive.
Here’s what it looks like.
I don’t know if Chrome meant for the front strap to be used the way I’m using it, to stick my U-lock through, but it’s a pretty good spot for it. I might have liked a horizontal loop a little better just because it might be faster since I wouldn’t have to lock it around the center stitching, but I can imagine how a lock might wiggle out of that sort of thing too. This way it’s nice and secure.
I did notice that the logo was already starting to peel off before I ever put the bag on, but I’m sure it’s just a fluke. I could stick a dab of super glue under there and stick it down, but it doesn’t bother me. Or I’m too lazy to care. Maybe both!
The flip side of the bag looks like this.
Update: Our friends at Chrome got in touch to point out that their review bags don’t go through the same quality assurance process that their production bags do. A normal buyer would probably never see this issue.
As you can see, it’s definitely butch. Just look at those metal rings, those straps, the trapezoidal shape of the bottom! People on the street could be forgiven for wondering whether you are part of a paramilitary organization of some kind. I kid, but the buckles and straps are very sturdy. I have no doubt that a person could put many a year of commutes on this bag without issue.
One modification I intend to make is to tie up the loose ends of the shoulder straps a bit. They fly around some when I’m rolling along. It’s no big deal, I just like things like that to be squared away when possible.
The chest strap and buckles are sturdy like the rest of the fittings, and they’re easy to adjust. The shoulder straps are also adjusted easily, but they have a metal springy buckle thing that looks sturdy enough to perform minor surgery after a bit of sharpening. Not that you would want to do that, but if you had to… well, you probably wouldn’t then either, but they’re perfect for a backpack.
Under a front flap there is a series of zippered and non-zippered pockets. As you can see here, I stuck a set of tire levers and an inflater in there in case I got a flat thanks to some nasty mixture of rain, pollution, broken glass, and road debris, or as we call it here in Atlanta, “gutter chili.”
Inside the bag there’s a sleeve for a laptop that fits my 15” Macbook Pro like a glove, which you’d expect, since that’s the size Chrome designed it for. If you have a bigger laptop than that, just forget about putting it in your bag. Attach some wheels to it instead and ride it wherever you’re going.
I stuck my laptop, headphones, and laptop power supply into the District, and headed off to work in complete comfort. On the way home, I stopped by the grocery store and proceeded to pack the District full to bursting with frozen veggies, a big roll of paper towels, and some other items. The volume is impressive for such a small bag. I didn’t get close to filling it up, but I did improve my comfort greatly by riding home with the frozen veggies keeping my back nice and cool.
Chrome calls the bag “weatherproof,” which is a nice feature, but I note that they don’t call it “waterproof.” I would take from this that the District is meant to keep the rain off your gear when your commute gets wet, but it probably isn’t going to be much help if you should find yourself completely submerged. If any of you are commuting across the muddy bottoms of bodies of water using scuba gear and fat tire bikes, this might not be the bag for you. I would like to try that ride, though, so hit me up if you’ve got a spare rig.
Another note would be that the District isn’t designed to be a massive hauler. If you’re the kind of guy who wants to be able to carry a house party’s worth of coldies on your back, you might want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for something relatively small and super sturdy to go back and forth to work or school with, however, the District fits the bill nicely in a double-strap roll-top design.
Thanks to the folks at Chrome for providing this bag for review.