Long Term Review: Chrome Soyuz Laptop Backpack
Over a year ago now, I found myself in need of a bag that would hold my laptop, tools, and a change of clothes for my regular commute to work. When I ventured down to my local bike shop (21st Avenue Bicycles here in Portland), I saw the Chrome Soyuz. After further inspection, and coming back twice to look at it, I decided to purchase it. Turns out that was a good decision.
Jump past the break to find out my detailed take on the bag.
The Soyuz has held up very well for a bag that has seen near daily use for over a year now. There are some scuffs on the front, and the 1000 denier Cordura outer shell has a few permanent markings on it. I would consider all of this normal wear and tear however. The Velcro on the role top has also held up well, with minimal fraying. The plastic buckles, straps, and industrial adjustment clamps are all in good shape, and none have broken or malfunctioned. I really can’t find a fault in the build quality of this bag, and that is a good thing for Chrome since their bags are guaranteed for life.
It may be hard to tell, but that is a deck of standard playing cards.
I am a fan of small organizational pockets. I think that is one of the reasons why I find it so hard to use a messenger bag. I don’t deal well with one large open pocket that acts like a dumping zone for my things. The Soyuz has no shortage of pockets, and I love that about the bag.
For starters, there is the main roll top compartment. It is lined with Chromes popular 18 oz. seam-sealed truck tarp liner, and can act like a beer cooler if needed. I however keep spare tubes, a rain jacket, and umbrella in there. My lunch containers, miscellaneous packages, and the occasional change of clothes find their way in as well.
One of the few downsides to this bag however, is that this main pocket doesn’t expand very far. This is due in part to the side loading laptop pocket right behind it, and it’s a trade off that isn’t so bad should you find that you need to carry a computer with you most of the time.
The laptop pocket is accessible via a rubber welded and sealed zipper that runs down the entire side of the bag. Once open, you will find a padded divider splitting this space into two compartments. I often find that I keep my laptop in one, and, as Chris would put it, my old school laptop (AKA, a book) in the other. I have never put a 17” laptop in there, but Chrome claims it will hold one. I do know that it fits my 14” laptop with room to spare.
There are no fewer than five organizational pockets on the front of the bag. The first of which is covered with a flap to help keep the bad weather out. Inside you will find the truck tarp lining, along with one large, and three smaller slots to store goodies in. I usually keep pens and sharpies, first aid gear, and a snack in this pocket. In front of that you have the two main outer pockets, covered by the same flap. These are perfect for holding repair tools, gloves, and any other small items you may need quick access to. Peaking back around the side you will notice a nearly hidden zippered pocket. It’s fairly small, and I found myself keeping dental floss and zip ties in there. It’s a good hiding place though, should you need that short of thing. And lastly, there is the small zippered pocket on the very front at the bottom. I almost never put anything in here. When I do store items in there, it was usually the rubber o rings used to mount my NiteRider MiNewt Dual lights to the smaller clamp diameter bar on my Salsa Casserole.
The Soyuz has a very nice foam padded section that rests against your back. A combination of that foam padding and good design mean this bag sits nicely on your back when both loaded, and mostly empty. And, as you would expect, it rides well too. I never find that it gets in the way, and when fully loaded, it doesn’t sway back and forth on me. It just sits there, on my back, holding my stuff like it should. The straps are well thought out too. They have just enough padding to keep them comfortable, and Chrome has put on a little loop to keep the slack manageable should you have some hanging down. The chest strap does a good job keeping things stabilized, but if this bag were any larger, I would want a (preferably removable) waist strap as well. Long story short, it’s always comfortable.
That small loop keeps the excess strap material from dangling freely and getting in the way.
Living in Portland, OR I find myself riding in the rain often. If I didn’t, I would never be on my bike. Having a bag that won’t let all my stuff get soaked is important. Chrome claims this bag is weatherproof, not waterproof. That is very accurate. I find that the light drizzle and weak rain we often get here in Portland is no problem for this bag, but should a downpour occur things may end up a bit damp, especially in the flap covered, organizational pockets. I find that anything in the roll top main compartment stays dry under just about any conditions. But, I wouldn’t want to take a chance in a downpour with my laptop in the side compartment.
The Soyuz is a well built, comfortable bag, that will keep your stuff dry in most conditions. It holds all that you will need on a day to day basis, but should you opt to use it for a weekend long trip, or as your carry on when traveling, you may find it a bit lacking. I have been very happy with this bag over the past year, and I would highly recommend it to those who commute by bike, especially if you carry a laptop with any frequency.
Specifications from Chrome:
Weight: 3.1 lb.
Fabric: 1000 denier Cordura outer shell, 18 oz. seam-sealed truck tarp liner
Product Source: Guangzhou, China
Flat Dimensions: 14” wide, 20.5” high, 8” deep
Weatherproof 1,000 denier Cordura weatherproof laptop backpack
Fully waterproof, high frequency welded, urethane backpack main chamber
Watertight rolltop closure
11” x 17” side access, padded laptop bag compartment with separated file chamber
Industrial metal cam lock under arm compression buckles
Weatherproof urethane coated YKK zippers
Ergonomic EVA compression molded back panel with airmesh Strap construction
Full shoulder strap accessory attachment belts
Four additional weatherproof external cargo pockets
Fits up to a 17″ Mac laptop
(my personal note: MacBook Pro 17″ laptops are smaller than many other 17″ laptops, so you millage may very)