Chrome Industries’ Barrage – one seriously bombproof backpack

Photo: Colin O’Brien/

Remember when everything was made to last? No, me neither. Built-in obsolescence is such an integral part of modern life that we’re surprised by anything designed to go the distance. What was once standard practise now almost seems … perverse.

Which is why Chrome Industries have always stood out. Even at a cursory glance, their bags make most of the competition look, well, kinda shitty. OK, military-grade materials might be a little elaborate for most urban commuters, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the welded seams, truck-tarpaulin liners, and heavy-duty nylon outer shells. And who can argue with a lifetime warranty?

My old Chrome messenger bag must be more than a decade old now and it still looks brand new. So even before I laid my paws on the Barrage Backpack, I was pretty sure I was going to like it.

There’s an isolated laptop compartment, which feels really secure, and the roll-top closure was great while traveling because I was able to get everything as compact as possible before sliding it under a train seat or into a packed plane’s overhead locker. It also renders it totally waterproof; unless you take this thing swimming, everything inside will remain totally dry.

The 3M Scotchlite reflective strips are a nice touch for anyone who rides at night, and the cargo net on the front has made itself useful, carrying everything from a bike helmet and shoes, to a stack of magazines, to a laundry bag on a weekend trip. There are also two side pockets, and a zippered front pouch for smaller things like wallets and keys.

What more is there to say about the Barrage? At $200, it’s not cheap, but you can feel good about that warranty – and about the fact that it’s made in the good ol’ US of A, rather than some grim and grubby sweatshop in the developing world. It’s versatile, good-looking, and you won’t need to buy another one for a very long time. And how often can you say that about a new purchase nowadays?

Photo: Colin O’Brien/