Chrome, the highly sought-after urban bag maker, has just recently came out with a new line of stealthy bags decked all in black called BLCKCHRM. They're so stealthy we're pretty sure they've garnered the S.W.A.T's seal of approval. But being stealthy isn't enough, which is why Chrome'sBLCKCHRM line is one of the company's most durable series of bags ever. Built to carry up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro while also withstanding heavy wear and all kinds of weather conditions including of course rain, the Bravo BLCKCHRM edition rolltop backpack is part of the new BLCKCHRM line shared along with two other popular Chrome bag offerings such as the StotnikBLCKCHRM duffle bag and Citizen BLCKCHRM messenger bag. You may recall our earlier review of Chrome'soriginal Bravo laptop backpack which we thought very highly of. What's different this time around? Hope on over the break for the full review to find out!
If you guessed the difference is in the materials, you'd be absolutely correct. But that's not all, because while the standard Bravo pack will cost you $160, or $180 for the special high-visibility night reflective Bravo Night variant, the Bravo BLCKCHRM on the other hand will set you back $220. And for that you'll be getting the most durable, life-proof Bravo backpack Chrome makes. It's also nice to know that all of Chrome's new BLCKCHRM edition bags are made in California, whereas the Bravo we reviewed late last year is still being made in China. Not that it's of any lesser quality. Which brings me over to the build quality of the USA-made Bravo BLCKCHRM edition. As expected, it's got a top-notch build and I think the materials used in it really dictate that best knowing that these are first-rate.
Before we go over the smaller details, the Bravo BLCKCHRM is still exactly the same exact type of bag as the original Bravo we had already reviewed. It still features a welded-waterproof rolltop main compartment which can extend the Bravo's storage capacity from as low as 20L to a gargantuan 40L, a comfortable Velcro accessory-mounting shoulder strap and amply padded EVA foam back arrangement with Chrome's signature metal hardware including a sternum-strap with a metal quick-release seatbelt buckle closure. It's also backed by Chrome's jaw-dropping life-time guarantee so you really cannot go wrong with any of Chrome's bags which as you might have guessed are built to withstand a years of use.
Behind a rather strong Velcroed flap is where you'll find that there's a dedicated and lightly padded laptop compartment, which can fit up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro or a 13-inch MacBook Air including an iPad Air or equivalent with ease. Note that if you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro you won't be able to fit it into this compartment with anything encasing it like a sleeve or a hardshell case.
A small exterior front waterproof zippered pocket is an ideal storage spot for a small compact camera or your smartphone and other items you'd like to have easy and quick access to are just a Velcroed flap away. And if you're looking to carry a bigger camera like a DSLR along with some lenses and other camera gear, you may want to take a look at Chrome's Niko Camera Pack backpack as a more appropriate solution.
While it has the same military-grade, rubber-like truck tarpaulin liner protecting your gear from water, all BLCKCHRM bags have a digi camo patterned liner if that stealthy all-black exterior wasn't enough indication that you were wearing some kind of special-ops pack in the first place.
But what really separate the Bravo BLCKCHRM from the rest is its construction. More specifically the type of durable materials picked to craft the exterior of the bag. For the majority of the Bravo's exterior features, Chrome is using a material called Hypalon - which is what the U.S Coast Guard uses to build its inflatable rescue boat rafts. It's rubber-like, rough textured like one of those lenticular picture-changing plastic cards and very easily marred - in a good way I suppose sort of like naturally weathering leather and that's really the whole point behind using this material as per Chrome's description.
Lastly, replacing all of that synthetic material is this black full-grain leather mid-section panel with a subtle, and once again stealthy embossed Chrome logo at the bottom which adds a touch of sanity that balances out all of the Bravo BLCKCHRM's cutting-edge military-gradeness. But beyond that, the end result is one genuinely durable hauler you feel confident will outlast being dragged behind a speeding truck.
So would we still recommend the Bravo BLCKCHRM edition considering it costs $60 more than the standard Bravo backpack? Only if you really think you need the additional armored materials and you like the all-black covert look it has going on, then yes we think it's a fine option if you like highly durable materials and some black leather with your daily urban commute or wherever it may be that you find the need to equip yourself with a robust gear bag such as this one.