Chrome Buran III Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Spacious, savvy pocket configuration, easy on/off, comfortable, weatherproof
Cons: Heavy, spendy, laptop zipper not waterproof
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Chrome Buran III
|Price||Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$179 List||$170 List||Check Price at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$80.00 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|Pros||Spacious, savvy pocket configuration, easy on/off, comfortable, weatherproof||Waterproof laptop sleeve, weather-resistant, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interior||Rugged, weather-proof, stylish, comfortable||Affordable, durable, weather-resistant, simple but functional organization features, customizable||Comfortable, compact, intuitive design, easy on/off, reflective panel for higher visibility at night|
|Cons||Heavy, spendy, laptop zipper not waterproof||Exterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set down||No padded laptop compartment, cargo pockets don't perfectly accommodate a U-lock||Left-shoulder carry only, minimal protection for laptop, shoulder strap is somewhat finicky||Heavy for the volume, not ideal for carrying a laptop, could use more storage slots in front pocket|
|Bottom Line||This tech-savvy, spacious, weatherproof, and comfortable messenger bag features ample pockets and can accommodate up to a 17" laptop||This is a highly impressive ambidextrous bag with excellent features and bomber weatherproofing||A comfortable, weather-proof, and rugged messenger bag with an attractive aesthetic and just enough pockets to organize your gear||This durable, weather-resistant, and simple bag is thoughtfully designed with great pockets and reasonable comfort, all at an affordable price||A compact and comfortable bag for carrying your daily essentials, featuring a seatbelt buckle for easy on and off and a reflective panel for increased visibility|
|Rating Categories||Chrome Buran III||Timbuk2 Especial Stash||Mission Workshop Monty||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Kadet Sling|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|Specs||Chrome Buran III||Timbuk2 Especial Stash||Mission Workshop Monty||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Kadet Sling|
|Measured Weight||2.71 lbs||2.28 lbs||2.78 lbs||2.02 lbs||1.20 lbs|
|Measured Volume (purported volume)||22L (24L)||15L (17L)||21L (21L)||18L (21L)||7L (9L)|
|OGL Volume/Weight Ratio (bigger is better)||8.12||6.58||7.55||8.91||5.83|
|Dimensions||21.25 x 12.25 x 7 in||17.5 x 12.2 x 4.72 in||16 x 10 x 5||14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 in||17 x 8 x 4 in|
|Number of Compartments||2||3||3||2||1|
|Number of Large Pockets||1||3||2||2||1|
|Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items)||8||4||4||5||3|
|Number of Zipper Pockets||4||3||3, 1 large and 2 hidden inside||3||2|
|Reflective Material?||Yes, on bottom straps||Yes||No||Yes, on bottom straps||Yes|
|External Side Pocket||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Sleeve For Laptop?||Yes - 17"||Yes - 15"||Yes - 15"||Yes - 15"||Yes - Tablet Only|
|Stabilizing Cross Strap||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Available Sizes||One size||One Size||21L, 27L, 35L||XS, S, M, L||One size|
|Size Tested||One size||One Size||21L||Medium||One size|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the newly overhauled Buran III for being ruggedly durable and featuring an intuitive pocket system to organize your gear. With the tarp liner, it is fully weatherproof, and the padded laptop pocket holds up to a 17" laptop. This bag is comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and will keep up with your daily commute without cramping your style.
The Buran III earns top marks for comfort thanks to its full coverage shoulder strap, easy adjustability, and form-molding shape.
We were pleasantly surprised with how comfortably the Buran III carried, even when weighed down with all our gear. Then again, it should come as no surprise that a company that has been designing and making messenger bags for almost three decades would design a bag that carries well. If you need to switch between carrying your bag on the left or right shoulder, no problem, you can easily swap the shoulder strap. The cross-body stabilizing strap allows for a form-molding fit that holds the bag in place while riding a bike or commuting on foot. If you don't like using a stabilizer strap, it is easily removable by releasing the velcro that holds it onto the bag. All-in-all we were impressed that a messenger bag with such immense capacity would provide equally immense comfort as well.
Packing & Organization
The Buran III has just enough of the right features to make packing and organization an absolute breeze, earning it top marks in this category.
The Buran features a padded and zippered laptop sleeve on the back of the pack that can accommodate a 15"+ laptop (one of the few messenger bags that can). On the inside flap, there is a cargo pocket wide enough to easily stash a small U-lock, a wide zippered pocket for your wallet or other stashables, two pen slots, and a smaller cargo pocket. There is also a small piece of webbing — below the main pockets — for affixing a bike light. A great safety feature, if you ask us!
On either side of this bag, there are cargo pockets for an eyeglass case and if you utilize the space created on either side of the velcro liner there is a perfect spot to store a coffee mug or water bottle without fear of spilling on your books, clothing, or other precious items. Finally, on both sides of the bag, there are zippered pockets for easy access to essentials like your phone, wallet, or keys. We love how the Buran III provides just enough pockets for easy organization, without overwhelming you with the burden of too many.
One of the best things about the Buran III is that it can accommodate a 17" laptop in the zippered laptop sleeve on the back of the bag — the only bag in our review that has built-in space for a computer that large.
The zippered laptop pocket positions your computer in the back of the pack so that if you are caught in a rainstorm, the rest of the bag will protect it from the weather. And while the zipper has a Cordura hood to hide the zipper from the elements, we think Chrome could do one better by making this a waterproof zipper for added weather protection. Other bags in our review have a separate section for a tablet, which is why the Buran didn't earn the top accolade in this category.
Ease of Use
This is a category where the Buran truly shines. From adjustability to packing and unpacking to getting it on and off, this bag is well-designed to avoid complicating your commute with unnecessary features.
The Buran III — like other Chrome bags, features a seat-belt closure system, where you can take the bag off with a press of a button. This is great if you want to avoid messing up your hair or knocking off your hat and/or glasses. With velcro and plastic buckles, it is easy to get into the bag as well as close it. The shoulder strap adjusts easily and can be reoriented for carrying on your left or right shoulder. There is a handle on the top of a bag to make it easier to grab when getting into or out of a vehicle. The packing and organization system makes for easy use as well, especially in regards to accessing essentials like a small U-lock, your wallet, phone, or keys. Given all these intuitive features, it is easy to see why the Buran aced this metric.
Wear & Tear
With a rugged and abrasion-resistant 1050 denier nylon fabric and weather-proof 500D TPE tarp liner, the Buran III is among the most durable bags in our review.
During the testing cycle, this bag showed minimal signs of wear. Our lead reviewer has owned and abused two additional bags made from the same material for 7 and 10 years respectively. As such, we can easily speak to the long-term durability of the fabric used by the Buran III. Furthermore, it is a bag within a bag — there is a tarp liner that sits within the exterior compartment of the bag. This means that you're highly unlikely to fully puncture the bag — unless you aim to do so intentionally — as you'd have to penetrate two burly layers. You might expect this design to be heavy and unwieldy, but this bag is comparable in weight to some of the other burly bags in our review, and it doesn't carry like a hefty bag.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Buran III has an above-average volume to weight ratio.
With a measured weight of 2.71 pounds and a measured volume of 22 liters for the main compartment (it is listed as having 24 liters, but in our tests, it couldn't quite fit that much), the Buran III has a respectable volume to weight ratio. The higher-ranked bags in this department have a greater amount of space for their measured weight. To determine this ratio, we began by weighing each of the bags immediately after receiving them. Then, we measured their volume by determining how many ziplock bags filled with 1-3 liters of water could fit inside each bag.
With expert-level construction, quality materials, and a user-friendly design, the Buran III offers much for the high price it fetches. While it is not the most expensive bag in our review, neither is it the cheapest. That being said, this is an exceptionally well-crafted and durable messenger bag that will see you through years of commuting by bicycle or rail. Given the excellent packing and organization options, the easy adjustability and ability to change shoulder strap position, and the padded laptop pocket that accommodates a 17" laptop, we think this bag offers a great value for the right person.
It's no secret, our review team loved the Chrome Buran III. It takes the classic Chrome messenger bag and improves on it to better suit folks in tech, students, writers, or anyone who needs to commute with a large well-protected laptop. It is comfortable, easy to use, and built to last — a true winner.
— Mary Witlacil
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