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Chrome Mini Metro Review

This is an excellent, rugged, and stylish messenger bag that is on the heavier and bulkier side.
Chrome Mini Metro
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Price:  $120 List | $59.93 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, weatherproof, comfortable
Cons:  Heavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatile
Manufacturer:   Chrome
By Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti  ⋅  Aug 21, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 6
  • Electronics - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 10
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Chrome Mini Metro has a lot of qualities that a true messenger bag aficionado will love. It is a very classic design for the category: durable and comfortable while providing easy access to the contents. In some ways, with an increasingly competitive field of products, the Mini Metro doesn't quite keep up — mostly in regards to space and padding for electronics. It also lacks some organizational features that other bags in this review offer. However, if you prefer a low-fuss and bombproof bag without a lot of bells and whistles to get in your way, this may be the perfect bag for you. While this may not be the bag for the business person, the book-obsessed, or the light-and-faster, it's super fun, stylish, and great on a bike.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Chrome Mini Metro
This Product
Chrome Mini Metro
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $59.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$119.98 at Backcountry$169.00 at REI$80 List$62.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, weatherproof, comfortableVersatile, durable, stylish, fun to useWaterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strapCompact, lightweight, customization options, simpleDurable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable
Cons Heavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatileNot weatherproof, less classic messenger designTips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensiveToo small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separatelyMinimal features for electronics
Bottom Line This is an excellent, rugged, and stylish messenger bag that is on the heavier and bulkier side.Transitions seamlessly from backpack to messenger to briefcase.This sleek, comfortable, and lightweight bag is highly durable and weatherproof with minimal yet thoughtful features.This messenger bag is very small and lightweight, and useful for trips with a tablet and a few items.A great messenger bag but has a lot of thoughtful competition in the industry.
Rating Categories Chrome Mini Metro Mountain Briefcase Arc'teryx Granville 10 Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase Timbuk2 Classic
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Packing & Organization (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
Electronics (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
Wear & Tear (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Chrome Mini Metro Mountain Briefcase Arc'teryx... Tom Bihn Daylight... Timbuk2 Classic
Measured weight (pounds) 2.39 2.26 1.15 0.99 2.19
Measured volume (L) 14 13 10 8 16
OGL Volume/Weight Ratio 5.85 5.75 8.69 8.1 7.3
Dimensions (inches) 20 x 12 x 7 13 x 11 x 4.5 in 16 x 10.5 x 5 14 x 10 x 4 14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1
Shoulder preference Left Either & both w/ backpack straps Either Either Either
Number of Compartments 1 1 1 1 2
Number of Large Pockets 2 1 2 5 6
Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items) 3 3 0 0 4
Number of Zipper Pockets 1 2 2 3 3
Key Clip? No No Yes Yes Yes
Reflective Material? Yes on straps No No No No
External Side Pocket No No No No No
Sleeve Fits Laptop Yes, not padded Yes - 15 inch Yes - 12 inch Yes - 13 inch Yes - 15 inch
Stabilizing Cross Strap Yes No, has backpack straps Yes No Yes
Available Sizes One Size One Size 10L and 16L One Size XS, S, M, L
Size tested One Size One Size 10L One Size Medium

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Mini Metro messenger bag.
The Mini Metro messenger bag.

Comfort


When loaded thoughtfully, the Mini Metro is one of the most comfortable bags in this review. It has a wide and well-padded shoulder strap, and hugs close to the body for an ergonomic feel. It is exceedingly easy to adjust, and the cross strap is very well positioned to secure the bag on a long bike ride or brisk walk. This bag truly moves with you, wherever and however you go.

There are a couple of scenarios, however, where some users might find this bag to be less comfortable. The fit gets awkward if you load it too full with books or other pointy objects — it's easy to have things start stabbing you in the back because of the lack of padding. Additionally, some smaller users find the Metro to be a bit big and bulky, which appears to be a common theme among Chrome bags — they're hefty by design. This has to do with the durable double-engineering — a definite pro when it comes to wear and tear, but also something that adds weight and mass.

The Mini Metro messenger bag doesn't have padding on the backside  so don't stuff it full of books!
The Mini Metro messenger bag doesn't have padding on the backside, so don't stuff it full of books!

Packing/Organization


The Mini Metro has an impressive packing economy that allows you to fit proportionally more in less space. But beyond that aspect, this bag lost some points in this category. There is no added protection for a laptop/electronics, no key clip or easy-access external pocket, and not a lot of organization features, especially compared to the most closely related bag of this design, the Timbuk2 Classic.

The Mini Metro messenger bag held an impressive amount of gear for its compact size.
The Mini Metro messenger bag held an impressive amount of gear for its compact size.

The Mini Metro does allow you to spread your contents over more of the bag's real estate, rather than concentrating all your items in the center and causing a bulge. There's a sewn daisy chain on the shoulder strap (complete with reflective trim) for mounting bike lights or clipping carabiners. This worked well for clipping keys on a keychain carabiner. Overall, this is a true messenger bag, simple and pure, no-frills, not a lot of pockets, and certainly nothing on the outside to get hung up on in stop-and-go traffic or busy subways. For the right kind of commuter, it can be perfect.

The Mini Metro messenger bag has a handy reflective daisy chain for clipping keys or lights to your front. Notice also the excellent overlapping front flap which provides solid weatherproofing.
The Mini Metro messenger bag has a handy reflective daisy chain for clipping keys or lights to your front. Notice also the excellent overlapping front flap which provides solid weatherproofing.

Electronics


If you're going to be transporting a laptop in this bag, be sure to purchase a laptop sleeve accessory. As is, the Metro is a bit below average in regards to electronics storage compared to other models. There is no padding, only 2-3 pockets that will hold tablet or phone cords, and only one that will hold a larger computer charging cord. However, if you already own a laptop sleeve and prefer to store your cords and smaller accessories in their own pouches, this won't be an issue.

The Mini Metro messenger bag can handle some electronics  but it's advised to pick up an additional laptop sleeve accessory.
The Mini Metro messenger bag can handle some electronics, but it's advised to pick up an additional laptop sleeve accessory.

Ease of Use


The sleek and simple design of the Mini Metro, along with its modest size, make this bag relatively easy to use. Some other features are sacrificed to achieve this, but not everyone is looking for a heavily-pocketed or feature-rich bag. The front flap is secured with large swathes of Velcro and two adjustable plastic buckles. The Velcro is bomber but — be warned — it makes opening the bag very loud and not very professional for meetings or polite for work in the library.

The belt buckle on the strap is easy to adjust (though the cross strap is more awkward), and the bag cinches to comfort easily and quickly. The seat belt buckle releases fast when you hit the button, so if the bag is heavy, it can be hard to hang on to when it releases. The strap design also makes it challenging to sling this bag over one shoulder for quick transport because of the angle and the fact that it puts the buckle directly on top of the shoulder bone. And there's no top grab handle, so options for carrying in any way but fully strapped in can be tricky. This is a bag optimized for long bike commutes or long walks through busy urban areas, not for the stop-and-go of in-town errands or a busy office day.

The Mini Metro messenger bag has several useful pockets under the main flap.
The Mini Metro messenger bag has several useful pockets under the main flap.

Wear and Tear


This is the bag to get if you value durability. Chrome says on their website: "To maximize durability and weatherproofness, every Mini Metro is made twice. The inside liner is made with 18oz truck tarpaulin. The outside is made with abrasion-resistant 1050 denier military-grade nylon."

Rugged and durable, this bag is built to last a lifetime. It performs very well in the rain, with overlapping flaps on the corners that seal it shut. The fabric is highly water repellant and the commercial-grade, five-bar seatbelt webbing and old school, heavy metal seat belt buckle is practically bombproof.

The Mini Metro messenger bag is highly durable and waterproof.
The Mini Metro messenger bag is highly durable and waterproof.

Volume to Weight Ratio


At 2.39 pounds, this bag is on the heavy side. Chrome claims that the Mini Metro has a 20.5-liter capacity, but we could only fit 14 liters in our tests. As a result, this bag earned a relatively low score in this metric. It's a bit heavy for the size due to the metal buckle and double engineering, and while you can stuff it quite full, you will want to be conscious of bringing too much stuff so as not to feel weighed down.

The Mini Metro messenger bag is on the smaller side  but held a lot more in our practical use  compared to what we expected it to carry.
The Mini Metro messenger bag is on the smaller side, but held a lot more in our practical use, compared to what we expected it to carry.

Value


The Mini Metro is on par with messenger bags of this size. It's competitively priced but fills a different and more specific niche than some of its price-tag peers. No surprise, its value increases with use as a bike commuter bag — that's what it's designed for and where it excels.

The Mini Metro bag from Chrome is a stylish bag optimized for use on the bike with an angled shoulder strap.
The Mini Metro bag from Chrome is a stylish bag optimized for use on the bike with an angled shoulder strap.

Conclusion


The Mini Metro is distinct, fun, and — if it fits you well — ergonomically superior to many other bags on the market. It will last a lifetime if you take proper care of it thanks to a double-engineering method that essentially layers two bags into one. This is not your ultralight, Jack- or Jill-of-all-Trades, but if it suits your needs, it will surely please you for years — and miles — to come.

The Chrome Mini Metro messenger bag.
The Chrome Mini Metro messenger bag.


Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti