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.
Chrome Mini Metro Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, weatherproof, comfortable
Cons: Heavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatile
Compare to Similar Products
Chrome Mini Metro
|Price||$89.99 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$119.98 at Backcountry||$169.00 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$80 List||$54.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Pros||Durable, weatherproof, comfortable||Versatile, durable, stylish, fun to use||Waterproof, comfortable, lightweight, highly durable, ambidextrous shoulder strap||Compact, lightweight, customization options, simple||Durable, comfortable, simple but thoughtful storage, customizable|
|Cons||Heavy for size, no top grab handle, less versatile||Not weatherproof, less classic messenger design||Tips over easily when set down, doesn't have very many pockets, expensive||Too small for large laptops, no padding, must purchase laptop/tablet protection separately||Minimal 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|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|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|
|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
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
— Penney Garrett & Lyra Pierotti