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Chrome Vale Sling 2.0 Review

This sling bag is highly functional, adaptable, and durable - ideal for commuters with more modest storage needs.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $120 List | $120.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Unique low-profile shape, secure, expanding compression straps accommodate many load sizes, durable
Cons:  Few pockets, not very waterproof, can only be worn on one shoulder
Manufacturer:   Chrome Industries
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 15, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 6
  • Electronics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 7
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Chrome Vale 2.0 is a durable sling ideal for the commuter that doesn't like having a lot of extra bag on their back. The unique design incorporates compression straps on the sides that allow the shape to transform depending on what you're carrying — hence our Top Pick for Design Award. If you only have a laptop and wallet, the Vale will lay flat. The Vale isn't for everyone, but for the space-conscious individual looking for something a bit less traditional, Chrome hits it out of the park with this one.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Like things that transform based on your needs? Then the Vale might be your new favorite accessory. With 14-liters of capacity and a 13" laptop sleeve, this sling is lightweight and can either lay completely flat if all you have is a computer or expand outward to fit all your bulkier items too.

Performance Comparison


Compact yet accommodating  the Vale will expand and contract depending on what gear you need to take with you on any given day.
Compact yet accommodating, the Vale will expand and contract depending on what gear you need to take with you on any given day.

Comfort


It's well-known that Chrome excels at making bags for cycling, and the Vale is no different. The shoulder strap is wide and decently padded, and everything cinches down snugly and securely. With the cross-body strap clipped, this sling doesn't move at all and can feel like an extension of your own body.


When the Vale is packed super full, the elongated shape can poke into the lower back a bit, but this only happens when standing upright and walking, while cycling it's as comfortable as can be. For those that want to get crafty, you can also wear it as a fanny pack because it's so narrow, though it's not really meant for that and is only comfortable when not overpacked. The original version of the Vale sported the classic Chrome seatbelt buckle closure, which was easy to clip around the waist or shoulder. This updated version moves to a slide buckle that doesn't separate into two halves, something many people miss. One of the benefits of this slide system, though, is less hardware poking into the front of your chest and no worry of the bag dropping to the ground with the push of a button.

Chrome understands the anatomy of cycling  of that we're sure - this sling is another comfortable creation that was a pleasure to have along as a biking companion.
Chrome understands the anatomy of cycling, of that we're sure - this sling is another comfortable creation that was a pleasure to have along as a biking companion.

Packing & Organization


The Vale is decent in this department, though not spectacular. The design is relatively minimal, and the shape a bit less spacious than other models. But if you don't need an overload of pockets or have a ton of stuff, then this sling hits a happy balance between just enough and not too much.


The interior of the Vale offers the large-ish main compartment, a snug laptop sleeve, two pen/pencil/pocket knife sleeves, and one unzippered drop pocket. The drop pocket is long, loose, and rather shallow, so you can't overload it with anything too big or bulky, or the contents will fall out. We liked keeping items like a bandana or napkin in there. The front zippered pocket is also long, running the full width of the bag, and can roll under the curve of the body when the bag gets full; this can feel a little awkward, but it's still a highly useful pocket. There's a rear zip pocket perfect for a wallet or phone; the top zipper is waterproofed, and the slide buckle on the strap can double as a bottle opener. The front compression straps are useful to carry an extra jacket, and the sliding straps on the sides allow the bag to lay flat when on the empty side or expand outward if you're packed to the gills.

From flat to 3D  the Vale will transform based on your needs.
From flat to 3D, the Vale will transform based on your needs.

Electronics


The Vale fits up to a 13" laptop, though it's a bit snug — a smaller computer or tablet slides in much more easily. Either way, the front of the dedicated sleeve is nicely stretchy, and once packed away, everything is quite secure. The back of the bag is generously padded for both comfort and additional protection.


The remainder of the pockets this sling offers aren't super ideal for cords unless they are small. To keep neat and organized, we liked placing our laptop cord in its own separate pouch and storing it in the main compartment. And while the top zipper is waterproof, the bag as a whole is not. When heavily doused with water during our testing, water seeped in through the bottom and into the outside back pocket. The front zipper is also not waterproof, but there's a flap covering it, which does a good job of keeping the contents protected. Bottom line, if you don't have a ton of accessories and you won't be out and about somewhere very rainy on the regular, the Vale should be just fine for daily use.

A 13" laptop is a bit snug and generally required us to pull the edges of the bag over the corners to zip the main compartment. But once this is all squared away  the fit is nice and secure - we never worried for the safety of our laptop.
A 13" laptop is a bit snug and generally required us to pull the edges of the bag over the corners to zip the main compartment. But once this is all squared away, the fit is nice and secure - we never worried for the safety of our laptop.

Ease of Use


The Vale is straightforward and intuitive. The front slide buckle is efficient when on the move and designed so that there isn't extra webbing hanging down into your lap. It's a shift away from the classic seatbelt buckle that Chrome is known for, but this means there is no danger of hitting the release button and having your bag fall to the floor.


The Vale's laptop sleeve is tight with a 13" Macbook — it requires an extra hand to pull the edges of the bag over the corners of the computer, but ultimately this helps everything feel nicely snug and secure. The cross-body strap is well-placed, and all the pockets are useful, though the large drop pocket on the interior is a bit baggy and far less useful than the other zippered pockets. There's a tinge of awkwardness with this sling due to its unique shape, but it's all minor things that are easy to get used to and worth it if you want a less obtrusive bag.

The unique shape of the Vale means some of the pockets are slightly more awkward than with a larger boxier design  but for those that want a sleek and low profile  it's worth it.
The unique shape of the Vale means some of the pockets are slightly more awkward than with a larger boxier design, but for those that want a sleek and low profile, it's worth it.

Wear & Tear


No surprise, this is a highly durable bag. Burly material, a waterproof top zipper, and a rugged, well-designed metal slide buckle on the strap all add up to a bag you can easily have for many years.


The Vale is less waterproof than some other bags in our review, but as long as you're not in a super wet climate, you will be fine. When we doused the bag with a garden hose, we found several weak spots, but everything dried quickly, and after months of rigorous testing, it didn't look a day past new.

This bag soaked up water more readily than others in our review  seeping through the back pocket and the base. But the material is robust and the craftsmanship top-notch - if you don't live in a highly rainy environment you will be just fine.
This bag soaked up water more readily than others in our review, seeping through the back pocket and the base. But the material is robust and the craftsmanship top-notch - if you don't live in a highly rainy environment you will be just fine.

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Vale does well here. It looks small but has a 14-liter capacity and only weighs 1.74 pounds.


This equation is found by dividing volume by weight. A larger number is an indicator of a better volume to weight ratio, in which you'll receive more space per ounce of weight carried on your back.

Small but mighty  the Vale can expand to hold more gear than you might expect.
Small but mighty, the Vale can expand to hold more gear than you might expect.

Value


This sling falls about in the middle of all the models in our review. It's a bit of an investment but nothing too pricey, and considering the useful design, excellent craftsmanship, and durable materials, it's well worth its price tag.

Conclusion


Bigger isn't always better when it comes to a bag. While having a lot of space can be helpful when you need it, if you only have a laptop or book and jacket, it can be a hassle to lug around a giant bulky bag. The Chrome Vale 2.0 is a great solution for the variable commuter; if you only have a few things, the bag will lay flat. Need to bring it all? Side compression straps move and help this sling expand outwards to its full volume. Combine all that with excellent durability and comfort, and you have a great addition for your daily commute and a Top Pick for Design in our competitive review.

Because the Vale has a narrow sling design we decided to get creative when testing. It's not meant to be a fanny pack and isn't comfortable this way when packed too full  but if you just have a few essentials and want to double up with your furry friend  it's definitely possible.
Because the Vale has a narrow sling design we decided to get creative when testing. It's not meant to be a fanny pack and isn't comfortable this way when packed too full, but if you just have a few essentials and want to double up with your furry friend, it's definitely possible.


Penney Garrett