20130113

Review: Chrome Citizen Night

While I am well aware that Chrome is the love of many-a-messenger and that everyone and their bike riding mothers review these bags, I too want to put in my two cents regarding this particular bag: the Chrome Citizen Night.

I've had this bag now for almost a year, which is why I feel it's a good time to write a review - it's withstood a decent test of time and weather, and has been a daily part of my cycling gear diet, and isn't something I'd go without having in my arsenal.  

Again, I must stress that I was not asked to do a review: this was of my own accord, and no one is paying me.  Or bribing me. 

Sitting pretty.

Looks: This bag looks like Batman's bag if he were a messenger.  Chrome bags come in an array of possible colors, but the Citizen Night is what you see right here.  I, personally, like the Batman look (it matches my bike) but I'm also not into the flashy colors that some people are.  

The black is deceiving though - that bottom strip is highly reflective, which you can see samples of on Chrome's page.  Sorry, I had no way of taking a photo of my back at night while riding.  So even if you don't attach lights to yourself, you still look like a giant reflective...thing...on a bike, which is usually enough to make someone do a double take.  Also you can ruin photos really easily. 

The overall look is rugged, but not overcomplicated.  It looks like a bike bag, but I use it to carry just about everything.  It's not flashy, it matches, and I dig the design.  Batman.

Functionality: As far as how well the bag functions, it's easy to put on and take off, is waterproof, holds lots of stuff, and has lots of little pockets.  The bag velcros and clips closed to ensure that nothing will be lost, and has a pocket design that seals in things really, really well.  There's an attachment on the front for a reflector or light, which I use here. 
One of these days I'll get a camera that isn't a phone.
The inside, containing tubes and a U-Lock at the moment.  Also, all of the side pockets are full.  Can you tell? 
The inside is roomy enough to hold a full change of winter clothes, shoes, some bike gear, tools, phone/wallet/keys, and then some.   I've never not had room for anything in this bag, and use it as my suitcase more often than not for weekend trips.  Plus it's designed in such a way that even if it is packed to the brim, it will still fit on your back (without being terribly uncomfortable!)

The buckle and underarm security strap thing are really, really well made, easy to adjust, and can fit most body types.  I like the way the mechanism releases in the front, but I never worry about it becoming unbuckled during a ride.  

The one thing I do have to say is that I'm not sure this would be the most functional bag for the wilderness.  All of the pockets are secure when the bag is closed, so storing something in easy reach is a bit out of the question.  And I can certainly cram a lot of stuff in here, but camping equipment or lots of extra water bottles and snacks might need to opt for the next size up, of which Chrome certainly offers.  I'm not saying it wouldn't work for mountain biking and steeplechasing, but it's certainly designed for urban riding - to which it functions beautifully.  

My one caution would be that the bag's design tends to compact its luggage slightly, so stay away from transporting glass or breakables unless they are well packed. 

Durability:   This, is in my opinion, where this bag truly shines.  I am not kind to my bags.  They get thrown, scraped, dropped, rained on, and sweaty.  Over the past almost year of usage, this bag has held up amazingly well.  The only telltale signs of use are a scrape on the buckle where it landed on concrete a dozen few times.  And surprisingly odor hasn't been a problem.  I've come back pretty rank from rides almost certain this bag would need someone from hazmat to take care of it, but taking a long whiff of it still only results in a mild unpleasantness associated with backpacks used daily.  I haven't had the need to wash it, and the few times it's been out in the rain it has dried off looking good as new. 
The only real sign of abuse.
My coworker actually bought a Citizen Night the other week, and mine looks comparable to a new one.  Granted, I haven't dragged this through the mud, but I did spill an entire cup of boiling coffee on it, and it cleaned up real nice. 

No threads coming out, no velcro weakening, and the buckles and clips feel exactly the same as the day I bought them.  These Californian made bags are very well fabricated and can withstand a lot. 

Comfort: If you pack this bag right, it will give you no problems on the ride.  Packing it right mainly means no pointy things in the back that will dig into your spine.  The bag is pretty forgiving though, and is far more comfortable to ride with than a backpack.  It evenly distributes weight, and I rarely feel myself having to adjust it mid-ride, unless I've completely botched the straps.  It does take a while to break in and figure out, however.  As I mentioned before when packing it, you also have to make sure it's adjusted right - not too tight or too high up.  The security strap that goes under your arm gave me some problems with armpit rubbing, but I found once I adjusted the bag right it was no problem.  No back pain, and I've stuffed close to thirty pounds in this thing.  

Pros: Durable, well made, and can hold a LOT.  Comfy once you break it in.  Super secure design means you will never lose your stuff.  If bags could be considered loyal, this one is my most trusted friend.  Looks badass.

Cons: Pricey, a bit large for some people, and it does take some tweaking to get it to fit right.  There's also only one real light attachment, and I'd like to see another one or two places to attach lights on future models.  No pockets on the outside, so easy access is a bit out of the question.

Overall: There is a reason why people like this bag and I see it everywhere.  It's well designed, it can take a beating, and it's useful for far more than just biking.  Plus, they can be personalized in lots of colors, so everyone can get what they want.  I use this bag for long rides, short rides, grocery shopping, and more.  I recommend these bags to people, and will continue to do so.  

Also, Chrome is a cool company, based in Chico with a store in San Francisco.  If you can visit them, I urge you to do so.  They really make quality stuff.

Draw me like one of your French girls

2 comments:

  1. How is your 3M reflective webbing holding up? I've had mine a little under a year and it has faded. It makes me a bit sad because that's the reason I chose to get the citizen night. I do a lot of cycling at night, and you really want to be seen when riding around Chicago at night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine is holding up just fine, no fading at all! That makes me sad to hear though...have you taken it back to Chrome? They can probably replace the tape.

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