Everytime I travel I take some time to also check for local retailers of messenger bags et al. It kind of started more than 10 years ago with trip to Hamburg where I picked up my first Crumpler bag and it continues to this day with my visit to the NYC Chrome store about a month ago.
This time I left the shop (on the second visit) with a brand new Chrome Buran laptop messenger bag which should replace the Crumpler Spanky Jones for me. The problems with the Spanky Jones is, that besides the laptop and some cables, you don’t get all that much into it. The whole flying zipper concepts gets in the way here.
I want something new
The only other bag I could seriously use a replacement for this was that first Crumpler bag I bought in Hamburg (the Sticky Date) which is massive, though and not really something I’d want to carry with me every day on my way to work.
That’s where the Buran comes in. It is slightly larger than the Spanky Jones (45.72 x 31.75 x 15.25 cm vs 41.00 x 31.00 x 19.50 cm) but it has so much room for everything I want to have with me. I guess, the comparison is not really fair, though, since they both have difference target audiences. While the Crumpler bag is mostly a general purpose bag it is quite obvious that the Chrome bag is mostly for bike commuters with the tight shoulder bag and the region on the shoulder pad where you can attach utility bags etc.
Right now I have among other things my 15” MBP, a large A4 notebook, a moleskin-style small notebook, various pens and fountain pens, a 0.5l water bottle, a book, a document map, some duct-tape … The Spany Jones would only hold the laptop, the cables, the moleskin and the pens comfortably.
The bag is mostly divided into 3 parts: The main compartment which also holds a separate laptop sleeve, a utility compartment with things like pen holders, and the front of the bag which has two pockets with about the dimensions of a Kindle.
Regarding wearing comfort, unlike most Crumpler bags, the Buran doesn’t have a padded back but the padding of the laptop sleeve is enough to not make it unfortable when you have a laptop with you. In general it took me quite some time to adjust the back to a way I truly enjoy wearing it, but once you’re there, it is awesome. Part of the comfort is also the belt buckle. At first I thought of this more a toy or even just a design element, but it is incredibly useful. After a couple of days I never took the bag off without using the buckle. You just grab the briefcase handle, hit the button and off it goes!
The position of the support strap for when riding your bike takes a bit of getting used to but it keeps the bag in place very well. And unlike other solutions this one even keeps the hard parts away from you by placing the shoulder strap between it and your body.
When it comes to weather resistance and resilience I have high hopes there. The material looks and feels very strong and there is quite a lot of trampolin in there, so water shouldn’t be a problem.
So to sum this up, I like this bag a lot. It is not cheap (155 USD before taxes) and when you get it and plan to commute using your bike with it also spend the extra 10USD for a small utility pocket (attachable to the shoulder pad). This combo is really awesome! This is so far the first messenger bag I’ve owned, that combines space with not being massive and being great to carry when biking.