freight vs chrome

i’ve been a sling bag kind of guy since basically forever (ok, more like 1994 w/ an ultimate and then an os when i started schlepping a bigger laptop).

now because:

  • i suck more than i think
  • i got hit by a car on the strap side
  • the ‘new’ 3hr one-way commute
  • some other excuse i can’t think of

my left side gets a little twinge-y at the 2:15 mark of the commute.

a friend of mine has an older version of the chrome backbone and recommended it based on his knowledge of the amount of crap i schlep in the name of it makes me stronger. i rode it for about a month of commutes (ie, actually 30 rides from the city to santa clara)


  • the size i actually use regularly
  • metal hw seems like it would last
  • wide straps


  • tapered. this is ok in a shorter bag but it makes loading a little trickier. when something just fits through the top there is still some slop in the lower part.
  • lash point design is sort of lame. there are short side straps that usually pull the body in, but these can also attach to the flap so that you can strap things to the outside of the bag (w/ the flap holding things steady). the problem is that the straps aren’t oriented right so that when one straps something on the outside you’re pulling the body into a c shape which was inconvenient for actually riding.
  • the flap has velcro so you could pull it tight but as soon as you picked it up the contents would shift to their natural position which would always be accompanied w/ the velcro pulling out some. i trained myself never to pull the flap tight.
  • less usable space than the pac. there are some fancy zippers, but these open into the intersticial area (between the outer and inner sealed bag). i’m ok w/ there being a place less well sealed than the main body, but shit basically floats around the space. digging around is a pain when the inner bag is even only partially loaded. (yes, that’s hand-wavy but i’m talking to myself).

finally, the actual reason i don’t ride w/ it anymore…

  • there is a yoke where the straps attach to the top of the body. this means that the bag rides lower on my back than i’m used to. my on-the-bike position is sort of low (or so i’ve been told) so the bag would be resting between the spinal curve and my ass. this was ok for the first couple of hours, but i would start feeling something odd during the third hour. my friend’s bag doesn’t have this yoke, but i’m not sure he’s up or letting me take it for a while to see if this is the difference.

anyway, i went back to the pac and hoped that the twinge was just something that was working its way out of my system. during that time i found that freight is sf local and has backpack models too. after a little back and forth (and the holidays) i took possession of a large rolltop.

first impressions after one commute.

  • sits a few inches higher so that it is just above the spinal curve when i’m in the drops. actually felt pretty good on my way in today!!!!
  • the front 3d pcket could be a little more 2d for me. the depth means that the flap covering it is less well sealed than it could be (or at least in my imagination). i think i’m going to pull the velcro off the wallet pcket that’s inside the 3d pcket, but that’s probably just me.
  • i’m not sure there are any options for this bag, but a little futzing pretty made it adjust to my daily routine (w/ the option for schleping all the possessions you own).
  • i’m not sure why no one else does this, but some actual backpacking backpacks have little thingees for keeping the strap ends tucked away. the sternum and shoulder straps are long (nice) but the ends flap around a lot. a couple of little biner clips solve this problem but it would be a nice finishing touch.
  • i got the cash discount!!!!

well, time will tell but looks good so far.


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