“Hey Sara,” I called to my colleague while exploring the expansive space inside Chrome’s Berlin – PRO laptop bag ($220 direct). “See if you can fit into this bag!” My joke fell flat probably because the Berlin doesn’t look nearly as big as it is from the outside (or perhaps because my petite co-worker had had enough of me that day).
The Chrome Berlin – Pro easily fits laptops of any size, plus all the cords, cables, and accessories you could ever need … plus a change of clothes, your lunch, a tablet, and much more (read on to find out what I crammed into it). At 15 by 20 by 10 inches (HWD), when fully expanded, the Berlin’s volume measures 25 liters!
The “pro” part of the name refers to the fact that this bag can be used by professional bike messengers, and the Berlin part, I presume, is a nod toward the very German looking style. The Berlin is a no-frills bag, available in black or gray, with a dark red lining. It’s coolly edgy, but uncomplicated.
Massive as it is, the Chrome Berlin manages to be comfortable, even when you pack it to the brim because it balances weight both vertically down your back, as well as horizontally across the front of your shoulders and chest by way of a thickly padded strap. The strap fastens with one of Chrome’s signature seatbelt buckles, which is very cool, but contributes a considerable amount of weight to the bag’s 4.5 pounds. Two additional straps—one of which tucks away into a Velcro slot when not in use—can further secure the Berlin to your frame when the load you’re hauling seems otherwise impossibly cumbersome. With the Berlin, it can be done!
To test the bag’s capacity, I first packed roughly 18 pounds of clothing (I didn’t want to mess with anything fragile just yet) into the Chrome Berlin – PRO and rode seven miles on my bike to a friend’s house. This test turned out to be more about my own strength than the bag’s, because the Berlin did its job to a tee. On my second trial, I loaded it up with a 13-inch laptop in a sleeve for extra protection, a camera that was also housed in a padded case, an iPad with rubber bumper, my purse, a smartphone, several cords and chargers, and a sweater. Not only did I tote this load without buckling, I got it through airport security, too! For the few weeks that I rode and walked around with the Berlin – PRO, there was nothing that it wouldn’t fit or that I couldn’t carry if it was in the bag. One Berlin owner says he once carried a chainsaw in this incredible bag! I don’t doubt him for a second.
As much as you can pack this bag to the gills, the Berlin – PRO doesn’t have a cushioned compartment specifically for a laptop. Two Velcro-secured pouches do a better job of protecting smaller electronics (think smartphone sized), but notebook owners should definitely use a protective sleeve.
Cycling commuters who carry a lot of stuff can’t go wrong with Chrome’s Berlin – PRO bag. Car and subway commuters will undoubtedly find the Berlin way too big for their average needs. At $220, the bag is an investment, but one worth making if you fit the Berlin profile.
More Cases and Carrying Gear Reviews:
Crumpler Nhill Heist Laptop Bag
Chrome Berlin – PRO Laptop Bag
Octa Vacuum Dock + WhaleTail
Crumpler Arnold Heist Tablet Bag
ChargeIt! 2X (for iPhone 4 and 4S)