I have maybe 11 bags in my house. Backpacks, duffel bags, gym bags and a Thrasher hip sack from 1987 filled with stickers — good stickers. But every time I need to go somewhere I can never find the right bag. All my duffel bags are too big, or they’re held together by duct tape, or the holes are getting bigger and the Velcro straps that hold my board don’t have any stick’em left in them. My backpacks are always the wrong size too. They sag down my back, too many straps are hanging everywhere, they’re lopsided, and they just suck. Gym bags … well, they’re lame. I don’t know why I have them.
When I was a kid I had only one bag to tote books back and forth to school. It also served as my “pad” bag — the one I used to carry my knee and elbow pads and my helmet. I’d go skate my friend’s ramp and stuff all the smelly, sweaty pads in the bag and have to leave it outside because it stank up the house. Then it would get rained on and fester ever more. I’d put my books back in it, go to school and all the kids would look at me like I was homeless — because I smelled like I was homeless. I wish I had multiple bags back then; life would have been easier.
John Cardiel just made a three-bag collection with Chrome — a bike-inspired apparel company out of San Francisco. Maybe the Cardiel Travel System can solve my aforementioned bag troubles. And if Cardiel says they’re good then you know they’re good.
“I use backpacks constantly because of my injury. I need to have tubes, tools and a pump with me at all times and I only use carry-on luggage so this bag system is a vital part to my livelihood — on the road and in general”, Cardiel explained to me. The system is made up of the Shank [$60], the ORP [$110] and the Fortnight [$180]– three sizes for three bags.
But wait, a bag’s a bag — right? I just need something for when I’m skating or go out to the desert and camp. Something that will hold a beach towel, some drinks, an extra pair of underwear, some socks, my keys and all the normal junk I carry around. The bag I need has to be lightweight and feel good on my back. That’s what the Cardiel system caters to, and the construction is top notch. The description of the Fortnight on Chrome’s website reads: “Weatherproof 1050 denier Cordura outer shell with 1680 Ballistics bottom panels for enhanced durability, weatherproof military grade 18 oz. truck tarpaulin liner, nylon 69 thread and waterproof urethane YKK zippers.” That’s a lot of tech stuff going on there.
Steve McCallion, president of Chrome told me that “the reception has been phenomenal. Usually new bags take time to catch on, but Cardiel’s came charging out of the gate. The Fortnight was our top-selling bag in March, the ORP is No. 1 in NYC and the Shank temporarily sold out. Some have called the Cardiel Series our best-designed bag line yet.”
They better be! It’s John Cardiel we’re talking about here. Before a life-threatening accident in 2003 that physically made it impossible for him to stay on top of his game in the world of skateboarding, Cardiel was one of the greatest skateboarders to ever ride. His go-for-broke, all-or-nothing approach to skating was the thing of legends and his attitude toward skaters and people in general endeared him to the masses.
Now he rides a track bike like he’s skating in the streets. When I talked to Cardiel he was on his way to New York City, where his system of Chrome bags were debuting and I asked him what he liked better: blazing down a hill on his bike or smashing through dirt jumps? “All of it man!! I’m getting ready to go surf the mean streets of NYC! It’s like big-wave surfing on fixed gear bikes: when the wind’s behind you and you’re blazing down Seventh Avenue, dodging vicious cabs — it’s some heavy stuff!”
OK then, I’m sold. Check out the videos that Cardiel and Rick Charnoski from Six Stair Productions made to promote the bags. Three videos show Cardiel riding around, having fun and teaching us all why he made the bags for Chrome.