Review: The ‘Yalta’ travel bag from Chrome

Chrome, probably best known for their bike messenger bags, have released two new bags that are worth considering for your next round-the-world trip. The folks at Chrome were kind enough to send Vagablogging the new Yalta bag to test out and pass along to one lucky reader.

The Yalta’s larger sibling, the Brigadier, is similar though slightly larger. The outer shell of both bags is made of Tarpaulin, a rugged, waterproof material that will stand up to the day-to-day abuse of travel and keep your things dry.

The Yalta also features a waterproof internal compartment for storing wet clothes, or, if you keep it dry, can offer added protection from the elements. There’s a zippered sleeve between the padded, back panel and the main compartment which provides a safe place to stash your laptop, guide book or other reasonably slim items (the sleeve had no trouble accommodating my 15 inch laptop and could probably even handle a 17 inch).

When it comes to organizing your gear the Yalta falls a little short of similarly priced bags. Organizing options are limited to a single main compartment. You can access the main compartment from the top, via a canvas roll top which cinches down with a seatbelt-style buckle that’s typical of Chrome bags.

There’s also a small zippered second pocket on the back of the pack, but the heavy material and small size of the pocket make it difficult to access when the pack is fully loaded.

If you’re the type that likes everything in its place, this is not the bag for you.

The back of the Yalta, showing small back compartment

15in laptop inside the Yalta laptop sleeve

The Good:

  • Very tough, waterproof shell — It’s difficult to imagine the damage it would take to tear this bag and the fact that your things will stay dry in the downpours of Southeast Asia is a big plus for travelers.

  • Nice padding, but still lightweight — The Yalta isn’t the lightest bag on the market (heavy-duty construction is never lightweight), but the padded back and shoulder straps distribute the load well. Even fully loaded the Yalta didn’t put excessive strain on my shoulders.

  • Simple, single compartment — definitely not a bag for organization nerds, but some people like having just one big compartment.

The Not-so-good:

  • Small back pocket — the pocket is too small and difficult to use when the main compartment is full. If the pocket were larger, with expandable sides for easier access, it would be more useful.

  • Chrome buckles — Having broken many a custom buckle on the road, one thing I look for in pack is how hard it’s going to be to repair on the road. The chrome buckles on the pack’s shoulder straps look stylish, but you’re going to have trouble replacing them in the far corners of the world. That said, they appear to very sturdy, so it’s possible this would never be an issue.

As for holding all your gear, well that depends on how light you travel. The Yalta was definitely full when I loaded it down with what I typically bring on longer trips, but it did hold everything. If you think 1800 cu in is a bit small, check out the Brigadier, which is similar, but nearly twice the size. The Brigadier lacks the extra back padding of the Yalta, but it it offers a shoulder strap for carrying it like a duffle bag.

Overall I was impressed with the Yalta. It’s a durable, seemingly bomb-proof bag that’s plenty big enough for those who travel light. At $120 the Yalta isn’t the cheapest bag out there, but the high price seems somewhat justified given the quality the materials used (the Brigadier is $140).

Too expensive for your tastes? Well, you’re in luck, we’ve got one to give away.

Leave comment below describing your worst pack/travel gear disaster story and I’ll use to pick a winner.

Posted by | Comments (12)  | December 14, 2010
Category: Travel Gear

12 Responses to “Review: The ‘Yalta’ travel bag from Chrome”

  1. Lise Says:

    Having a zipper break and lugging around my bag inside a garbage bag in the Paris metro looking like a homeless person is the extent of my bag woes so far. After that trip I upgraded to a large Tom Bihn Aeronaut bag which I love, but this bag looks like it has better straps so I would love a chance to win it.

  2. Scott Says:

    I had my backpack wrapped in one of those $50 bags that are used to transport your backpack through baggage claim without all the straps getting stuck in the carousel. My bag was so heavy I would up dragging it through St. Pancras and Gare du Nord. I basically disintegrated the bag within the first few days of use. $50 down the drain. Lesson learned.

  3. Nikki Says:

    I packed and acquired too much stuff on my trip to Southeast Asia, so I thought it would be smart to acquire a knockoff bag in a market in Thailand. I made it home despite the flimsy zippers, fraying fabric, useless hip belt and one or two cracked buckles – but I tossed the bag, which after 10 or so weeks of wandering, seaside living, & kayak instructing had gotten pretty, well, I could say musty but I may as well be honest, it was just plain stinky.

  4. Adriano Says:

    The wheels of a suitcase were so poorly built that the friction melted the plastic frame and the wheels fell off. So I had to drag a bag through Milan…
    Of course I wasn’t a light traveller as I am now.
    Another, common problem was shoulder straps breaking. This happened so often that I thought to invest into a pacsafe strap (No publicity intended…)

  5. Fred Says:

    After arriving in Frankfurt for a two-week trip across central Europe, I placed my bag down on the hostel bed and the shoulder strap immediately ripped off of the bag. I spent the next two weeks dragging a giant bag around on one shoulder strap.

  6. Barbara Says:

    On an early trip I melted my curling iron in Copenhagen. Fortunately, I didn’t burn down the hotel. I hope you never need to buy a curling iron in Copenhagen! Every shop I walked into asking for a curling iron looked at me as though I had lost my mind. I started looking around and noticed that the women had straight hair. Fortunately, I have not had any luggage mishaps. I just take less each time.

  7. David Says:

    In Tokyo while rushing to catch a train, my daypack came open and contents tumbled out on the stairs leading to the train platform during rush hour. Nightmare.

  8. Sam Says:

    I used to have an old beloved leather bag which had a strap hook that kept opening and made the bag fall on the ground (unless I didn’t promptly catch it between my hip and arm making me look silly). I was lazy and never fixed it, thus in many years I had countless embarrassing situations – once in front of an airport check-in. Now I use a Fjallraven Kanken since some years but it’s all but ideal to travel! The Yalta would defo do : ).

  9. Jen Says:

    My handle wouldn’t come up, so I drug my bag by the “atl crew” tag I have snapped on the handle. I had to walk like a hunchback and periodically stop to re snap my makeshift handle. It was ridiculous!

  10. Sarah Says:

    Trying to drag a big rolling bag from chicago and then around oakland. both wheels broke out of the cheap piece of– uh, luggage. I was dragging it around the streets of Oakland from the airport to the greyhound station on the thin plastic bottom, which of course ripped to shreds, exposing my clothes to the elements.

  11. Kay Says:

    I carried a donald duck bag ever since I was 5 and I was at the beach thinking that it was waterproof but then it wasn’t and everything in it got soaked.

  12. Dave Romanyk Says:

    Once running through the airport for a flight, both my shoulder straps ripped right off the bag sending it sliding through the busy airport and knocking someone off of their feet. Thankfully they were OK and I made the flight!