Chrome Niko 3.0 Camera Sling Bag Has Unique Features and Incredible Strength

Vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, strawberry—how does one decide? Some people prefer one over another; that’s what makes this world go round. Taking a scoop of this analogy into the world of camera bags, the Niko 3.0 Camera Sling Bag from Chrome is pistachio ripple. In other words, some people are going to love it, and others will like it but not name it their favorite. Dig in and decide for yourself.

Chrome Industries manufacturers popular clothing, shoes and bags—among other items—for active, on-the-go people, with a skew toward the younger-thinking crowd. When reps from Chrome offered to send me a camera sling bag and a couple camera straps for review, I immediately remembered the massive seatbelt-like straps and steel seatbelt buckles I’d encountered on their camera gear in the past.

The Chrome Niko 3.0 Camera Sling Bag measures 7.5 x 12.5 x 5.5 inches (19 x 31.8 x 14 cm) and weighs 2.14 pounds (.97 kilos). The volume, as measured without the divider, is 9 Liters. Remember that 1 L equals 61 cubic inches, slightly smaller than a cube that measures 4 x 4 x 4 inches.

The bag material is Bluesign approved, water-resistant, durable 1050D nylon. Inside we find soft-touch, knitted fabric tricot. Bluesign is a Big Deal. To win approval from this worldwide organization, a product must meet the highest standards of sustainability and ethical sourcing from design through fabrication. If you wonder about things like where the recycled plastic in your reusable water bottle came from, Bluesign is a name you already know.

Immediately noticeable is the wide, thick shoulder strap that reminds one of a car seatbelt, right down to the seatbelt buckle. This is no accident. When the Chrome Industries team first went into production, they recycled seatbelt buckles out of junkyard cars, purportedly because they needed an affordable buckle strong enough to bear the weight of a heavily loaded messenger bag. It’s a unique look, there can be no argument there.

Don’t take this as shade, Chrome Fans, but the original messenger bags were not designed with photographers in mind, so perhaps it’s time to break with tradition and explore new options for fabrication materials. A large, rather heavy metal seatbelt buckle is my last choice in a world of modern, high-strength, light weight polymers. But again, it’s not wrong just because it’s not vanilla.

Unbuckle the two traditional (spelled “plastic”) snaps at the bottom of the front and fold down the front flap. Unfortunately, there is nothing inside except three flat, barely useable pockets and a zippered pocket on the flap itself. The flap forms a sort of shelf so that—well, frankly I don’t know why it forms a shelf, nor do I know why the three tiny, flat pockets are protected by a heavy hook-loop seal and that pair of modern, high-strength, light weight polymer snaps. There are (at least) two possibilities. First, I’m too shortsighted to realize the function. Second, the flap design is a flop. Knowing that the first option is very likely, I’ll stop here.

Inside is unremarkable—and that’s a good thing. The innards of the Chrome Niko 3.0 are about the same as we find in dozens if not hundreds of bags. That’s a testimony to the desirability and functionality of contemporary camera bag designs. If you’re looking for breakthrough innovation, look to Peak Design (check out our review here).

Chrome Industries also makes durable camera neck straps and wrist straps using the same seatbelt approach. We’ll explore these in our next camera strap roundup review.

The Chrome Niko 3.0 Camera Sling Bag will never be my favorite bag, but I believe that many, many others will like it. It’s very well made, down to the YKK waterproof zippers and built-to-last-forever seatbelt strap and seatbelt buckle. Admittedly, the front flap freak bothers me. Design, in my never-humble opinion, must be purpose driven, or at least function driven. I can think of a dozen smart aleck reasons why the flap is there, but not one single purposeful one. No matter.


Price and Availability
You can buy the Chrome Niko 3.0 Camera Sling Bag from Chrome for $145. It’s also available from other online realtors, but be careful not to confuse this new model with the Niko 2.0 which is cheaper (around $79 from Amazon) but also much smaller (only 5L vs. the 9L capacity of the Niko 3.0 reviewed here).

—Jon Sienkiewicz


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