This month, Chrome Industries expanded its camera bag line to include two new models: the Niko Hold ($80) and Niko F-Stop ($200). Aesthetically, these bags fit into the typecast of Chrome’s signature urban look. They're made from all-black ballistic waterproof nylon material, studded with gear loops and burly straps.
I've had these bags for a few weeks now and have been using them to explore my new home of Santa Fe. While I can’t yet attest to the long-term durability, here are my first impressions.
I'm a film photographer and usually only carry two lenses, so the Niko F-Stop is a lot of camera bag for me. If you usually haul around a lot of equipment, this bag can handle a heavy load. The top lid compartment is great for storing gear I need quick access to, like my camera body and standard lens. There are four external zippers which make getting into the bag easy. I really like the unique back zipper which opens, suitcase style, into a modular Velcro camera and lens section. The entire bag is heavily padded so you can easily set it on the ground, and open it up to get to all of your gear. The bag comes also comes with five interchangeable dividers that are easy to swap around. The straps of the bag are comfy, even when fully loaded, and feature a traditional Chrome seat belt buckle on the sternum strap, which is a fun addition.
The Niko Hold is just the right size for me and packs a surprising punch for its small, seven-liter package. Two external zippered pockets hold small items such as my wallet, sunglasses, or car keys. A weather-sealed zipper guards the main compartment. Inside, modular Velcro dividers define a camera and lens section— big enough for a camera body and two or three lenses. There are two available dividers which keep my gear mostly snug. While modular dividers are pretty standard in camera bags, I wish this one came with more perpendicular modular options as I prefer to store my lenses vertically. The back of the lid has an additional zipper that I found perfectly sized for several rolls of film. This would be a prime spot for holding SD cards as well.
All in all, these are great bags for the photographer that cares about style and function. I’m looking forward to putting these through the wringer more this summer.