April can be a hard month for some people. It’s the end of ski season but not really full-on cycling season.
But I call bullshit. April is actually a great month for commuting, because it’s cold enough that you rarely overheat yet not so cold that you walk into work with numb hands.
The one thing you might have to put up with is rain. Our El Niño winter has come around, so I’ve already had several wet days this month. To stay dry, I’ve invested in some key gear, including a fully waterproof Chrome Urban EX Rolltop 28-liter backpack ($140).
I take a laptop to and from work, so I need a guarantee that it will stay dry. And while some backpacks claim water resistance, I prefer a full-on waterproof rating so there’s no doubt, even if I’m pedaling 20 miles per hour in a gusher.
Chrome keeps the water out by using a waterproof, 600-denier polyester-nylon outer material that’s held together with welded seams. Unlike a traditional drybag, however, this bag is also full of clever amenities that help with commuting. My favorite feature is the adjustable roll-top closure that expands or contracts depending on how much gear you have to haul. In the morning, my bag is nearly full, thanks to my lunch, extra coffee, etc. But on the way home, I can cinch it down so the extra material isn’t flopping around in the wind. I also dig the quick-access outside pocket that allows me to stash keys, a wallet, and whatever else I don’t want to lose in the bottom of the main compartment.
Inside, there’s a padded sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop, plus tons of space for a full day’s worth of gear. It can be a little annoying when the thing you need is at the bottom of the main compartment and everything else has to come out before you can access it. But once you’ve had the EX for a couple of months, you’ll get used to packing nonessentials down deep and everyday necessities up top.
Often waterproof bags have terrible, minimalist straps that suck. Thankfully, Chrome invested in wide, well-padded ones that carry a heavy or awkward load comfortably. There’s also some smart padding on the back of the bag that increases ride comfort and creates airflow channels, so you don’t walk into work with a totally drenched back. For those who care, Chrome offers plenty of fun color options, but I go for black, just to keep things simple. That said, I always throw on a blinky light for safety while I’m moving.