When choosing a laptop bag, there are a lot of different factors to take into consideration. After all, you’ll be hauling it everywhere you go and you want it to be good. The Soma, one of the smaller (and least expensive) packs in Chrome’s lineup, looks to be the perfect blend of portability and functionality. But does it live up to the company’s high quality image?
- Weatherproof 1680 Ballistic outer shell.
- Military grade 18 oz. truck tarpaulin liner.
- EVA foam padded shoulder strap with cross-chest load stabilizer.
- Integrated laptop sleeve fits most laptops up to 15.4” (11” x 15”).
- Quick release buckle with integrated bottle opener.
- Large main compartment with organizational pockets for file folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, phone, wallet and keys.
The Soma ships inside a big plastic bag encased in another larger bag, presumably to protect against the elements.
The pack is more of a sling bag than a normal backpack as it just has one large padded shoulder strap that slings over your shoulder and across your torso. Though some people find slings uncomfortable, we found that this design makes the bag feel much more secure on your body than a normal two strap backpack would.
The bag itself is pretty clean design wise. On the front, you’ll find the Chrome logo and two clips that unclip to reveal the main compartment. The right side is bare, and on the left side there’s a nice-sized beverage holder. Around back, you’ll find the large shoulder strap.
The strap itself is quite the contraption, and I say that in a good way. There are two sections to the strap, a top and a bottom half. The material of both looks and feels exactly like the material used in car seatbelts, which is a good thing because it’s extremely high quality. The bottom portion of the strap is simply this material connected securely to the bottom of the bag, and the top portion is the same material with a large EVA foam pad over it where your shoulder sits connected to the top of the bag. These two sections meet halfway down the strap at the quick release buckle, which is literally a seatbelt clip. At the quick release buckle, you’ll find a large button in the center that you can press to un-clip it and separate the strap for well, quick release. You can then re-clip the two sections together and sling it over your shoulder when you’re ready to keep moving. The buckle also features a built-in bottle opener, if that’s useful to you. Finally, the strap also features a clip just above the buckle for a second smaller strap that connects from the side of the bag under your arm for better support.
Interior / Capacity
Inside the bag you’ll find two long pockets toward the front, a large main compartment, a bunch of small organizational pockets (for pencils, your phone, wallet, etc.), and finally two sleeves. The two long pockets aren’t very wide but are pretty deep, and work well for holding cables, beverages, etc. Chrome shows them holding a pair of shoes (one shoe per pocket) on it’s product page and that would work well as long as your shoes aren’t super huge. The organizational pockets are pretty straightforward, there’s one for a wallet or phone (I used it for my computer mouse), a few for writing utensils, etc. Then in the back of the bag are two sleeves. Both are equal in depth but the divider for the one in the back goes up several inches higher for more protection. The one in the back is more ideal for laptops this way since it’s slightly more shielded, however a laptop would fit in either just fine. As for actual laptop usage, the back pocket fit my 12.5” ThinkPad just fine without any issues (as it should since Chrome advertises up to 15.4” support). My only gripe about the sleeves is that there is not a lot of padding at the bottom, which could be a deal-breaker for some. Overall, though, I felt that my laptop was safe. As for the other pocket, I used it to hold some extra cables and several notebooks and they fit fine. Chrome lists the volume as being 25 L, and that’s pretty accurate.
The bag is covered in a weatherproofed ballistic outer shell and military grade tarpaulin liner. It shows. The bag feels very ruggedized and when water hits the outside of the bag is just kind of falls off. It’s very nice.
However, since it’s just a big flap that covers the main compartment, some people have been saying that elements could still make their way in from the sides. While plausible, the flap is actually designed to cover these side areas which it does quite well (especially since the outer shell is waterproof and quite protective). I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but there is always a small chance. It’s just something to be aware of. Think of it as if you were sitting under an awning and it was raining outside, it’s that kind of situation.
The bottom line is that the Chrome Soma is an exceptional bag. The sling is secure, the quick release buckle is convenient, the bag itself is quite weatherproof, and it can fit a good amount of stuff. As a day pack, it’s great. However, some people may be bothered by the lack of padding for the laptop sleeve and at $120 it may be slightly out of some people’s budgets. Though, for this kind of pack that price is actually quite common, with Timbuk2 packs of the same nature going for around the same amount. Overall, if you can get past it’s few quirks, the Chrome Soma is a great bag.
- Sling is comfortable and secure
- Good amount of room inside, and fits up to 15.4” laptops
- Quick release buckle is clever and convenient
- Not a lot of padding at the bottom of laptop sleeve
- Very, very slight chance that water may get in from the side
Where to buy
Chrome — MSRP: $120.00