Another great bag brought to you by Chrome Industries. The Niko line of bags are camera bags – and the Niko is their most popular camera bag. It’s padded and sturdy, and like all Chrome bags, very durable.
Like the Chrome Citizen, and all Chrome bags, the Niko features the signature seatbelt buckle closure.
The Niko line is a line of camera bags. This review focuses on the regular size messenger bag of the Niko line. They also make a smaller messenger bag and a backpack. Read below for details.
About the Niko line of bags
The Niko line are a line of camera messenger bags. They are smaller than your standard messenger bag because they are specifically designed to carry your camera and camera equipment.
Chrome makes a variety of bags in the Niko line, and they include the sling messenger bag, the backpack, a reflective, camo backpack, and the messenger bag, which is available in regular or reflective camo, which is featured here.
Niko Messenger: This is the full size messenger bag which will fit your DSLR camera and associated gear like extra lenses, chargers and more. It also features a customizable interior.
Niko Sling Messenger Bag: The sling messenger bag is the classic messenger bag style, and is small in size, at only 3 L.
Niko Backpack: The larger messenger bag also comes in a backpack style. This backpack is available in both standard, water resistant fabric and reflective camo style.
The reflective camo style is limited edition, but the other styles are exactly the same except for the colour.
The Messenger Bag
This bag allows you to pack for a full day of shooting, fitting everything you would need for the entire day. The bag will comfortably fit your DSLR or video camera and associated accessories (like extra lenses, chargers and so on).
The bag is essentially a box shaped bag with a very simple, no-frills design that makes it super packable. It features two compartments, a top loading one and the main one.
The bag features a top loading camera compartment. Top loading allows you to store items away from your camera equipment. This compartment is very roomy and will fit an additional camera, chords and even an iPad mini. Inside, you’ll find a dedicated laptop sleeve, kept out of the way which is really handy.
The main compartment is the largest of the two storage areas, and where you will keep the bulk of the gear. The area is padded and sturdy on all sides except one, the place where you can access gear from the side.
The box-like very square-shaped interior comes with velcro pads that you can adhere to create compartments.
This bag comes with quite a bit of velcro to help you cushion and protect your camera. It will fit your SLR camera, for example ours fits in with it’s 50 mm lens with the lens hood attached and external battery grid. This will allow you to separate your camera from your lenses, your power chord and so on, and keep things neat and organized.
There is one disadvantage to this but more on that later.
Fully weather resistant
The bag is made with fully water and weather resistant. The elements are kept out with PU coated zipper.
The back of the bag is padded and keeps the bag rigid. It feels very comfortable against your back. Back panel is very comfortable, and you can easily adjust the straps.
Quick Release buckle
This is a Chrome classic! The buckle, modelled after a seat belt buckle, features the Chrome logo and adjusts much like a seatbelt does. It’s very intuitive to use and allows you to adjust your bag quickly on the go.
EVA foam padded shoulder strap and cross chest load stabilizer
This will allow you to make your bag very comfortable to carry. The shoulder straps have velcro, so you can stick on a pouch and keep your cell phone easily and quickly accessible.
Tripod mounting system
One of the most unique features is the tripod mounting system available with this bag. The two front velcro zippers will allow you to slide a tripod through them and keep them sturdy. They are very securely packaged in there and won’t fall out.
Memory card slots
The top flap includes slots that you can use to store batteries and your memory cards. In the middle you can add additional items, such as a flashlight, phone or whatever you may need.
- Ease of Access
You can easily grab your camera from the side by unzipping the front zipper partially.
Accessibility is definitely one of the great advantages of this bag. without any extra bells or whistles, and with a sleek, clean design, the bag gives optimum storage capability. From the side, you can have access to your camera and lenses. The straps on the side prevent the bag from opening too far and having the contents spill further out.
Because the bag is so small, it sits nicely on the back – square – and doesn’t restrict your range of motion. You can easily put your arms behind your back and you won’t bump into the bag. It’s a nice feature, especially since a lot of other camera bag, which are larger and considerably less packable, won’t offer that level of comfort.
If you have the straps done nice and tight, the bag will barely move, whcih makes it great for when you’re riding a bike. You don’t have to worry about it falling forward or slinging it around and knocking into things. Some sling bags have a tendency of shifting slightly forward, and this is something that you won’t experience with this bag.
- Square shape
The square shape is great and has so many benefits. One is the fact that it stays out of your way really well, as mentioned above, and is super packable. The other is that when you have the bag on and shift the bag forward, to your chest, the bag makes a great, long and even platform that you can use as a ‘shelf’ where you can change lenses, for example. Not sure if this was a product feature that was intentional, but it certainly works on a practical level.
- Seatbelt buckle
Having the seatbelt buckle feature is certainly very hip and stylish, but it also has practical benefits. The fact that you can get your bag off with a press of a button and not having to deal sliding the bag over your head. This may seem like a small deal but it becomes very obvious if you ever have tried to take a bag off in a crowded place. It’s very awkward with a messenger bag unless it has a clip you can release on the sling.
- Velcro dividers
The one unavoidable disadvantage of this bag comes from the fact that it’s nearly impossible to configure the velcro padding, which is included to help you load and keep your camera items separate, and allow side access to your camera. Some people create their own ‘padding’ using cardboard separators covered in duct tape. Because of easy access to the side of the main compartment, there is no stability on that side so the velcro dividers are included for this purpose. They are provided, and though they help you compartmentalize and protect your camera and gear, it’s very difficult to arrange them so that you can access your camera from the side opening.
Will it really fit all my camera gear?
In a word, yes. Simple and square makes this bag super packable. This bag is the desirable, and often hard to find ‘in-between’ bag. There are plenty of camera bags out there that are the same size or larger, and don’t fit nearly as much.
The bag measures 9″ by 15.5″ by 6.25″ with a volume of 702 cubic inches or almost 9 Litres.
Where to buy
The Chrome messenger bag is available from Chrome.com and other retailers. Current list price is $120.
Find out how to wear a messenger bag.