Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review TL;DR: an immensely durable bag for street photographers who like to carry all their camera gear with them. It's versatile, sleek and spacious, perfect for storing multiple lenses, camera bodies and accessories in one place.
I can't get enough of Chrome Industries bags. Even though I only recently finished with my Chrome Industries Barrage Duffle review, I was itching to test the Niko 3.0. This excellent camera backpack has all the features that make Chrome bags desirable and popular among photography enthusiasts.
Should you buy one for yourself? The short answer is yes, but read the full Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review below first to make sure you know what you're getting.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: Price and availability
The Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack was released in early 2022 and is available to buy now at Chrome Industries for a recommended retail price of $280/£240AU$420.
At the time of writing, the bag is only available in black, but it's more than likely that other colourways will be released in the coming years.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: What's changed?
Chrome did the impossible and updated the Niko backpack without seriously altering how the bag looked. Instead of a visual overhaul, the main focus was making the bag and its contents more accessible to photographers.
There are now extra flaps on each side of the Niko 3.0 where you can get into the bag. This is great for two reasons. One, although the Niko 3.0 is a backpack, using the side flaps, it also functions as a sling bag. Two, there are flaps on each side, so the bag is ideal for both left and right-handed people.
The top opens up more than before, and this is where you can access the new laptop and tablet sleeves. Additional pockets in this compartment include a zipped mesh and a double-zipped regular pocket, both located on the inside of the flap itself. There is a hidden pocket under the top strap at the front, and it's pretty deep.
The bag is made of the same high-quality 1050 Denier bluesign-approved sustainable nylon shell as its predecessor but uses a tougher, 500 Denier TPE Tarp base and tough Tricot liner to weatherproof the Niko 3.0 even more. And as expected, the backpack is "guaranteed for life" and is meant to be repaired, not replaced.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: Build quality and ergonomics
I shot myself in the foot slightly when I talked about the materials and all the ergonomically placed entry points of the Chrome Niko 3.0 bag in the previous section, but at least I can spend more time on how convenient it is to carry to bag around here.
I was a bit concerned that the Niko 3.0 might not be comfortable to wear for long periods as it's by no means a small bag. It weighs just over 4.5 lbs (2.1 kg) which is not a lot, considering how well-padded the backpack is on the inside.
Of course, once you put all your gear in the bag, it becomes much heavier so it's also important for the straps and the back panel to be well-padded and comfortable. Luckily, that's exactly the case with the Niko 3.0. The adjustable shoulder straps are cushioned and lined with breathable mesh so the shoulders don't get too clammy.
The back panel, which opens up and provides access to the dividable internals, is made of contoured EVA foam that allows air to circulate between the bag and your back.
I was happy to see the return of the Chrome's own aluminium buckle, the baby version of it anyway. The metal buckle is part of the sternum strap and there is also a hip belt, albeit that has a plastic buckle (sadly), to ensure the Niko 3.0 and its contents are always securely attached to your body.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: Versatility
I can't praise the Chrome Niko 3.0 enough for its versatility. As I mentioned above, it's a spacious backpack that also functions as a sling bag and has more pockets you can ever find a use for.
However, the best thing about the Niko 3.0 is that it'll make you carry your camera and gear with you all the time without looking like a camera guy. Not all people who like photography want to look like photographers when they carry their kit around. This is especially true for street photographers who need to stay incognito to capture all the candid moments they encounter on the streets.
It's not just street photogs who might appreciate how sleek and inconspicuous the Chrome Niko 3.0 looks. I, for one, love the fact that I can carry my Sony Alpha 7 III, a couple of lenses, my trusty RODE VideoMic GO II, my Nissin i60A flashgun, a few accessories, my laptop and even snacks with me in one bag.
I often found myself picking the Niko 3.0 up even when I didn't head out with the intent of taking photos but thought, "what the heck, might as well take the bag, just in case". It helped me have my camera on me more often than before, which is exactly what you want to take more photos and get better at the craft.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: Verdict
The Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 is rugged, versatile, and an excellent camera backpack overall for street photographers and photo enthusiasts alike.
The updated design makes the bag's contents more accessible through the larger top opening and the two side flaps. There are also more internal and external pockets in and on the bag to store all your gear separately and well-organised.
Thanks to the adjustable straps and the ventilated EVA foam back panel, the backpack is ever so comfortable to wear even for long periods of time. Best of all, the Niko 3.0 makes it convenient to carry your camera gear and all other bits and bobs with you without looking like an absolute dork.
Nor is the Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack cheap, neither it's small, but rest assured: this is the last camera bag you'll ever have to buy in your life.
Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review: Also consider
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An innovative, compact and well-designed camera backpack, the Tenba Shootout 14L Slim is comfortable to carry, waterproof and has some excellent outdoor-centric features. Though suitable only for users of compact mirrorless and DSLR set-ups, we think this is also an ideal bag for anyone with a compact drone and plans to hike into remote areas.