Billed as 'the toughest city commuter dry bag on the streets', Chrome Industries' sleek Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 boasts features in line with today's best dry bags, as well as urban cool styling that mean it won't be out of place amongst the best backpacks on the market.
This latest version of Chrome's city-friendly dry bag, launched for spring/summer 2021, is fully waterproofed and is designed to keep your kit safe and dry wherever you roam, whether you're cycling to work or paddling a SUP board down a river, but it also works as a standalone backpack you can walk or cycle with – and it looks great to boot. We put the 30L version to the test to see how it stands up in practice; read on for our full Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 review.
Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 backpack: design and features
The Urban Ex 2.0 Rolltop bag may look rather minimalist at first glance, but a lot of design thought has gone into making this waterproof rucksack as versatile as possible. Inside the backpack there's one very roomy main compartment that also contains a padded sleeve suitable for carrying a 15-inch laptop, plus built-in pockets and straps for organising all your tech and other essentials inside the bag. When unrolled, the top of the bag has two handy grab handles, making the Urban Ex double up as a shopper bag in dry weather. Rain threatening? Roll the top down tightly three tips and clip together, and you've got a fully waterproofed drybag with shoulder straps that you can pop on your back and go.
Six external loops on the front of the Urban Ex let you lash extra bits and bobs, such as a bike lock, to the front of the pack, and two external straps will help you cinch down extra kit, and are also handy if you need to strap the backpack to a bike rack when commuting.
Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 backpack: performance
The most important factor in a waterproof bag is, of course, how dry it keeps your stuff. The Urban Ex proved reliably waterproof on test, even in torrential downpours – brilliant if you're heading out to work or on a weekend adventure and the weather is looking changeable, and especially reassuring if you carry electronic gadgets around with you daily.
We tested out the 30-litre version of this pack and were impressed with how much kit it took. Week day? The cavernous main compartment will easily carry a day's worth of work kit plus all your evening shopping. Weekend? Pack the Urban Ex for a day out of wild swimming or stand-up paddleboarding it'll keep your towels, food and other essentials safe and dry even if you're splashing about. A smaller 20 litre or 26 litre version of the pack are also available if you do want something more compact.
We were impressed by how comfy the pack was to wear even when fully loaded – the padded shoulder straps and the sternum strap make it easy to wear when cycling. While this rucksack is comfortable enough for more casual walks thanks to the molded soft panels on the back, we'd have liked a proper back panel, which would have made the Urban Ex more breathable and supportive over long distances and created a true quiver-of-one rucksack.
Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 backpack: verdict
What stands out after testing the Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop 2.0 backpack is just how versatile it is – it's so handy to have a roomy and reliably waterproof backpack to grab as you're heading out the door, whether you're going walking, cycling to work, taking your stand-up paddleboard out or just nipping to the shops. Commuters will also love this pack's smart, office-friendly looks. Rugged and reliable – this is well worth the spend if you need to weatherproof your belongings every day.