Having a backpack or messenger bag is great for when you have a ton of stuff to carry around on the daily grind, but what if you only need to carry very few items with you? Are you going to carry around your backpack just to hold your spare phone, wallet, and maybe a small tablet and some cables? I’m a guy so I don’t have the luxury of carrying around a small purse to hold these items in and I’m certainly not going to carry around something that looks like a man purse. I could go with a fanny pack, but honestly, how cool does one look with one of these strapped around their waist? Not very. That’s why I was pleased to learn that Chrome has a line of utility bags in all shapes and sizes that are much smaller than backpacks and messenger bags and only hold the essentials that you need. The one I’m checking out today the Victor Urban Utility Belt which is a compact utility belt meant to only hold the bare essentials of a day or night outing.
Design and Build
For starters, don’t expect this to be something you can hold a lot of stuff in, because you can’t. It’s essentially a very flat utility bag with only 2 compartments. I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s talk about how the Victor is made and how durable it is.
The Victor is made with the same Weatherproof, 1000-denier CORDURA® Brand outer shell that the Bravo Night bag I looked at is made of. The entire outer shell is made of this material which means that it is very durable and will stand up to very heavy abuse. On the back, you’ll find that two commercial-grade, five-bar seatbelt webbing and nylon 69 thread straps are stitched into the outer shell and are then capped off with Chrome’s icon seatbelt buckle with integrated bottle opener. These are cheap plastic pieces. These are heavy duty metal buckles that feel like they came straight off an old school vintage car. I would consider the Chrome seatbelt buckle the centerpiece of any chrome bag and it’s definitely a talking point when people see it.
Up front, you’ll find the two compartments the Victor features. One compartment is meant for your mobile phone or even an MP3 player while the other compartment is larger and can hold things like an iPad mini or any 7″ smaller tablet or ebook reader, your keys, a wallet, a small paperback book, or anything else along those sizes or smaller. The compartments do expand a tiny bit, but not enough to hold very thick objects. The Victor is meant to stay relatively thin and streamlined so this isn’t a big surprise to me at all. For me, I was able to fit my spare mobile phone (Galaxy S4 is a bit tight while the iPhone 5 is a much better fit) in one compartment and my iPad Mini, a granola bar, a lightning cable, and a spare thumb drive in the other. I would consider that the bare minimum of what I would need on a regular day.
Each compartment is lined with weatherproof, independently suspended, military-grade, 18-oz. truck-tarpaulin liner. Again, this is exactly like on their other, more larger bags. This makes the interior water resistant, allowing you to keep the contents of the Victor nice and dry. Both compartments are held shut using Velcro while the smaller mobile phone compartment has an added quick release, adjustable buckle. On the front of the larger compartment, there is a reflective strip for night visibility that also serves as mounting loops for attaching carabineers or bike lights.
If you’re looking for a case to hold the very bare minimum, the Chrome Industries Victor Urban Utility Belt is what you’re looking for. It’s small, light weight, thin, and is great for outings where you really don’t need to carry much. There are times when I wear pants and I just don’t feel like holding a bunch of stuff in my pockets and I don’t have enough stuff to justify carrying a whole backpack for it. The Victor allows me to carry what I need, when I need it and with a tiny footprint. It’s cooler looking than a fanny pack and you can wear it like a sling bag which makes he contents easily accessible.
In all honesty, this utility bag is almost perfect and I guess the only real complaint is that it might be too small for some. You have to be really choosy with what you consider essential that needs to be carried around, but to me, that’s not a negative at all. To me, that just trains you to not pack everything and the kitchen sink and gets you really thinking about what is really important and what isn’t.
The Chrome Industries Victor Urban Utility Belt retails for $85.00 and can be purchased straight from Chrome on their website here. It comes in only black, although there is a limited edition version of it called the Victor Reflective Camo that comes in three different colors, but I’ll talk more about that in a separate review.