Chrome Industries – the original maker of bombproof gear for living and riding in the city. Except for the bombproof part, but only because we didn’t want to take our testing to that extreme (yet), Chrome stands out as a top company for durable long lasting gear. The company entered the scene almost two decades ago with their commitment to “make simple, functional gear using industrial strength materials that can hold up to the changing and unpredictable nature of the city”. This commitment is still strong today.
Recently, we had the great pleasure of reviewing one of their camera bags, the Niko Pack Camera Backpack, along with their forged rubber Ishak shoes. The perfect combination for the urban exploring photographer. Of course the two don’t have to go together, but they make a great duo. For my testing sessions I hit the streets on my bike for a day of spontaneous photo shoots. With the Ishak shoes on my feet and the Niko Pack on my back, I didn’t miss a beat.
- Water resistant
- Customizable padded interior
- Integrated laptop sleeve
For the urban traveling day shooter, Chrome Industries Niko Pack Camera Backpack is the perfect combination of practicality, functionality and comfort. Equipped with a highly durable water resistant outer layer and a customizable padded inner compartment, this backpack kept my gear protected. The wind was blowing hard with a storm front coming in, which to a photographer who lives near Lake Michigan means one thing – photo opportunity. Taking the bike down to the lighthouse for some quick pictures became easier with the Niko Pack. It holds all the gear I need for quick day trips like this. The waterproof outer layer held true when a sudden wave came crashing over the pier, soaking me from head to toe. Panic for the safety of the gear was the first thing that came across my mind, but as soon as I got to dry land and inspected everything, I didn’t see an ounce of moisture on the inside. If the Niko Pack can handle a sudden tidal wave it can definitely hold up in a rain shower.
This bag is not meant to hold a crazy amount of gear so don’t expect to bring your whole studio with you. While the interior padded dividers can be moved around to your liking, you are still limited with space. It took some work, but after many adjustments with the padded dividers I was able to fit what I needed nice and secure. Zippered pockets on the inside flap are great for holding Flash/SD cards and extra batteries. Hidden in the bag is an integrated laptop sleeve that is supposed to hold up to a 15″ laptop. This may be a overstatement. Once I got all the gear loaded up, it seemed almost impossible to fit a 15″ laptop safely. Smaller sizes, however, slide right into the sleeve with no trouble. The shoulder straps are wide and thick enough to be comfortable. The adjustment buckles are made from a durable metal and hold the straps secure. The chest strap keeps the bag in place while you’re on the move and can be adjusted up or down to fit your body properly. Carrying a tripod is also easy. The strong velcro straps on the front of the bag can hold most tripods or monopods. Really, you could strap anything you want to it including your skateboard or an extra jacket. There is an easy access top compartment that you can throw other necessities in like snacks, personal items or clothes. To access the full main gear compartment you have to remove the bag from your back so you can unclip the safety straps then unzip it in it’s entirety, which is the only issue I had with it. It definitely is not a quick access bag.
With all the camera backpacks on the market today, I feel this one is best suited for those who live in urban areas and always on the move from one location to the next for their day shoots. It is even great for traveling photographers because you can carry it onto the plane. The Niko Pack is tough enough to handle a beating and much of what mother nature throws at you. While it can’t hold excessive amounts of gear, it’s just right for the minimalist photographer. Valued at $180, the Niko Pack is a great camera bag companion for traveling photographers and is built to last.
- Forged rubber
- Antimicrobial treatment on inner lining
- Reinforced eyestay and heel tab
- Comfort footbed
Chrome Industries forged rubber Ishak shoes were created to last longer than your typical sneakers. Built with the everyday city dweller in mind, these super tough sneakers are forged using 1986 World War II boot making machines from Slovakia. Because these shoes are built to last, that means it’ll take a little longer to break in. When I first tried them on they were about a half size too big, so I went with a smaller size. Out of the box they felt pretty stiff, but not uncomfortable. It took about a week of everyday use for these shoes to hit optimal comfort. The forging process however, takes only 15 minutes. Chrome achieves this by using 300 degrees of heat and extreme pressure to forge a molten rubber sole directly to the canvas. When you combine the forged rubber with higher grade canvas material, it makes for a much tougher shoe. Different than your typical shoes that usually have their soles glued on. If you’re like me, you wear out your shoes relatively fast. These bad boys seem to have a longer shelf life… sorry, longer “active” life.
As far as the style goes, there are many to choose from. The Ishak pair that we’re reviewing were built in Thailand and have a 12.5 oz upper canvas, natural rubber outsoles, and a reflective PU. The eyestay and heel tab details are reinforced with PU reflective leather. I’m a fan of the simple clean black look with the red lace accent. This shoe also comes in a black canvas with a gum color sole or an olive canvas with a camo color sole.
The Ishak shoes are not meant to be used as a fitness shoe, so be aware that they have very little arch support. The added reflective details are a plus for those who like to get around town on a bike. So if you’re looking for a durable pair of footwear that’ll keep up with your everyday on the go lifestyle while still maintaining that sleek casual look, then check out the Ishak or their variety of other shoes.