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Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill



Useful, comfortable and rugged, but expensive; and hopeless if it rains
Good organisation
Useful size
Comfy and secure
Lets in rain
No venting or stiffening on back
Looks a bit cheap

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Chrome Kadet Max is a neat, secure way to transport a laptop (or your other commute-y type things), and it's usefully big without being bulky. However, as it's only water-resistant and not waterproof its usefulness is limited – and while certainly sturdy, it doesn't really feel as premium as its price.

> Buy now: Chrome Kadet Max for £142 from Chrome Industries

Our best cycling backpacks buyer's guide looks at some of our favourite alternatives to courier bags for carrying your kit.

To be honest, the lack of waterproofing on a bag specifically aimed at expensive electronics is a bit of a deal-killer for me. The Kadet Max sits on your back with the zip uppermost – its biggest weakspot is right in the line of fire when it rains. And although the main zip is coated and looks water-resistant, 10-15 minutes of heavy rain is enough for it to leak. The zip on the front pocket is just cloth and, once soaked, it too lets in water – badly enough for it to run down inside the pocket and start soaking the internal divider from the bottom up.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - logo patch.jpg

Really, everything else is secondary if heavy rain is going to reach your laptop; even a waterproof flap would go a long way to making this bag more trustworthy and versatile. The twill fabric here beads water fairly well, but only where it's angled so it trickles away fast; the upper sections darken and get soggy rapidly.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - strap detail 1.jpg

Sure, you could wrap your (up to 15in) device in plastic and protect it that way, but do you want to pay £142 and still rely on a Tesco bag? The padded interior is not exactly quick-drying for the trip home, either.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - inside laptop sleeve.jpg

Hashtag laptopgoals aside, the Kadet is well-sized for commuting in the dry, and a good option for carrying 15L-worth of regular gear that won't die an expensive death if it does rain.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - back.jpg

Once strapped on – something that's easily done thanks to the quick-release buckle – it lies comfortably and securely across your back, and a small second strap under your other armpit keeps it very stable.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - strap detail 4.jpg

There's no stiffening across the rear panel so it conforms very comfortably to your body, so long as you pack carefully and keep any lumpy objects carefully aligned. There's no channelling or foam padding to encourage airflow, so you can get quite warm underneath.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - back.jpg

I like the quick-release main buckle, though I'd stop a very long way short of calling it 'iconic' the way Chrome does. The button doesn't need much pressure yet once latched it feels strong, though unfortunately it's got rather a tinny, cheap action which I found a little disappointing given the price.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - strap detail 2.jpg

The 2in buckles are removable so you can fit other colours and designs, or swap to a simple plastic clip if you prefer. Using a plastic clip would be 76.4% less iconic, however, according to a renowned calculation I just did on my legendary toes.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - front pocket.jpg

The long, seatbelt-type strap and the padded shoulder section are removable so you can set this up for left or right shoulder carrying. There's a substantial elastic keeper for the excess strap too, so it's not just flapping in the breeze. Tidy.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - straps.jpg

The compression straps and their buckles are just as strong and reliable as the main harness, and the thick reflective striping on them is a welcome detail. There's also a handy webbing handle for carrying this briefcase style, though the messy stitching here is another detail that disappoints. It does at least feel strong.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - carry handle.jpg

Inside you find two pretty useful rows of pockets (including one stretchy mesh one) and a yellow background to make finding things easier. Opposite the pockets, against your back, sits the padded laptop slot with a Velcro-down seatbelt strap for a closure.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - inside organiser.jpg

The wide-zipped outside pocket has another row of internal organisers and the same usefully bright lining. Once again it all feels rugged enough to last well, but once again the stitching and general finish is disappointing given the premium price.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - base detail.jpg

The choice of materials doesn't help there either, in my opinion; the recycled nylon back panel in particular feels plasticky and cheap, and the lining is utilitarian and a little rough rather than plush. The recycled polyester twill main section on this particular colour does, at least, look a little bit more interesting. Basically though, the Kadet lacks the sense of quality and design panache that the Chrome Bravo 4.0 Backpack has, which is a shame.

2023 Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill - base.jpg

If this was £71 instead of £142 I wouldn't be so critical, but it isn't.


You can find bags that offer more usability for less money quite easily. The Apidura City Messenger, for instance, is over £50 cheaper at £91 and good enough to earn itself 9/10 from Josh, though it only fits laptops up to 13in.

Something like the Carradice Odyssey XL Saddlebag would be a good option; it's not totally waterproof either, but Stu found it good enough to resist hours of rain, much bigger at 21-26L, and it can take a shoulder strap – though it doesn't come with one. Still, it's only £100, while a dedicated saddle mount is £42, so you can carry a much bigger bag off your back for exactly the same price as the Kadet.

Altura doesn't seem to list the Grid Messenger Bag that we reviewed in 2021 any more, but it's still widely available at close to its £60 RRP. Alternatively, the Altura Heritage Messenger Bag is available now for £70, is made from water-resistant waxed cotton, and has a more rain-secure roll-top closure than the Kadet.

You could also look at something like the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack Roll Top Waterproof, which isn't nearly as cool but Stu found it bigger, cheaper and properly waterproof. It's £99.99 and offers 30L of space.


This is comfortable and – so long as it's a nice day – useful. It lacks the designer feel its fairly premium price implies, however, and unless you live in a desert you're going to need to add a drybag to make it safe.


Useful, comfortable and rugged, but expensive – and hopeless if it rains test report

Make and model: Chrome Kadet Max Castlerock Twill

Size tested: One Size

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Chrome says: "Smaller than a messenger, bigger than a sling – the Kadet Max cross-body is that perfect goldilocks size laptop bag for your daily commute essentials."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Water-resistant shoulder bag carry with removable stabilizer strap

Tech organization with padded 15" laptop sleeve

Laptop sleeve pocket measures 9" x 16"

Iconic (swappable) seatbelt buckle for easy on & off

Reversible shoulder strap for right or left carry

External zip pocket for organization

Cargo straps for added carry capacity

Swappable buckle works with LG size 2" buckles

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Fine in the dry, a liability in the wet.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Sits comfortably and securely on your back and it's quick to get off.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It lets in rain and looks cheaper than the price implies.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

It's a fair bit more expensive than some far better bags.

Did you enjoy using the product? Kind of

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is comfortable and – so long as it's a nice day – very useful. It feels ruggedly built, too, although the finishing is not the tidiest. It lacks the designer feel its fairly premium price implies, however, and unless you live in a desert you're going to need a drybag to make this laptop-safe.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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