Chrome Industries Hawes 26L and Highline 20L backpack review – maybe the perfect laptop bag

We use affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Chrome Industries Hawes Highline 01 scaled e1715019782899

REVIEW – My old laptop bag finally gave out, so when Chrome Industries offered to send me their Hawes 26L and Highline 20L backpacks to try out, I was stoked. Let’s see what the Chrome Industries Hawes 26L and Highline 20L laptop backpacks have to offer.

What is it?

The Hawes 26L and Highline 20L backpacks are the newest backpacks from Chrome Industries which was started in a small garage in Colorado in 1995 and you may remember them for putting an Oldsmobile seat belt buckle on their messenger bags to overcome the problem of dropping a fully loaded bag. They moved from Colorado to Portland, OR and now make shoes, slings, clothing, and bags geared toward cycling and urban life.

What’s included?

  • Backpack
  • Sticker

Tech specs

Click to expand Tech Specs

Hawes 26L Backpack Style: BG-371-BK-NA-NA

  • T-Lok shoulder straps for adaptable fit and carry
  • Zip entry padded laptop sleeve, fits most 15″ devices, actual size: 16″ x 11.5″
  • Multiple internal organizer pockets keep the smaller things at hand
  • External zip padded sunglasses or phone pocket
  • Side water bottle pockets fit up to a 2.5″ diameter bottle
  • Removable sternum strap
  • Roller bag handle pass through strap for travel ease
  • External U-lock storage to stow your lock
  • Designed for commuting, day trips, and being on the go
  • Lifetime warranty against material or workmanship defects
  • Volume: 26 Liters
  • Height: 19″ | Width: 12.5″ | Depth 5.5″
  • Weight: 2.6lbs (1.18kg)
  • Materials: 1050D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon, 600D recycled polyester with a 150D recycled polyester liner
  • Spot clean, hang in a well-ventilated area to dry

Highline 20L Backpack Style: BG-383-BK-NA-NA

  • Plush custom knit shoulder straps
  • Padded internal laptop sleeve fits most 16″ laptops
  • External and internal organization pockets
  • Padded sunglasses or phone pocket
  • Roller bag handle pass-through strap
  • 100% recycled fabrics
  • PFAS-free, keeping the “forever chemicals” out of our world
  • Lifetime warranty against material or workmanship defects
  • Volume: 20 Liters
  • Water bottle: up to 3″ diameter
  • Height: 18″ | Width: 10″ | Depth: 6″
  • Weight: 1.48lbs (0.67kg)
  • Device sleeve: 10.5″ x 11.75″
  • Strap circumference: 32-46″
  • Materials: 400D recycled crinkle nylon with a 150D recycled polyester liner
  • Spot clean, hang in a well-ventilated area to dry


Design and features

If you live near Portland, OR you can see Chrome Industries products in person at The Drop Box located at 1313 NW Glisan St, Portland Oregon 97209. If not, the Chrome Industries website has tons of pictures and videos of their products.

The Chrome Industries Hawes 26L pack is the perfect size and capacity for my normal daily use. There are two side water bottle pockets that are only supposed to fit 2.5” diameter water bottles. A one liter or 32 oz Nalgene bottle is 3.5” in diameter and I was able to squeeze one in on each side but it was a tight fit. It also pushed into the bag a bit so depending on how full the bag is there may not be enough give.

There are two main compartments to separate your stuff, a top zip padded sunglass or phone pocket and two pockets in the front with the bottom one perfect for a U-lock.

One neat thing about the Hawes 26L pack is that the straps are fully adjustable using their T-Lok system. You can move them in or out and up or down on the MOLLE webbing to get the perfect fit. Here’s a video showing how you can completely remove one strap and turn it into a sling. I prefer two straps and I also like that it comes with a sternum strap.

The Hawes is constructed with 1050D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon, 600D recycled polyester with a 150D recycled polyester liner which is a bit thicker than the Highline and the shape allowed it to easily stand upright either empty or full. It is available in three colors which are Black, Royale (purple), and Castlerock Twill (grey.) The laptop sleeve is well padded and is designed to fit most 15” devices but I was just able to fit my Acemagic 16X Pro 16.1” laptop but it was a tight fit to get past the zipper. As long as your laptop is under 14.5” wide it should fit. I had to take my mouse dongle out to slide it past the zipper. I liked the Hawes 26L for my normal work day requirements. It will fit a change of clothes, my coffee, and my laptop just fine.

The Chrome Industries Highline 20L pack is available in four colors with the same Black and Royale from the Hawes but adds Sage and Sandstone. The Highline 20L is constructed from 400D recycled crinkle nylon with a 150D recycled polyester liner which is lighter at 1.48lbs and thinner than the Hawes which weighs in at 2.6lbs. The shoulder straps are plush custom knit but do not include a sternum strap.

The Highline 20L has a top zip padded pocket for sunglasses or a phone but sports only one main zipper compartment. The front has a full length zip pocket for additional gear or a U-lock and the two water bottle pockets can fit a 3” diameter bottle but again I was able to squeeze a 3.5” Nalgene into each one.

The laptop sleeve is on the inside therefore can fit most 16” laptops. I had no issue with my 16.1” laptop fitting which was a tight fit in the Hawes. I really liked the Highline 20L for quick bike trips. It’s super light at only 1.48 lbs but the straps are very comfy and plenty of space to grab a few things from the store.

What I like about the Hawes 26L and Highline 20L

  • Hawes 26L has an external padded laptop sleeve and stand on its own
  • Highline 20L is super light with comfy straps
  • Quality build and materials

What needs to be improved?

  • Nothing
Chrome Industries Hawes Highline 02
Highline 20L on left and Hawes 26L on right

Final thoughts

For daily demands, I really liked the Chrome Industries Hawes 26L. It was the perfect size for everything I need to carry everyday and I plan to use it when I fly since it has an external padded laptop sleeve. It can stand up on its own and even though it has ample storage it really didn’t feel like too big. The Highline 20L was a bit small for daily duty but was the perfect size for bike rides and weekend coffee runs. Both packs felt really well made and thought out. If you are looking for a new backpack I would definitely recommend checking out what Chrome Industries has to offer.

Price: The Hawes 26L is $150.00 and the Highline 20L is $115.00.
Where to buy: The Chrome Industries website Hawes 26L and the Highline 20L
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Chrome Industries. Chrome Industries did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *