Bag Week 2018: Chrome’s Niko Hold secures compact camera gear in a sleek package

Most camera bags prioritize function over form, which makes sense for protecting some of your most expensive gear, but it’s still a bummer. If you’re both practical and interested in cultivating cool, aloof photographer vibes instead of dorky ones, Chrome’s Niko lineup of camera bags is definitely worth a look.

Chrome’s Niko Hold ($60, Chrome Industries) is the company’s smallest camera bag, but if you’re looking for something larger the Niko Messenger and the Niko F-Stop backpack share its sensibilities with a larger form factor. The Niko Hold fits a pretty specific niche, but given the soaring popularity of small-bodied mirrorless full frame cameras and increasingly powerful compact cameras, it’s a pretty wide one.

With a volume of seven liters, the Niko Hold won’t carry a full-size DSLR or big zoom lenses well but it’s a great fit for a smaller setup. I used to carry the old version of the Niko backpack, but these days it’s just too much case for my cameras and I’ve been looking for something tough that’s a more suitable size but doesn’t look like it came from the clearance section at Best Buy.

To test the Niko Hold, I carried this for a week of off-and-on event photography near Los Angeles, both fixed shooting on stages and more candid outdoor shooting. The bag is sleek and solid, with a very structured rectangular vibe that looks and feels professional without being boring. I felt confident that my equipment would be safe if the weather suddenly turned, but this pack is more water resistant than fully waterproof, but you’d probably have a special housing for extreme weather needs anyway. There are plenty of circumstances I shoot in that would be a bad fit for this camera bag but for event and street photography it proved ideal. Obviously, you shouldn’t take the Niko Hold on a backpacking or climbing trip, it’s much more of an urban bag than one designed for the outdoors.

To be clear, the Niko Hold isn’t great for fast access, but it worked well for my shooting needs which were mostly carrying my camera, lenses and accessories to and from a location securely. The Niko Hold’s seam-sealed zipper isn’t fast for getting things in and out, but if I’m ready to shoot my camera would be on my hip anyway. Of course, that won’t always be the case, but there are plenty of other designs with faster access in mind, including the Niko Messenger.

Within the Niko Hold, two dividers offer a little customizable organization, while there are just enough zippered pockets for stashing SD cards and other small accessories, like a phone and wallet if it’s the only bag you’re carrying.

The Niko Hold is small, but it can accommodate plenty of compact gear. In my time testing it, the Niko Hold carried my Sony A7S II body, an 18-200mm lens, all of the necessary chargers, SD cards and extra batteries and sometimes even a backup Sony RX 100 II. Its all-black 1050d ballistic nylon construction meant that the bag looked and felt like a small set of armor for my gear, which was ideal. More than anything, this camera bag feels snug and secure.

Small camera cases are usually intended for casual photographers, but this felt like pro level protection and thoughtfulness, which was refreshing for a professional photographer who has downsized my gear over the years. If you’ve converted to camera equipment on the smaller side, carrying your stuff in Chrome’s Niko Hold will give both your gear and your shooting style the respect it deserves. Finally.

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