Rolly’s Brisbane Outdoor Gear Chunky Toad review.
This is my Brisbane Outdoor Gear Chunky Toad backpack.
You’ve likely heard me talking these up before, but it’s about time I gave this one a proper review for anyone thinking about getting themselves a new pack.
This pack was kind of a long way coming, as my shitty old Gravis backpack was always destined to self destruct once I started cycling and packing it full of tools and d-locks etc.
BOGear was pretty much my first port of call after my Papermunky messenger bag had already treated me so well.
Quick email to Dave at BOGear to ask him what my options were and, within 3 days, I was hooked up with one of the original Chunky Toad “tester” bags. The tester bags were distributed amongst trusted individuals to use and “dirtify” in order to find their limits and which parts needed tweaking to maximise comfort and still remain strong as can be.
Jump forward a week and I already knew this bag was exactly what I wanted, but with a few additional minor tweaks to make it my own. Ideas were sent back and forth via email, some things couldn’t be done, some could, and eventually we agreed on exactly what I wanted and I gave Dave the green light to go ahead with making the bag.
Fast forward 3 more weeks and it was done and, truth be told, I was a little taken aback at my own decision to go with such a lewd and obnoxious colour scheme! What the hell was I thinking?!?! Lime green??? Muppet. Dave was stoked with it though, and assured me the pics didn’t do the colour scheme justice. Trusting his judgement on the overall finish and changing some of the straps back to black to “tone it down” was a good move and when it arrived I knew I’d made the right call, it looked AWESOME. Bright as all hell and totally my own. The reflective stripping also works really well, so here’s hoping there’s no “sorry mate, didn’t see ya” from here on in. Worth mentioning here, when I ordered my bag the reflective strips were only available in straight designs, hence the hashtag. Since then I’ve sent Dave some info on getting whole sheets of the reflective material, so here’s hoping we’ll soon see some awesome custom shapes on his bags.
Now, the bag itself. I won’t go into too many details about the actual material used, Dave explains that best here (along with the full bag specs), but I can tell you it’s tough. I’ve carried a weeks worth of clothes, a frame, an entire bike minus the wheels, wheels (twice), my laptop and various other amounts of shit, all without any discomfort and never doubting that it could manage the task. It’s covered in loops and tie down points.
GET THE HIP BELT. The test bag I had didn’t have one of these but I ordered one on the assurance it was worth the extra $25. It totally is. Manages the weight really well and saves your back without any discomfort. Only gripe is that it renders the pockets in my jacket kinda useless, but it’s not that big an issue really.
I also added 2 additional side pockets for a water bottle/camera/sunnies/lights etc as getting into the bag quickly can be kinda tricky when sitting at the lights and needing to get something out or throw the sunnies in the bag as the light fades. So far these have proved a great addition and I’m glad I got them.
The adjustable straps on either side of the bag help to adjust the volume as needed, and they’re good to have when you’ve actually got less, rather than more, to carry. Big bags often carry the complaint that when empty they don’t sit well on your back. Not the case with the Chunky Toad. I imagine, as summer gets nearer I will start to use my Papermunky more often, but while it’s cold and wet, and a change of clothes is often needed, I’ll be using the Toad for a while yet. With the darker months here, I was also keen to get something to help improve my visibility without resorting to wearing a hi-viz safety vest. You can see how effective the hashtag reflective stripping is. I’ve had reports it’s visible from a few hundred metres, so that helps me feel somewhat at ease on the nightly ride home.
Dave’s also managed to tweak the main flap slightly, and one of the best features is that it can be tucked into itself slightly when not jam-packed. The main advantage of this is that it limits the size of the “blind spot” caused by the large size of the pack. It’s a common problem with larger backpacks and I think this addresses it well. It’s still something you need to be mindful of, but with the Chunky Toad it is lessened somewhat.
Anyway, this review has blown out more than planned, and I still don’t feel I’ve fully conveyed how much I love this bag and feel that it is worth every penny. I fully expect this thing to last me 10 years with no fuss. If there is any fuss, Dave will repair it without question (my Papermunky also received a full overhaul while I had the tester Chunky Toad. Amazing!). That’s the best bit about BOGear, the customer service is second to none.
So if you’ve been thinking about getting a decent backpack, hit up Dave and the crew at Brisbane Outdoor Gear, it’s worth it. Seriously.