My long awaited review of the Marathon Backpack is here! Chrome, the company behind the design and construction of the Marathon and a wide variety of additional apparel, sent this bag out for a product test and review. I spent roughly two and a half weeks with the pack attached to my backside, traveling through various areas in Austin, Texas.
The Marathon Backpack falls somewhere between a student pack and an all-purpose carrying utility. As with any product review, specifically those associated to the realm of Carry, my review covers the following:
Let’s see if Chrome’s lifetime guarantee holds up to my vigorous testing:
Design (Exterior & Interior)
The design, both in concept and construction, is where Chrome has a distinct edge over other luggage purveyors. This particular Marathon Backpack features an all red colorway with black trim and accents throughout. Typically, the number one factor we associate with apparel and gear are compliments. And the distinct design aesthetic netted plenty of compliments during my brief test period. It may have been the fact that my pack stood out a bit more because it was brighter than most, nonetheless, I enjoyed basking in the momentary stardom.
On the carry side of things, the Marathon has the general appearance of a standard backpack. There are two shoulder straps on the back of the pack that feature an “ergonomic design” with additional mesh styling on the back of the straps. The shoulder straps also include a fastening chest piece for extra support in the event that you pack on the heavier side. On the top portion of the backpack there is also a small handheld strap for quick trips that do not require the process of “putting-on” and “taking-off” the shoulder straps.
The back portion of the bag is constructed using the EVA foam material used on previous bags I have reviewed. On the Marathon, the foam manages to add a bit more comfort to the carrying process, without that uncomfortable chaffing feeling I have experienced with other bags. On each side of the bag there are also adjustable straps that control the depth expansion of the bag. Basically, adjusting these straps allows the backpack to expand if you pack larger items or a ton of books. I also liked the “look” of the stainless steel buckles, however I found the fastening function on the front buckle of the bag to be a bit cumbersome and frustrating at times. The dexterity required to fasten the front buckle is cool in theory, but I found it to be a hair too complex. I hate to use the word “streamline,” because I feel that it takes away from the originality of the bag, but I would have changed the fastener to something a tad more “seamless,” as that seemed to be the approach of this backpack.
When it comes to exterior pockets, Chrome sticks with a minimalistic approach on the Marathon. There is one small pocket on the flap, one larger pocket underneath the flap (on the front body), and one pocket on the side of the bag for water bottles or other things you put in side pockets. As part tech geek, part fashion enthusiast I find myself torn with the number of pockets utilized on the backpack. On one hand, I love the near uni-body, seamless design of the Marathon. That seamless look, really captures and hones in on what makes the bag unique. On the other hand, I do not feel like there are enough pockets for the tech geeks of the world. Anyone with a go-to tech bag knows the subtle importance of having small pockets for little cords and chargers, versus dumping them all in one or two big pockets.
The interior of the bag is about as simplistic as they come, minus the ultra-cool truck tarp lining. There is one, medium-sized zipper pocket that is really only noticeable because of the silver zipper. Again I found myself at odds with the number of pockets and extra compartments within the bag versus the incredibly seamless look of the bag.
The Marathon Backpack is definitely built for the long haul. The Cordura body did a pretty good job weathering some of our over-the-top durability tests. The backpack has more of a “solid” feel as opposed to a “rough” feel that you may experience with rugged, heavy duty bags. It survived being run over by a car and thrown off of my two story building, filled with water balloons.
I also weighted down the backpack with 50 pounds worth of dumbells without so much as a hiccup. The added support from the chest fastening strap provided enough support to help with the additional weight without an issue. I also ran the YKK zippers through my 500 zip test and they held up well. Should I experience any bends, breaks, or snaps I will update this section accordingly.
The Marathon Backpack has a 21L capacity; its flat dimensions are 14.5″ wide by 18.5″ high by 6.5″ deep. There is a grand total of 5 compartments, including the large main compartment and I tested the bag carrying just about everything at my disposal. One thing I did note (perhaps I could have listed in Design), is that there is not a sleeve for laptops. I would suggest purchasing a sleeve for anyone interested in putting their laptop into the Marathon. Chrome does mention that the Marathon backpack supports a 15.4″ laptop and they include the information in regard to not supporting an integrated laptop sleeve. Anyone looking for an integrated laptop sleeve should check out their Laptop Bags. For the curious, I packed my bag in several different variations:
Marathon Gamer Packed
- One Xbox 360
- One Razer Onza Xbox 360 Controller
- One Astro A40 Gaming Headset
- One copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops
- GUNNAR Optiks
- All Wiring for Equipment
Marathon Student Pack
- Two Books
- Two Notebooks
- One Sony Vaio Laptop (with sleeve)
- Three Pens
- One iPod
- An extra shirt
- One Water Bottle
Marathon Tech Pack
- One Macbook Pro (with sleeve)
- One Astro A30 Headset
- One iPod
- One Journal
- Two Pens
All-in-all I was pleased with the holding capacity of the Marathon backpack. It got the job done no matter how I organized the bag. As previously mentioned, I was at odds with the number of small compartments available for chargers and cables especially with the Gamer and Tech Packs. They require a number of additional wires to accommodate for the extra devices. I felt like the ideal pack was clearly the student variation. The Marathon has plenty of space for books, pens, pencils and the trust laptop. The additional chest fastening strap will also provide support for the days where the backpack is crammed to capacity (I hated those days).
Pros and Cons
- Fits the Price Point of $100.00
- Great for Students
- Great Build Quality
- Protects the Goods
- Attention Getter
- Fastening the buckle on the front flap is cumbersome
- Limited number of compartments (interior)
End of the Day
The Marathon is an interesting take on the backpack design. The overall construction and build quality of the pack are first class and make for a fine piece carrying equipment. Gadgeteers and tech savvy may steer clear of the Marathon, perhaps leaning towards one of Chrome’s bags specifically geared towards laptops. I would highly recommend the Marathon Backpack to students or individuals looking to stand out amongst the crowd.
The Marathon is one fine piece of carry.
Click Here For More Photos: Marathon Photo Gallery via AmazYn Facebook Page