I now own both an expensive and cheap option for carrying my board games. I've seen lots of people online asking about if it's worth spending the money on an expensive bag, or is the cheap option just as good. Let's compare them both.
The Game Canopy is designed from the start to carry the weight of several games at once. It is stitched with that purpose in mind, as the handle straps are actually one long piece, going all the way around the base of the bag, stitched in several places, distributing the load across the whole length. The ChromaCast bag is designed to carry a cajon, a square drum that is much lighter than a stack of board games. It is lightly stitched, with the top handles are only stitched to the top of the bag. Because of this, although the capacity of the ChromaCast bag is greater than that of the Canopy, the Canopy has a higher carry load limit. My ChromaCast has already ripped where the handle meets the bag, even though I avoid filling it fully.
There are two stitched on thin shoulder straps on the ChromaCast, with a very minimal rubber pad on each or your shoulders that effectively does nothing while carrying games in my experience. If they were replaceable, I'd invest in better ones seperately, but they're not. This is a pity, as, given the weakness in the top handles, this is how I mainly use the bag. The shoulder strap for the Canopy is high quality, with a thick shoulder pad that includes a nice light rubbery underside to stop it slipping. It's great, with one catch. It doesn't come included with the bag, but is an additional purchase. Still, it's strong, has really nice clips and looks great.
The materials on the main bag bodies are very different as well. The Game Canopy is made of a much higher quality material, both inside and out. The exterior is a lovely dense weave fabric with a pleasing shine, and the interior is durable but soft, protecting those precious game boxes. The ChromaCast has a lighter fabric on the outside and a very light fabric on the inside. It's not terrible by any means, but certainly cheaper looking and feeling, plus, I'm wary of it rubbing against the game boxes, especially as the fit isn't quite as snug as the Canopy.
Which brings me to padding. The ChromaCast is padded to hold a cajon, so it has nice padding around the sides, and even on the top and base. The main difference is that, while appearing to be roughly the same thickness as the padding in the ChromaCast, the Canopy padding is a more rigid material, holding the bags shape even when empty. Also, the Canopy has a protective flap of padding inside the zip to prevent the zip from making contact with the boxes.
The Canopy is fit to hold standard sized game boxes snuggly, with no room to shift around and rub against anything. The ChromaCast is just a fraction bigger in width and depth, allows boxs to slide inside just a bit. I avoid this by including play mats on the side to fill out that gap. The Canopy can hold five game boxes, while the ChromaCast holds about seven, though, as mentioned above, I don't advise filling it.
Finally, the Canopy includes four D-rings and a pocket front and back, perfect for clipping a water bottle too, or storing small snacks. The pockets are big enough to hold small card games to help get your game evening rolling, though they don't have a cover, so be aware of the weather outside. There is a full rain cover available for the Canopy that covers everything, which I got because I live in Vancouver. The ChromaCast has no extra features. I guess cajon players don't need snacks. Or a quick round of Rhino Hero before the gig.
It's obvious that the Game Canopy is a far superior product, but that was never going to be the take away here. It costs six to seven times that of the ChromaCast cajon bag. Of course it's better. That doesn't mean the ChromaCast is bad. In fact, I really like it. It's certainly a fine alternative as long as you keep a few things in mind, namely not to over load it and maybe consider getting a trolly to move it instead of carrying it.
But, the Game Canopy is gorgeous. I'm delighted I got it, and am perfectly happy to have paid so much for the final product. It's going to be joining me to all my board game meet ups and conventions for many years to come.
So what would I recommend? I can't easily answer that. If you can afford the Game Canopy and even think it might be, possibly, maybe worth it for what you need, then get it. It absolutely is what you need. It's every bit as amazing as it looks. But if you just want something cheap and functional, the ChromaCast cajon bag is perfectly adequate. It's not going to set your world on fire, but it's better than plastic grocery bags!!