Review: Mission Workshop’s Advanced Projects VX Large Rucksack
Mission Workshop set out to make products that not only perform far better than expected, but that are also aesthetically pleasing both on and off the bike. The resulting lineup shows this with innovative, well designed, and well thought out products that are riddled with class.
Taking that philosophy one step further, Mission Workshop has created their Advanced Projects series of products. They implement higher quality materials and hardware to bring products to the next level. I have spent the past few months using their Advanced Projects VX Large Rucksack as my daily bag. Past the jump find my thoughts on this high end backpack.
The VX Large Rucksack is the Advanced Projects version of Mission Workshop’s already great Fitzroy bag. The AP version gets the Arkiv closure system (more on this in a bit), and ups the material to a 1000 denier VX Cordura ripstop shell that is backed with a PTFE waterproof membrane. The bag is then lined with a lightweight VX70 ripstop liner. Sealed urethane coated zippers from YKK are used to keep water out of the small pockets.
Speaking of pockets, this bag has some good ones. The main compartment is large enough to fit anything you need on a daily basis with room to spare for that food and beer you may get on the way home. There is a large zippered pocket at the back of the main compartment that will hold pretty much any laptop made. Moving to the front, there is a small quick access pocket with a velcro flap that is always accessible, plus small and medium sized zippered pockets that are covered by the main flap. Finally, behind those two pockets is an open sleeve that can be used to fit things like a 13″ MacBook Air, iPad, or notebook.
Around back there is a grab handle at the top, a well padded back panel, and a pass through padded lower section to make use of the removable waist strap (sold separately for $34). The shoulder straps are sufficiently padded, and very adjustable. Their length can be adjusted from both the top and bottom ensuring you get correct and comfortable fit. They also have a slight dog leg curve at the bottom to help them lay as flat as possible against your body while wearing the bag. The top side of the straps have seat belt material loops for attaching accessories, and to keep things stable, a chest strap is present. And last, there is a loop at the bottom to attach a light to.
My initial impressions of the bag were very good. The first thing you notice when getting your hands on the bag is how high quality the material feels and looks. There is a subtle diamond pattern to the material that really sets it apart from the competition. The detail work on the bag is excellent. I have inspected this bag ever so closely, and every stitch is perfect. They just don’t make them any better than this.
In day to day use the bag has proven to be a fantastic choice. I tend to cary way to much stuff with me on a daily basis, and thus I love having a large waterproof bag. Not once has water found a way in. This was a concern of mine, as I have mostly used roll top packs in the past. Living in the Pacific NW, we see enough of the wet stuff, that it is vital to have a waterproof bag, and this one has not disappointed. When it comes to loading the bag, I always have my rain pants and jacket, three spare tubes, and tools in the main compartment. Even with those items, I can still fit my lunch, plus a six pack or a couple of 22oz bottles and food into the top on my way home as needed. Having a smaller laptop, I haven’t found much use for the internal laptop sleeve, but if you need, a 17″ laptop will easily fit. The sleeve is not padded however (minus what is present on the back panel.
The small velcro pocket around front has been great for quick access to things such as sunglasses, my inhaler, small blinky lights, and a pair of gloves and hat. The small zippered pocket keeps my bigger lights and headphones, and the large zippered pocket holds all my miscellaneous items such as reusable grocery bags, sharpie, pen and notepad, etc. The large external sleeve pocket holds either my 13″ MacBook Air or iPad.
I much prefer the flap style bags such as this one, to a roll top enclosure. It is much easier to get into the bag. With this AP bag, Mission Worksop has implemented their Arkiv hardware system. To get a better understand of how it works, watch the video. In practice, the straps feel very secure, and I have to say, I much prefer them to the traditional plastic clips. The only possible concern would be for the longevity of the elasticity in the straps, but with a lifetime warrantee this isn’t to much of a concern.
When wearing the bag, comfort is not an issue. It is very stable both on and off the bike. If you find you carry weighty items often, I do suggest the waist strap however, as it will help balance out the pack. For those times when you really need to haul a lot of stuff, the bag does expand upwards a bit. However, when loaded like this, it can be a bit unstable as it becomes top heavy. Load it to high, and you may find it hits the back of your helmet. This is a common issue with this type of bag, and for that reason, I personally prefer to haul really large bundles in a bag that expands outward instead of upward. The only other slight issue I have with the pack is the absence of side pockets. I often found myself placing a water bottle in the side pocket of my previous bag, and miss the ability to do so on this one. In the past, I have also used side pockets, plus compression straps to carry a tripod and light stands as well.
In conclusion, this bag is a high quality product that will not only meet your daily carrying needs, but do it in style and last a lifetime. The high end fabrics, Arkiv hardware, and fine detail work do come at a premium price however. The AP VX Large Rucksack comes in at $319 in your choice of black or slate. If the bag sounds like a great idea, but the cost is to much, the Fitzroy is a more manageable $219.