Review: Mission Workshop’s Advanced Projects VX Large Rucksack

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Front View

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Arkiv Hardware

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Liner

The fabric of the bag's liner has a nice pattern that matches the exterior's subtle diamond pattern.

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Rear Straps

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Fabric Pattern

Notice the diamond pattern here. Classy.

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Side View Open

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.

Mission Workshop VX Large Rucksack Open

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.

Comments

harro chan - 01/16/13 - 12:15am

I love my mission workshop vx bag. i get questions about it all the time.

Jay - 01/16/13 - 12:16am

What fenders are those? They look rather snazzy.

JZ - 01/16/13 - 11:34am

harro chan, don’t those big corners block your over the shoulder view when riding? A backpack designed for commuting with a big square shape defies logic in my mind and is downright dangerous. Maybe you ride in the drops and just look under your arm pro-style.

icyclebay - 01/16/13 - 12:18pm

JZ- This bag sits much lower than other two strap, messenger style bags like the chrome ranchero and roll tops. It allows you to have an unrestricted view backwards. These bags are the best that you can buy, and the guys at Mission Workshop are great to work with, made in US with a great focus on R&D and quality materials to make functional bags. I have been selling and using these bags since their inception, and I have yet to have any warranty issues with them. If you want the best, this is it.

Nick Burklow - 01/16/13 - 12:37pm

@Jay – Those happen to be custom carbon fenders from Ruckus Components, that were painted using an old school lacing technique.

@JZ – you bring up a valid point – I am fairly tall at 6’2″, but I do have to turn my body more than usual if I have a lot of stuff in the bag in order to see around my shoulder.

Adam2 - 01/16/13 - 1:07pm

I’d be all about this product if it doubled as a pannier bag. When riding, you want to lower your centre of gravity as much possible. That would ‘meet’ my expectations for a cycling product. Cummon guys!

bin judgin - 01/16/13 - 5:50pm

backpacks suck for serious cargo. boxes NEVER fit in them.

for the rinky dink commuter crowd (myself these days) this looks like a comfy pack. my chrome fliptop bag (surprise surprise) is uncomfortable and sweaty and fits nothing.

harrochan - 01/16/13 - 6:52pm

@JZ, never had any issues with visibility since like icyclebay said the bag sits low on your back. I imagine if you fill the bag up to where you can’t flip the top over anymore you might have issues. I use this bag for commuting and traveling. The only thing I wish it had was a pocket for a water bottle and I wish not all of the pockets went full depth. Everything end sup at the bottom of the bag.

Tina Ingle - 01/18/13 - 10:39am

Our hats off to Mission Workshop! It seems like you can fit anything in here with the comfort of knowing nothing will get wet. Thanks for the review, Andrew!
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