Mission Workshop is a San Francisco-based company that makes bags, apparel, and accessories that are built to last for years while protecting you and your gear. The company has a wide assortment of backpacks and a couple of months ago I was sent a white The Rhake: VX backpack to test out.
The Rhake: VX is a weatherproof laptop backpack designed with VX-21 fabric from Dimension Polyant. Dimension Polyant is a sailcloth manufacturer that started in 1966 and as a professional naval architect it is interesting to test out a backpack made from material I have seen on various sailboats over the years.
The diamond ripstop material looks great and I was pleased to test out the white one as it adds the most visibility to my bike setup. The Rhake: VX is not designed as a bike backpack, but it's perfect for this application with weatherproof design, large 22-liter roll-top compartment, comfortable wide straps and a chest clamp for helping you carry heavier loads.
Walk around The Rhake: VX backpack
There are four zippered compartments on the back, two along the sides, and a couple inside the large roll-top area. Let's start from the back where you will find two large pockets with two zippers each to facilitate easy opening. Magnetic Fidlock buckles secure a couple horizonal straps and these two large pockets. You can loosen these horizontal straps to secure larger items on the very back of the backpack.
A single pull releases the magnetic Fidlock so you can then unzip the two large pockets. The left pocket unzips on three sides so the outside of the pocket can be fully opened up. Inside you will find a very large zippered mesh pocket on the left and two smaller zippered mesh pockets on the right. There are slip pockets above each of the right side zippered pockets so you can easily store business cards, your wallet, headsets, pens, a notebook, snacks, and more.
From the outside, the right side large pocket appears to be the same, but it only unzips on two sides with the bottom and right side secured. There are no zippers in this pocket, but there is one divider along the bottom to help hold your gear inside the pocket. These compartments are lined with gray material and secured with water-resistant zippers.
Below these two pockets is a zippered compartment that extends most of the width of the backpack. It is also lined with the gray slick material. This compartment is perfect for battery packs, cables, and other items that might be a bit heavier since it put the weight towards the bottom of the backpack.
Above the two large zippered pockets is another water-resistant zipper that extends across most of the backpack with an additional VX-21 fabric flap that covers the zipper and prevents rain from entering the zippered compartment. This is a nice compartment for a tablet, ebook reader, notebook, or maybe some documents you need quick access to.
Going around the sides we see a zipper that extends down the entire length of the backpack, behind the left side. This large compartment had thick padding on the back and front. The front is the part that rests against your back when the straps are secured. This is where you should store your computer and because of the design, it makes it very easy to access and removed your computer without opening the main roll-down compartment.
On the other side we have one of my favorite features, the hidden water bottle pocket. Unzip this side and then pull out the black elastic mesh material to secure your water bottom for travel. This is awesome for airline travel when you want to carry an empty bottle and refill it for use during your trip.
There is a very large 22-liter main compartment with a roll-top design to keep your gear safe and secure. Two large, wide Velcro straps are integrated into the flap cover to secure the roll-top or you can skip the Velcro and secure the top flap with a metal slip clasp.
There is also a zipper along the inside back of this 22-liter compartment so you can separate and secure the gear you place into this area. These large compartments are perfect for overnight gear and when I take short trips this is the bag to go with me with confidence all of my gear will stay safe and dry.
A comfortable black fabric carry handle is integrated into the top of the bag with a soft inner round piece that makes it comfortable to hold. Wide, long, padded shoulder straps help you easily carry the load with a chest strap to use when you need better security. I use the chest strap daily for my bike rides. Two large areas on the back offer great padding on your back with another lower piece that also extends out so you can place the backpack on a roller bag when traveling.
Each of the two shoulder straps also have Arkiv rails so you can attach available accessories, such as cell phone pouches. A cell phone pouch on the strap is perfect for biking or hiking.
Pricing and availability
The backpack is made in the USA and available now in white, black, and slate for $455. Available optional accessories include the Capsule for $130, internal tool roll for $24, and Arkiv cell pockets in small ($27) and large ($28) that can be attached to the shoulder straps.
Daily usage experiences
The Rhake: VX weighs in at just 3.1 pounds and can easily carry all of my daily and overnight gear. It is comfortable for long periods of usage while also being fairly flat so it works well for commuting where you may be standing in close quarters with other commuters.The material is fantastic and it should last for years. It is exactly what I was looking for to bike in all weather conditions and be visible to drivers. As a major Star Wars fan, the white model looks like a perfect Stormtrooper backpack and that makes it an even more attractive option for me.
The Rhake: VX backpack has performed nearly flawlessly for me in various weather and lighting conditions. It's easy to handle at just three pounds and carries all of my gear safely and securely. One special situation that I am still trying to resolve is the height of the roll-top while riding my bike. I have a mirror mounted to my helmet to watch for approaching traffic behind me and have not yet found the right angle to have the same full clear view over the top of the roll-top that I had when wearing other backpacks. I am still trying to find an optimal carry and mirror position, but am close and confident I can achieve success here. If I could somehow make the roll-top just a bit more compact on top of the bag then I could clearly see over it.
It's great to also see that The Rhake: VX is made by hand in the USA. Mission Workshop also has a lifetime guarantee is a product ever fails due to a result of defects in materials or workmanship. The stitching, materials, design, and every aspect is top notch. The backpack is expensive, but I also find these type of well-made expensive bags look the same years later.