Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Review

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The Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack is part of Mission Workshops Cargo Backpack line.  When I started looking for cycling commuter backpacks to review, I came across Mission Workshop.  To be honest I hadn’t heard of them and wasn’t exactly sure what to think.  Obviously I was totally out of the loop.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Review Tom Crandall

Two years after selling Chrome Bags, the founders Bart Kyzar and Mark Falvai started a new venture called Mission Workshop.  With world of knowledge developing cycling bags, Bart and Mark knew they could deliver.  The Mission Workshop bag, backpack and apparel lines are geared towards high end performance and functionality in the urban environment.  Their products are designed to repel mother nature using the latest waterproofing materials and zippers.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Review

When doing a review, like most we do here, we like to start out by going to a company’s website and really dig around to see what they offer.  Next we jump around the net to check out what others are saying.   Everything we saw and read put Mission Workshop at the top of the heap.   That was good enough for us and certainly got us excited to see more.

Where Are Mission Workshop Bags Made?

Mission Workshop Bags Made in the USA - American MadeMission Workshop bags are constructed and assembly in the USA and have the Made In the USA label.  American Made manufacturing allows Mission Workshop to make smaller, more controlled runs of every bag, ensuring that each bag is worthy of it’s lifetime warranty. Yep your read that correctly, the bags come with a lifetime warranty.

 

The Vandal is the top of the line cargo backpack from Mission Workshop.  It’s designed for cyclists, but realistically it can be used for various sports that require lugging around a backpack.  Being one who occasionally games, Nerd Alert, this backpack is also nice to carry those D&D supplies or other rule books you might need.  Also if you are in high school or college, the Vandal is a great option to lug those books around.

When the Vandal arrived it came in a FedEx box so that it could get here before SXSW.  That’s the big interactive festival they have here in Austin.  I was pretty pumped, so I hopped on my bike and took it for a spin.  It felt great on and I was anxious to start testing.

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Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 7

The current color palette is black, charcoal, green, red and silver and a special edition black camo.  I requested the black camo and Mission Workshop delivered.  While the other colors were OK, the black camo spoke to me and said “You’d be da man sporting that”.  Who was I to argue.  Really though, the black camo is very masculine and of course I want to look as manly as possible when riding in spandex.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 2

The base backpack comes with a standard plastic buckle on the front, but you will quickly realize that you will want a Cobra buckle instead.  There isn’t anything wrong with the plastic buckle, it’s just a Cobra buckle is 10 times cooler and way more fun to open/close.  Those who are budget conscious might think twice since the buckles will add $65.00 to the price tag.  Still it is wicked cool, so think twice or three times, heck skip a few movies and save up for it.

Mission Workshop Vandal Cobra Buckle

The buckle placement is moveable depending on whether you want to operate the backpack in roll-top fashion or flap down.  There are 2 main reasons to use the roll-top verse flap down.  Based on usage, my preference is to have the flap down, but if it rains, you may opt for the roll-top to help prevent water leakage.  Also note that if you are using the Vandal’s large capacity inner pocket to store your goodies, you will want to setup the bag using the roll-top option.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack Cobra Buckle

The Vandal carrying capacity is 29L and expandable to 64L.  For us in the US that means 1,800 cu.in. and expandable to 4,000 cu.in.  What does that really look like?  Mission Workshop made this killer video to show you just that.

The Vandal features 6 weatherproof compartments with urethane coated zippers and waterproof materials.  There are 2 front side entry packets, 2 front pockets, 1 roll-top pocket and 1 mac daddy pocket that more than doubles the backpack’s capacity.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 1

The 2 front side entry pockets are perfect for an iPhone 6 in a case, keys, wallet and other misc items that you need quick access to.  The larger front entry pockets allow you to store an iPad and an iMac 15 inch computer without sweating it.

The larger roll-top pocket is perfect for misc apparel and other items too big to fit into the other pockets.

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The extra large capacity pocket absolutely blows away other backpacks in it’s ability to expand to more than double the backpack’s size.  There are tension straps on either side, allowing you to tighten as needed.

Each pocket has urethane coated zippers that make it almost impossible for the elements to enter.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 8 Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 9

Although you can’t see it, the Vandal comes with a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system.  The frame really does it’s job in keeping the bag stiff and manageable to wear.

The Vandal comes with 3 adjustment straps, including one at each shoulder and one across the chest.  An additional waistbelt can also be purchased.  There were a few instances when the pack was super loaded that a waistbelt would have been a nice option to have, but since our bag didn’t come with one we were left wondering.  Each shoulder strap has a velco attachment for hanging other items like a phone case or additional pocket.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 3

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Cycling Pack 5

The Vandal comes with 2 places to attach a safety light.  My preference is to use the first loop right below the buckle.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack Saftey Feature

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack – Overall Impression

Mission Workshop did an exceptional job designing the Vandal and from our perspective they got almost everything right.  The limited edition black camo is totally macho and should become part of the regular color selection.  Speaking of color selection, we wouldn’t mind seeing something like a fire engine red or a sea blue.

The Backpack looks like it will hold up nicely and feels great while cycling.  Given Mission Workshop guarantees the backpacks for life, there really isn’t any need to worry.  Having the ability to expand the backpack is HUGE, literally for any commuter.  Occasionally we will venture out on the town and then decide to hit the grocery store or some other venue to by this or that.  The Vandal really gives you that option without having to worry about not being able to carry something.  In normal mode the Vandal has more than enough space to carry a change cloths should the weather turn cold or hot and still carry all your misc items that you may need.

One trick that I have started to employ is using the in-between space of the large pocket to store items without unzipping the inner pocket.  I found I can store cycling lights and such and can access them much quicker rather than digging down into a pocket.

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There are a few things we feel would make the Vandal stand out even more.  Right now the Bag only comes with 2 zipper pulls, adding additional ones would make opening and closing the other pockets a little easier.  The YKK zippers are good, but we would have rather seen rubberized or plastic tips on them rather than the rounded bare metal.  It’s a preference thing that we feel would make a difference style wise.

When hauling a laptop or other computer, there isn’t any padding to protect it should the backpack be set on it’s bottom.  You have to be much more careful when setting the Vandal down using the handle.  An easy workaround is to always lay the backpack flat on it’s back, but sometimes because of space, this may not be an option.

We would like to see the option to get a Cobra buckle for the chest strap.  The cobra buckles are wicked cool and having one in the front as well as the back would make the Vandal even more stellar.

An option to have molle webbing on the shoulder straps would allow more things to be attached to them, beyond the 2 velco straps.

Since the Vandal was designed for cyclists, one thing that appears missing is any form of reflective tape or piping.  I wouldn’t mind seeing some velco added to the lower section of the backpack giving riders an option to attach things like reflective tape.  The other option of course would be for Mission Workshop to add reflective piping into the bags design.

Mission Workshop Where To Buy?

Mission Workshop’s headquarters and shop is located in San Francisco.  They also have a store in Los Angeles and if you want to buy through a participating dealer, you have that option as well.

Check out Mission Workshop to get the full scoop on the Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack.

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Summary

The Mission Workshop Vandal is everything you could want in a commuter cycling bag and a little bit more. There is room for all your supplies and when called for the backpack more than doubles in size.

Totally killer.

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Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about running, cycling and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of 10KstepsDaily.com, EndTheTrendNow.com, AntiqueOutings.com, MiniatureReview.blogspot.com and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day. Location: Austin, TX USA

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