The Mission Workshop Rhake VX offers an upgrade on a MW stable leader. See how it fares in daily use…
Mission Workshop has made a name for themselves in the carry community, and rightfully so. Based in San Francisco, Mission Workshop started in an alleyway when they renovated their workplace with their own blood, sweat, and tears. This do-it-yourself work ethic is apparent in their utilitarian, uncompromising design ethos. That coupled with their lifetime warranty exudes a level of confidence and trustworthiness that’s so important for carry fanatics who want to support brands who are doing good work.
The Mission Workshop Rhake VX is an upgraded version of their regular Rhake backpack in that it has the technical VX fabric and Fidlock buckles. I’ve been using the Rhake backpack for three months now, but what’s it like to use on a daily basis?
Who It Suits
The Rhake is perfect for modern adventurers making their way through urban and suburban environments. If you live in rainy climates, this bag is perfect because of its two-layer build, roll-top opening, and water-resistant zips. I feel confident that my gear is safe when I’m caught in Florida’s rain. Furthermore, if you appreciate thoughtful organization, this bag may be for you. Each pocket on the Rhake feels as if it was made with intention. When you also take into account the solid external access, this bag is intuitive and makes retrieving gear easy. The main selling point of the VX version of the Rhake is that you get the ultra-durable VX-21 material. If you need your gear to outlive you, I have confidence that this is a bag I can hand down to my children.
Who It Doesn’t
Though the lining of this bag is great for keeping water out, it makes it loud. Not to mention the ear-piercing Velcro (which fortunately is optional). With that being said, this doesn’t suit those who need to take their bag to environments where silence is necessary. I use this bag for university, and it’s pushing the limit of how much sound I can tolerate without being self-conscious. It’s also important to mention that if you like to overpack your bag, the Rhake isn’t for you. It’s frustrating to access when filled to the brim because of its stiff material and because the exterior access obstructs the main compartment and vice versa.
In typical Mission Workshop fashion, the bag has a technical and utilitarian aesthetic. This is not a bag for you if your workplace has a formal setting. I’d even venture to say that you couldn’t get away with business casual, but that’s up for interpretation.
The Mission Workshop Rhake VX has the VX-21 fabric that makes this bag tough as nails. I have no issues walking in the rain or setting the Rhake on concrete. You can tell Mission Workshop obsessed over the details, like the small rain hoods over the zippers to keep your gear dry, or the way you can access the bag with or without Velcro. Without the hybrid opening feature, I would have most definitely not gotten this bag. The way Mission Workshop does it is by having a Velcro flap that has two purposes: to fold itself away, so you can use the hook, or to utilize the Velcro strips on the roll-top opening to access the main compartment.
If you’re worried about having to use the Velcro, don’t be. Thankfully Mission Workshop thought through that.
Every pocket on the Rhake feels as if it was intentionally designed. The left compartment has a large vertical zipper perfect for a portable charger, snack, or hand sanitizer. The key leash is often overlooked on many bags. But Mission Workshop decided to use a burly cord and a metal clip. The top and bottom zippered pockets are perfect for earbuds, cables, or adapters. The right compartment is an open space with no organization that perfectly fits an A5 notebook and a pencil pouch. A horizontal zipper at the bottom is great for sunglasses if they’re in a hard-shell case or a laptop charger. The tablet pocket and laptop pocket are easily accessible. Speaking of, the laptop compartment is outstanding despite not being suspended to my knowledge. It’s padded, weather-resistant, accessible, and spacious. Mission Workshop outdid themselves on the compartments.
On the topic of the compartments, the Rhake has exceptional external access. I find myself rarely ever going into the main capacity unless I’m getting my headphones or one of my pouches. This is even better when you take into account that the Rhake is a roll-top backpack, which typically is cumbersome to access.
The Rhake has many subtle details that I’ve come to appreciate, such as the reinforced stitching on the straps. The branding is tasteful too, with only a few logos that you have to discover. The handle is simple but utilitarian, not only fitting the aesthetic, but also being extremely effective.
Additionally, this bag is remarkably comfortable. The mesh on the back panel helps with ventilation while also making the bag sit pleasantly on the back. The way this bag is built to keep everything close to your body results in me feeling much more maneuverable while using the Rhake.
Not So Good
For as good as this bag is as far as the durability and craftsmanship go, it’s not without its flaws. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is the main capacity. The bag is tall and narrow, meaning you’d either have to have certain shaped gear, or stack things on top of each other. Even then, when you stack things, everything falls to the bottom due to gravity, overfilling the bottom of the bag, thus eating into the outside compartments.
The entire lining of the main compartment can be pulled completely inside out, which is a nightmare if your gear gets caught on it. I wish Mission Workshop had sewn the lining to the bag to prevent this. The lining of the bag is also stiff, making it increasingly difficult to get things in and out.
What’s saddening about this bag is that it’s as if the main capacity cannibalizes the exterior access and vice versa, rendering an otherwise remarkable backpack cumbersome. If Mission Workshop ever updates the Rhake, I’d like to see the main compartment improved.
The water bottle pocket leaves much to be desired. It’s flimsy, and I feel like it’s most likely the first thing that will break on the bag. I don’t trust it to keep my bottle secure if I’m moving around a lot, such as cycling, or swinging the bag on my shoulder.
Alternatives to Consider
If you’re attracted to the weatherproofing of the Mission Workshop Rhake VX, you may be interested in the Black Ember Citadel. Black Ember is known for making technical and modular packs for everyday carry. The Triple Aught Design Axiom 24 backpack also carries a similar technical aesthetic to the Rhake while being a more traditional option.
The Mission Workshop Rhake VX is a phenomenal display of craftsmanship. It has exceptional weatherproofing, remarkable external access and organization, and outstanding ergonomics. Despite being built to last a lifetime, I can see myself moving to another bag simply because of the main compartment being unwieldy and taking up the space of the other pockets. Even with that considered, I still love this bag. Even if I have to put up with the issue of the main capacity. Simply put, it’s fun to use. The Rhake makes getting to your gear an adventure and is built to withstand your own journey with practicality and style.
This article was written by Jeffrey McDuffie. Bag geek, everyday carry enthusiast, and connoisseur of video games.