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Carry Awards

The Carry Awards – Best Work Backpack

by , January 7, 2013

Best Work Backpack – Mission Workshop Arkiv Field Pack 

“A supremely flexible system that doesn’t intimidate or confuse – Mission Workshop innovate yet again”

A category that ran a very close race, in the end it was the Mission Workshop Field pack that just pipped the Goruck GR1 for Best Work Backpack. While both are awesomely versatile bags, the MW Field Pack system just offers an extra level of customisability for your work tech.

The Arkiv system allows quick changes amongst a series of clever and well considered modules. With options for your laptop or tablet, small tech, random bits or even a detachable shoulder bag, you can get this pack really tuned in to your needs without it feeling like a Swiss Army Knife of bits.

While we’ve been addicted to the top end VX/R8 option, the lower priced versions are still excellent packs. From the stripped back R2 with only the front rails, to the full fledged R8 with tech fabrics and 8 rails for countless options, the Field Pack system will quickly become your EDC, and is an awesome winner for our Best Work Backpack 2012.

  • http://www.HiImDean.com Dean Grove

    I can’t really object to it,but I also can’t understand this decision.

    I do like the MW design in general, but to me, less is more and having the ability to make something beautiful and well designed into something that looks like it came out of Chernobyl isn’t really attractive to me.

    But, they do deserve it for their good quality of bags.

  • John Glass

    “While we’ve been addicted to …” Curious words considering the VX model of the Arkiv Field Pack was just released. Since your images are from Missions Workshop’s website then I’m going to assume your review is based on a view from afar and not so much in the field. (This should have been noted.)

    The VX 1000D Cordura is an amazing fabric, much better than standard 1000D when it comes to aesthetic appeal and ability to resist abrasion, making the increased price understandable. However, the biggest pitfalls of the “R” series of Field Packs include their weight, insecurity, and incorrectly perceived ease of constant exterior re-organization. Yes, it could be fun to add all of the folios, and cases, and pockets to the exterior of your “R” bag but that fun steadily increases the weight your back must endure more and more. If you take some kind of engine powered transportation to the office then fine, but for manual commuters by bike or by foot this weight will become an immediate burden. The arkiv system is neat because it’s new and proprietary and different but the rear pockets when placed on this bag aren’t secure at all. No, your iPad folio case won’t go flying off but it feels like you have a gallon of water strapped to your back that ebbs and flows with every crank of the pedal. Back and forth, and back and forth. Finally, don’t be fooled by Mission Workshop’s marketing videos. These pockets aren’t super easy to take on and off the pack. Maybe day 1 and day 2 you’ll be taking the folio case off and back on the bag once you get to the office, but by day 3 it will just seem only cumbersome, leaving you wishing the pocket wasn’t removable and you weren’t having to carry around all of the extra metal.

    What I will give this bag thumbs up for is it’s ability to tame Mother Nature. I’d leave this bag outside in the rain without worrying if its insides were becoming part of a nylon aquarium. Purely a metaphor though, of course. Who intentionally leaves a bag out in the rain? However, you always get a lot of wasted space in a top loading pack where as you can more easily organize items in a smaller space in the panel loading type.

    I’ve owned VX Mission Workshop bags in the past, along with the MW R6 and all of its “fun” pockets which I am selling because my current kit is now transported from place to place in the infamous GoRuck GR1.

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      Actually, we have had a full spec VX/R8 running between several of our contributors for long enough to know this is one of our favorite packs ever (one of the advantages to running a carry blog). You’ll see a full review in coming weeks.

      When we do post the Road Test, you’ll also see that we each chose to configure the bag in a different way. None of us changed the modules each day. I don’t think that was the intention with the design. Instead, we each configured the bag to our main needs, and then tweaked it when traveling or doing something out of the ordinary. That’s how we loved it’s flexibility, and found the Arkiv system suitable for it.

      We’re sorry you didn’t love the bag. I loved it, as did many of our contributors. I think you’d acknowledge that there is still not a single bag that suits everyone on this planet, which is why blogs like this exist.

      • Nathan

        I’d be curious to see if any of the Carryology contributors experienced the “swinging-gallon-o-water” effect. One would think that you would want to keep heavier items, like a laptop, closer to one’s back, which kind of flies against the design of the modular laptop sleeve type attachments.

        My first thought on seeing the videos when they were first released was that the modular system made the pack far too bulky and heavy as compared to a pack that just has another pocket sewn onto it. Of course, I’ll admit that I have never handled this pack, and that although I own several MW products, I too have gone to a Goruck bag for my everyday pack.

        • John Glass

          If you didn’t know, there is a fantastic zippered laptop “pocket” on the inside of the main pouch of my R6. However, when the bag was full and I was needed to carry say a laptop and iPad then I would get that most terrible swinging motion with the laptop or iPad case was mounted to the rear of the bag.

          If I remember correctly though, the laptop pocket goes all the way to the bottom of the bag. That’s an issue because if you set your bag down hard then you’re effectively slamming down your computer. Better designed bags end the laptop compartment before the bottom seam of the bag so that does not occur.

      • John Glass

        Good to know, looking forward to everyone’s observations then.

        • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

          None of us have noticed the ‘swinging-gallon-o-effect’ (love it), however that might be for 3 reasons…

          1) We’ve been using the smaller size (which is still a reasonably large capacity pack). Perhaps the larger size suffers this where the small doesn’t as much?
          2) Both our guys using the laptop front attachment have 13″ laptops or Macbook Airs in it, which don’t weigh much.
          3) My 17″ laptop has been in the inner pocket against the back.

          We’ll try and set up some tests on that effect when doing our full Road Test, and see if it feels like an issue (on the smaller size).

          • John Glass

            Good on ya for the testing. Glad to see we’re getting some real world results here. If I can remember correctly, I noticed it mostly with the iPad folio loaded with iPad 3rd Gen plus extras. My old kit was in a Large R6 so the added rails along with less fabric on your R8 might add some more stability for those pockets. Of course it also depends on how you ride. A pretty aggressive position on a road bike will cause the rider to feel more “movement” on your back more than the less aggressive more upright position on a mountain or similar bike. Purely an observation.

  • Charles

    Was hoping to see the GR1 take the spot, but this is a great bag as well, hope to add it to my collection someday.

    How about showing the percentages of all votes? I’d like to see which came in second, and third, and by what margins.

    • Adrian

      Second that one! Would love to see the percentages, and actual votes

  • http://danielvalsesia@hotmail.com Daniel

    I’m very curious to know also the placement for each product for each awards .. If it’s possible..

  • digi_owl

    do wonder what the point is when they could just as well has adapted PALS.

    • M.S

      True, it would have been heaps lighter and you could’ve attach almost anything on it.

    • John Glass

      Two reasons: less tactical and more proprietary.

      Less tactical: this bag definitely looks a lot more office friendly compared to similar bag covered in PALS/MOLLE. I don’t really want to look like I’ve just fast-roped from a helo onto the roof to get into my office.

      Proprietary: to customize this bag you are required to buy their specific pouches, cases, etc. It does make the bag more aesthetically pleasing in the end but of course gives MW all the power (i.e. pricing, shapes, sizes, etc.). Genius on their part really.

  • kb

    I just travelled with the small version as my carry on to Europe and back. My plan was to slip off the little tool pouch and the iPad pocket on the plane and putting them under the seat in front of me for all the must haves on the flight (headphones, books, meds, pens, notebook, etc) and leave the backpack untouched until the next airport with a stash of fresh clothes for a shower break (it’s a loooong flight from Oz to Europe…). It pretty much worked perfectly: just enough room for all the essentials and plenty of room for my feet. Slipping the extras on and off the rails wasn’t too fiddly, except when very tired after a 14 hour flight.

    However, for the sightseeing, the single large compartment with no real organization, plus the strap that pulls everything tight together (without which you do not want to be when your pack extrudes ever further away from your body when all the pouches have been added) makes it a bit cumbersome to use: unclip buckle, unroll top, dig around in large compartment, roll up top, buckle up…it quickly gets annoying. first tip is o immediately remove the strap when without any external pockets. A quick entry zip on the side or against the back would also be an idea. A couple of internal pockets would reduce the fishing in the dark problems.

    I’ve had no problems commuting to work with it on bike, and indeed found it very practical to have the extra small bag thanks to the added shoulder strap to get from meeting to meeting at work without having to take the entire pack. So I for one am very happy with the bag.

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  • Francis Nguyen

    I just got this bag, and my first overall impression that I am quite pleased with it.

    I went all out and pretty much bought all the accessories. I doubled up on the side zip bags, and only bought one roll top one. To be honest, the only fail was the damn phone pouch, it’s way too small to fit anything. I have a Samsung Galaxy Note II, and it definitely doesn’t fit. An S3 barely fits and you cannot have a case with it (well I guess it depends on the case you have).

    The swinging effect of this bag is apparent if you are bad with packing your equipment and also did not invest in the waist strap. If you are planning on carrying a lot (myself for example a thick jujutsu gi, two belts, aikido hakama, shorts and shirt and shoes for Crossfit) in the main compartment then you should really invest in the waist strap. To keep dirty clothes separate, I have kept thick plastic bags from work and separate my shoes from them too. Having such a big uncompartmentalised space is both a good and bad thing, I guess.

    The great thing about this bag is, its so modular! It is easy to dismantle and build up (there are lack of instructions, but you can work it out fast), and its really tough. Each system I have made into a dedicated purpose (i.e. toiletries, paperwork and stationary, chargers etc). this also makes it great for a weekender I think (although I have yet to try this out).

    The protection for the laptop is adequate for the dedicated bag. Someone recommended to just put it in the large zip compartment in the main bag, I don’t think that’s a good idea as there is not sufficient padding. The only thing is I’m not sure about this system is the extra strap you can have for your should to make it a standalone laptop bag, I think I put it on right, but the velcro straps seem to do nothing really.

    All things considered, I feel pumped and ready for anything now that I have this bag, and I intend to thrash the hell out of it. We’ll see next year also how it goes in Korea and Singapore if it last for that long.

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