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Carry Collaborations

Mission Workshop x Carryology | Exclusive Release


Mission Workshop x Carryology | Exclusive Release

by , April 11, 2024

Introducing the Mission Workshop X Carryology Mars Project Backpack.


A limited-edition collaborative project between Mission Workshop and Carryology, inspired by the pack designed and made for NASA.


<<< SOLD OUT >>>


This project can trace its beginning to 2016 when MW started making backpacks for NASA’s BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) and Desert Rats (Desert Research and Technology Studies) teams. The packs were designed to carry specialized communication equipment and built to survive the brutal conditions in the testing grounds of volcanic environments where acid rain, heat and ash would destroy a normal backpack.


For this project, we worked with MW to dial in the features to create a pack that works perfectly as both an EDC and Travel Pack while staying true to the materials, design language and construction techniques of the NASA pack.


Made in the USA.


We hope it serves you well!




Enter the two legends behind Mission Workshop, Bart Kyzar and Mark Falvai. For decades these two have been creating carry icons and innovating long before the rest of the pack.


Everyday carry and cycling bags are forever changed because of their contributions. In a time when these bags were just sacks with straps, they were designing the likes of expandable Rambler and the Arkiv® system – a totally modern take on modular carry.


They're Carry Awards winners, featured in dozens of our “best of” lists on Carryology, and loved by commuters, cyclists, and travelers all around the world.


With their deep experience, they continue to release innovations and products that push the needle not only for their brand, but for the industry as a whole. So when Bart and Mark coyly told us about something special they were working on… whatever it was… we already knew that we were all in.



Back in 2016, NASA was preparing for a future Mission to Mars and they needed an extremely specialized backpack solution for their astronauts to carry their communications gear in one of the harshest environments in the Solar System. However, as you’d expect, nothing off the shelf came close to what was required on the Red Planet. And so the Development Project Manager of Exploration Ground Systems at NASA Kennedy Space Center called our friends at Mission Workshop. Together, they designed a backpack for astronauts to use on three terrestrial locations for controlled experiments. The result? A pack that was indestructible, lightweight but strong, could carry heavy equipment with ease, adapt to the bodies of astronauts (large and small), and gave unparalleled access to their gear, unlocking the ability to collect vital Mars rocks at speed. 

To read all about the entire process – which includes an incredible video of the story and some amazing photos of the NASA astronauts testing these packs – launch over to our “Mission to Mars | Designing Backpacks for NASA” freshly published article on Carryology.com



When Mark Falvai and Bart Kyzar (the two founders of Mission Workshop) came to us to share this now-declassified project a couple of years ago, our minds were blown. And when they offered us the exclusive opportunity to be the first publication to publicly share this incredible project with the world… well, we felt like we were floating in zero gravity. 

Soon after, internally among our Carryology team, these Mission Workshop NASA packs found their way into conversations. We couldn’t stop talking about how jaw-droppingly badass these packs were. We all wanted one. And despite the NASA pack’s extremely specific purpose-built features (that frankly, would be pretty useless here on Earth and for everyday purposes), we still dreamed to the stars of having one in our stable. 

And that’s how this all began. The catalyst. Our hypothesis… if we started with the NASA Mars packs as a baseline, working together with Mission Workshop, and tailored them for the missions of the worldwide carry community, we could produce something out of this world. 

Take the best of the extraterrestrial technology, research, science, engineering, and design, then make it best suited for terrestrial life. And Mission Workshop was up for the challenge. 




The first step of this process would be the size. The NASA packs are built to contain specialized GPS and communication electronics, inflating their size into what we would classify as a “large travel pack”. Not ideal. This space and volume is unnecessary for us Earthlings, so we took it under the knife and Mark whipped up a rough prototype in the useful literage zone. 

We went back and forth several times between 24 liters and 28 liters. Some users prefer a 24L svelte pack for navigating through urban environments, while others want that little extra boost of 28L for outdoor pursuits and light travels. 

So the challenge was how to achieve both. If you’re an avid carry fan, you’re probably well aware of Mission Workshop and their stable of carry and their rolltop bags. Using the same top-loading rolltop access in the NASA packs, an excellent form of access for keeping your gear dry and protected, we were able to create a system that sits at 24 liters but unraveling the rolltop provides an extra 4 liters of space for extra Mars rock gear you pick up along your missions. 

Mission Workshop x Carryology Mars Project



Now, we’ll be the first to admit rolltop access backpacks can divide a room of Carryologists. Some love them. Some don’t. The fact is, rolltops have their place in any well-curated carry quiver. Excellent for outdoor adventure, cycling, waterproof bags, and more. They’re epic for weather protection, but the trade-off is access to your gear is slower. 

So we worked with Mission Workshop to design a dual access solution: side access to the laptop compartment, and a U-shape main compartment for universal access. 


Normally a panel loader folds downward, which generally works very well. But here, the upside-down panel is constructed in a way that acid rainfall will roll down and away from the zipper for ultimate weather resistance. 

This innovative solution gives you the best of all worlds: familiar and easy access to the main compartment, keeps your gear protected against the elements, with a rolltop for volume expansion and access.

MWXC Mars Project



Our needs on Earth are dramatically different from what astronauts need outside our atmosphere. We took direct inspiration from the overall layout of the BASALT EVIB packs, but we refined it for the objects and items we carry every day. Eight compartments in total. 

A cavernous main compartment accessible via rolltop and/or universal U-shaped panel loader. Two zippered exterior quick-access pockets for your small gadgets, one larger pocket at the top, and a smaller accessories pocket down at the bottom. A suspended vertical zippered laptop access on the exterior, so you don’t have to dig deep into your pack to grab your tablet or laptop (16″ MacBook Pro fits easily). 

On the inside of the inverted panel loader, there’s a zippered mesh accessories pocket. Inside, we added three different stretch mesh pockets to keep your main compartment organized; one large dump pocket on the rear wall and two side pockets on each interior side wall. 

Plus even more. But I promise, we’ll get to that part in a bit.




NASA is renowned for being extremely demanding, precise, and calculated. And their materials selection process for the exterior of these packs was no different in this respect. They required a fabric that was lightweight, incredibly strong, extremely abrasion-resistant against the razor-sharp silicic volcanic glass found on Mars (and Earth), resistant to corrosive acid rain, and impermeable to dust and liquid. A tall order. After some initial tests, fabrics like 1000D Cordura nylon, while amazing in most cases, failed the tests miserably.

This is when Mark of Mission Workshop suggested the ace up his sleeve… a space-age technological revelation of fabric born from science and experience. Challenge Sailcloth’s ULTRA 400 X. The fiber is made from the strongest material on Earth, ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), which is then woven into a 400 denier fabric. From there, Challenge laminates a Black 45° Ultra CrossPly yarn to the backside of the face fabric which creates bias stability and tear strength. And finally, they seal it all together with a 0.25 mil PET film to create a fully waterproof seal against the elements. This fabric passed (and surpassed) all the tests. 

With all that being said… in our humble opinions, there was no other option to create these Mars Project Backpacks in anything other than what NASA used. ULTRA 400 X is just too damn incredible. If it passes NASA’s rigorous tests for otherworldly exploration, it will be lightyears ahead of anything else we could dream up. ULTRA 400 X it is.

Challenge Sailcloth ULTRA 400 X



With all the detail going into these packs, the interior lining fabrics couldn’t take a backseat. The majority of the liner is also from Challenge Sailcloth’s impressive catalog, the waterproof and durable ECOPAK EPX70RS. For the black pack, we opted for the “Silver Bullet” colorway, providing an ample amount of visual contrast for low-light situations. And for the white pack, we selected the same fabric in the “Snow White” colorway, for just a tiny bit more pop. 

Finally, we wanted to add something unique to the inside. So we asked our friends at Challenge Sailcloth if there was anything new and unreleased they had been developing. They revealed a brand new project they have been keeping secret until the right moment… UltraCore, a unique waterproof laminate made of a mixture of CrossPly and Ultra CrossPly. We loved it and it fit in perfectly. Black gets blaze orange UltraCore and White gets white UltraCore. The liner fabrics of this Mars Project Backpack could arguably be “good enough” to use as exterior fabrics. Cheap? No, sir. Awesome? Yes.

Mission Workshop x Carryology



The original NASA packs were made of White Lightning ULTRA fabric for the purpose of visibility for the safety of the scientists as well as reflecting the sun’s waves in the thin atmosphere of Mars. Mission Workshop created different-colored Arkiv accessory pouches for the different teams to visually recognize and create distinction between one another. As you can see in the article, the Red and Blue teams are easy to identify. 

Luckily, Challenge offers the ULTRA 400X fabric in both black magic and white lightning. So, as a nod to the original, following along with the two different team colors, we decided to offer the packs in both Black Magic and White Lightning. Which team will you represent? 

Mission Workshop x Carryology Mars Project black and white packs



Astronauts come in different sizes. Mission Workshop focused on modularity and the ability of these packs to adapt to different users and varying loads. They accomplished this feat by adding two aerospace-grade aluminum stays for stability and comfort. But the real genius is the adjustability, allowing users to slide the harness up and down to dial in a custom perfect fit for their unique anatomy.

For added comfort and breathability, we opted for ventilated foam on the shoulder harness and lumbar support padding, then wrapped it with Ariaprene hexagon mesh (the same used on the Hauser and Speedwell packs). The Black Magic backpack uses orange foam behind the mesh for a nice visual pop and the White Lightning backpack uses black foam behind the mesh for that Stormtrooper monochromatic contrast vibe. 




A fun little rocket Easter Egg. On the NASA packs, the suspension stays were raw aluminum with some laser-engraved markers for height adjustment. We used the same lightweight and strong aluminum for our stays, but we anodized them orange. From there, we took a blueprint schematic of NASA’s Atlas V-541 rocket that went to Mars in 2020, then modified the drawing so it could be used as the suspension height adjustment marker. Then it was lasered onto the aluminum stays. A nice little detail hidden away for the user to enjoy.

MWXC harness adjustment



These packs wouldn’t be complete without matching accessory pouches. Just like the packs developed for NASA, Mission Workshop added on their patented Arkiv Attachment System rails to the front and to both sides of these Mars Project Backpacks via the Arkiv metal hardware. If you’re not up to date on the Arkiv stuff, to put it simply, it’s Mission Workshop’s vision of modularity, similar to MOLLE/PALS, but from the future. Easy on, easy off, super secure, and super intuitive. And yes, you can absolutely use existing Arkiv modular pouches currently on the Mission Workshop website. However, we created Mars Project-specific Arkiv accessories to match (or to clash) based on your gear needs and aesthetic desires.

Arkiv Laptop Case, Arkiv Vertical Rolltop Pocket, and Arkiv Vertical Zippered Pocket.

There will be three different pre-built options and also individual accessories available. 

MWXC Arkiv accessories

All three are available in Black Magic and White Lightning, are made from the same ULTRA 400 X fabric, and are custom anodized orange with Mission Workshop and Carryology logos lasered into them. Personally, we love the look of the black backpack with white Arkiv pouches (and vice versa). 

MWXC Arkiv accessories

MWXC Arkiv



All exterior pockets use YKK’s AquaGuard water-resistant zippers to keep your stuff dust-free and bone-dry. Fidlock magnetic hardware is utilized on the modular main center strap as well as on the Arkiv pocket flaps. We had to give a nod to AustriAlpin and the Cobra buckles that were used on the original, available as an optional modular strap accessory. This keeps costs down, but gives you the option if you’d like to have that heavy-duty Austrian-made buckle front and center.


AustriAlpin Cobra



You know we called upon the legend himself, Dan Matsuda. We asked Dan to reimagine the NASA official patch artwork that was created for the BASALT EVIB project. These packs had the patches permanently attached to the bottom left and bottom right corners of the packs. But we know people love swapping out patches or removing them for the minimal vibe, so we opted for small Velcro panels to allow you to run these packs however you personally prefer. We sent over the brief and the original NASA patch designs to Dan, who happens to be a massive space nerd (just like all of us). A couple of weeks later, he sent us two finalized illustrations that perfectly captured the essence of the NASA mission while creating something fresh and unique for our project. Two different designs: a Mars-themed “meatball” and Vitruvian man astronaut inspired by NASA’s EVA Extravehicular Activity Patch: a symbol of the incredible feats accomplished during extravehicular activities (EVAs) in the vastness of space.

Mission Workshop x Carryology Mars Project Patches

Mission Workshop x Carryology Mars Project



We didn’t just phone these patches into some random patch maker overseas. No, sir. Mission Workshop shared the name of NASA’s exclusive patch supplier, A-B Emblem based out of Weaverville, North Carolina. With an embroidery history dating back to 1892, A-B Emblem has been the sole creator of patches for all NASA missions since the 1960s, creating the very first NASA patch (“the meatball”) and all patches that have flown in the Apollo missions, the Space Shuttles, on the surface of the moon, and soon to be on the surface of Mars. Two different designs, inspired by official NASA patches, custom designed by Dan Matsuda himself, and produced by the exclusive maker of NASA patches. 



Introducing the Mission Workshop x Carryology Mars Project Backpack. 

Directly inspired by the (now declassified) NASA BASALT EVIB.

Taken to the stars and tailored, for you, the carry community. 

24 liters for everyday carry, expandable to 28 liters for light travel.

Built in the USA to be indestructible with Challenge Sailcloth’s Ultra 400 X.

Utilizing Fidlock magnetic hardware and Austrian-made COBRA buckles.

Fully modular via the patented Arkiv attachment system.

An adaptable harness to fit a variety of body types and sizes.

Unmatched and reimagined access, with eight different compartments.

Custom patches designed by Dan Matsuda and produced by NASA’s exclusive supplier.

Delivered in one exclusive limited edition.






This limited pre-order ends on April 14th at midnight Pacific Time.

BUT the pre-order is capped. There is a ‘ceiling’ when it comes to producing this Mars Project and pre-orders will be closed if/when that ceiling is hit. So get in quickly! 

International folks rejoice! Mission Workshop ships around the world!  

Shipping mid-June 

No returns policy on pre-sale (excluding manufacturing defects).

No discounts can be applied.


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