Mission Workshop: The Rhake Review

Mission Workshop hails it’s Rhake backpack as “built to last a lifetime”. This is a bold claim and one that’s a bit overused nowadays. With every hipster brand alive producing “your grandfather’s (insert outdoorsy good here)”, the aim is to convince us consumers that we are no longer purchasing cheap throwaway crap. So when Mission Workshop sent the Rhake over for a review, I was skeptical.

Before delving too deep into my lack of trust for advertising, I’ll explain what we’re dealing with on the Rhake. The main compartment is a 22 liter roll top that highlights the bags two layer waterproof liner construction. Inside the main space is a nifty zipped sleeve to give you some separation. On the back of the main compartment is the fully padded laptop pocket that’s accessible from the exterior. For anyone who’s gone through airport security with a computer, this is the greatest thing ever. Better yet, the bag is carry-on compatible allowing you to slide the Rhake on the handle of your suitcase for easy in-terminal transport.

On the front of the bag you have four pockets. Two “organizational” pockets, one of which has mesh interior that amounts to some well thought out division. On top of those organizational pockets you have what Mission Workshop calls there “10” Tablet Pocket”. The tablet pocket is something I didn’t even realize was on the bag, until a few days after using it, and it’s ended up being the pocket I use most. The tablet pocket isn’t so deep you’ll lose things but deep enough for most of the notebooks and random papers I’m usually trying to stuff into my bag. Best part is that since its separate from the main compartment you don’t have to undo the roll top to get in and out of it.

Another obscure pouch is the water bottle holder. When you happen to have a water bottle in tow, the Rhake gives you the option of revealing a little mesh pocket that’s perfect for almost any size container you can throw at it. Then, when you’re done toting your bottle around you can zip it back up, like it was never there and maintain that ultra efficient aesthetic.

Then there’s the cubby at the bottom of the bag that I have a found a little useless, c’est la vie, they can’t all be winners. The reason for this is that the main 22 liter compartment infringes on the bottom cubby the second you drop anything into it. This makes getting anything in to this lower extremity a bit difficult.

Now that I’ve bored you to death with my pocket-splaining there are definitely some other features of note with the Rhake. Coming in Mission Workshop’s own HT500 fabric or Black Camo Cordura, the Rhake will improve it’s look over time because the fabric gets a sort of patina to it, reminiscent of leather. That’s not to say the material is stiff to start out though. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Rhake quite malleable to begin with, while still feeling robust enough to take some abuse.

Then there’s the optional Cobra buckles. At $60 I’m sure many folks will be dissuaded from this extra bit of cool based on the price, but what the Cobra buckles offer is a continuation on the theme of longevity. Solid aluminum, where once there was plastic, ups the ante on this bag that’s meant to last.

An issue I have is what that extra $60 gives you, which is only two buckles, when there’s an obvious spot for another at the front chest strap. Sadly that front plastic clip stays plastic and so begins my issue with the Rhakes omissions.  Not having the option of the third Cobra buckle at the front drives me nuts because it seems obvious. Then we have the straps and their incessant flapping when you take this bag out for ride, the truest indicator that the Rhake isn’t motorcycle specific. Thankfully this is remedied by some short pieces of velcro that tighten everything up. But at the $425 price as tested… should I have to add pieces?   

After living and traveling with the Rhake for a few months, I can say that I’m happy to throw on my motorbike specific accommodations. The Rhake has become my go-to bag for traveling with it’s well thought out pockets and tough as nails construction (I’m not sure when the patina will start, but I’m happy with it as it currently sits). As well as more space than the 22 liters stated would have you believe. All this and the bag is made in the USA and guaranteed FOR-EV-ER.

The Rhake may give you some sticker shock with a base price tag of $365, but what you have to consider is the context. The Rhake isn’t just another backpack that you’ll be replacing in two or three years. It’s a purchase that comes with a promise of lasting a lifetime which makes the price-per-use quite reasonable and has me begrudgingly believing the hype. With a well thought out design, utilitarian-chic appearance and top-tier materials, the Rhake is a pack that will stand the test of time and have the potential to actually be “your grandkids backpack”.   


Photos via: Essential Moto

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