Mission Workshop Rambler Bag £225
There's no denying the Rambler from Mission Workshop is a beast of a bag. It's designed to be a 22 litre rucksack that can expand up to a massive 44 litres when required. Primarily it's aimed at commuters but also utility riders who are looking for a capacious bag.
The bag looks great, in a low-key urban sort of way and is made from a super tough waterproof fabric, a carbon fiber reinforced internal support frame and water resistant zips. Set up with three different compartments, each with separate external zip access, it expands to its full size via the roomy main compartment in the centre of the bag. There's a large flat pocket the full area of the front of the bag, and also a smaller smartphone sized pocket at the bottom corner of the front. The main pocket can either fasten via a more weather resistant 'roll top' method, or the traditional flap type configuration, and secures with a broad webbing strap and heavy duty buckle. The rear carrying system consists of broad, adjustable cushioned straps. In addition to the expandable central section, there are strips of fabric and rails on the straps for attachment of further accessory pockets which are available as optional extras.
In use, the front compartment (not the expandable one) was an ideal size for small laptops or a notebook, while slightly larger laptops could be housed in the main expandable section. This central section was truly cavernous and for commuting held not only a change of clothes and gadgets, but even shopping picked up on the way home when used at its full capacity! At its smallest, it still had plenty of space for an essential change of clothes, a 15' laptop as well as notebook and papers. Compression straps at the top of the sides of the main compartment enabled cinching in when it wasn't used to its full size, but the shape of this bit did mean that an extra set of straps at the bottom of the central section would have been handy to keep more structure. With just the top straps, there was some sagging and deformity of the central compartment, when expanded, and although zipping up some of the external bellows zip did help, that was extra strain on this zip which could in time result in unnecessary wear and tear.
The broad cushioned straps, low profile shape and carbon reinforced back panel meant that the bag was extremely comfortable from the word go and very, very stable on or off the bike, even when carrying heavy loads. As the name suggests, this is a bag that's as useful for trundling around on foot as on the bike, even though specifically designed for bike use. The width of the bag and strap orientation meant that I personally found it to be a little on the obtrusive side, particularly when looking over my shoulder to check for traffic, but those with broader shoulders and longer backs and shoulders would probably find that to be less of a problem, but it's worth considering.The design, capacity and comfort also make it ideal for taking into meetings and office work too, without looking out of place.
This is also not a light bag, even when empty, so is definitely best suited to those who need a bombproof pack for regular heavy duty commutes, but the exceptional build quality and excellent materials mean that it'll deliver for that purpose for years. That innovative design and high quality does come at a price, however- at £225 is a lot of money and represents a significant investment.
Extraordinarily well constructed, comfortable, stable load carrier. Expensive and best suited to non-small riders though
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Make and model: Mission Workshop The Rambler
Size tested: Grey - 44 litres
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at regular hardcore commuters and those who like to do errands by bike
So well made it will last for years, doing serious load carrying duties.
Here's what Mission Workshop say...
The Rambler backpack features a water-resistant main compartment which can be used in either "roll-top" mode, or in the traditional "flap-down" configuration. A key feature of the Rambler backpack is it's ability to quickly double in size from 1,350 cu.in. to 2,700 cu.in. when needed for extra cargo carrying capacity.
The Rambler also features multiple weatherproof compartments, urethane coated zippers, waterproof materials, and a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system. Front zippered pocket fits most 13in laptop computers or any tablet, a 17in laptop can fit in the rear rolltop compartment. Shoulder straps are equipped with two Arkiv rails for attachment of additional accessories. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
22 litres/expandable to 44 litres
Three zipped weatherproof compartments
Water resistant zips
Carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system
Capacity for additional optional carrying pockets and bags
Front pocket fits up to 13" laptop
Main body section fits up to 17" laptop
Superb materials and incredibly well put together
As a comfortable and stable way of carrying relatively heavy loads on the bike this is hard to beat
Aside from the potential strain on that bellows zip (not desperate) from partially compressing the main compartment, this is an utterly bombproof bag that should last for years
It's a beast even when empty but the solid and stable nature of the build and the fact that it's designed to carry heavy loads make this expected
Very comfortable indeed, even with heavy loads, but would definitely better suit broader shoulders and back
Bearing in mind this is a US designed and made product, and one made from exceptional quality materials, it's a sound investment for those who want a rugged load lugger for long term use, but there's no getting away from the fact that £225 is a lot of money and you can buy some very good backpacks for significantly less. It's not bad value for what you are getting - it's about what I'd expect to pay.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well indeed
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks, design, fabric and materials quality, comfort, rugged build, capacity
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of extra set of compression straps on main compartment, price
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the product? If I was regularly commuting with heavy loads or wanted a pack that translated well to off the bike, then definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
The most capacious commuter cycling bag I've ever come across, yet still remains stable and comfortable and genuinely useful on the bike.
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.