Mission Workshop Monty Review
Cons: No padded laptop compartment, cargo pockets don't perfectly accommodate a U-lock
Manufacturer: Mission Workshop
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Mission Workshop Monty
|Price||$170 List||$160.00 at Backcountry|
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|$179.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Rugged, weather-proof, stylish, comfortable||Spacious, savvy pocket configuration, easy on/off, comfortable, weatherproof||Waterproof laptop sleeve, weather-resistant, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interior||Affordable, durable, weather-resistant, simple but functional organization features, customizable||Comfortable, compact, intuitive design, easy on/off, reflective panel for higher visibility at night|
|Cons||No padded laptop compartment, cargo pockets don't perfectly accommodate a U-lock||Heavy, spendy, laptop zipper not waterproof||Exterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set down||Left-shoulder carry only, minimal protection for laptop, shoulder strap is somewhat finicky||Heavy for the volume, not ideal for carrying a laptop, could use more storage slots in front pocket|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable, weather-proof, and rugged messenger bag with an attractive aesthetic and just enough pockets to organize your gear||This tech-savvy, spacious, weatherproof, and comfortable messenger bag features ample pockets and can accommodate up to a 17" laptop||This is a highly impressive ambidextrous bag with excellent features and bomber weatherproofing||This durable, weather-resistant, and simple bag is thoughtfully designed with great pockets and reasonable comfort, all at an affordable price||A compact and comfortable bag for carrying your daily essentials, featuring a seatbelt buckle for easy on and off and a reflective panel for increased visibility|
|Rating Categories||Mission Workshop Monty||Chrome Buran III||Timbuk2 Especial Stash||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Kadet Sling|
|Packing & Organization (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Wear & Tear (10%)|
|Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)|
|Specs||Mission Workshop Monty||Chrome Buran III||Timbuk2 Especial Stash||Timbuk2 Classic||Chrome Kadet Sling|
|Measured Weight||2.78 lbs||2.71 lbs||2.28 lbs||2.02 lbs||1.20 lbs|
|Measured Volume (purported volume)||21L (21L)||22L (24L)||15L (17L)||18L (21L)||7L (9L)|
|OGL Volume/Weight Ratio (bigger is better)||7.55||8.12||6.58||8.91||5.83|
|Dimensions||16 x 10 x 5||21.25 x 12.25 x 7 in||17.5 x 12.2 x 4.72 in||14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 in||17 x 8 x 4 in|
|Number of Compartments||3||2||3||2||1|
|Number of Large Pockets||2||1||3||2||1|
|Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items)||4||8||4||5||3|
|Number of Zipper Pockets||3, 1 large and 2 hidden inside||4||3||3||2|
|Reflective Material?||No||Yes, on bottom straps||Yes||Yes, on bottom straps||Yes|
|External Side Pocket||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Sleeve For Laptop?||Yes - 15"||Yes - 17"||Yes - 15"||Yes - 15"||Yes - Tablet Only|
|Stabilizing Cross Strap||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Available Sizes||21L, 27L, 35L||One size||One Size||XS, S, M, L||One size|
|Size Tested||21L||One size||One Size||Medium||One size|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Monty is a well-conceived and durable messenger bag designed to be user-friendly, intuitive, and minimalistic. It is weatherproof, carries comfortably, and includes all the features you need for a great bag. While it doesn't have a padded laptop sleeve, it makes up for this by providing weather protection for your gear, a large carrying capacity, and rugged exterior fabric.
The Monty proved to be one of the most comfortable bags in our review.
The shoulder strap has a long piece of padding which works well for different body types. This strap moves easily from being oriented for the left or the right shoulder. The cross-body stabilizing strap is fairly minimal but gets the job done well. Our one complaint with the stabilizing strap is that it isn't easily removable, so if you prefer to wear the bag without one, you'll be forced to cut the webbing to remove it.
Packing & Organization
Mission Workshop used a minimalist approach to design the Monty. This approach works well for packing and organization, which is why it earns favorable marks in this metric.
There are two open cargo pockets underneath a velcro storm flap. We had hoped one of these would be ideal for a U-lock, and while the pockets accommodate a small U-lock quite well, the storm-flap does not close as easily when we stored our lock in one of these pockets. The Monty features one large zippered pocket which can accommodate a 13" laptop, and on the inside of that pocket, there are two additional and fairly large zippered pockets. These internal pockets are great for stashing things like a wallet or passport if you're concerned about pickpockets.
The main compartment is a large open basin — featuring some of the greatest volume of any model in our review — that can accommodate a 15" laptop in a sleeve, as well as nearly anything else you need to stash in your pack on your way to work or school. One of the coolest features of this bag is how you can either fold the flap down or use a roll-top configuration. Folding the flap down provides better weather protection for the zippered pockets (and your laptop, if you store it in there), while the roll-top closure accommodates much larger loads (for when you want to use your messenger bag to carry your groceries).
While the Monty accommodates a laptop with a carrying sleeve and there are two places to stash your computer, it does not come with a padded laptop compartment.
You can either stash a 13" laptop in the front zippered pocket, or you can use the main compartment to house a 15" laptop in a carrying case. The zippered pocket has a waterproof zipper, and when you use the bag in the traditional flap-down position it provides some of the best weather protection of any of the bags we tested. Despite this excellent feature, we didn't award top-marks to the Monty in this category because this bag doesn't provide any additional padding for a laptop. This wasn't a make-or-break deal for us, as our lead reviewer prefers to use a laptop sleeve, but if you prefer to stash your naked laptop in a padded sleeve built into your pack, you might prefer another bag.
Ease of Use
The Monty is clearly designed with simplicity in mind, and it pays off because this messenger bag is one of the most user-friendly and intuitive in our review.
The shoulder strap cinches down and stays in place with minimal effort, and it is easy to reorient the shoulder strap for either the right or left side. The cross-body strap is similarly simple to engage. The combination of durable plastic buckles and velcro made for intuitive opening and closure of the bag. Further, the minimalist approach to pockets makes it easy to determine where to store your essentials. Our reviewers found it was slightly easier to remove some of the other bags in this review — namely those with a metal buckle for disengaging the shoulder strap — but otherwise, the Monty is among the easiest to remove.
Wear & Tear
In terms of durability, the Monty earns some of the highest marks.
This bag is made with a 1000 denier nylon fabric and a weather-proof liner that are both durable and abrasion-resistant. When biking in a rainstorm, we never had to worry about whether or not our gear would stay dry — the materials offer impressive weather protection when they are in flap-down mode. The Monty is clearly built to last, which is why it is among the heavier bags in our review, but we're confident it will keep up with you over the long haul — even if you're hard on your gear.
Volume to Weight Ratio
To measure the ratio between volume and weight, we measure the volume by filling ziplock bags with 1-3 liters of water to determine how many liters each bag can truly accommodate. We then divide the measured volume by the weight of the bag when it first arrives. The Monty offers one of the better volume to weight ratios of the bags in our review.
When used with the roll-top configuration, the Monty has one of the largest volumes of any bag in our review, accommodating 21 liters. However, at 2.78 pounds, it is also the heaviest bag in our review. This is why it does not have the best volume to weight ratio. That said, it is among the leading models because it can accommodate a large volume for its weight. While we wouldn't recommend carrying 21 liters of bagged water, the Monty did manage to close fairly well, and still felt fairly comfortable even when weighed down with 46 pounds of water.
While there are certainly less expensive messenger bags, if you're looking for a weatherproof bag that is intuitive to use and built to last, the Monty is well worth the cost. The care and intention that went into designing this bag make it clear that the designers at Mission Workshop are cyclists and commuters who use and abuse their gear. If you prioritize well-made gear that is made in the U.S., fairly minimalistic, and you're willing to spend a little extra for durable goods, then this bag might be the ideal match for you.
The Mission Workshop Monty achieves the goal of being both aesthetically appealing and ruggedly durable. We appreciate this bag's intuitive features, high degree of comfort, and minimalist approach to organization. If you seek a weatherproof bag that can accommodate large or small loads of gear, and you value products that are design-tested and made in the U.S., then you can't go wrong with this one.
— Mary Witlacil