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Mission Workshop Monty Review

A comfortable, weather-proof, and rugged messenger bag with an attractive aesthetic and just enough pockets to organize your gear
Mission Workshop Monty
Photo: Mission Lab
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $170 List
Pros:  Rugged, weather-proof, stylish, comfortable
Cons:  No padded laptop compartment, cargo pockets don't perfectly accommodate a U-lock
Manufacturer:   Mission Workshop
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 16, 2021
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 8
  • Electronics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 9
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 7

Our Verdict

If you are searching for a durable, aesthetically pleasing, and weather-proof messenger bag, then the Mission Workshop Monty might be just what you're looking for. This rugged messenger bag was designed to be intuitive, comfortable, and user-friendly. It has a minimalist and intuitive approach to organization, meaning you won't need to stress about how to use superfluous pockets. It carries well and has a reasonably high volume to weight ratio. While it could benefit from a padded laptop sleeve, if you have already have a carrying case for your computer, it will work just fine. We are impressed with the quality craftsmanship, comfort, and beefy design of this bag.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $170 ListCheck Price at REI
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Pros Rugged, weather-proof, stylish, comfortableSpacious, savvy pocket configuration, easy on/off, comfortable, weatherproofWaterproof laptop sleeve, weather-resistant, great features, ambidextrous, brightly colored interiorAffordable, durable, weather-resistant, simple but functional organization features, customizableComfortable, 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-lockHeavy, spendy, laptop zipper not waterproofExterior water bottle pocket is small, shoulder padding can get bunched up, tips over easily when set downLeft-shoulder carry only, minimal protection for laptop, shoulder strap is somewhat finickyHeavy 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 gearThis tech-savvy, spacious, weatherproof, and comfortable messenger bag features ample pockets and can accommodate up to a 17" laptopThis is a highly impressive ambidextrous bag with excellent features and bomber weatherproofingThis durable, weather-resistant, and simple bag is thoughtfully designed with great pockets and reasonable comfort, all at an affordable priceA 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
Comfort (25%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Packing & Organization (25%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
Electronics (15%)
6.0
9.0
10.0
5.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
Wear & Tear (10%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
10.0
5.0
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
Shoulder Preference Either Either Either Left Left
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
Key Clip? No No Yes Yes Yes
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.

Performance Comparison


Functional, stylish, and comfortable - what's not to love?
Functional, stylish, and comfortable - what's not to love?
Photo: Jared Ross

Comfort


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.

With a large shoulder strap and an easy mechanism for tightening and...
With a large shoulder strap and an easy mechanism for tightening and managing excess strap-tail, the Monty ranks high in terms of comfort.
Photo: Jared Ross

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).

The two front cargo pockets are great for stashing a small U-lock...
The two front cargo pockets are great for stashing a small U-lock. However, the storm flap is not long enough to velcro down to accommodate the girth of our U-lock barrel. This is one of our very few complaints with this bag.
Photo: Jared Ross

Electronics


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.

The Monty is designed with ease and simplicity in mind. You can...
The Monty is designed with ease and simplicity in mind. You can either engage the roll-top closure or flap-down closure to accommodate more or less gear, and to be more or less weatherproof. We found that this bag carried everything we needed, even on days with wild temperature swings when we needed a place to stash our extra layers.
Photo: Jared Ross

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.

The front zippered pocket features a waterproof zipper and is great...
The front zippered pocket features a waterproof zipper and is great for easily accessing your books. However, if you expect to encounter any rain, we recommend using the flap-down configuration to avoid getting any moisture in your bag.
Photo: Jared Ross

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.

The Monty is made with a durable 1000d nylon fabric that is coupled...
The Monty is made with a durable 1000d nylon fabric that is coupled with a weather-proof liner. It is designed to endure rugged use and abuse on long commutes for years to come.
Photo: Jared Ross

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.

The Monty fully loaded with bags of water to test its volume.
The Monty fully loaded with bags of water to test its volume.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

We love the minimal design and comfortable carry of the impressively...
We love the minimal design and comfortable carry of the impressively durable Monty, and we're sure you will too.
Photo: Jared Ross

Mary Witlacil

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