Timbuk2 Mission Sling Review
Cons: No padding for electronics, strap buckle isn't well-placed, smaller size, thin material
Our Analysis and Test Results
Remember the fanny pack? Fun and adaptable, the Mission Sling is a dream come true for those that don't always want the weight of their possessions to be on their shoulders.
The Mission is a very comfortable bag, particularly if you like to give your shoulders a break from time to time. The fanny pack option is ideal when on long bike rides, and the shoulder option is great for short jaunts around town. The roll-top closure system makes it a breeze to secure everything compactly for maximum ease of movement. And while the strap isn't padded, it's wide enough to feel decent even when you're carrying a lot of weight, though the buckle may be annoying for some. You can't change its placement, and when worn on the right shoulder, the buckle ends up directly on top of the left breast area or awkwardly underneath it — not ideal for those with curves.
When worn on the left shoulder, the buckle lands nicely on the clavicle IF the bag is cinched up high on the back — if it slips down, the buckle will ride up to the top of the shoulder. There isn't a cross-body stabilizing strap, so it's also prone to moving around when worn messenger-style, particularly when riding a bike. For all these reasons, we were happiest when cycling if we stuck to using the Mission as a fanny pack.
Packing & Organization
This sling has a decent number of pockets, but they aren't very specialized. There's one large compartment that zips and rolls closed and is secured by adjustable straps with clips at each side like a dry bag. The internal compartment has a small divider with two smaller pockets on its front. These don't zip, and they're not very deep, so things can shift around pretty easily. The back of the bag has a zipper that allows you to get into the main compartment without unrolling and un-zipping the whole thing. This is a nice feature, though, depending on how your bag is packed, you may not be able to get to everything inside.
There is also a zippered front pocket with a key clip and two small triangular-shaped zip "stash" pockets on the sides where the straps begin. If what you're carrying is relatively simple and already organized (for example, if you keep your pens and pencils in a pouch as opposed to loose), this bag will be just fine. But, if your items are delicate, loose, or in great numbers, the bag won't organize them for you or keep them particularly safe. And because of size, this probably isn't going to be your next mobile office or work-to-gym-to-school bag.
You can certainly carry electronics in this bag, particularly if they are on the smaller size, but they won't be very well protected. Some messenger bags cater to fragile laptops and tablets with built-in padded sleeves, but the Mission isn't one of them. There also aren't useful pockets for cords and chargers, so having a supplemental pouch of some kind for that is helpful. The manufacturer says you can fit up to a 9" laptop — we fit a 13" in the largest part of the main compartment, but it was snug with no room for a case. The front zipper pocket works well for a phone, though, and a Kindle fit inside the shallow inner divider nicely.
Ease of Use
This bag is simple to wear with easy to use zippers and a straightforward design. You can take advantage of the roll-top feature with side clips or, if you're packing to the gills, leave the top unrolled. A rear zipper makes getting into the main compartment easy even if you have the top rolled down and clipped tight. Strap adjustment is predictable and intuitive; however, depending on your waist/torso size, there may be a lot of extra webbing to contend with. An elastic loop on the strap is available to help with this.
Wear & Tear
The Mission is made with highly durable fabric that, while thin and lightweight, is layered strategically for extra strength. In all the time we biked, hiked, and commuted, we didn't see hardly any signs of wear. The parachute-like material could certainly get punctured or torn more readily than something like Cordura. Still, outside of some edge-case scenarios, you shouldn't have to worry much about the longevity of this bag. On top of all that, the Mission is water-resistant, though the zippers are a weak point, and water will seep in slowly given enough time. If you have a phone, tablet, or laptop close to the front pocket or near the back zipper, be mindful. The strap also takes a long time to dry if it gets saturated.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Mission Sling has the best volume to weight ratio in our review — by a long shot. Holding 10 liters and only weighing 14 ounces, this bag strikes a brilliant balance between all the essentials. It has the smallest dimensions in our review (at least when rolled up compactly) yet offers one of the most adaptable designs for cramming all shapes and sizes of items. We carried books, large water bottles, clothing — even a circular take-out container from our local taqueria nested nicely on top for a fanny pack ride home. No tacos were harmed in the process, impressive indeed.
For the right person, this is a great value. It's an approachable price point for a very versatile bag. While it's not the best design for some applications, it's ideal for those that love being able to switch to carrying their belongings off their shoulders on the fly. It's also a fantastic supplemental bag for traveling.
The Mission is a fun bag that's easy to use and is not too expensive. It's more comfortable worn as a fanny than over the shoulder, but for those that pack light and want adaptability, this functional sling is a great option. While it's not optimized for electronics or hyper-organization, it does accommodate small gadgets in their own protective cases and some small loose items. For those that carry a lot of pens, pencils, and other small items, having supplemental pouches is a good idea. Lightweight with a 10-liter capacity, the Mission has the best volume-to-weight ratio in our test suite, and its water-resistant material is quite durable for how light it is. If you're looking for a well-made bag with versatility, this is a solid one to consider.
— Penney Garrett
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