Mission Workshop Arkiv R2 Field Pack Review

****UPDATE 05/22/2013*****

It has been a few months since I purhcased Mission Workshop’s Arkiv R2 Field Backpack and I thought I would follow up with an update on how it has held up. Besides the fact that it still kills my shoulders when I wear it fully loaded with gear – this pack kicks ass.

When I buy something, I use it, and use it, and typically use it until it falls apart. I have been hauling the R2 with me everyhwere; as my day pack, climbing pack, short trip travel pack… you name it. The real reason why I decided to write this follow up review is because of how incredibly dry it kept my Laptop, Ipad and Digital camera, after riding my motorcycle in the rain for 45 minutes straight as I made my way to Pai, Thailand. Here is my final verdict on this pack after a few months of use:

Style: Check

Unique: Check

Durability: Check

Water Resistance: Check

Comfort: Needs Improvement

Practicality for day use: If I could afford more components for the pack I would check this box off, but with my current configuration it really is not all that practical.

Value: Depends who you ask. While it is undoubtedly expensive for what you get, I like the fact hat I have yet to run into another person that has this pack. I wanted something unique and I paid for it.

 

 



—Old Review—-

The Mission Workshop Arkiv R2 Field  Pack: Combining tactical with practical, to create what may quite possibly one of the slickest looking daypacks on the market.

I had an old 50 liter Mountain Hardware pack that I absolutely loved. Unfortunately I was forced to retire the pack after the shoulder straps somehow managed to get Poison Oak Oil saturated within the fabric. Putting it simply, Poison Oak Oil is a PITA and I had to throw in the towel after trying multiple remedies to clean the straps – any time I wore my pack without a shirt – bad things. After digging around the net for a new replacement I explored a few various options and ultimately settled on the Mission Workshop Arkiv R2 Field Pack.

I was initially attracted to this pack because of its its minimal looks and the fact that the top had a rucksack style flap for sealing off the main compartment. Looking at how it fastened with the velcro, I imagined the potential it had for being used as a climbing daypack where I could store the rope externally on top. It turns out that my idea worked flawlessly and this saved me a huge amount of internal pack space.

Externally Mounted Rope. Win!

Externally Mounted Rope. Win!

Upon Opening Quick Impressions:

The Good: Good-looking bag, the fabric used seems like good quality, I like the rail system that allows you to customize your pack, quality looking taped zippers (you see a lot of big name companies starting to phase these out which sucks), water resistant liner used inside the main compartment.

Concerns: the only real concern I have is in regards to the water resistant liner Mission Workshop used. What bugs me with this liner is the fact that it is not attached to the interior of the pack except for a few areas. In other word’s, it is free floating and I have concerns of it continuously getting pulled out or caught on things as I remove them.

arkiv r2 field pack

Overall: From a cost:space standpoint; your getting New York 5th Avenue rates for every liter of space in this pack. From a style standpoint, this pack is without a doubt the best looking, most badass pack I have ever owned. From a functional standpoint, this pack has some really neat customizable additions but they will cost you a pretty penny. I could only afford the folio with the main pack but I think I can make it work for my needs.

 

The Practical Review:

The turtle is not part of the pack contents.

The turtle is not part of the pack contents.

 

I bought this bag for two purposes – to haul my valuables when traveling and to haul my climbing gear. With my purchased configuration being the main pack folio it operates perfectly as my climbing daypack. The main compartment easily fits two harnesses, two pairs of climbing shoes, my quick draws, a water bottle, food and a few other miscellaneous items. In addition, I figured out a rather clever way to haul the rope with the pack.

 

Mission Workshop Arkiv R2 Field Pack

 

I am happy with how the pack  worked out for this purpose but I have one issue with it’s design… the shoulder straps. I am not a very big person but I have fairly broad shoulders, and for some reason my shoulders were KILLING me when carrying this pack fully loaded for an extended period of time. With everything I had in the pack I would estimate I was lugging around 25 – 30 lbs. of weight. From the car park, to the climbing area, you probably have to walk about 2.5 – 3 miles which really is not that far. I did not notice the weight on my shoulders going, partially because it had been about a year since I had been climbing and was a little nervous to get back on the rock, but on the way back… This pack was killing my shoulders, almost as if the straps were placed too close together and they were pulling my shoulder blades towards one another. I tried changing the strap configuration from tight to loose to see if I could change the way it was sitting on my back, with no luck. I never once encountered this issue with my old pack… And, while I could use the hip bolster add on that Mission Workshop sells for this pack, it kind of defeats the purpose of using it as a practical daypack – I hate hip straps on packs unless I am carrying a load of 50 lbs. or greater. Besides this point, my only other  issue that I encountered was my items wanting to pull the interior liner out it as I removed them from the pack.

 

As a travel pack, and with the configuration I purchased, the bag falls a bit short in my opinion. There is only one shallow pocket where I am able to store things like my headphones, car keys, a passport, or other small miscellaneous items that I would like to have quick access to. While I could fit all of these into the one available pocket, I now lose the ability to effectively organize these miscellaneous yet crucial items and instead I am left digging around to get to something I need – it is slightly reminiscent 0f the  junk-drawer from my old house I grew up in. On the plus side, the main pack has an interior zipper where I am able to fit my 15” laptop with its case. In addition, the folio I purchased easily fits my iPad but I have been getting slightly frustrated with the folio design for two reasons.

The first issue I am experiencing with the Folio section is that there are two pockets built into this add-on. And once one of the pockets is filled (like with my ipad), the other pocket is essentially useless seeing as you can barley fit your hand into it because it is so tight.

Secondly, like the main compartment, the liner in the folio is free floating and I have had issues with my i-pad getting caught inside the pocket because a corner of it is snagging the liner and ultimately the whole liner wants to come out with the device.

At the end of the day: you will have trade-off’s in functionality when shopping for a minimally designed bag like this. If you are willing to fork out the cash to purchase all of the add-on’s for increased functionality, the pack should be able to handle a multitude of scenarios. It will not be cheap. Click Here to see the various add-on’s that Mission Workshop offers that allow the user to customize the pack to their choosing.

 

 

I have been in Thailand for two weeks now and I have been using the pack frequently. I still have the complaints I mentioned and I have found that I am using a fanny pack in conjunction with this pack to help me keep my smaller items sorted. This is a nuisance but I can live with it.  I am curious to see how it will hold up over the next few months while I am hopping around around South East Asia.

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