MissionWorkshop's new Rambler Messenger Backpack
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By Jake Ellis

After the successful introduction of their first messenger backpack, the Vandal, the folks at MissionWorkshop just had to do it again with the Rambler (I like the name Rascal better). The Rascal, oops Rambler is a bit smaller at 2700 cubic inches (or as they like to say - 10 Gallons!) when it's fully expanded. That's a big bag by any standards, but still smaller than the Vandal at an advertised capacity of 15 Gallons m(4,000 cubic inches). For more info on that bag, take a look at our Vandal Review from early 2010.

So first here's some pics of the new Rambler........

The Rambler incorporates a good number of small improvements and keeps all of the really great innovative features of the Vandal like impeccable materials and construction; totally waterproof design and materials, expandable center section, ergo shoulder straps; and cool fittings and details.

The Vandal adds some great features like an easily accessible small outside pocket and the great design changes to the distinctive zippered and gussetted expandable center compartment.


Jake's been using the Vandal for the last couple of months every day on his 8 mile each way commute from home to Trattoria Stella here at Grand Traverse Commons.


Here's Jake wearing the Vandal, let's hear what he has to say about the new Rambler, and see if all his daily payload will fit in the smaller Rambler.

Mission Works says that their new bag, the Rambler has messenger bag durability, and I totally agree.

I've been using the Vandal everyday commuting and I can put an incredible amount of stuff in it, everything I need even when it's a good bit colder. I knew that the Rambler is a bit smaller so when Dennis hit me up to use it, the first thing was to see if everything I had in the Vandal would fit in this newer (and smaller) bag.

The quality of this American made backpack is very high, from the urethane on the zippers(to keep the water out) to the solid nylon fabric the bag is made from.

This bag has two main pockets, a small utility pocket on the front (which is awesome!), and an expandable middle compartment with side gussets.

When the rambler has been fully utilized you will be carrying quite a load, but will you like it?

I am six feet tall, have an eight mile commute, and carry 20 to 35 pounds of stuff around everyday. If you are shorter than me (maybe this would be a good bag for a gal or a guy with a shorter torso), have a shorter commute, and/or carry less stuff, this bag could be perfect you.

I had a hard time getting the Rambler to sit comfortably on my back, and when the load was large it wasn't very comfy.

Maybe if the straps allowed me to bear the weight lower and squarely on my hips it would have been more useful for carrying lots of cargo.

In summary this is an extremely well made bag that will fit shorter folks best, it is waterproof, can carry a light load comfortably, and it can expand to meet most emergency needs. I also wanted to say, if this bag sounds to small for you, you should see the Vandal!

I love my Vandal, it makes my back feel good even if I'm carrying a ton!


ed: We've commented on fitting a bag to your body size before....take a read of some of our earliest messenger bags reviews like the TimBuk "Way Too Big" that just seemed to wrap all the way around Nils' body, or the ReLoad MidPack that sat too high on Dennis' back to ever be comfortable.

In the design of most bags the straps are proportional to the bag size and a backpack-style messenger bag that fits a 5"0" person just isn't going to work for a 7' basketball player.

And this is especially important when there is a sternum strap...You might remember that I had that fit problem with the ReLoad Midpack (which we love in every other way btw) .... if the bag sat low enough in back for my 5'10" frame then the sternum strap was right under my chin. >p> So the lesson is....get a bag that's sized for your torso. The Vandal if you're over 5'9" or so and the Rambler if you're under that. Both the Vandal and the Rambler have so many of the same features and they are made right here in the USA.


Vamdal - $219 Optional waist belt is an extra $25.

Ride safe ............ Jake