Mission Workshop 21L Monty Bag Road Test

I love gear, small gadgets, wallets, tools, notebooks, you name it, I have most likely looked into it. Bags are no exception and after taking months looking at reviews of dozens of bags, hunting for the ultimate bag for me, I finally caved and brought the Mission Workshop (MW) 21L Monty bag and surprising, it’s proved to be quite a versatile bag.

Mission Workshop Monty 21L

The criteria I had for choosing THE bag was:

  • Had to look the part as a work bag, even when wearing a suit
  • Comfortable to carry for a reasonable period of time (<2hrs)
  • Big enough to extra items like a change of clothes, sports equipment yet small enough to make the daily commute
  • Reasonably weatherproof (I do live in England after all)
  • Fit my small frame
  • Built to last

A number of other bags fulfilled all the points including the GORuck GR0, Trakke Bags, Bedouin Genghis and Cote&Ciel Isar all of which were solid bags and very well reviewed. What ultimately sold me on the MW was this video review and the fact it was cheapest out of all the bags by a fair margin (£135 from Urban Cyclery) and still included a lifetime warranty.

As an added bonus, the should strap was swappable which was a god send for a left hander. The only other shoulder bag I found that did this was from Trakke.

(Offtopic: I love it when a company gives consideration to left handers as there is so many products out there that just made to cater for right handers. Still waiting for a well reviewed left handed mouse and the left handed version of WASD key setup).

When the bag was delivered, I initially had comfort concerns as the back and bottom of the bag was not padded. I managed to mitigate this with an old laptop sleeve (one of those that you can supposedly drop an egg on and it won’t crack) which also gave a me a ’slot’ to slip my laptop into.

It also felt heavier then I expected (1.35kg) due to the waterproof lining all around the bag but it didn’t matter too much after the bag was on my shoulder as the strap took must of the weight and spread it across my chest.

In terms of organisation, the two front pockets were roomy enough to fit all my loose tech accessories such as USB cables, chargers, batteries etc and also my pens and notepad. I also found that there was more internal organisation then I thought as there were two zipped pockets that I don’t think was mentioned in any review I have seen.

(Edit: It has since been mentioned in this video review of the larger Rummy bag)

However, putting anything in these zipped pockets partially ate into the space allocated for the main compartment. It has made me slightly weary of potentially crushing items when I have a fully packed bag such as sunglasses.

I have used the bag literally everyday for the last couple of months and managed to:

Take to work

Take to work

Go to badminton

Go to badminton

Carry my skates

Carry my skates

Be my luggage for short trips to Berlin and Sweden (fitted under every plane/coach/train seat I sat at)

I really like this bag and has coped pretty well overall considering I am using it to carry everything. The bag also looks no different to how it was on day 1 so I have little doubt it will last, even without taking into account of it’s lifetime warranty. It isn’t without it’s niggles though:

  • The single strap doesn’t cope too well in terms of comfort with heavy loads associated with travelling. I am considering buying a rucksack for future one bag travels simply due for comfort.
  • It is slightly wider then my body width when on my back so it tends to collide with people on a busy street.
  • A carry/grab handle which makes getting off transport a lot easier.
  • An easy access slip pocket for newspapers, magazines, maps, etc. It be especially useful in London where they hand out free newspapers everyday.
  • Despite being quite wide, the opening of the main compartment is a little narrower so getting items like larger binders that requires the full width in and out is a bit of a pain.
  • REALLY needs a padded back. Without the laptop sleeve that I used, I doubt it be anywhere near as comfortable.

Bottom line, it’s a good value bag with a very comfortable shoulder strap and has been great for daily general use. It just falls a little short in some scenarios and stops it from being awesome.

Other bags that made the shortlist:

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7 thoughts on “Mission Workshop 21L Monty Bag Road Test

  1. Amatia Lily says:

    On the off chance that you read this comment, I was wondering if you could perhaps elaborate a little on the size of this thing. It sounds like it can hold a fair amount of stuff, despite being the “small” version of this bag — do you think it would be large enough to use as an overnight bag (change of clothes, shoes, washbag, plus the usual laptop, charger, etc.)? I’m close to pulling the trigger on one of these, but can’t decide whether to opt for the slightly larger Rummy…

    • yaustar says:

      I would go for the Rummy if that is what you are regularly carrying. I manage to put in a:
      – Washbag
      – A couple of Shirts/Underwear/Socks using Evercreek’s Pack it Folder
      – Macbook Air
      – Charger
      – Standard everyday gear like pens/notepads/cables etc

      And I just about fit it all in for the trip to Berlin. Shoes take up a fair amount of space and I doubt I could fit a pair in as well as all the above unless I latched it on the outside like my skates.

      • Amatia Lily says:

        Thanks for the advice. Your review was useful anyway (the two bags being the same in all but size).

  2. Near says:

    Hi! Am thinking of getting one. Mind if I ask for a photo of you with the bag on? Thanks

  3. VT says:


    Thanks for the great review. I was thinking of purchasing the Monty and wanted to if the zipper pouch fits your laptop? If so, what kind of laptop do you have? Is it enough space to fit your laptop with a case?

    Would greatly appreciate your help.


    • yaustar says:

      I have an 11″ Macbook Air which basically fits anything so that’s not really useful. I believe a 13″ will just about fit in the front pouch with a standard case but I can’t confirm as I don’t have a laptop in that size. However, I would recommend putting the laptop in the main compartment in a decent case (which is what I do). As you load the bag, you are more likely to have the front of the bag will start to bulge as that is where it naturally curves to fit.

      Putting anything large/long and ridged in the front zipped pouch will make it difficult to load the bag and may also put extra stress on the object inside the pouch. Deaf Pigeon has more on their review about the front pouch with the Rummy: http://deafpigeon.co.uk/2013/02/mission-workshop-vx-rummy-review/

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