Mission Workshop markets The Rhake as a laptop backpack, but it’s equipped for far more storage than that. In fact, it’s got so much capacity that The Rhake can pull double duty as a camera bag — but you’ll pay top dollar for the conversion. If you’re not put off by a high price tag as long as it comes hand in hand with durability for years of use, read on.
The camera-specific removable cell (dubbed The Capsule) organizes and protects all your valuable camera gear. It slides easily into the main compartment of the bag, which is waterproof to further protect your expensive gadgets. The Capsule’s size works best with a DSLR camera body, a few lenses, flashes, and accessories. For smaller cameras, this would certainly be overkill.
The only downside to the combination of the Rhake and Capsule is access: While you can quickly grab your camera and lens from the top of the bag, you’ll need to remove the Capsule from the Rhake to access everything else. A zipper up the front of the Rhake would solve this problem. Still, the combo works well together and we like the protection the Capsule offers. Our most accessed camera gear is still readily available from the roll-top.
On those days when the camera gear is staying at home, just remove the cell and use the Rhake as a commuter backpack. The spacious compartment left behind by removing the optional Capsule is big enough for a spare change of clothes and then some. That’s the beauty of The Rhake: It’s versatile and spacious enough to be the only bag you’ll need.
The padded laptop sleeve sits just behind the back panel, protecting it from the contents of the main compartment. The bag itself is waterproof too, and it’s rugged: at 3.1 pounds, it’s on the heavy side. But it’s also built to withstand the rigors of regular commuting in all conditions, and of course, owner neglect.
If you’re taking it on an airplane, the back panel features a luggage handle pass-through so you can tote it across the airport on wheels rather than your back. But if you have it on your back, the perforated foam back panel certainly offers plenty of comfort. That goes double when you’re riding a bike, though expect to build up some sweat.
The Rhake has three additional pockets: two zippered front organizer pockets and a zippered exterior accessory pocket down low. The front pockets offer great spaces to stow keys, phones, and other small items. One pocket zips open on three sides, offering easy access to contents. But the other pocket only unzips on two sides, which we thought was a curious choice. It seems to only make the contents more difficult to access.
Oh, and did we mention the tablet pocket? There’s one of those, too. That really drives home the whole idea behind The Rhake: Make it as versatile and functional as possible so you won’t need any other bag.
Certainly, Mission Workshop has mostly hit it out of the park on the versatility front. But one could argue there’s a bit too much going on here. Zippers, buckles, flaps, pockets … There are plenty of places to stow things, but it’s possible to get lost trying to access them. And with all those buckles, Mission still chose to add a Velcro strip to secure the roll-top access. There’s nothing wrong with that — Velcro closes securely and is a tried-and-true material — but Velcro also has a tendency to grab at things like sweaters and other soft goods you’re trying to stow. In this case, the Velcro seemed extraneous given the plethora of other ways in which the bag could be secured closed.
As an investment in a long-term bag, the Rhake proves itself. It really shines as a camera bag, though, so if you’re a photographer after a versatile pack that will stick with you for years, Mission Workshop makes a compelling case here.