Mission Workshop has earned a lot of respect and recognition in the carry community thanks to incredibly well-built bags that have a very distinct urban aesthetic while featuring tasteful subdued branding and generally offering thoughtful organization. It’s worth mentioning that the pricing of MW products is on a premium side mainly due to materials used and of course everything proudly built in USA, supported with an excellent lifetime warranty.

The Drift is one of the latest additions to MW product line and it offers quite an interesting take on a tote bag that can be used in various different scenarios. Unapologetically boxy, with clean lines and a huge main compartment the Drift surprised me with its versatility but sometimes left me high and dry in other aspects. Let’s dive in and see what this bag is all about.

Tech Specs

 ImperialMetric
Height15″38 cm
Width14.5″36.8 cm
Depth7.25″18.4 cm
Weight2.8lbs1270g
Capacity1700 cu. in.28L
Primary MaterialsHT500, YKK Zippers

Quality and Comfort

As with all Mission Workshop products I was lucky to try over the course of past decade (Fitzroy, Sanction, Vandal, Shed, Axis sling and now the Drift) the quality of materials and craftsmanship is impeccable. No loose threads, uneven stitching or detail that would feel cheap or low quality. Built like a tank and feeling incredibly robust, The Drift is seriously impressive and confidence-inspiring.

The main body fabric is HT500 high-tenacity nylon which has been impregnated with DWR coating. Feels pleasantly rough to the touch and has nice rigidity to it. In my winter days of testing I noticed the fabric becomes stiff in extreme cold temperatures, not a concern per se just an interesting observation.

The bottom of the bag is reinforced and feels extremely durable – the material feels rubbery and picks up dust like a magnet but it’s a small price to pay for the ruggedness and durability it offers.

Grab handles are made out of high quality seatbelt material and they are folded over twice for increased cushioning and carry comfort.  A nice touch is that they are secured with two snap buttons without the need for a separate wrap around grip.

The inner liner is made out of chequered grey nylon material that is very water-resistant, looks clean and easy to maintain. A small tradeoff is it being somewhat crinkly and noisy.

The Drift’s comfort is a mixed bag, pardon the pun. On one hand, the top grab handles are extremely nice to the touch, comfortable to hold, and fine on the shoulder. 

On the other hand, the stock shoulder strap is not padded at all, just a single layer of seatbelt material which is definitely high quality but with the tote filled to the brim (28L is no joke) it begs for some cushioning or some sort of padding.

I was also a bit surprised to see that the Drift does not support the Mission Workshop Messenger Strap (sold separately) that I had laying around and tried to attach to the Drift with no success.

So the quality of the bag is beyond doubt, but depending on your load it can get uncomfortable over an extended time. 

Organization and Access

The Drift has uninterrupted access to the main compartment thanks to the double sided YKK zippers. The zippers are matte and go really well with the overall aesthetics of the bag. I did wish for some sort of zipper pulls – these were sometimes tricky to use especially with gloves on.

External Organization:

The Drift has 2 pockets on the sides (one is zippered, fleece-lined pocket and the other is open to fit a small water bottle or something like an umbrella). These pockets have zero stretch and can’t accommodate larger items and even getting my big hands in those pockets is tricky. At some point I started ignoring them altogether because the natural curve of those pockets and lack of stretch made it difficult to get the things out, especially small ones that fall to the bottom.

There’s also a luggage passthrough on the back side, which I always like to see for ease of travel.

The back side has a dedicated laptop compartment that can fit up to 17 inch laptop. The compartment is very generous, padded, and suspended.

The front organization section is covered with a magnetic flap which features a mesh pocket, 2 slots for flat items, 2 pen slots and a key clip. I used this as a quick access pocket by not closing the zippers all the way and simply covering the pocket with the magnetic flap. The magnets are very strong but their surface is limited so if you cram a lot of things into the org panel there is a chance the magnetic flap wont close because the magnets are not aligned. Bummer.

Behind that, there’s a barely visible zippered compartment that has a surprising amount of depth – I could fit my whole arm in up to the elbow.

Internal Organization:

…is almost non-existent. You get a one giant main compartment with a flat pocket secured by a velcro strip. That’s it. 

In my experience such spartan organization only added convenience of packing the Drift with cubes and organizers. Combined with overall rectangular shape of the bag it utilizes the available space in the best possible way. Simply put, the bag can easily accommodate groceries, packing cubes with clothes, camera equipment or piles of bricks if need be – it can work in any scenario where you need to carry 28L of something, anything at all.

What’s Perfect

  • The bag comfortably stands by itself which is rarely seen on totes nowaday and greatly appreciated
  • Signature Mission Workshop build is awesome and confidence inspiring
  • Compared to other Mission Workshop products the Drift is quite reasonably priced
  • The organizational panel on the front is minimalistic yet highly functional – can store all the essentials securely

What’s Not

  • Well loaded up the shoulder strap might will uncomfortable
  • The boxy silhouette does not conform to the body so be prepared to bump against people and objects when navigating crowded space while wearing the Drift
  • The side pockets (both zippered and the open one) are hard to use, getting small items from the bottom of these pockets is finicky and frustrating, especially for people with large hands
  • The lack of the zipper pulls out of the box is noticeable and adding those is strongly recommended to improve the operations with the zippers

Wrap Up

The Drift is an interesting animal. At $235 it might seem expensive for what it is but compared to other Mission Workshop products this tote is actually one of the most fairly priced products in the brand portfolio. I found it working incredibly well as a companion bag to my main backpack and also a go-to bag for any car trips when I can just throw it in the trunk and not worry about dirt or dust.

The 28L capacity, dedicated padded laptop compartment and a useful front org panel make the Drift a versatile companion for office trips, urban errands and a decent travel buddy especially when traveling by car. 

Excellent build and reliable materials make this bag easy to recommend to anyone who is looking for an alternative carry solution to complement a backpack. The Drift is available directly from Mission Workshop in a variety of colors and materials, starting at $235.

Editor’s Note: The Drift was provided by Mission Workshop as a sample for review purposes. The content of this review was not shared with Mission Workshop before publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy.