One trend in outdoor gear, especially clothing and bags, the last few years is attaching the word "bespoke" to indicate a degree of craftsmanship above and beyond the norm. It's often annoying and frequently unwarranted, but our first review of 2018 features a product that could easily carry the adjective correctly, even though it doesn't bother to try.
It's no surprise to anyone that the product comes out of Mystery Ranch, a company that stakes its stellar reputation on bombproof gear that will perform anytime, anyplace, no excuses. The product is the Mission 90 duffel, a rock solid bag that you can feel free to use and abuse for a very long time.
The quality of the Mission 90, also available in smaller 40 (carry-on compatible!) and 55 liter sizes, is immediately apparent on first touch. The 1000D nylon skin is highly abrasion resistant and waterproof with a very attractive woven look to it. The bag is fully lined, and the TPU laminate is applied to the inside for better longevity. Materials and manufacturing quality count the most in gear designed for daily impact trauma, and Mystery Ranch does not skimp.
Functionality is likewise well thought out and executed. The main compartment is accessed by a large U-shaped double YKK zipper that makes getting at contents painless compared to normal single slit style duffels. Each end also has an external zipper to get into an interior pouch that expands into the main compartment, so as gear becomes dirty and wet you can isolate it from the clean stuff without losing storage space. These pouches are big enough for ski boots if you need to go that route. Internal organization is provided by two zippered flat mesh pockets on the lid, and two more one on each side running almost the length of the duffel.
Even if all of the above is completely dialed in – and it is on the Mission – even the best duffel can be compromised if the carry options aren't up to snuff. Have no fear, because the Mission gives you all the options. You've got a clip-on wide adjustable shoulder strap if you want to carry it messenger bag style, standard dual handles with a velcro keeper, beefy carry handles on each end, and best of all stealth backpack straps in the bottom. Seriously, we had to form a search committee to find them, but once you know there's a hidden zipper in the bottom you can get to them with no problem. The much-better-than-minimalist padded shoulder straps clip into hidden buckles tucked behind flaps at the bottom corners, and there's even a sternum strap to keep you happy on long humps that you can't avoid.
We're waiting to be disappointed by a Mystery Ranch product, and we're beginning to think it might not happen. The Mission 90 duffel is a beautiful, bombproof piece of kit that has more epic in it than most people we know.