14 Apr 2019
I noticed very few reviews available for this camera bag and thought I’d give folks another resource when considering the Integer. Mission Workshop specializes in weather-proof bags and technical apparel, as their website states it. While I love their bags, I haven’t really purchased clothes form them. They float more on the expensive side, and I’ve owned bags from Timbuk2 and Chrome Industries. While some of their bags are comparable prices, in the $200 to $300 range, some of their best gear almost scratches the $500 mark – or more if you upgrade accessories and parts of your bag. Those who stick with Mission Workshop know its worth it though. As far as I’m aware, all of their bags are hand-made in the United States, including their Integer camera bag.
Please note that I was not provided the bag or an incentive to write this review. I chose to purchase the Integer and paid for it myself.
Overall the build quality is top-of-the line, which is one of the main endeavors of the Mission Workshop brand.
Mission Workshop has a material they call the HT500 nylon textile. The Integer comes in black and gray HT500 and I picked the gray version. Supposedly, it ages like leather and looks better over time according to their bag fabrics page. One of my other Mission Workshop packs, the Axis, also uses the HT500 nylon textile and does seem to look better over time if you do like that patina look. It doesn’t look exactly like leather but it isn’t “dirty” looking as some other materials tend to look as they age. Stitching is solid and with other Mission Workshop bags I own, I have yet to run into issues. As far as I’m aware, all of Mission Workshop’s products are made in the United States and includes a lifetime guarantee. Pop into a shop or send it via mail – they’ll do their best to make repairs.
Made exclusively for Mission Workshop, our signature material utilizes high-tenacity 500d nylon with a superior strength-to-weight ratio and a smooth refined surface. HT500 incorporates a water- and stain-resistant coating that develops a beautiful natural patina over time. Unlike most nylon fabrics, HT500 fabric looks better the more you use it, similar to full-grain leather.Bag Fabrics | Mission Workshop
Zippers, buckles, and velcro
Zippers feel solid and operate well. I’ve seen other customers describe them as “self-healing.” It’s a neat feature where if they were to come undone or miss a set of teeth somewhere during operation, unzipping and re-zipping normally resolves the issue. I don’t think I’ve owned another bag that does this – and I’ve own bags from Timbuk2 and Chrome Industries. While I try my best to avoid zippers in bags, it’s reassuring to know that the Integer won’t be getting in the way of your travel photography.
Two of the buckles are plastic by default with optional upgrades. They’re decent but don’t feel acceptable on a bag at this cost. When using the roll-top configuration, there is a metal clip to secure the top.
Finally, velcro is used to fold away the tripod side pocket and configure the top-pack into a roll-top configuration The stitching is top-notch. For individuals who need a subtle entry system, the velcro is loud. The side panel and front panel access to the gear uses zippers so you won’t normally run into this problem though.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, this bag is weather-proof. The outer-shell is double-coated and shields the contents of your bags from the elements. As a native Californian, my main worry isn’t rain though – it’s dust. So far, it’s been keeping the internal of my bag dust free.
As of now, I haven’t traveled a multi-day trip using the Integer. One the day-traveling I’ve done so far, I haven’t noticed any of the issues cheaper and uncomfortable straps run into. The straps are thick, so you won’t experience some of the curling from cheaper straps, which causes discomfort and chafing. The straps aren’t the most breathable, so in hotter climates, be prepared for sweat. It’s a trade-off though – it provides a bit more comfort for travelers in exchange for less breath-ability for the bicyclist who may often use Mission Workshop bags. Overall, though, it seems perfect as my travel bag.
The padding on the back is aerated, which is a pro or con depending on how it feels. Some may enjoy the limited breath-ability while others may not be fan of how it feels. This bag differs from many of the travel bags Mission Workshop designs – it doesn’t accommodate the waist strap. More on why later.
The camera pack is removable – allowing for flexible use of its backs. This might appeal to some people who like modular set-ups, a strength of the Mission Workshop brand. Beyond that, it has 2 long dividers, 4 section dividers, and 4 stretching straps to hold down your gear.
The pack itself has three access points: (1) from the roll-top’s internal zipper compartment, (2) the front zipper panel, or (3) the side panel. This allows you to manage and handle your gear depending on each situation.
Overall the dividers and removable camera pack are pretty thick and cushioned. My only con is the material. I own the Mission Workshop Capsule as well, and the pack and dividers use something more akin to micro-fiber. The Capsule feels better to touch and handle compared to the Integer.
Organizational pockets and features
The number of organizational pockets does not match the high price point. It’s probably one of the main flaws for a bag that costs nearly $500. While it can be expanded using the Arkiv accessories, I can’t see too many people justifying another $50 to $80 on top of the initial purchase. In addition, the buckles are plastic. The main roll-top and front panel strap comes with the optional upgrade though.
Unzipping the front panel reveals two zippered mesh pockets. These work best for small accessories, such as batteries and SD cards. There is one more zipper where the tripod straps are held but can hardly fit much – maybe one or two spare batteries. Finally, the large roll-top configuration can be expanded to hold a variety of items. It looks like it cold easily fit two sets of clothes.
On one side of the backpack is a tripod strap and pocket. It unfolds a pocket to slip one of the tripod legs. A plastic buckle straps the tripod to the side of the bag.
Finally there is a hide-away mesh pocket that can hold a typical 40 ounce, reusable bottle.
On the front panel, there are three Arkiv rails. For those uninitiated with Mission Workshop, Arkiv is a patent piece of technology that allows the user to attach a variety of accessories. There is a decent selection available on their website and fortunately most of them are compatible with the rails on the Integer.
Is it worth it?
$485 is a lot of money – you could buy some pretty decent glass at that price. While I would argue that this bag is worth it, the returns of each additional dollar after $200 to $300 diminishes. For $200, you could easily buy a refurbished Peak Design bag. While Peak Design champions a brand following for so many photographers and travelers, Mission Workshop appeals to a smaller niche of customers as of now. For some potential buyers, this purchase might be too risky.
However, for those who have the budget, I would argue there are few bags that offer the unique characteristics of a Mission Workshop bag in a camera pack. There are few other camera packs that offer modular options. Boundary’s Prima System is the only other bag I’m aware of that offers similar modular features at almost half the price as of this article. At $485, you could buy the Prima System bag and a refurbished Peak Design camera pack and have some change left over. Yet, I still feel confident in the craftsmanship and polish of Mission Workshop’s final products to suggest Mission Workshop.
For anyone in the market for a travel, camera pack – there are cheaper options at roughly half the price. If you need the more niche feature of an Arkiv bag or if you are already invested in the Arkiv ecosystem, the Integer might be the camera pack for you. It is a product definitely aimed at a higher-end market but with the goal of providing a product to last your lifetime. Only time will tell – most of my purchases at Mission Workshop have barely scratched the two year mark but I’ve been nothing but satisfied so far.
Currently, the Integer comes in three styles: black, grey and black-grey camo. The Integer is available for purchase on Mission Workshop’s website – but act fast. Parts of their products are hand-made in the United States so they often sell out.
In addition to the Arkiv compatible Axis waist pack, I’ve upgraded the standard plastic buckle to the metal, black Cobra buckles. Normally, I’ll pack my Olympus 17 mm Pro, the Olympus 12-40 mm Pro, the Panasonic Leica 8-18 mm f/2.8-4.0, and the Pansonic Lumix G9. I’ll throw a few smaller primes in their if I need something smaller and more subtle. If I’ll need the telephoto, I’ll also include the Panasonic 100-300 mm II and the battery grip. Finally, I might throw a Godox flash if I’ll be shooting at night. All of this fits comfortable in the camera pack – which is a advantage of the micro four thirds system.