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Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Backpack Review

Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Backpack Review

The Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Backpack is a 27-liter daypack that’s great for day hikes, travel, school, and more urban endeavors. While it has a potentially off-putting militaristic name, it’s quickly become my go-to pack for overnight trips and plane travel, but it is so functional and durable that it can be used for day hikes and hut stays as well. Like many of Mystery Ranch’s day packs including the Blitz 30, the Scree 32, and the Coulee 20, 30, and 40, the main compartment has three zippers that you to open the pack like a duffle bag or to just pop the lid to access the content from the top. The pack also has 9 pockets – 4 on the outside and 5 inside to keep you organized, a frame with an adjustable torso length, and an optional removable hip belt. Numerous external straps, known as PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) attachment points, let you further extend its functionality with add-on pockets or lash gear to the outside of the pack with carabiners or straps.

RELATED: 10 Best Hiking Day Packs

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Unisex
  • Volume: 27 Liters
  • Weight: 3 lb / 1361g
  • Frame: Adjustable-Torso Length
  • Access: Front Panel and Top Lid
  • Pockets: 7 Total, 5 internal, 4 external
  • Fits laptop: 15 in
  • Carry-on: Yes
  • Dimensions: (size S/M) 21 x 12 x 11 inches
  • Torso Sizes: (S/M: 15″-20″), (L/XL: 17″-24″)
  • Hydration Ready: Yes (note: a hose must come out through the laptop pocket zipper)
  • Hipbelt: Removable
  • Material: 500D Cordura
  • Max Recommended Load: 25 pounds

Storage and Organization

The front of the pack has a long vertical zipper
The front of the pack has three zippers that let you use it like a duffle or a top-loading pack.

The 2-Day Assault Pack has a large main compartment, a top lid pocket with two zippered pockets, and two side water bottle pockets. The main compartment has a vertical pack long zipper down the middle that opens it up like a duffle bag, making it very easy to access the contents. The inside comes with 5 pockets, two mesh pockets that close with zippers near the top, and two “drop” pockets along the sides that are large enough to hold a 32 oz aluminum bottle.

Each side of the main compartment has a zippered mesh pocket and a drop pocket large enough to hold a 32 oz metal bottle.
Each side of the main compartment has a zippered mesh pocket and a drop pocket large enough to hold a 32 oz metal bottle.

There’s also a laptop pocket, large enough to hold a 15″ laptop – which can also be accessed from outside the pack through a water-resistant zipper behind the shoulder straps.

The laptop pocket is accessed via a zipper behind the shoulder straps.
The laptop pocket is accessed via a zipper behind the shoulder straps. This is super convenient when going through airport security.

The Assault Pack also has a top lid with two zippered pockets. The top one is smaller and useful for holding a phone or wallet, while the bottom one is large enough to hold hats, gloves, and a sandwich. When unzipped, it opens like a hatch on top, giving you two ways of accessing the pack’s contents.

The top lid opens like a hatch.
The top lid opens like a hatch.

Finally, there are two side pockets that are good for storing water bottles, which have elastic on tops to prevent their contents from leaping out. They’re large enough to hold a 32 oz Nalgene bottle and have big drain holes in their base.

Frame and Suspension

The 2-Day Assault Pack has an adjustable-length torso and the shoulder straps can be moved up or down to accommodate a wide range of torso sizes. To adjust the length, you unstick the velcro holding the shoulder strap yoke in place and move it up or down to lengthen or shorten the torso.

The shoulder yoke can be raised or lowered to adjust the torso length
The shoulder yoke can be raised or lowered to adjust the torso length

The pack does have an internal frame which is just a semi-rigid plastic sheet. It is not removable and gives the pack some stiffness so it won’t collapse on itself when you set it down on the ground to pack or unpack it

The shoulder straps are S-shaped, so they’ll fit men or women comfortably. They have daisy chains on the front so you can easily attach accessory pockets to them or hang gear like an inReach using a carabiner. The pack has load lifters and you can also adjust the bottom of the load lifter to maintain a good load lifter angle, which is handy since the frame is adjustable. This is actually a premium feature that you seldom find on day packs and which is more common on expedition-size backpacks.

The hipbelt is a simple webbing strap and is not load-bearing. Its primary function is to prevent the pack from bouncing and keep it close to your torso. The hipbelt is removable if you don’t want to use it and closes with a large center buckle which will not jam up with snow and fail to close.

The external webbing straps make it easy to attach gear.
The external webbing straps make it easy to attach gear.

Attachment Points and Compression

The sides and front of the pack have several tiers of PALS webbing straps (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) so you can attach external MOLLE pouches and pockets to the pack and transform the exterior any way you want. It’s a lot like a Smartphone. The 2-Day Assault pack is the phone and the MOLLE pouches and pockets are apps that you can attach to its outside. It’s not a new idea, but one that’s quite useful for a certain class of tactical users.

The pack has two tiers of side compression straps. The top set loops around the sides (above the side pockets) and front of the pack and connects over the central vertical zipper, while the bottom set only runs across the front. The combination helps take pressure off that central vertical zipper, but can also be used to attach bulky objects to the pack like a foam pad or snowshoes.

The 2-Day Assault Pack fits perfectly under the seat on an airplane.
The 2-Day Assault Pack fits perfectly under the seat on an airplane.

Recommendation

The Mystery Ranch 2-day Assault Backpack is a versatile 27L backpack that’s at home in the backcountry, but just as useful for travel or urban use. When I first got this pack about 6 months ago, I didn’t think it would really appeal to me. But once I started using it for day hikes and overnight trips, its value and versatility because abundantly clear! There are a few standout features that I really like including the laptop pocket and the three-way zippers, which make it very easy to get the things you need out of the pack without contortions or unpacking everything to find it. While I haven’t fully exploited the PALS webbing to attach external pockets to the pack, I have no doubt it will prove useful as well.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mystery Ranch’s packs, they’re very different from the simple backpacks that many day hikers and ultralight backpackers carry for trail hiking. Instead, they have their own aesthetic which is more aligned with people who work as well as recreate outdoors. That requires extra durability and functionality which is often missing from the simpler backpacks used by many day hikers and trail hikers. If you’re for a backpack that is more of a “tool” and less of a “sack”, I recommend you check out Mystery Ranch’s backpacks. They’re not for everyone, but they are really well-designed and bombproof.

Disclosure: Mystery Ranch donated this pack for review.

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5 comments

  1. Hey Phil, thanks for this review. Looks like this pack doesn’t have any tool holders. Do I have that right?

  2. Nice pack! If I did not already have a ULA Dragonfly for travel, I would certainly have this one. This is a fantastic travel and personal carry-on pack! Thanks for the great review!

  3. Anything Dana Gleason has a hand in designing will generally surpass expectations for functionality and longevity. My DD Arcflex Alpine is still awesome thirty-three years later, with only minor repairs.

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