Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault
The Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault is a multi-functional, durable pack that is big enough (27L) for day hikes and daylong hunting trips, yet hosts additional features, like a laptop sleeve with rear-facing zipper, that allow it to serve as an everyday carry pack (EDC) or a travel/carry-on bag too. A true Swiss Army knife of a pack.
- Easy to access all areas of the pack
- Functional and well-placed pockets
- Endless attachments points with external webbing
- Accessible water bottle pouches without having to take the pack off
- Ample storage for day hikes or daylong hunting pursuits
- Built with rugged material
- External bottle storage compartments are too short for extra tall bottles
- Waistbelt strap has slipped out
This initial review is based on testing the 2 Day Assault pack over a six-week period during the late fall and early winter in the eastern US in mostly cool and cold conditions (mostly below 40°F/4.4°C), with some light rain and snow. To date, I’ve used it exclusively as a hiking daypack and a hunting pack on a variety of trips (three day hikes and four hunting trips). I will update this review as I spend more time in the woods and on the trail with the pack.
At 6'2" (1.88m) and a fairly slender frame, the L/XL fits my frame well and rides comfortably with or without layers (also comes in a S/M size). Mystery Ranch has some very detailed fitting and sizing information on their website which is a useful resource. The quick and dirty of the difference in sizing is:
- S/M - Torso = 15-20 inches (38-51 cm)
- L/XL - Torso = 17-24 inches (43-61 cm)
The straps for making adjustments are well-placed, which allow for easy access to make micro-adjustments on the fly. The yoke is fully adjustable, making it pretty easy to find a proper fit.
The wide shoulder straps make for a comfortable carry, even if they tend to slide a little bit on my bulky hunting jacket. Having tested the pack so far in temperatures mostly below 40°F/4.4°C, and with, at times, several layers on between the pack and my skin, it’s difficult to accurately judge the ventilation capabilities of the pack. This is something I will keep an eye on as winter turns to spring.
The pack features a sternum strap and waistbelt, which both add to taking the weight of the shoulders and onto the hips. According to the manufacturer, the waistbelt is one size for both the S/M and L/XL options (fits 30-40 inches or 76-102 cm). The waistbelt is removable and has given me trouble once, as it removed itself on one side while I was taking the pack off. I re-strapped the belt and have needed to tighten it a couple times since.
The pack is listed as a 1648 cu-in (27L) pack. In comparison, this pack evolved from the manufacturer's popular 3 Day Assault pack, which as the name suggests, is bigger, but not by as much as I would have thought.
- 2 Day Assault = 1648 cu-in (27L)
- 3 Day Assault = 1800 cu-in (29.5L)
I typically carry a slightly smaller pack (22L or 25L) for hiking, hunting, or as an EDC, but I’ve enjoyed the slightly larger size. Seems like with the 27L capacity, I am able to take a little bit more without cramming things in and pushing the seams to the limits.
Here are a few photos of the various loads I have carried so far. Missing from the images include wallet, phone, car keys, and food/snacks (which I tend to take a lot of).
Weight: 3 lbs 12.7 oz (1.72kg)
The manufacturer lists the pack at an even 3 lbs. I'm assuming that is the S/M option, whereas I am carrying the L/XL option.
The Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault pack is made from 500D Cordura fabric, which is durable to the max. Certainly not the lightest weight fabric, but I don’t suspect it will tear or get worn out any time soon. All zippers are built on water repellent seams, which are a little tight when opening and closing, but have been great so far. I haven't noticed any issues while using in light rain and snow, but I have yet to test in truly wet conditions.
Organization & Accessibility:
I like the 2 Day Assault’s approach to organization, with its varied pockets and access points.
Lid: The lid has two zipper-enclosed pockets, which is far more usable and practical than one large single pocket, in my opinion. I can keep items separated in each easy-to-access pocket. This makes storing little items that I need quick access to a breeze, especially when the pack is sitting on the ground next to me when I'm still hunting.
External: Two external bottle pockets, attachment point webbing (MOLLE straps), and dual compression straps. One water bottle pocket on each side of the pack (two total) makes it easy to stash lots of liquid, with one caveat. I typically use 40-oz. bottles or larger, which are taller compared to most bottles. These pockets are wide enough to securely carry a big, wide bottle and they ride just fine when the pack is upright, however, my bottles have fallen out a few times when I bend over (pick something up, tie my shoe, etc.).
The MOLLE webbing and compression straps make for nearly limitless options for attachments and add-ons. I’ve attached several items of varying sizes and shapes, particularly when using it as a hunting pack (more details below).
Internal: In addition to the main compartment, the innards of the pack also features symmetrical mesh pockets (zippered) and open vertical pockets (unzippered) on each side. I’ve found the mesh pockets to be particularly useful for storing small items (phone/keys/wallet, knife, drag rope, energy bars, etc.) that I want to be able to locate quickly without digging through the rest of the bag’s contents.
The open vertical pockets are a little trickier. Meant to serve as extra water bottle storage pockets, I don’t often require four bottles of water with me on day hikes, so the pockets aren’t utilized much. Lately, I’ve been stashing extra gloves/hats in these pockets for cold-weather adventures, just in case. The long and skinny nature of these pockets make them somewhat limited in their usability.
Laptop Sleeve: I have yet to use the laptop sleeve for any extended period of time other than to see if it fits my 15" Macbook Pro (it does fit), but I have used it for another very helpful purpose, taking map printouts with me into the field while pre-season scouting and hunting. I was given permission to hunt a piece of property that I was unfamiliar with did not have clearly marked boundaries so I took several printouts of satellite images with me into the field in case I got turned around or needed to reference them without adequate GPS coverage. Having a pocket exclusively for these maps without having them get battered and bruised in other pockets was very nice to have.
When comparing this pack to others of similar size on the market and from my experience, three things stand out to me as being noteworthy features:
3-Zip access to main compartment: Mystery Ranch features this zipper system on many of its packs. This is the first I’ve used a pack with such design and I personally like it, mostly because of incredibly easy access to the entire pack. This makes packing easier and finding items at the bottom of the pack easier. I was a little skeptical at first, but it truly does make a difference. Such a great design feature.
MOLLE system and dual compression straps: The abundant external webbing built into this pack makes for endless attachment points and possible extensions. I didn’t realize how handy this would be until the first time I took it out hunting and easily attached my monopod (shooting stick) and some blaze orange for added safety and compressed them tight with the compression straps. I’ve also easily attached other items like a seat cushion, hiking poles, and outer layers as I shed them from overheating.
Sewn-in velcro square on lid: This is promoted by the manufacturer as being for morale patches, which is most commonly used with military and law enforcement agencies. Being a descendent of the 3-Day Assault pack (which is geared specifically for military use) I understand why they put the velcro square on the 2-Day Assault; however, being marketed as an everyday carry pack, it seems a little odd to have the sewn-in velcro patch, especially in such a contrast color to the pack (i.e. black on green), instead of the same color as the pack itself.
By the looks of it, this is the only color option (Forest) that has an off color velcro square, whereas the other color options have a matching colored square. Personally, I’m rather neutral on the velcro square being there, but the reason I bring this up is because I’ve had to explain to three different people what the large black rectangle of velcro is for. Seems somewhat out of place for the intended purpose of this pack.
Although the 2 Day Assault pack is listed as an EDC (everyday carry), and includes a laptop compartment, I think this pack’s capabilities go well beyond an everyday carry pack. It is big enough (27L) for long day hikes, quick overnighters, full day hunting trips (as long as you aren’t quartering out large game), travel carry-on luggage, and much more. The pack’s compression straps and external MOLLE webbing system makes for even more customization for specific adventures.
UPDATE (JANUARY 2023): I recently lost one-half of the hipbelt webbing. It most likely occurred while hiking through very thick brush without the hipbelt engaged (it was probably dangling free). I looked and looked for it but no luck. I contacted Mystery Ranch to see if I could order a replacement part and they shipped me one free of charge, and quickly! Great customer service.
I am a hiker and hunter in the eastern US, and I particularly enjoy gear that spans both pursuits. I’ve tested the Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault both as a hiking pack and a hunting pack over a six-week period during the late fall and early winter in the eastern US, which included some rain and snow. This is a slightly larger pack than what I usually take for dayhikes or for daylong hunting trips (27L, opposed to my usual 22L and 25L packs).
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Mystery Ranch)
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Current Retail: $142.32-$229.00
Historic Range: $133.99-$229.00
3 lbs / 1.4 kg
1648 cu in / 27 L
15-20 in / 38-51 cm (S/M), 17-24 in / 43-61 cm (L/XL)
30-40 in / 76-102 cm
21 x 12 x 11 in / 53 x 30 x 28 cm
500D Cordura fabric and YKK zippers