In the last year or so, Mystery Ranch came out with the 2 Day Assault Pack — a civilian backpack which takes heavy influence from the military packs Mystery Ranch is famous for. The 2-Day doesn’t have the famed Futura Yoke that makes the high end (read: expensive) packs legendary, but it has a spin on the Futura system that Mystery Ranch labels as ‘framed’. The yoke, how tall the straps sit from the top to the bottom, is adjustable with a frame sheet integrated. I’ve been putting the bag through its paces to see if it is going to stick.
Twitter summary: really good, super comfortable, but insanely big — biggest 27 liters I have ever seen in a bag.
If this bag were a touch smaller I’d be all in, and I’d not really need a GR1. And that’s the reason I picked it up, because my favorite YouTuber George Defined rated it above a GR1, so I needed to know. After everything I have used it for I can see why he rated it so highly and am shocked more people are not in love with this bag.
Mystery Ranch is known for the tri-zip, and the comfort of their harnesses. This bag is no exception because even though it is not a full blown Futura system, it is impressively comfortable. It carries gear like a dream.
But to get that you need to first buy the correct size bag (L/XL) for me, and then adjust the yoke on the bag to fit your body. Typically, you do this so that the straps sit correctly across your shoulders, while the hip belt still goes across your hips. This bag doesn’t have a load bearing hip belt, so really you can get away with adjusting it strictly for what feels comfortable and sizing is less of an issue for most.
For me, I initially adjusted it for the hip belt which was great when I carried a 20lbs Ruck plate in the pack, but was too low feeling when I was using it for lighter, more general, load outs. I have since adjusted the bag a little shorter and it feels great. The main thing I was trying to adjust for was the robust lower back pad to hit right in the nook of my lower back.
All in all, if you are not trying to ruck a bag, this might be one of the most comfortable EDC bags I have worn, including my beloved GR1s. And that comfort is out of the box (after adjustments) no break in needed. The straps, the harness, the yoke, and all the adjustments combine for pure luxury. Even carrying a 20lbs ruck plate was very comfortable from a weight perspective (the plate flopped around in the bag and that sucked). If this ‘framed’ harness is this good, I can only drool over the thought of what the Futura system must be like.
Mystery Ranch rates this bag at 27 liters. And that rating makes absolutely no sense to me (yes I know Mystery Ranch uses the ball method, but it doesn’t feel right). Take a look at it compared to a 26 liter GR1 (both have identical throw pillows stuffed inside them):
The 2 Day is bigger (and only the main section of the 2-day has stuff in it), and obviously bigger than just 1 liter. You come up with bag measurements by multiplying height x width x depth or by filling bags with shit and measure the volume of said shit. If you do the dimension calculation on this bag, the 21” x 12” x 11” 2 Day Assault spits out a converted 45 liters. Which is comical to me — there’s zero chance it is that large. That’s HUGE. But there’s also zero chance this bag is only 27 liters big. No way the delta between this stuff is 18 liters either. I don’t have balls to fill the bag with, so, you’ll have to trust me that the measurement is too large here.
Take the same measurements for the GR1 pictured above, at 20” x 12” x 6.75” and you get 26.5 liters — basically right on the money, which is why I am making the comparison. The GR1 is also a box, so it should be pretty close to the same volume no matter how you calculate it.
The issue is simply that the 2 Day Assault is not square/boxy so it is hard to get a true measurement on it. I would say the 2DAP feels like a 30L pack and I think that is a fair assessment of the overall size. It’s just huge and carries a lot. Even with just one pillow in the main pocket, you can see that it is so much larger. I’d say it might be over 30 liters, but when I compare it to the 34L GR2, it feels smaller, which is why I stuck to 30L for my real world sizing on it.
I can’t get this out of my head and since I don’t have multiple identical items what would work for testing the capacity, here is what I laid out to test:
That’s a pair of rain pants in a stuff sack, a huge white quilt, and a packing cube full of random organizer shit. For the GR1 I will only fill the main compartment, as all other pockets simply take volume from that area. For the 2 Day I will fill the main compartment and the larger of the top lid compartments.
I am pretty surprised the the GR1 held that quilt, but it wasn’t easy. I had to sit on the bag to zip it, and as you can see it is so stuffed that it deformed the shape of the bag a little. So, it was fully off just that.
My expectation here is that I can fit everything shown into the 2 Day, so here we go:
Because of the bag design, this was significantly harder to pack. The quilt and the rain pants are both in the main compartment. And actually it is not completely stuffed in areas, but it was hard to zip closed the lid because of the way I had the quilt folded. All in all, I would say I could add maybe half a bath towel to the main area if strategically placed, but it was not easy to stuff the 2 Day like it was with the GR1. In the top lid, I grabbed some goodies out of the packing cube: two Tom Bihn caches which are foam laptop sleeves:
I rolled and folded those to get them to fit in the top lid, and they did.
After all that, I am much less annoyed about the size ratings. The 2 Day is practically much larger than the 27L it is rated at, but I am not sure my 30L estimate is right, it might be a touch below that. Either way, it will pack your clothes and gear like a much larger bag than any other 27ish liter bag I have used.
UPDATE: Mystery Ranch seems to have recently updated their website to reflect that the 2 Day Assault is 29.7L now. Ah, the vindication and how amazingly close my guess was feels great.
New specs from Mystery Ranch:
Old Specs still seen on Huckberry and REI:
Thankfully, the bag comes with a top and bottom compression straps to keep the size and load in check. The top compression strap is fantastic. It runs from the back of the bag all the way across the front, clipping there. It can really push the size of the bag down.
The bottom strap lets you down in a big way. This strap stops at the start of the water bottle pockets so as to not compress them, and thus only pulls tight across the front of the bag. Had this strap wrapped the way the top does, it would have been much easier to compress the load into the bag.
Overall it’s nice to have compression straps, but the bottom one really could use a better implementation.
I tested the bag while Rucking to get a sense for how it carries heavy loads, and then on a bunch of walks in the woods with the kids in tow. It’s been fantastic. Yes it is big, but that’s of very little issue in wide open spaces. In an office, in an elevator, or public transit I would be very cognizant of the size of the bag.
Both sides of the bag have water bottle pockets and while these hold Nalgene bottles — they are massive. They are too large. They poof out when empty and are anything but discreet and can additionally catch on things when moving through brush or just lifting the bag out of a tight spot. And they don’t secure water bottles all that well. These are a huge miss on this bag.
As with many Mystery Ranch bags, the 3 way zipper is stellar. It offers so much utility that it is hard to argue it is in any way a bad design. Adding to the stellar features, the top lid has two pockets: one small for sunglasses and one massive one for quick access. I love the bigger of these two pockets. It holds a ton, and is very easy to get to and makes the bag very usable.
There is one issue out of the box: this bag is strap crazy with loose ends dangling everywhere. It looks like a hot mess. I bought some elastic strap keepers and tidied that all up and now it looks fantastic. Once you do that, the bag is clean and functional — but it’s a must, not a should. The only remaining issue after that is the top grab handle, which is hard to see, hard to grab, and not comfortable to carry the bag with. I’d almost rather it not exist.
Inside the bag there is a place to hang a water bladder, or store a laptop in a padded area. This should accommodate the biggest of the big laptops out there, like 17” no issue, and a tablet in front of that (however only the laptop compartment can be accessed from the external side zip which works well if your bag is stuffed). There’s four pockets attached to the outer portion of the bag inside of it, two large pouches and two slightly smaller mesh zipper pockets. All work well, and take up no room if left unused.
Mystery Ranch uses mesh on the inside of the straps and along the back panel. I really hate that they do this because that mesh is a weak spot. It soaks up odor faster, and is prone to wear faster than the rest of the bag. Most used Mystery Ranch bags look fine, until you see the mesh on it, and there you will see snags, and fraying. It’s the only durability concern I have with the bag. Not enough to say the bag is not durable.
This is a stellar bag. If you can handle a larger bag then I would fault no one for choosing this over a GR1. For day hiking, I’d take it. For travel, I’d take it. For EDC? Way too big.
I’d still select a GR1 over this, as I think the laptop compartment is better, and the straps are more comfortable with weight, and the sizing is better — but the margin is razor thin. A few modifications (smaller, remove the water bottle pockets, and fix the bottom compression strap) and Mystery Ranch could dethrone the GR1 for me.
As it stands, it’s an impressive contender and at a much lower price point than the GR1. If you like big bags, here you go. I don’t think it beats the GR1 or the GR2, but if you can’t have both those and want something in the middle then this is the bag for sure.
Get the bag: $199 at Mystery Ranch or REI.
The Mystery Ranch ASAP is a great option for something smaller. The ASAP is very similar to the Front I reviewed.
A Note On Adjusting a Mystery Ranch Yoke
One thing that makes Mystery Ranch stand out above other bag brands is the adjustable yoke, but I have heard from many people they struggle with perfecting this. So I have you covered, before you go out with your new Mystery Ranch bag, use these two videos to help you get your yoke setup: , and .
Now, after you have the bag all put back together and tightened up, what I recommend is going to find about 5-10lbs of weight — anything — and placing it in the bag. Then put the bag on and walk around for a little bit. Generally I find that after doing this and letting the bag and straps settle, that the bag will feel about 0.25-0.5” lower than where I actually want it. I make a mental note, and quickly adjust the yoke by shortening it the amount I want.
Once I do that I repeat the weighted test again. This is a lessoned learned by me after trying the follow the empty bag instructions and then hitting the trails with the bag. I had to adjust each bag on the trail because of this.
Lastly, over time the bag might need to be further adjusted, so don’t think of it as something you’ll never adjust again.