The UA21 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to have some fun with friends and family but doesn’t want the hassle of playing on official courses. The smaller footprint allows people of all skill levels to enjoy it, though don’t be fooled by its size; this pack can handle severe punishment.
The Urban Assault 21L Backpack was named with care by Mystery Ranch since it is a backpack that looks at home on city streets but can readily convert to more rough locations when required.
The Urban Assault 21L Backpack, or UA21 for short, is a comfortable everyday carry with just enough space for your daily lineup. If you need more or less room, it’s also available in 18L and 24L sizes, but we’ll focus on the 21L for this review.
We took this bag all around Michigan and Minnesota during our testing period. Read on to learn more about our adventure!
Aesthetics & Materials
According to our Instagram survey, 77 percent of people loved the aesthetic of the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21L, which is 26% higher than the UA24’s score of 51 percent. They have a similar streamlined form, albeit the UA21 isn’t nearly as massive, giving it a more low-profile appearance.
The UA21 is available in 13 distinct hues at this review, ranging from bold, statement colors like Lemon and Flame to more modest options like Black and the Galaxy colorway we’ve been trying.
This bag crosses urban and outdoor function and style, yet various colors give off distinct moods. Colors like Wood Waxed or Coyote seem more outdoorsy, while the more subdued tones match the citified image. But, of course, your choice is entirely dependent on your tastes!
This pack doesn’t include any mysterious-looking bottles with ranch emblems, but it does have a patch with the Mystery Ranch wordmark on the front. It isn’t the most subtle, but Mystery Ranch produces some fantastic packs. So why not flaunt your high-end purse to the rest of the world?
Mystery Ranch chose a tough 500D CORDURA nylon for the material, which feels rigid in hand and hasn’t suffered any rips, scratches, or scuffs throughout our month of testing. On the UA24, we had no problems with this material, and we don’t anticipate having any with this pack very soon.
AquaGuard YKK zippers are used throughout the pack, providing much-needed weather protection to keep our daily gadgets and gear dry. They include several enormous corded pulls that, despite their size, are still simple to handle while wearing gloves and out in frigid weather.
Small nylon tabs are situated at the end of each zipper that you may grip with one hand to keep the bag stable while gliding the zippers open and closed with the other. This intelligent innovation is one of our favorites, and we’ve found that it makes zipping a breeze every time. In a pinch, using a carabiner, you may utilize the nylon tabs to secure extra gear.
Duraflex is a brand that comes to mind when considering rugged hardware. This set includes hardware from this company, which you’ll like. We haven’t had any trouble with the buckles, and the adjusters haven’t caused us any problems; therefore, we don’t have any complaints!
Components from Outside
The harness mechanism of the UA21 is one of the most comfortable we’ve ever tested. Our taller team members have been pleased with this bag, which has a slimmer, more extended structure that suits their body shape. We do not see any of the lingerings at the bottom with shorter packs, which is nice.
To begin, the shoulder straps are heavily cushioned with spongey mesh that helps ease your shoulders—comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. We particularly like the air mesh lining, which keeps us well-ventilated. Our only desire is for some elastic keepers to handle the extra strap, although that is no longer a deal killer. This is a simple aftermarket modification that may be made using Tom Bihn Strap Keepers or improvising with VELCRO Brand Cable Ties.
The sternum strap on the backpack is attached to nylon straps on each shoulder strap and can be rotated up and down to provide the best support. The hardware on the sternum strap also has a bungee cord that you can use to tie the hose of a water bladder, so it doesn’t flap about while you walk.
Load lifters are located around the top of the backpack and come in helpful when going on different outdoor experiences like hiking or camping. They may be adjusted to bring the bag closer to your body and assist in equally distributing weight. They’re excessive when wearing this daily pack since it only contains roughly 21L of goods, but they’re helpful for longer hikes.
Moving on to the back panel, we’re glad to note that the same air mesh lining we noticed on the shoulder straps has been included here to keep the air moving (although some back sweat is always inevitable in warmer weather). This bag also features a good frame sheet that provides enough rigidity without being too stiff on the back yet allows the wearer’s body to be contoured.
The top handle is a nylon webbing strap sewed across the top rear of the bag that you may hold when picking it up or hanging it up. It’s not cushioned, and unlike some other producers, Mystery Ranch didn’t fold it over and stitched it together to give it a more padded feel. Nonetheless, it completes the task.
The line of PALS webbing on the bottom of the UA21 is something you won’t find on the UA24. If required, carabiners or other MOLLE attachments may be clipped here. And as previously indicated, the nylon loop zipper tabs include a central hole if you wish to cut anything through them.
Unlike the UA24, this pack has no exterior water bottle compartments. Their absence may be because they would add heft to the bag’s thin urban style. If it’s a vital thing for you, there’s a place on the inside of the compartment to store one, but you may not be happy storing water so near to your laptop and other gear—your mileage may vary—we’ve been OK keeping our YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle within.
The Inside of the Pack
Before we delve into the main compartment, let’s discuss this top quick-grab pocket. It’s simply a mesh net that can contain all of your frequently-used items, such as your wallet, sunglasses in their case, and even your phone while not in use. This pocket appeals to us since it is essential in the design and large.
A key leash is also included in this compartment. The clip is made of plastic, but it feels surprisingly sturdy in hand, and it’s easy to manipulate for rapid key access. The critical leash’s position makes sense as well—more it’s accessible than a pocket in the main compartment, as we’ve seen on other packs.
The UA21 may seem basic on the exterior, but the main compartment is packed with features. This compartment is secured with a triple-zip mechanism that allows for easy access. When you need anything fast from the top, you simply unzip the two diagonal zippers and reach in like you would a top-loading bag.
You may, on the other hand, unzip the bag’s central zipper, which runs the length of the bag, to retrieve anything you want to keep towards the bottom of the compartment. Alternatively, you may unzip all three and open the complete bundle for maximum exposure and accessibility.
You’ll notice a little mesh pocket on both sides where you may put minor items once you’re inside. We’ve been keeping a power bank in one of them for testing purposes, and it’s worked well. Of course, you may put everything you need in here, including cables, additional batteries, and pens for when you need to scribble something down quickly.
One thing to keep in mind is that the contents of the bag will affect how readily the flaps can be curved back towards the middle. If you store any really lengthy things inside, the compartment’s sealing may be hampered. The battery bank we referenced before is around the size of a plus-sized iPhone, and we noticed it a bit, but not enough to interfere with the bag’s use throughout testing.
When the top pocket is full but the main compartment has just a few items, the gear will sink to the bottom of the bag. This sinking generates some dead space in the center, causing the cloth to gently indent—almost into a peanut form. If you wish to prevent this, make sure the bag is well packed.
A separate laptop sleeve is located against the rear wall of the main compartment and can carry up to a 15-inch laptop. We tested it with a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and although it’s a tight fit within a protective case, it still glides in and out easily. You may wish to size up to the UA24 if you want a bag with a dedicated laptop area.
Given the support from the frame sheet and the strong suspension of the sleeve from the bottom of the bag, we were nevertheless comfortable putting our laptop inside. A lovely fake bottom is included in the laptop compartment. Both of these features safeguard our devices while they’re being moved about on our commute or if (when) we drop them.
If you bring a tablet or e-reader with you, there’s a sleeve in front of this one for it, but we’ve been using it as a keyboard holder. We’ll provide the same rationale as we did for the laptop: you can be certain that your gear is safe and secure while it’s in this sleeve.
Both of these sleeves are held together by a velcro hook-and-loop method. Instead of having the same size, the loop target (the patch with the softer portion of the velcro) is bigger than the hook (the scratchy piece of velcro at the end of the strap). We won’t have to line them up properly every time to fasten the strap—we can simply drop it and go.
The remainder of this compartment is just a vacant space that you may fill with anything you choose. We keep an additional sweatshirt, a smaller packing cube, and a Roost Laptop Stand 2.0 inside, but depending on the amount of compartmentalization you want, you may add or remove gear and packing cubes of your own.
The sole caveat is that cramming this compartment to the max with free-floating items or individual packing cubes will obstruct access to the laptop and tablet velcro strap on the rear wall. As a result, you may need to bring stuff in and out each time you need to contact your tech. We’ve just left the strap undone in some circumstances for better access. We don’t think it’s a deal-breaker, but it’s worth mentioning.
- mystery ranch urban assault 24 review
- mystery ranch urban assault 18 vs 21
- mystery ranch urban assault 21 Reddit
- mystery ranch urban assault 21 galaxy
- mystery ranch urban assault 21 black