Backpacks are a natural fit for serious hikers and trail runners. Mystery Ranch, an outdoors-based company based in Utah, has been supplying high quality backpacks to those who need them since 1985. Today they’ve partnered with Black Diamond Equipment to bring their product line into the world of outdoor gear. They have another new backpack on the market: The Urban Assault 24 ($289). We tested it out recently and found some great features that make this pack worth your time

The “mystery ranch urban assault 24” is a tactical backpack that has been designed for the modern day soldier. It is made of high-quality materials and comes in different colors. Read more in detail here: mystery ranch urban assault 21 vs 24.

When searching for a backpack to take on your next adventure, comfort is crucial. After comfort, what’s next? Durability. These aren’t necessarily your top priority, but they are for the Urban Assault 24: Mystery Ranch, or UA24 for short.

Mystery Ranch has been in the business of producing bags for a long time. They’re renowned for making high-quality, long-lasting packs that can withstand the harshest environments, from forest fires to front lines to mountaintops. The UA24 (if you don’t mind a somewhat tactical appearance) may be the bag for you if you’re seeking for comfort and durability.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Comfortable CarryIn Detroit, Michigan, Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

We’ve been testing this backpack in Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for a little over two weeks, including four flights and the first-ever Pack Hacker meetup—been it’s a hectic two weeks!

So let’s get started.

Aesthetics & Materials

The Mystery Ranch UA24 features a simplified appearance overall, particularly when compared to other Mystery Ranch bags. We appreciate that there isn’t a lot of exterior PALS webbing. However, if you’re looking for a more tactical or outdoorsy look, the GORUCK GR1 or anything else from Mystery Ranch’s inventory may be a better fit.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Looking SleekLooking Sleek: Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

The UA24 is now available in four colorways: Black, Indigo, Ivy, and Shadow. We’ve been testing this bag in Shadow (…gray…) as a change of pace from our typical black—and we’re like the appearance.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 LogoLogo for Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 This bag’s primary material is 500D CORDURA Nylon, which makes it strong and long-lasting. The bag’s lid has a Mystery Ranch emblem in the middle. Although the logo is big, we appreciate that the tag matches the bag’s color so it doesn’t stand out too much.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 MaterialMaterial for Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

YKK AquaGuard zippers run throughout the fabric, completing the look. The main zips are YKK #10, while the quick-grab pocket is YKK #8. What exactly does this imply? It denotes that they are large, robust, and weather-resistant.

Speaking of zippers, this is the first Mystery Ranch bag we’ve tried with their 3-ZIP closure, but we’ll get to that later (we promise).

All of the hardware is Duraflex, which we appreciate. Duraflex buckles have always worked well for us, so you shouldn’t have any problems with them. This bag isn’t going to fool around.

Overall, we believe the UA24 has a distinctive look—some people like it, while others don’t. We decided to survey our Instagram followers, and the results were a bit of a mixed bag. (If you want to participate in the next poll, be sure to follow us on Twitter, @packhacker!)

Components from Outside

Left: Riley, Height, 5’4” (162 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm) | Right: Tom, Height, 6’2” (188 cm), Torso: 19.25” (49 cm)Riley is 5’4″ (162 cm) tall and has a 16.5″ torso (42 cm) | Right: Tom, 6’2″ (188 cm) tall, 19.25″ torso (49 cm)

Let’s start with the harness system, which is one of our favorite features of this bag.

The harness system is very comfortable and adaptable, which is ideal since it will accommodate a variety of body shapes. It also means you’ll be able to customize how this thing rides (especially if you like bags to ride higher on your back, which this tends to do).

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Harness SystemUrban Assault 24 Harness System by Mystery Ranch

Something to keep in mind: adjusting this harness system takes some getting accustomed to (it seemed strange at first), but once you do, you’ll be able to ride in comfort.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Shoulder Straps In UseThere are 24 shoulder straps in use on the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault.

Let’s speak about straps now.

These shoulder straps have some really thick, dense foam in them—probably around half an inch thick (based on very scientific eyeball measuring).

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Shoulder Strap PaddingPadding for the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Shoulder Strap

Load lifters are located at the top of the straps. These aren’t your average load lifters, however. These load lifters (how many times can we repeat “load lifters” in one paragraph?) are adjustable in two locations, increasing the harness system’s customizability.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Load Lifters24 Load Lifters Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

A narrow row of PALS-like webbing runs down the rest of the straps, allowing the sternum strap to be adjusted to a few different heights. As you may know, we prefer bags with a permanent sternum strap connection point since we’ve had too many fall out in transportation. Mystery Ranch seems to have considered this problem, since the larger hardware feels more secure than the smaller hardware we’ve seen on other sternum straps of similar type.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Sternum Strap Webbing24 Sternum Strap Webbing Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

The only drawback to these straps is that they aren’t adjustable. There are no elastic keepers to tame the dangly excess. There’s also no hip belt option, but with a capacity of 24 liters, we don’t believe you’ll need one, particularly given how comfy this pack is even when fully filled.

A cushioned back panel—with approximately the same density foam as the shoulder straps—and mesh panels to aid ventilation round out the remainder of the harness system.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Back Panel PaddingPadding for the back panel of the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

Unless you want us to keep talking about the shoulder straps, we’ll go on to the remainder of the external elements. Do you agree or disagree? You’ve got it.

Nylon tabs are located next to each zipper and provide a spot to grip when opening and closing the zipper. They’re a tiny but clever detail that makes pulling on these hefty zips a lot easier.

The UA24 features two water bottle compartments on the outside, one on each side. The most important thing to remember about these pockets is that they do not stretch. This may be both beneficial and detrimental. The good news is that it keeps the bag looking neat. You won’t have any extra material that will bunch up or get snagged (like under the airplane seat). The downside is that a larger water bottle, such as the YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle, would reduce the internal volume of the main compartment. It hasn’t been a major problem for us, but it may be a tight fit if the bag is overstuffed.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Side Pocket24 Side Pocket Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

Last but not least, there’s the top handle. It seems to be a last-minute addition. It’s a simple nylon strap with no cushioning or structure. Some of the thick foam from the shoulder straps would have been great (and you thought we’d moved on). Or, as we’ve seen other businesses do, folding the handle material in half and stitching it together would at least provide the appearance of cushioning. Mystery Ranch, on the other hand, was unconcerned.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Top HandleTop Handle Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

Furthermore, the handle is stitched on the back, causing the whole bag to lean forward and flail all over the place when picked up. This handle will get the job done, but it seems slapped on and falls short of the craftsmanship seen throughout the rest of the bag. The UA24, speaking of flailing, does not stand up on its own, even when fully loaded. Because the bag’s bottom isn’t flat, it constantly falls forward. It’s not a huge deal for us, but it’s worth noting.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Held By Top HandleTop Handle is in charge of Mystery Ranch’s Urban Assault 24.

The Inside of the Pack

Let’s start with the laptop compartment while looking inside this backpack.

You’ll find a laptop sleeve when you open this pocket. A tiny tablet pocket is located on the front of the laptop sleeve. This unit also has some elastic connected to the side, which helps keep things neat. This sleeve also includes a fake bottom, which means that if you drop your bag, your laptop will be safe—which we adore.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Laptop Compartment 24 Laptop Compartment Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

Plus, one of the YKK AquaGuard zippers we mentioned before is used to close the laptop compartment. We appreciate the additional weather-resistance for our laptop, even if this compartment is not watertight.

One thing to keep in mind in this compartment is that the curved frame sheet is quite visible and tactile. It’s flexible enough to slide out of the way when you need to use your electronics, but we’ve found that moving a laptop in and out may be a bit of a pain.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Curved Frame Sheet24 Curved Frame Sheet by Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

We’ve been carrying a 15″ laptop about without a cover (living on the edge) and have found that it may be difficult to get in and out of. Inside, the edges of the laptop case fold up, obstructing a smooth experience. Also, the whole sleeve seems to lie lower in the pocket than on other bags, which, when combined with the bent frame sheet, may be exacerbating the problem. In any case, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s worth noting.

A quick-grab pocket is located on the lid of the bag, which is located at the top of the bag. This pocket opens to expose a mesh bottom and features a weather-resistant zipper (seeing a pattern here?). There’s no interior structure here, but it’s a good size for storing a Dopp kit, a tech pouch, or anything else you need to get to quickly. While passing through security, it’s also an excellent location to conceal everything in your pockets.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Top Pocket In UseIn Use: Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Top Pocket

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Please start the drums… Introducing the 3-ZIP!

As we previously said, this is the first Mystery Ranch bag we’ve tried with this type of pocket, and we like it so far. Grab the lid and pull it open to get fast access to the interior of the pack with its tri-zip design.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 3-ZIP Closure3-ZIP Closure Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

The vertical zipper is covered by the lid when it is zipped up. You could open this thing up duffle-style by unzipping the two zippers on the lid (or leaving the vertical zipper down a little). It won’t offer you the most access—especially if the pack is already full—but it’s a possibility.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Duffle-Style Opening24 Duffle-Style Opening Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

Because of the strength of this vertical zipper, it helped us condense our belongings while traveling. We had approximately three Peak Design Packing Cubes and a Tom Bihn 3D Organizer for toiletries packed inside the UA24. We were able to fit everything in and close it with the huge zipper. You won’t be able to utilize all of the interior organization—which has some useful features—if you load the bag to capacity as we did, but you will fit a lot of things.

Let’s have a look at some internal structure.

You can see what’s going on inside the bag if you undo all three zippers and filet it open. An interior water bottle compartment may be found on each of the wings. These pockets are large enough to accommodate bigger bottles, but they lack elastic, so they won’t keep your water bottle in place very securely.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Pockets Inside WingInside Wing 24 Pockets Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

Each wing includes a zippered mesh pocket above the water bottle pockets for smaller things like cables, SD cards, travel-sized Kleenex, or anything else you want to keep close at hand.

A sleeve that runs approximately halfway down the rear panel of this main compartment is ideal storing travel papers or a tablet. A zipper compartment of approximately the same size is located in front of that.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Main Organization PanelMain Organization Panel for Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

Last but not least, there are two open pockets—perfect for a Tom Bihn Pouchkin—as well as two pockets for pens, pencils, or styluses (styli?).

What’s the greatest part about all of this planning? It’s there when you need it and lies flat if you want to stuff this thing with packing cubes (in true Pack Hacker fashion).

Testing & Durability

The UA24 has been put through its paces in Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with four flights.

There’s no denying it: this bag is very comfy. Regardless of body shape, the super-adjustable harness system allows you to tailor your carry. Mystery Ranch seems to have put a lot of consideration into how this backpack travels over extended distances.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

It’s ideal for both daily usage and travel because of its smaller profile and streamlined exterior—it even slips beneath an airline seat. Plus, the 3-ZIP allows you complete access to your belongings without the need for a clamshell opening.

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Under Airplane SeatUnder Airplane Seat Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24

It has a tactical appearance to it, which may be good or terrible depending on your preferences, but it’s designed for function. We anticipate this bag to last a long time because to the durable CORDURA, strong YKK zippers, and reliable Duraflex hardware.

The “mystery ranch urban assault 21 review” is a tactical backpack that has been designed for military use. It has a variety of features and is available at a low price point. The UA24 also comes with a lifetime warranty.

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