Mystery Ranch
Review by Big Fred

This is the gear review for the 3 Day Assault CL pack manufactured by Mystery Ranch. I will discuss the bag in five categories…Cost, Durability, Weight/Size, Function, and Comfort. At the time of the writing of this review, it’s available in three colors…green, coyote, and black.

Cost– The 3 Day Assault CL pack has a retail price of $375.00. At first impression, one would think this is very expensive for this pack. Those people would be accurate, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” has never been more true in this case. And Oh my… Mystery Ranch does not disappoint! If you know anything about this company, or have used any of there products, you will understand why I make this statement. I have used some of there military products during my time in Army Special Operations, such as a mountain ruck and some others. Once again, Mystery Ranch smacks this one out of the park!

Durability– This pack is probably the gold standard of what durability should look like for packs of this type. I will start with the 500D CORDURA fabric. This material is absolutely “bomber”. The sewing and construction are super durable. Right down to the YKK zippers with nylon cordage wrapped through the pull tabs and “hot knifed” to avoid unraveling. The zippers are also water resistant to help repel water and keep your load dry should the pack get wet. Now with this superior construction, there is a small price to pay which I will cover in the discussion on weight.

The pack has three rows of 1 inch nylon webbing sewn on each flank to accommodate any expansion pouches that can be attached with MOLLE or PALS webbing. There are also two lengths of the same webbing to secure the load as cinch straps which are connected by fastex fasteners. This helps to stabilize the load in the pack. There is a loop of webbing sewed in at the top of the pack for a convenient carrying strap or attachment point. There are also two rows of 1 inch nylon webbing sewed on the bottom to attach MOLLE style items.

The interior of the pack has 2 mesh pockets with zipper enclosures for smaller items. There are also two longer nylon pouches that can be used to carry longer items or hydration bladders.

Internal mesh pocket
Inner pouch

Size/Weight– The weight of the empty bag is 4.6 lbs. As I mentioned in the section on weight, this empty pack is a bit heavier that your typical lightweight hiking pack. I personally don’t have any issues with this and I prefer a little extra weight if it means a super durable, bomber pack. Another advantage of having heavier duty materials is the ability to carrier heavier loads and not having to worry about damaging the pack. This thing is very impressive in this arena and I never worried about it failing.
As far as the amount of cargo this pack can accommodate, it has a volume of 1800 cubic inches. I was able to carry a substantial amount of gear. I have used it for some hikes through the wilderness, training military units for my business, and also taken it to the range on several occasions. I never had any problems carry everything I needed for any of the different roles I used it for. There is plenty of room for large items, smaller items, different compartments to carry water containers, etc. It fit my torso comfortably and once I got it sized to my frame, it was like it wasn’t there.

Empty pack completely opened up

Function– This pack excelled in this area. It’s very user friendly. You can carry your gear in it and really customize the way you organize everything. I really loved that about this piece of kit. Very versatile.

Carrying some kit to the shoot-house
Setup for a like day-hike
Expandable side pockets
Plenty of room for all your gear.

Wearing the pack requires some time initially to get everything just right. There are adjustable shoulder straps, adjustable chest strap, a stowable and adjustable waist belt, and an adjustable torso height apparatus. Once you initially fit all the adjustments, it’s fast and easy to don after that.

Adjustable shoulder and chest straps.

Another nice feature is the stowable waist belt which is also adjustable and easy to unstow when a heavier load is being carried and more support may be required.

Adjustable torso height articulation point.
Stowable waist belt.

This pack has ample areas to carry hydration bladders or bottles. There is a larger opening close to the back which can hold a large bladder. In addition there is a smaller pouch with a Velcro flap that can be used for smaller bladders. Other items can be carried in this pocket if one doesn’t wish to use it for water. Since I am not a fan of drinking through tubes, I carried Nalgene bottles in the two expandable side pockets.  There is also a bi-directional zipper near the top flap that a drinking tube may be routed through if you carry larger bladders like a 100 ounce version and the tube can be run through either end of the flap. It can also be used for longer items that protrude like radio antennas. Like I stated before, it’s all about versatility!

Pouch for water bladder
Bi-directional zipper for items that may protrude.

The top flap contains 2 separate pockets. There is a larger main cargo area which is lined with mesh and accessible from the top and zips closed. There is also a smaller zip close pocket to carry smaller items such as wallets or medication which is mounted on top of the main flap.

One of my favorite features of this pack, which is duplicated by almost every other assault/3 day pack manufacturer, is the  3-ZIP design for easy, rapid access to the interior. This was a nemesis for those of us with the old Army ALICE packs. In the days of Special Operations work with full “mission” rucks that carried everything we needed for multiple day patrols. There was always that one time you needed something buried in the bottom of that “Green Tick” at the most inopportune times like the middle of the night during a long movement. This is alleviated by the long zipper that runs from the top flap all the way down to the bottom. Makes getting anything in the bottom a breeze. Again, my absolute favorite feature. Thanks Mystery Ranch, you guys rule!

Easy access to items in the bottom.

Comfort– The pack is extremely comfortable and Mystery Ranch did well with reinforcing all the high stress points with extra padding. This includes the shoulder pads and the portion of the pack which contacts the wearer’s back. With all of the different points of adjustment, this is truly a one size fits all.

The fact that this pack doesn’t have an actual rigid frame means you definitely need to pack it correctly. The fact that it is constructed primarily of all soft materials means you could potentially end up with a lumpy, lopsided uncomfortable mess. So a person should definitely learn how to pack a backpack if you plan on carrying heavier loads. Mystery Ranch has included all the essentials to get it sitting comfortable and stable. With the support straps and points of adjustment, this pack is like the “Cadillac” of assault packs.


Chest Strap

In closing, The Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault CL is a top notch backpack that is extremely durable and versatile. I would definitely recommend this pack to someone if their budget allows. Whether you are hunting, bird-watching, orienteering, conducting a 2-3 day reconnaissance patrol, or just backpacking in the Appalachians, Mystery Ranch’s 3 Day Assault CL won’t do you wrong. I find myself using this pack on an almost daily basis. I have even used it for my gym bag. Like I’ve said a couple times now, versatile! Thanks again, Mystery Ranch.

Big Fred, out!

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Fred

Fred is a 20-year veteran of the Army Special Operations Command and the owner of Storm Tactical Consulting, Fred served as a Special Forces Medic for a number of years before trying out and getting selected to serve as an operator in a Special Missions Unit. Over a long career, Fred has served as an Assaulter, Breacher, Medic, Sniper, Human Intel Specialist, and finishing up as a Dog Handler. Fred’s background 20 years of service as an 18 Delta Green Beret Medic, and later as an operator in the Army’s Special Missions Unit

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