Could This Be the Last Backpack You’ll Ever Buy?

What makes the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21L worth talking about by Gear Patrol Studios.

21, black accents, olive, urban assault
Ben Herndon

Welcome to Talking Points, a series that looks at what makes some products worth talking about, brought to you by Gear Patrol Studios.


Buying the right backpack is a decision that will pay dividends for years or even decades to come. A good pack must be functional and well made. It has accessible pockets and straps that sit well and distribute a load evenly across the shoulders. Its materials can handle abuse, whether thrown down a luggage carousel or scraped against a slab, and it has durable zippers that don’t easily blow out or derail.

We want packs that will last for years without repairs or maintenance; we want to use them hard and never give them a second thought. That’s where the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21L comes in.

mystery ranch urban assault 21
Mystery Ranch

The Backstory

A brand built on design and execution

For over twenty years, Mystery Ranch has designed and built super-durable backpacks and gear out of their Bozeman, Montana, HQ. Over these two decades, the brand has established a set of design principles and executions - like their signature 3-ZIP closure - that make their packs immediately identifiable. These highly considered elements have helped the brand acquire a cult following for its rugged and dependable gear.


The Gist

High technical and design standards

Mystery Ranch seems to consider every possible critical detail when making a pack. For example, unlike other manufacturers, the brand mounts its internal laptop sleeves two inches above the base of the pack to protect your tech from bumps.

The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21L's competition includes a few heavy hitters. Evergoods’s Civic Half Zip costs a bit more but also features impressive design and build quality. Patagonia makes multiple everyday carry packs like the Refugio, which has a removable laptop sleeve and, compared to the Mystery Ranch pack, clocks in with five additional liters of storage.

Check out our full rundown of the 25 Best Backpacks for Everyday Use.


Our POV

Technical capability for everyday use

Featuring the 3-ZIP design, the Urban Assault 21L is the distillation of everything Myster Ranch does well. It’s clean and minimal from the outside but opens wide to reveal a myriad of well-considered pockets, panels and closures that provide a home to every errant piece of equipment you're carting around.

The Urban Assault 21L is a well-thought-out everyday carry pack that has everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It may look and feel a bit too technical for some commuters, but’s that also exactly why it’s so great. It’s built to last, and could very well be the last backpack you ever buy.

Price: $139

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