THE LAST WORD IN SOF-PROVEN ASSAULT PACKS The Mystery Ranch 3DAP Could Be the Last Bag Warriors Need
What comes to mind when you see the word MIL-SPEC listed in a product’s specs? It seems semi-slick marketing executives throw the word around as if it is some mystical incantation that bestows upon their products heroic qualities that we as consumers should willingly divorce ourselves of a little extra in order to get such quality. I’m not discounting there are high quality items that are technically MIL-SPEC. But the whole idea behind MIL-SPEC is that whatever an item may be, there’s a set of basic specs that are universally compatible across all branches of the military and government—think least common denominator. What the marketers hope you don’t realize is just because a product is MIL-SPEC, it doesn’t mean it’s actually used by the military; it just may meet the specs, and not knowing the specs, we just trust that statement.
So, I got on that little soap box to emphasize that the only spec that matters is real-world quality in the form of craftsmanship, usability, durability and the company that stands behind the product. If certain groups of pipe hitters and snake eaters recognize these things in a product and incorporate it in their load out, that’s icing on the cake. The Mystery Ranch 3-Day Assault Pack BVS (3DAP-BVS) is one such product.
If a company can be described as humble, Mystery Ranch (MR) would be the benchmark. Looking at the product specs and description of the 3DAP doesn’t really give one the whole story. What consumers won’t see is any mention of this pack’s true lineage or of the top tier warriors who swear by Mystery Ranch packs as if their lives depend on it, because that is exactly the case. Consumers won’t find the careless use of MIL-SPEC, since Mystery Ranch far exceeds that standard. Though the military doesn’t keep statistics on this type of thing, arguably MR has more bags downrange than any other company.
As Mystery Ranch founder and head designer Dana Gleason told me, the 3-Day Assault Pack is designed to be “the last word in assault packs.” The pack is purpose-built around the needs and demands of tactical professionals. To top it off, like all Mystery Ranch packs, the 3-Day Assault Pack BVS is built entirely in the U.S. and is compliant with the Berry Amendment. That means any textiles and components used in the pack have been grown, reprocessed, reused or produced in the U.S. Additionally, any tools used in creating the bag are produced in the U.S.
Deconstructing the 3-Day Assault BVS pack, one can see that Dana and his crew understand the 360, not only on who uses their packs but how they use them. The BVS stands for “Bolstered Ventilation System,” which is comprised of a pad on each side of the back panel of the pack. This not only secures the pack on each side of the plate carrier but also keeps the pack off your back to create enough air flow so your back doesn’t over heat.
Mystery Ranch’s uncompromising design is matched in their choice of materials. Built of 500D CORDURA® Nylon, the 3DAP proves time and again to be durable enough to survive any mission you can throw its way. Coated in DuPont Teflon™, the pack can also take whatever Mother Nature puts in the way.
Transferring and distributing the pack load is done via an internal frame constructed of a comfortably unobtrusive HDPE (high-density polyethylene) sheet that provides rigidity and yet is flexible. The Futura Yoke is ergonomically designed to wrap around one’s shoulders rather than hang off them like lesser packs in the sub 2000 CU IN category. A choice of three different yoke sizes ensures every end user can fit in the 3DAP. Fine adjustments to the load lifters and chest strap as well as the ability to micro-adjust the yoke to more precisely fit one’s torso length make this pack arguably the most comfortably fitting bag in its class. The BVS is the icing on the cake for those who find themselves in body armor more often than not.
Having a pack that is made well and fits comfortably is all well and good, but its functionality is what the warriors who are downrange care most about. After all, if it’s hard to use and fails to accommodate a wide variety of gear, it will get tossed to the wayside like so many others. At the top of the pack, MR designed two differently sized pockets for immediately accessible items. DOPE books, gloves, glasses, anything small that you’d rather not dig through a pack to find, fits nicely into these. In front of these pockets there’s a good-sized Velcro swatch for identification and patches.
The Y-shaped, three-zipper design allows for easy access to contents. Unzip the upper portion of the Y, and the lid peels back so users can reach into the interior without having to unbuckle the compression straps. To reach all the contents of the pack, merely unbuckle the compression straps and pull down the third zipper to open up the entire main compartment. Additionally, there’s a urethane-coated zipper just behind the yoke which allows direct access to any radio and/or hydration bladders stowed in the interior pockets. The zipper also serves as a “port” for hydration tubes and antennae.
Organizing one’s load out is made easy through a combination of zippered pockets and sewn-in pouches. Mesh pockets on either side of the bag are perfect for food, ammo or any number of loose items users want to keep in place. Three pockets (one in the middle and one on each “flap”) are each designed to carry up to a 3L hydration bladder but are also good for tripods, breaching tools, short-barreled rifles or any combination of those. Rows of webbing along the back allow for the attaching MOLLE-compatible items such as holsters, mag pouches or any number of the small storage bags Mystery Ranch offers. The author has found Ripstop, Radio and KAB (kestrel) bags to be particularly useful. Additional accessory bags (all sold separately) can also be attached to the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) on the outside of the bag.
Making use of as much space as possible, MR integrated elastic pockets on the sides of the bag, which are perfect for water bottles. These pockets are a little hard to get to with the pack on. Rather than redundantly using them to carry a water bottle (opting to use a hydration bladder instead), I found them useful for small weapons carry and tripods.
Another unique feature of the bag worth mentioning is the stowable hip belt. When not needed, each side of the hip belt stores neatly in a snap-shut compartment. The hip belt is well-sized for the bag and will transfer heavy loads to a more stable positon allowing users’ hips to take some of the weight off their shoulders. At first, the padding of the hip belt seemed a little Spartan. However, it proves to be not only sufficient for carrying loads on the higher end of the bag’s capacity but also the lack of bulk allows for fast unrestrictive movement when the action picks up.
The Mystery Ranch 3-Day Assault Pack BVS is unmatched by any other mid-size pack, and at $399 it is definitely worth the price as consumers will most likely find that it’s the last 3-day bag they’ll ever want or need. Available only through direct purchase from mysteryranch.com.
Volume: 1800 cubic in
Dimensions: 22”x13.5”x 11”
Frame System: Futura
- Three rows of MOLLE on front panels
- Internal sleeves and ports integrate up to three hydration reservoirs
- Zipper port for radio and antennae access
- Radio inputs, outputs and antennas route easily through the three urethane-coated zippered ports
- Velcro on lid for identification and patches
- Waist belt stows away when not in use
- Bolsters can be easily removed
- Built of custom spec’d 500D CORDURA® with Teflon™ and PU coatings for maximum durability, UV and weather protection
Water-repellent, IR-Compliant YKK® zippers