Here at The Perfect Pack, we like Mystery Ranch. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a Montana-based manufacturer with a pedigree in the outdoors/mountain industry, who have grown to make packs for the military, fire service, and more recently towards the ‘everyday’ market for urban commuters and students. If you’re a regular reader you’ll have seen our review of MR’s ASAP, to which the 1-day Assault Pack bears a stark resemblance (with a few crucial differences). The 1DAP itself is often held as something as a grail among pack collectors for its unique design, and rarity on the market outside of japan.
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Quality and Comfort
The harness used on the 1DAP is a little different to the one used on their military and hiking packs, but also unlike the straps common to their everyday line. The Futura harness on the former designs handle heavy weights beautifully but are rigid, and frankly overkill for most daily loads. The latter are quick and easy to use, but suffer when worn for longer periods… the 1-Day Assault ships with what Mystery Ranch call the Futura Lite which fits and adjusts in the same way as the full yoke, but is considerably more flexible over the shoulders.
The result took me a little while to get used to – even a light load with my laptop and lunch felt distinctly weird against my back, pushing weight in all the wrong spots. After two days of fiddling I finally got the harness adjusted perfectly, so that the curve in the frame matched up perfectly with my body – since then (and over the four months I’ve been testing) I haven’t had a single gripe about comfort, whether I’m slinging my bag about town or traversing a mountain ridge.
The pack is made to the same standards as Mystery Ranch’s military selection, built in their Bozeman MT factory with top-of-the-line materials. The 500d Cordura that the 1DAP is made from isn’t exactly space-age any more, but has proven the test of time for its durability. There’s not much more I can say about this pack on this matter because I literally have zero concerns about the quality of manufacturing on this thing.
Despite its name, the 1-Day Assault Pack is not strictly a military design – that’s what the ASAP is for – but rather it draws on the features of Mystery Ranch’s larger 3DAP for a more versatile daily carry. It keeps the loop patch field, the PALS webbing, the hydration ports but shrinks things down for lightweight daily use. Externally the similarities are obvious, although the 1DAP drops the side pockets, meaning there’s no obvious spot for a water bottle. The webbing would be compatible with a range of MOLLE pouches and I’d be curious to try something like OV Innovations’ new TP3 pouch, but I worry that holding a bottle near the top of the bag would throw it off balance. Water, for now, is kept inside the pack.
The 1DAP sports MR’s famous tri-zip design, offering awesome access to the whole of the pack, without needing to open right up when stability is a concern. As a best-of-both-worlds, I love it. The zip opens into a central compartment with a sleeve panel at the rear. The compartment feels small but due to the way the tri-zip opens and closes, it’ll hold loads. With a little care I was able to get food and water plus spare insulation and waterproof layers into this bag for hiking in early winter, which was satisfying when I usually pack over 30L for that kind of use.
The sleeve itself is a great place to hold a bladder – a stitched loop and zippered ports on each side complete this – but will do for a laptop or documents also. Curiously this sleeve has a drawcord at its top, meaning it can be pulled tight for extra security, although I’ve yet to use this feature, and don’t know when I’d want to. The sleeve face also features a pair of zippered mesh pockets – these are small but pleated so they can hold a decent amount if there’s items which need to be kept in place. These pockets only offer limited utility since they won’t hold really small objects (pens or usb drives) tidy by themselves, and sit behind the larger cargo inside the bag – often I find I have to pull out my raincoat or notebook from the 1DAP before I can get at the battery charger or pencil case inside.
For quicker access there is another pocket on the top of the bag, under the loop field. This opens clamshell and features an additional zipped space inside, with a key leash. I found I could get into this pocket with the pack slung around to my front, but not as easily as many packs with dedicated side-zips. The top space has a fair amount of capacity and could be easy to overfill without care. Like many others, the 1-Day Assault is a pack that works best when the owner brings their own pouches and organisation solutions.
It might be the slightly military look, or the rarity of the model, but something about the 1-Day Assault just exudes quality. It’s solid in the hand without being hefty. As I said the materials are solid, but the bag is more than the sum of its parts. It’s immaculately put together.
Straps and harnesses are very personal but for me, the Futura Lite hits a sweet spot in terms of comfort. When adjusted properly it flexes well and causes no hassle when donning and doffing, but spreads weight beautifully. This is a really versatile suspension system.
The organisation in this pack, while better than nothing, leaves a lot to be desired. The internal mesh pockets would be much more useful being mounted inside the pack’s ‘wings’ as they are on the Urban Assault, although this might compromise the 1DAP’s shallow profile.
Many users will also miss the bottle pockets from the side of the pack – fortunately for them MR’s Front presents an option with similar features, but adds stretch material to the outside for that use.
Likewise, the internal sleeve is versatile but doesn’t offer much protection for electronics, especially compared to the excellent sleeves built into Mystery Ranch’s more recent everyday packs (such as the Rip Ruck and Slick). Some users will want to add a protective case for their machine.
Lastly, the pack’s availability deserves a mention here. The 1-Day Assault is made in the USA, but only available to purchase in Asia. Several options for import exist, but they drive up the cost (and, arguably, the mystique around this bag).
The 1 Day Assault Pack hits a lot of marks in terms of comfort, versatile load-carriage, and build quality. It looks seriously cool, being simultaneously clean and featureful. As a single-day, any activity bag it is a delight to use but remains beautifully, frustratingly imperfect.
The shortcomings of this featureset have been overcome by Mystery Ranch – models with better organisation, cleaner (or busier) exteriors, are all readily available. Taking that and factoring in the pack’s high cost and rarity in the US or European markets, means that the 1DAP will probably remain in the collector’s domain for good.
Disclaimer: the 1-Day Assault Pack was purchased privately and used subsequently for this review. The content of the review was not shared with Mystery Ranch prior to publishing and our reviews are never edited to keep brands happy.