Our readers will be no stranger to Mystery Ranch. Well known for their well built, reliable and comfortable backcountry and military bags, over recent years Mystery Ranch (MR) have been rolling out more and more packs that are intended to be used in the urban and travel realm. Their original Rip Ruck has been in circulation for a couple of years now and has received high marks for it’s organization, style, comfort and value. They have recently revamped that pack with some flashy new hardware and expanded it into a line of three packs. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Rip Ruck 32 (RR32), a larger brother to the 15 and 24 litre variants.
|Volume||1953 cu. in.||32l|
Quality and Comfort
The Rip Ruck 32 is built to the exacting standards you’ve come to expect from Mystery Ranch. Seriously, these guys are amazing at producing these bags and I’m always impressed with the lack of construction issues I see. One thing I did notice, however, was that the RR32 uses a lighter material suite than I am used to from their hunting and military lines. The fabric is a 330 Robic rather than 500d/1000d Cordura.
If you are accustomed to the heavy duty spacer mesh on the back panel and harness, you will notice that this bag uses a lightweight stretch material over what feels like a different type of foam and the shoulder straps use 3/4″ instead of 1″ webbing. Only time will tell if these lighter materials will hold up like the old standards in terms of durability.
The suspension side should look familiar and yet different to Mystery Ranch fans. This pack does have an adjustable harness, even though the MR lists it as fixed on their site. The sternum strap is removable and re-positionable and the back panel appears to have been moulded. It seems to share some of the basic structures of the old Futura Harness, but has been done with the lighter materials I described above.
The RR32 is not a simple pack. It is packed with features, compartments and pockets. On the front are two of the Rip Zip pockets, a small daisy chain, the main opening and a branded loop field to accept patches. The Rip Zip pockets feature magnetic buckles. Speaking of magnets, the main compartment flap has them integrated as well to secure the flap when it is dropped back onto the bag.
You can just see under the bag here as well. . . and there is nothing to see under there. It is void of lash points or other expansion options.
Looking down on the RR32 reveals the rear laptop compartment. This is huge. It swallows a MPB 15 without issue. There is a divider in this compartment to allow books or other items to be separated from the laptop. There is also a loop field at the top-rear of the laptop compartment. Presumably this is to allow the mounting of a holster or similar item here, as there are plenty of pockets and organization elsewhere in the pack. Atop of the pack is a small PALS field and a nice, simple carry handle.
The main compartment of the pack is a top-loading affair. On the rear panel is a sleeve pocket with 3x pen/tool sleeves and a zippered mesh pocket on its face. Other than this, it’s a big open space.
The sides of bag feature a stretch water bottle pocket and a PALS field over a zippered pocket. The pocket will hold something like a Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer and that’s about it. The RR32 includes a padded waist belt; it can be tucked away into the side panel of the pack quite nicely, as can be seen here.
- Construction quality. Hands down as good as anything you’ll find.
- The magnets and buckles are loads of fun and actually add function to the bag. They serve to secure the pocket flaps when the user drops them back to the bag until the zippers can be secured.
- Laptop compartment is generous and will happily accept some accessories or books. It’s also externally acceptable.
- The integrated and stowing belt is a nice touch on a pack this size.
- This bag has a place for everything. The user should not need to be looking hard to find a spot to stash that small piece of kit.
- Aesthetics are unique on this one. It does not resemble much else on the market.
- I am not a fan of the lighter material suite. The pack just feels a little bit cheaper than I’m used to getting from MR. The stretch material and foam choice on the suspension and back panel are my biggest gripes. In particular, they remind me of the materials used on something like my Mountain Hardware Snowtastic 18, a much cheaper and less solid build than the Mystery Ranch reputation suggests.
- The harness is not up to the same level as the Futura Harness, even if it resembles it. The foam does not hold up as well under the heavier loads. Moderate, normal EDC loads are no problem, but it falls flat with the heavier uses.
- A top-loading 32 litre pack seems to have limited use cases to me. It’s not great for use with folded clothes or even overload capacity, as it has no compression straps to slim it down when not stuffed to the gills. I think this has less to do with the packs design overall and more with it’s volume compared to its feature set and intention as an EDC type pack. That is, the pocketing makes me think this bag is useful for everyday, office or urban type scenarios, but it’s volume limits it’s usefulness in those same roles. It’s a conundrum.
- This bag runs $240 from MR, which is reasonable considering the features such as the complex organization, harness and belt. But the bag does not really feel like a $240 bag, it does not seem to live up to that price tag. That suspension foam and stretchy stuff over it kills the bag for me. I’m sure that this would be a $300 bag if the materials were upgraded to the hunting line specs, but I think it might have been worth it.
At 32 litres, the Rip Ruck 32 is not a small pack. I struggled some to find uses for this bag, as I typically prefer a pack with better access to the main compartment in this volume class. I think something like this will really shine as a day pack for university student or someone who heads to the gym and wants to use the main compartment for some of their bulkier items. There are plenty of smaller pockets to keep the sundries in order, otherwise. This could be a go to for someone in colder climates that needs to keep some layers around as well.
I’m not sure I am a Mystery Ranch fan boy (OK, I am), but I have had a hard time deciding if I like the RR32 or am disappointed in it. There are some great, innovative features, but there are other parts of the bag that are a let down. For most uses, I’d prefer something like the same company’s 2 Day Assault or even the Kifaru Shape Charge, though the RR32 has a better laptop set-up and than either of those and includes the integrated belt. Overall, I give the Rip Ruck 32 a hard, ‘shrug.’ I don’t think it’s quite a, ‘meh,’ but it’s less than the average offering from Mystery Ranch. It might work for you, but then again, it might not.