Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault is a top-notch backpack made from premium materials that are built to last. It’s also very versatile, comfortable and it has plenty of pockets for all your everyday necessities. View Latest Deal
Interested in the Urban Assault backpack by Mystery Ranch? Awesome – we reviewed it in detail right here, and you can learn everything about it!
The Urban Assault backpack was inspired by military backpacks, just like most of Mystery Ranch’s collection. Which means extra tough looks and materials.
And all of that in an everyday backpack with all the necessary features for people on the go – a spacious main compartment, laptop sleeve, and lots of internal pockets.
But is it so good that it’s worth the triple-digit price tag? In this Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 21 review, we are going to find out!
Let’s crunch the numbers first before we go into detail about the features of this backpack. Below are the main specifications of Mystery Ranch’s Urban Assault everyday pack:
How do the features of the Urban Assault 21 backpack rate, when compared to similar backpacks on the market? See for yourself right here!
Even though 80 is not that high a score, that’s still pretty good for an everyday backpack. I tend to be extra tough on these, so anything above 70 means it did well.
It does perform extremely well in certain aspects – I was pleasantly surprised with just how durable and luxe this backpack feels. And I loved all the different pockets and sleeves for electronics.
But is that enough to bite the bullet and spend north of $100 on a small everyday backpack? That’s for you to decide.
There are two main things to consider in an everyday backpack – durability and capacity.
The durability is the most important thing, at least for me. Whenever I get a new backpack, I tend to wear it every single day until it gets ruined beyond repair. With some backpacks that happens sooner rather than later, and I never recommend those to anyone.
A really good everyday backpack will not succumb to everyday wear and tear that easily. It will retain its shape even after you get strewn across the concrete because you misjudged that jump on your skateboard. Especially one with a price point of the Urban Assault.
This particular backpack is made from 500D cordura fabric. That is an extremely durable fabric, which has excellent tear resistance. And which is water-resistant as well – pretty useful considering those tech sleeves inside. It also comes with the ever-popular, and reliable YKK zippers.
And then there’s the capacity – something that is very individual. Is 21 liters enough for your everyday activities? Will everything you carry around on a daily basis fit into the Urban Assault? Or maybe is it too much.
In general, 15-25 liters is the standard capacity for everyday backpacks. So, I think Mystery Ranch hit it spot on with this one. The only thing I wish they included was a tiny little mesh pocket on the side so that I have somewhere to put my water bottle. But there is a decent replacement for it.
Overall, when you look at these two factors only, the Urban Assault appears to be a premium backpack. There’s no question that it’s made from premium materials – but how will you like all of its other features? Scroll down to find out.
If you are going to wear a backpack almost every single day, it has to be comfortable. Which means good padding, great ventilation, and preferably a frame, so that it doesn’t lose its shape over time. Does the Urban Assault live up to those expectations? Find out in this section.
The backpanel of the Urban Assault backpack is pretty comfortable. It features an HDPE frame sheet, and it is covered with Aerospace mesh on the outside. That is plenty of ventilation to keep you cool and dry even during the summer.
In addition to that, the backpanel is padded throughout, to ensure nothing from the main compartment will poke you in the back.
The frame means that the backpack will retain its shape even when it is completely empty. This does make it a bit awkward to pack it in a suitcase or a larger backpack, but it does greatly enhance your carrying comfort.
Overall, this is a very comfortable backpack, no doubt about that.
The Urban Assault backpack has a fixed harness, meaning that you can’t adjust its height. But you can adjust the shoulder straps, so it should be easy to get the backpack to fit you well.
The shoulder straps are padded and covered with Aerospace mesh, just like the backpanel. They are ventilated very well, so you shouldn’t sweat or be too hot when you’re wearing this backpack.
Another interesting thing about the shoulder straps is the daisy chain. I’m not completely sure if it was intended as an attachment point for additional gear, but you can always improvise with a carabiner. Perfect if you need to carry something bulky around, and don’t want to carry it in your hands.
There is a webbing sternum strap on this backpack. It is adjustable, so it’s pretty easy to get it to fit you right.
And it is also removable – a good option to have if you don’t actually like sternum straps. You’re okay without it if you’re going to school or work.
But if you plan to take this backpack out in the mountains, then I really advise against removing the strap. It helps keep the backpack securely on your back, which is pretty important for your comfort if it’s at full capacity. Especially because you don’t get a hipbelt, and a sternum strap does help even out its weight.
This is the one thing that disappointed me with the Urban Assault – not only does it lack a hipbelt, but it also lacks the option to attach one. And this impacts its versatility a lot – with no way to transfer the load of the backpack away from your shoulders, you can’t really take this on long hikes.
You will get exhausted. Especially if you bring some heavy gear.
How does the lack of hipbelt impact its functionality as an everyday backpack? I think that depends on what you carry around every day. If it’s just your laptop, tablet, wallet, and a couple of other necessities, then you’ll be fine. But if you carry a lot of books or a heavy camera with all the necessary equipment, you will get sore shoulders from time to time.
It is important that everyday backpacks have decent organizational features. Which means multiple pockets, and at least one laptop sleeve.
In this section, I will show you what organizational features this backpack boasts. Spoiler alert – I love them!
The main compartment of this backpack features a three-zipper opening. First, you unzip the side zippers, and that removes the top of the backpack. It gives you a good overview of the things at the top of the main compartment and gives you easy access to all the pockets and sleeves.
If you want a bit more access, there’s the third, vertical zipper. It opens up the main compartment fully and helps you get to the things at the bottom of the main compartment in a matter of seconds.
The best thing about this backpack is that you can’t get to the puller of the vertical zipper without unzipping the top of the backpack. This also makes the main compartment of the Urban Assault extremely safe – I seriously doubt a thief could manage to get to all three zippers without you noticing.
The main compartment is also pretty spacious. With a capacity of 21 liters, there’s definitely enough space for all your everyday necessities. Or even some clothes for a weekend getaway.
This backpack has two sleeves for your tech – a must on any good everyday backpack. Both are padded and there’s a divider between them.
The laptop sleeve is large enough to fit any 15” laptop, which is great. And, there is a webbing strap with a Velcro strip that ensures that the laptop stays safely in its sleeve, even if you decide to do a handstand with the Urban Assault on your shoulders.
That Velcro strap also covers the tablet sleeve, which can fit even the extra-large tablets. I presume that by that, Mystery Ranch means a 13” iPad – which is pretty amazing. When you think about it, you can easily fit two laptops in this backpack, and that’s not something many other brands can offer you.
If you like organizing your stuff, then you’ll love this backpack. There are three zippered internal pockets, and all of them are made from mesh.
Two are on the sides, and they are easily accessible when you remove just the top of the main compartment. And there is also an internal zippered pocket just under the lid, which is the most easily accessible one.
The pockets aren’t too big though, so they won’t be able to fit a book or a water bottle. But, they are just the right size for chargers, headphones, cables, sunglasses, and any smaller items you want easy access to.
The Urban Assault backpack features a single external pocket. It’s at the top, and it has a YKK zipper, just like the actual main compartment.
The location of this pocket is great – the zipper is actually near your back, so there’s no way someone could open it up without you noticing. And when you take off the backpack because you need something from that pocket, you can access it very easily.
Because of that, this pocket is great for all the items you want to keep extra safe – like your expensive smartphone or GoPro.
When you’re spending a lot of money on a backpack, it feels better to know that you can use it for virtually anything. And with Urban Assault’s high price point, versatility is going to be key in deciding whether or not it’s worth your money.
The good news is that it really is a versatile backpack. In this section, you can see just how much.
The Urban Assault backpack doesn’t really have too many features that make it a versatile backpack. There are no trekking pole attachments, no hipbelt, the laptop compartment isn’t TSA friendly, etc. But that doesn’t at all mean that this is not a versatile backpack.
Consider its size. It’s small enough to be accepted as a carry-on in any airplane, and it’s much more convenient for short trips than a suitcase. You can fit enough clothes for a couple of days in the main compartment, in addition to all your tech.
The comfortable and ventilated backpanel also makes this a decent option for outdoor adventures. The sternum strap helps keep you comfortable, and the backpanel and harness ensure you won’t get sweaty while you are hiking or trekking. Provided that you don’t pack anything ridiculously heavy inside it – the lack of a hipbelt will prove uncomfortable on longer hikes.
Overall, this is a pretty versatile backpack. You can use it for different activities even if it doesn’t have a million different features, which is pretty great.
If you take a close look at this backpack, you can notice three daisy chains – one on each shoulder strap, and one on the very bottom of the backpack. These allow you to attach pretty much anything you want to them, as long as you use a carabiner.
I am not 100% sure if this is an intentional design feature (Mystery Ranch does not mention it anywhere), but it certainly is a useful one. The ability to attach a water bottle to the shoulder strap and always have easy access to it suddenly makes this a great option for hiking.
And the ability to attach a tripod or an umbrella to the exterior of your backpack is also pretty great. Definitely one of the reasons why I gave the Urban Assault a fairly high score in this regard.
The Urban Assault is definitely a great backpack. It is made from high-quality materials, and it will last you for years. But the steep price tag is a turn-off for many people.
The everyday backpack market is huge. And you can find amazing backpacks at pretty much any price point you have in mind. Therefore, it is a little hard to justify spending so much money on the Urban Assault – especially when you consider that you can get an Osprey or a Kanken for less money.
However, if you plan to wear this backpack every day, you will get your money’s worth. There’s no question that it will last you for years – the quality is without a doubt there. And it is easy to justify spending a bit more money if you’re going to use the item for years to come. In that case, the Urban Assault is worth it – and it’s definitely better to get one sturdy backpack than to go through a new one every year.
But when rating the backpack, I had to take into consideration what else you can get in the same price range, and if you can get a better backpack for less money. And the answer is yes – you can get some amazing everyday backpacks from Osprey, Timbuk2, and Fjallraven for a lot less money than the Urban Assault. That’s why I couldn’t score this backpack too high.
The Urban Assault is truly a well-made backpack. It’s made from premium materials, it’s very versatile, comfortable and it has plenty of pockets for all your everyday necessities.
But in terms of bang for the buck, you could do a lot better.
Honestly, the only way to get great value for money out of this Urban Assault backpack is to wear it frequently. And if you think you will do that, then there’s really no reason not to get this backpack.
Your gear will be easily accessible but perfectly safe at all times. Also, this is a backpack you can use for school, work, travel, camping, and even some light hiking – the versatility alone is a really good reason to add this to your closet.
On the other hand, if you are not really happy about the price point of this backpack, there’s nothing to worry about. There are lots of other, more affordable everyday packs out there, and some of them might be an even better option than the Urban Assault. Go check out our related posts to see which those are!
And if you really love this Urban Assault 21 backpack, head over to Amazon or their website. You can see the prices and color options there, and hopefully, snag some good deals!