- Buyer's Guide
First Look: Mystery Ranch x Huckberry 2DAP
Taking a closer look at the Mystery Ranch x Huckberry 2DAP
Mystery Ranch are pros. Time and again, under the watchful eye of Dana Gleason, they have produced attractive, functional, and timeless bags. Their innovative tri-zip design has become a favorite of many, both in civilian and military life. Designed in Bozeman, MT, their products are problem solvers designed to make the mission at hand easier with thoughtful touches, great materials, and an ironclad guarantee. We even teamed up with them to create the Carryology Assault, and it’s easy to see why it sold out twice over in record time.
Even further out west in San Francisco are the impressive folks, our good friends, Huckberry. Over the past 10 years, they have worked tirelessly to create a mecca for all things carry and outdoor adventure. Their mantra of “See You Out There” is echoed in a catalog that includes beautiful Italian watches and hoodies that’ll last you ten years. They’ve become a leader in the carry community as a reliable source for gift shopping, thoughtful journal entries, and of course, great gear.
When two companies like this collide, beautiful things happen! This is the third collaboration between the two, and it could be the best one yet. The Mystery Ranch 2DAP (Two Day Assault Pack) has become a customer favorite (including a Carryology Carry Awards nomination). They adapted it from their reliable 3DAP to fit into more civilian user scenarios, in particular urban surroundings. We were lucky enough to get our hands on this for a first look. Let’s dig in and find out what makes this Desert + Hunter Orange 2DAP backpack a crowd-pleaser…
This is a bag that is designed to survive wherever you take it. Mystery Ranch’s catalog has become a favorite of LEAF organizations, particularly in the US. It is not uncommon to hear of MR bags that have survived wildfires, multiple tours of active military duty, and other environments where lesser bags would give up on you. However, some critique MR for their decidedly tactical (or tacticool) fascia. The original 2DAP comes in four understated colors which certainly match that characteristic and highlight the tactical elements of this bag.
The Huckberry edition, however, comes in a rich, versatile Desert colorway. At first glance, this may not seem wildly different from the Coyote or Forest colorways that already exist. However, the subtlety of this choice arguably opens up the bag to a wider array of personal styles amongst the average user. Orange paracord tastefully accents the black zips and zippers and matches the interior. A limited-edition morale patch ties together the collaboration nicely.
As always with MR, the materials are robust. The 500D Cordura will allow this bag to endure many adventures and look as good as new with each outing. Durable YKK weatherproof zippers facilitate the tri-zip access. Plus the Futura harness is as comfortable as they come. Internally the bright Hunter Orange liner lights up your contents for quick identification and employment. The Mystery Ranch x Huckberry 2DAP is listed as having approximately a 27L capacity, and that feels about right. It is big enough to carry all that you’d need, without having that extra dead space you can sometimes find in 30-35L bags. Weighing in at only 3lbs, it is exceptionally lightweight for a bag that is so rugged.
In the week that I’ve been using this bag, it has been with me in a few scenarios that give credence to the idea that it can be a bag that does it all. As an EDC bag, it held all that I needed to complete a day’s work, including travel to and from the local hot desk I occasionally use. I’ve loaded it out with my 16″ MacBook Pro, my mirrorless camera and lenses, drone, cables/dongles galore, lunchbox, 26oz water bottle, jacket/sweater, and general EDC (wallet, keys, phone). The mile walk to the office has not been troublesome or uncomfortable at all with that sizable load.
When using it at the office, I really appreciated how easy it is to access your laptop from either the long zip that travels down the side of the back panel, or from the internal access underneath the tri-zip opening. The selection of small side pockets inside the bag is perfect for organization. I found myself using one side of the bag for personal effects: water, mask, altoids, hand sanitizer, etc.) and the other for tech: computer charger, cables, card readers. The bright Hunter Orange lining made it easy to find what I needed quickly, even on the dull cloudy afternoons in New Jersey.
It has also filled the role of a hiker: allowing me to carry a 3L reservoir, extra layers, IFAK, snacks, water bottle, victory beer, knife, and a flashlight. Admittedly, in my short time with the bag, I only managed short hikes, but the comfort, or absence of discomfort, was noticeable. The bag’s materials really shine in outdoor settings. While not advertised as waterproof, it handled heavy showers with ease and I wasn’t concerned about squeezing through some overgrown trails knowing that it takes a lot to affect the 500D.
The small pull tabs at either end of the zippers made opening and closing supremely easy, even in gloves, a big win as the mercury plummets. For the outdoor-focused amongst you, the MOLLE allows you to attach essentials where you please, but more on that later. While coaching, it hauled cleats, water, notebooks, extra layers, gloves, and hats comfortably. Thanks to its tough construction, I had no concerns throwing it around between trips to different fields, in any weather.
In my opinion, the biggest win on the Mystery Ranch x Huckberry 2DAP is the tri-zip opening. For those of you who haven’t used one before, it really is quite an eye-opener. Everything can be grabbed at a moment’s notice, which is a huge advantage in all of the situations that I outlined. It allows you to pack your load as you see fit. We all have our own preferences when it comes to packing, and you can cater to that with this bag.
Customize at will
While we’re talking about customization, it should be noted that it is another of MR’s strong suits. You can customize this bag in a multitude of ways. There are two Velcro piles that allow you to attach any morale patch you like. Personally, I really like the MR x Huckberry patch included with the bag, but the world is your oyster here! Load lifters, a removable waist strap, and an adjustable chest harness allow you to dial in your comfort preferences as you see fit. Don’t need a waist strap for office travel? Remove it. Like to carry your load high on your back? Raise it up. Mystery Ranch created a bag you can tweak and reconfigure depending on what your day might entail.
Carry on the outside
Harking back to their military days, there is also a lot of PALS webbing on the outside of the bag. This is where the color choice comes into its own. For whatever reason, in the Desert shade, that volume of webbing doesn’t look overbearing. The PALS allows you to attach literally anything that you can’t fit or don’t want inside the bag. I could easily attach my hiking poles for trickier hiking routes, a guardian light for walking down busy roads, or even just a few extra Bic’s for quick access on the go.
This PALS is what could make this a useful overnight bag. For the urban traveler, it would allow you to attach a jacket if your extra clothes and washbag live inside for the journey. For the ultralight hiker, you could easily attach a bivy bag and some of your utensils for your overnight jaunt. This would allow you room for your sleeping bag and other backpacking accouterments internally.
Don’t drop your bottle!
While this bag is impressive, that isn’t to say it’s perfect. The water bottle pockets on the exterior are cavernous but short. I found myself on a couple of occasions making sure that my bottle hadn’t shifted too much during transit. On my first day testing, my water bottle slipped out of its short resting spot as I picked it up, thankfully just onto my car seat. For hiking, I defaulted to a reservoir which is my usual preference. However, that decision was compounded by my mistrust in the water bottle pockets. I ended up using them for gloves and some extra snacks, i.e. things that won’t break or dent if they drop to the floor.
The harness, while incredibly comfortable, is also rather rigid. That means regardless of how empty or full the bag is, the harness profile remains the same. This can be a little awkward in some situations; your bag sits “away” from the wall or chair you’re leaning it against. If you load up/unload your bag on a chair, be aware of this! These are by no means deal-breakers, but definitely worth noting.
Even though my time with this bag has been short, what I have seen so far has impressed me. It is easy to understand why the 2-Day Assault Pack is a fan favorite. People love its chameleon-like characteristics, nigh-on indestructible materials, and serious customization options. I also get a strong impression that this bag, and the harness in particular, will become more and more comfortable as it conforms to your body and carrying style. That’s something I’m looking forward to as the miles add up. Both of Mystery Ranch and Huckberry’s previous collaborations have set the bar high. With this Mystery Ranch x Huckberry 2DAP iteration, I think the bar just got a little higher.