REVIEW - Mystery Ranch SATL


Staff member
Full review with pretty pictures can be found at:

ITEM: SATL Assault Ruck
An internal frame, top loading general purpose rucksack of 56L capacity.

The SATL used for this review was purchased with my own funds. It was modified a bit for trials with quick release harness buckles and was missing the removable daypack lid. A Crossfire Daypack lid (seen HERE) was substituted.
For photo purposes, my baby brother’s personal SATL in foliage grey was used because it looks and presents much better.
It should be noted that this is an older, first generation pack with original fixed BVS (Bolstered Ventilation System). The design has since been updated and improved with continuous feedback from end-users over the years.
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Height: Approx. 790mm (31.10in)
Width: Approx. 380mm (14.96in)
Depth: Approx. 330mm (12.99in)
Volume: 56L (approx. 3500 cubic inches)
Weight: 3.1kg (approx. 6.8lbs)
500D material
Webbing tape
Quick release buckles

The internal frame has two fiberglass stays mounted on a high density polymer frame sheet for the right amount of flexibility and rigidity where needed.
There is also the BVS (Bolstered Ventilation Stability) system, consisting of two rolls of breathable material, which allows the pack to be stabilised whilst wearing combat body armour.
These first generation BVS rolls run the length of the pack frame.

Adjusting backlength is via the standard Mystery Ranch method with their Futura yoke (seen HERE).
Harness straps are 3D contoured with a plastic stiffener in them that interacts at the shoulder to maximise comfortable load transferrance and prevent the strap turning into a piece of string under heavy weight.
The harness has a sternum strap and top tensioners like those found on most good quality hiking packs. Also fitted are elastic and Velcro loops to manage hydration bladder hoses.
The substantial and very comfortable hip belt is fitted with padded cushions that have PALS channels on the outer surface. This allows pouches and other accessories to be fitted to the hip belt for the wearer’s preferences. These padded cushions also allow the running end to be stowed away, reducing the flapping belt and snag hazard around vehicles and in close country.
The harness area is lined with a mesh material to reduce heat retention and such problems as chafing.
The SATL is a traditional top-loading pack with a bit of a twist.

The pack lid is a detachable item that can be used as a small daypack. It could also conceivably be used as an Escape and Evasion bag for those moments when immediate survival items are needed. It is secured to the pack frame via lockable fastex clips at top and bottom and has a harness system tucked away in a pocket. It has a single, large pocket to stow small, immediate use items.
One could easily carry a 3L bladder within it. The positioning of the pack lid is such that if a hydration bladder is fitted, it sits at the most optimal balance point.

A nice design point on the fastex closure for the top and bottom of the lid is the ability to undo the top portion for access to any radio controls without having to mess around as much with the pack. It also allows the lid to be tensioned and positioned much better on the storm collar to adjust balance and prevent loss of other equipment.
External Surface
The sides of the rucksack have PALS rows to attach pouches and tailor the load carried.

Below these PALS rows are pockets for Nalgene bottles or the stowage of long, awkward items with the aid of the compression straps. These bottom pockets are also scotched to allow the hip belt to be folded back out of the way when/if necessary.

There are also two handles on the sides of the pack to assist the carriage/lifting/handling of the pack in other scenarios than just simple wearing of the pack.

The back of the ruck has two long, vertical pouches secured via zips. In between these two dorsal pouches is a vertical zip to allow access to the internal contents of the pack.

The bottom of the ruck has some daisy-chain/PALS rows to that allow items to be lashed to the pack bottom, and has two lockable fastex clip cargo straps to do this.

The top of the rucksack has a dual draw-string storm collar to seal the pack up against the elements and allow extra capacity to be safely packed in.
Also at the storm collar is zip access panel to any manpack radios that may be carried.

There’s an internal pocket to stow a manpack radio and another two internal pockets on the sides.


Essentially, the SATL is a fixed internal frame version of the Wolf Alpha (review seen HERE).
It’s been the mainstay of the Mystery Ranch tactical line for a long time now – for good reason.
A few years have passed since I’ve last looked at a Mystery Ranch pack. Whilst I still love Mystery Ranch’s design and construction, the SATL in particular is showing it’s age in terms of ergonomics with the first generation BVS.
I’ve had opportunity to use the SATL for training walks up to six kilometers long (approximately 36 kilometers in total) and a multi-day walk in the D’Aguilar National Park here in Brisbane.

The load carried for this multi-day walk was about 18 kilograms, including seven liters of water. Rough terrain and long distances clearly demonstrated the deficiencies of the first generation BVS on the harness/frame whilst being worn cleanskin minus body armour.
The ends of the two BVS rolls dug into the pelvic girdle between the belt line and the hips – which turns out to be quite a painful experience.
The SATL benefits from the usual well designed and constructed standard from the Mystery Ranch stable.
It’s a good size for multi-day trips, yet still fits within shoulder dimensions to move easily in close country.
Whilst great for wearing in conjunction with Combat Body Armour, the first generation BVS bolsters make this pack unsuitable for general purpose use, unless effort is made to remove the BVS rolls. Thankfully, the latest production version of this pack is fitted with the removable BVS system, which is a much better option.
The removable daypack lid isn’t as useful as later, more refined versions. But it can be easily replaced with those later versions or after-market options.
Here, a Crossfire Daypack lid is fitted to my SATL.

Although showing it’s age, the classic 1st Generation SATL is still a very good option in the market.
The newer version that has incorporated design updates and improvements after years of feedback will be an even better choice for serious use.