REVIEW – Mystery Ranch Komodo Dragon

ITEM: Komodo Dragon Pack

MANUFACTURER: Mystery Ranch

DESCRIPTION:

A scaled-up version of the classic tri-zip 3 Day Assault Pack, for slightly larger loads, or longer periods out in the wilds.

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REVIEW NOTES:

The Komodo Dragon has been graciously supplied by Mystery Ranch through it’s Australian distributors, Crossfire.

I have done the review (like many with supplied equipment) with the proviso that I will be painfully honest in my assessment of this item.

If I may ask a favour of you all?

Please let the suppliers of reviewed equipment know how much you appreciate these reviews and their support for this site. Let them know how much my reviews have influenced your purchasing decisions.

LINK:

http://www.mysteryranch.com/military/assault-patrol-packs/komodo-dragon-pack

SPECIFICATIONS:

MATERIALS –

500D cordura

Fastex clips

Mesh

YKK Zips

DIMENSIONS –

Height: 54cm (approx. 21.5in)

Depth: 18cm (approx. 7in)

Width: 28cm (approx. 11in)

Weight: 2.5kg (approx. 5lb 7oz)

Volume: 38L (approx. 2300 cubic inches)

LAYOUT:

Komodo Dragon on the left, ATS RAID pack on the left.

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As mentioned previously, the Komodo Dragon is a slightly scaled up variant of the now famous tri-zip layout from the Mystery Ranch line-up.

The other variants of this design are the traditional 3 Day Assault Pack at 33 Litres (reviewed HERE), and the ASAP of 18 Litres (reviewed HERE).

Mystery Ranch Komodo Dragon on right, 3-Day Assault Pack on left.

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FRAME AND HARNESS –

This pack uses the Futura yoke system with a live wing belt system. As found on most of the Mystery Ranch pack range.

The contoured straps are similar to the DG-6 in that they have a 3-dimensional structure with a plastic stiffener in them that interacts at the shoulder to maximise comfortable load transference and prevent the load from turning the strap into a piece of string under a high load.

The harness has a sternum strap, and top tensioners like that found on most good quality hiking packs. Also fitted are elastic and Velcro loops to manage hydration bladder hoses.

The low profile, yet very comfortable hip belt is like others of the range from a design and usability point of view. The wings have an articulated joint that allows them to be folded away if not needed.

Folded away:

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Extended for use:

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These wings can also have the Mystery Ranch hip pads from bigger packs fitted to suit user requirements. They also have PALS channels for pouches to be attached as per user requirements.

The harness is lined with a mesh material to reduce heat retention and such problems as chafing. This mesh material is made of two types of material. The first layer is hydrophilic (water loving) to absorb moisture (sweat) from the wearer, the second layer is hydro-phobic (water repelling) in order to remove the absorbed moisture away from the body.

The Futura Frame is similar to others in the Mystery Ranch line for this size. It also has the BVS system in order to be worn in conjunction with Combat Body Armour. When worn with Combat Body Armour, the BVS (Bolstered Ventilation & Stability) system helps stabilise the pack a great deal. The BVS fitted is the latest version, comprising removable solid blocks.

BVS block attached for use in conjunction with body armour:

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BVS block removed from harness:

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BVS Block:

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RUCKSACK –

Mystery Ranch’s signature tri-zip arrangement has been used. I’m not a big fan of zips on a fighting load or any pack for rough field use, but the Mystery Ranch arrangement has proven itself to me the last few years. The ability to be able to open up the pack to easily access the contents is a nice ability to have in the field. The lockable fastex clips are fitted to relieve stress on the zips securing the load. The top clip of these also acts as a compression strap for the load. There are also PALS channels along the zip panels for external pouches.

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On the two sides of the rucksack body are some PALS rows and elasticated external pockets to carry Nalgene sized bottles. This set-up also allows long items such as M72 LAAW’s, short star pickets, aiming stakes and other similar items to be carried.

Under these two side panels, are fastex clip secured pockets that allow the hip-belt to folded away and stowed within and will also allow such items as hydration bladders to be stowed. Other items that are wide and flat, such as cervical collars could conceivably be stowed in there as well. There are also loops and bits to manage hydration hose stowage on the pack, along with port access for handset or hydration hose access. This attention to detail is excellent.

Another feature of the side panels are zip access to the interior of the pack for radio handset or hydration bladder hose access.

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

The lid has two zip access pockets for small sundry items.

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Under these two zips is also zip access into the main compartment for radio access purposes.

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There is a velcro pile section on the lid for morale/ID patches.

 

Inside the rucksack is a lot of internal organisation!

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On the back, starting at the top is the Spade-lock system to attach internal accessories (reviewed HERE).

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Below the radio harness is a pocket for another hydration bladder (meaning there is capacity for carrying three hydration bladders).

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On the internal sides of the rucksack, is a couple more pockets secured with zip closures for smaller items.

There’s also an open-topped internal pocket (sized for 1L Nalgene bottles) for other objects and to aid in internal organisation.

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PERSONAL ASSESSMENT:

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I’ve had plenty of opportunity to use the Komodo Dragon in civilisation, during travels, but limited bush time. Such are the vagaries of real life, such as the arrival of children and job loss.

I have however, put some serious training time in with this pack. Loaded up to about 15kg’s (approx. 33lbs) for six kilometres for several months.

As mentioned in some of my previous kit reviews, I’m not a big fan of zips on my bush gear. I’m actually a big fan of a traditional top loading pack.

Having said that, the Mystery Ranch tri-zip arrangement has proven itself to me over the last few years.

I have managed to use the Komodo for travel interstate visiting friends. I was actually planning on using my 3 Day Assault Pack, but found the cold weather clothing a little bit too bulky. It was a life saver to realise that a slightly bigger pack was available to use.

PROS –

Construction quality is very high.

The design itself has a lot of attention to detail. There are so many loops, and ports for hoses and cables that practically any load can be easily managed.

The tri-zip arrangement makes accessing the load within the pack very easy. No more having to dig out equipment, lay it out on the ground next to you to find that one item you need at the bottom and then replace all your gear. Repeat in reverse when kit has to be re-stowed.

The Komodo is one of those packs I’d consider for personal use, because of the essential flexibility of the design. One could conceivably be carrying this as a patrol pack, and still easily accommodate a man-pack radio if stabbed in a hurry. For a designated signaller, it would be a very useful pack for short duration patrols where a minimum of equipment is needed. It could even be very useful as a mounted pack for vehicle crew.

With the increased volume available compared to the standard 3DAP, those chronic over-packers can be accommodated.

CONS –

Again, the straps have no quick release buckles, which is one of my fetishes.

I have some concern about the strain placed upon the main zip if the fastex clips aren’t done up and secured/tensioned. Although this is only a real concern when the pack is closed up in a hurry. Short term exposure shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a product of such high quality though.

Something that really jumped out at me having used this pack fro some time now, is the balance. Due to the increased length and size, the Komodo seems to balance differently than it’s smaller brothers, the 3-Day Assault Pack and the ASAP. It’s not a deal breaker to my mind, just a penalty and characteristic of having that extra cargo capacity

SUMMARY:

A great daypack for those (the chronic over packers amongst you) who may find the standard sized 3 Day Assault Pack slightly too small for their needs.


Posted in Military, Mystery Ranch, Packs & Webbing, Short Trip by with 6 comments.

Comments

  • Many thanks for the review and for including all of the photos.

    On the two sides of the rucksack body are some PALS rows and elasticated external pockets to carry Nalgene sized bottles. This set-up also allows long items such as M72 LAAW’s, short star pickets, aiming stakes and other similar items to be carried. […] Under these two side panels, are fastex clip secured pockets that allow the hip-belt to folded away and stowed within and will also allow such items as hydration bladders to be stowed.

    So there are elasticated pockets that work for water bottles, and there are pockets behind that (maybe ski slots in the original civilian version of the pack?). By “side panels” do you mean the pockets behind the water bottle holders, or is there a third set of compartments?

    • 22F says:

      You’re very welcome Matt.
      Hmmmn, how best to describe the construction?

      There is the panel forming the pocket to allow the hip belt to be folded away into, these have the PALS channels.
      Then there is the scotch pocket (ski slot as you describe them) with the elasticated water bottle pocket on top of that.

      A chat needs to be had with my editing elves methinks. Them, and my model just keep cluttering the place up, lowering land values 😉

  • Luke Harrison says:

    Fantastic review. This review has helped me a lot in coming to the decision to buy this pack.

    • 22F says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words Luke!
      Please, feel free to let Mystery Ranch and whoever the commercial supplier you buy it from know the same thing!

      It all helps in my plan for world domination 😉

      Mick

  • Deniz says:

    Really nice review. i am about to buy one definitely.
    buuuut. is it possible to buy the small packs from the NICE frame and make it fit with the komodo dragon eventhough komodo dragon doesnt have NICE frame?
    The Carson model looks like komodo dragon, but with the packs i talked about above.
    http://www.mysteryranch.com/military/internal-frame-packs/carson-mountain-ruck-pack

    Deniz

  • JSM says:

    I got the pack to replace a PALS pack I blew out earlier this year in Iraq. Although I am livi that Dana won’t make this in german grey or black, I opted for the olive and I hope that I do not attract too much undue attention when I go through civilian areas.

    I have not taken this in the field yet, but I just finished a 4 day backpacking trip with tent and a 3 season bag. I used a mountainsmith bag on the outside as my food sack. Total weight was around 35 lbs. I purposely went heavy.

    I have to say that I was impressed at how well it worked. I was doing 10 miles plus at 7,000′ in high alpine meadows. While not a terraplane, it was a good load carrier.
    Add an OSL hipbelt and this is damn near as good of a load carrier as his old bomb packs.

    I also very much overstuffed the bags in there… those zippers are about as bombproof as a zipper can be, I was surprised.

    Good pack. I wish it was 3000 ci… and black, then it would be the perfect pack… but I was quite happy. Another win.

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