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Mystery Ranch Backpacks

Posted by on November 16, 2012
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Bob Ward

Fiction author with a zest for adventure travel. Blogs, tweets, videos, and pins for research and fun. He also hosts Ward's Adventure Travel Research & Trip Journal, a weekly podcast available on EFN, iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and more.

Several years ago, I researched backpacks for about six months before deciding, with great confidence, that Mystery Ranch made the most solid, most trail-worthy, most functional backpacks to be had. I doubt that has changed. They were bucking trends before regarding quality construction (made in the USA), and since they still offer the same backpack I purchased years ago, they’re obviously sticking to their guns on what actually works and matters. Most profit-seeking enterprises, not just backpack makers, reinvent their products every year just to sell the NEW and IMPROVED! Mystery Ranch does not seem to churn their gear offerings as much, which I appreciate. New is often just new for the sake of new, and that tricks a lot of people when, in fact, tried and true works well, and “improved” is usually dubious at best (probably an improved color or an elastic band to replace a heavier–read more reliable–strap and buckle).

Here’s the pack I have:

VOLUME: 4200 cu-in (68.8)
WEIGHT: 6 lbs 10 oz (3kg)
DIMENSIONS: 24.5″x12″x9″ (62cm x 30cm x 23cm)
INTENDED USE: Multi-Day Backpacking
  • G Light Frame
  • Futura Yoke
  • Contour Lumbar Wrap
  • Classic top loading design
  • Speed Zip
  • Vertical back Long Pockets
  • Ice axe loops, daisy chain and dual side compression
  • Water Bottle pockets
  • Ideal Uses: Weekend and multi-day backpacking
  • Hauls 40 to 60 pound loads
  • Made entirely in the U.S.A.

Too many people worry about weight. It makes more sense to focus on quality. In the field, you take rest breaks when necessary anyway. None of us really need to trim every last possible ounce from the house on our back, which is the most vital piece of gear we carry. Instead, trim the amount of unnecessary items inside the pack. For one thing, most people carry too many clothes, and not the right kind of clothes either. Nobody cares if you stink after a week on the trail. More socks, less cotton t-shirts. Smaller pillow. Smaller binoculars. One small knife, not the Rambo pig-killer. Leave the Big Bertha Double Daybed inflatable mattress with built in TV (not a real product) at home. If you can’t sleep on the cold hard ground using only a lightweight insulator, then try car camping instead.

Anyone interested should get the book The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher.

I also like Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book by Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland.

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