When it comes to buying a technical backpack, it’s easy to get lost. There are packs for just about every sport, climate and season. But at the heart of making a good bag (read: a bag that performs unequivocally in its intended use case) is knowing how people intend to use it. It sounds too simple, but it’s a notion that a lot of bag manufacturers miss; how will this bag be used?
Mystery Ranch knows this question well. Over the nearly twenty years since it was founded, Mystery Ranch has worked to solve the problems of real-life use through smart design, superlative materials and hawkish attention to detail. And for good reason. Since its inception, Mystery Ranch has produced bags for the military and fire and rescue services alongside the consumer-grade bags for hiking, hunting and casual outdoor use. By gathering feedback from the front lines, Mystery Ranch founders Dana Gleason and Renee Sippel-Baker were able to inject their designs with practical features that reflect what users actually need when the chips are down.
By incorporating user feedback and shifting the focus of the business to direct-to-consumer products, Gleason and Sippel-Baker have been able to produce packs that are finely tuned to the needs of the end user, resulting in a collection of robust, innovative bags fit for any pursuit.
Why Mystery Ranch
Most of us aren’t spending our days scaling mountains or fighting wildfires. But that’s what we love about Mystery Ranch. Rather than overbuild its entire line into a one-size-fits-all collection, Mystery Ranch has developed a wide array of bags, designed to match specific use cases.
The 3-ZIP design, a bold three-way zipper that enables the top and sides of the pack to open and unfold, permeates Mystery Ranch’s line. This wide aperture makes packing and organizing your gear much easier, and helps limit the frustrating up-to-your-armpit blind search for a piece of kit that’s been buried out of reach.
Though Mystery Ranch’s lineup is expansive, we’ve selected three of our favorite models, offering the right balance of utility, space and price.
The Coulee 25
The taut design of the Coulee 25 makes it an ideal choice for fast and light outings. The Coulee 25’s twenty-five-liter capacity, dual front, exterior stretch-woven stow pockets and two side stretch-woven water bottles pockets offer utility for a wide range of applications and make it well-suited for wandering around a new city or a day hike on your favorite mountain escape.
The Scree 32
The Scree 32 offers the versatility of the smaller Coulee 25 but brings more loadout options and space. Mystery Ranch’s adjustable yoke system enables you to dial in your perfect fit. The Scree 32 is hydration bladder compatible and sports auxiliary side water bottle pockets, making it well-suited for longer trips. A spacious brain compartment and handy waist belt pocket help organize smaller pieces of kit.
The Coulee 40
For big day hikes in the hills or feathery overnight blitzes, reach for the Coulee 40. Featuring dual composite frame stays for stability and a fully adjustable yoke the Coulee 40 offers a sturdy, customized fit. The padded waist belt cants and conforms over the hips to effectively transfer and distribute the weight and eliminate slippage down over the hips. Tool carry loops, compression straps and side stretch pockets make the Coulee 40 a fully-equipped technical pack.