I’ll admit, I had my doubts when Mark Seacat of Mystery Ranch Packs started his sales pitch about how great his packs are. I have tried a lot of packs and liked very few of them over the years, and I didn’t expect much different out of these ones. Mark wouldn’t back down though, and I did know from previous conversations with him that he was not just another salesman pitching a product. He is a hard core hunter that, unlike many sales guys, actually really uses the products he sells, and he takes it to extremes when he does. A quick glance at the photos on his iPhone had proven that.
I kept listening. Before I knew it he had me fitted, had a Crew Cab pack loaded with 80 pounds worth of sandbags, and made me pack the thing around the floor of the Western Hunting Expo where he was giving me this rundown. After carrying this huge pack around for awhile with relative ease and comfort Mark had my attention for sure, but carrying a pack around indoors on nice carpeted floors is hardly a test to write home about. I was still skeptical, but I liked the pack enough to give one a try. Before long I had a Crew Cab pack that I could call my own and I was eager to really try it out.
The first opportunity came when I was asked to help a buddy scout for Desert Sheep in a remote unit in Southern Utah. As I loaded the pack I was impressed with the way it could seemingly expand endlessly from a compact size perfect for day hunts to a true load hauler. I kept adding gear, wanting to really test the limits. I didn’t weigh the final product for fear I would wimp out, but it included a couple of gallons of water, sleeping bag, bivy, sleeping pad, Swarovski ATS 80 spotting scope, heavy duty camera tripod and head, binoculars, four days of food and clothes, rain gear, water filter, stove, fuel, etc, etc. It wasn’t light. Four days and 30 plus miles of rough terrain later and I was a believer! What a pack! It not only handled the weight with ease and comfort, but the versatility was unmatched. It had just enough compartments for good organization, but not so many that you lose your stuff in your own pack, and can’t keep all the zippers shut (I’ve owned packs like that). It was a snap to load it up heavy and had plenty of compression straps to tighten up the load and keep it close to your body for balance. The Crew Cab also functioned equally well when shrunk down to daypack size for short jaunts out ridges to glass for sheep. Since that trip, I have used the same pack on numerous other similar trips and hunts. I have hauled an inordinate amount of gear, and even better, meat and antlers with my “Crew Cab”, always with the same great result. The comfort under load is truly second to none.
I attribute this to wonderful design coupled with the ability to purchase the pack in different sizes so that you can get a pack that really fits correctly. A lot of pack companies don’t offer different sizing options at all, and the ones that do don’t come close to the options you can get with Mystery Ranch. The versatility of starting the day with only your day’s essentials and being able to finish the day loaded with 100 pounds of meat is also amazing. Other packs try this option as well, and although you might be able to fit your elk quarter inside, these other packs really aren’t build to comfortably handle such a heavy load. There is no doubt in my mind that my Crew Cab pack would easily handle more weight than my body could even lift of the ground.
Lastly, is the durability. The word “indestructible” comes to mind. ‘Nuff said!
-Preston Edwards/Gold Tip Arrows