Hunting Backpack: $100 vs. $500

Published 2021-08-16
By: Hope Gately

There is, perhaps, no outdoor sport more misunderstood than hunting. The process might seem simple; get gun, find animal, shoot animal. Those who hunt know that this time-honored tradition is much more complicated.

Hunters prepare months in advance. They study miles of backcountry terrain, scouting animal skat/tracks in hopes of locating the best hunting areas. They often train with weights to simulate packing out big game because for a hunter, if you can’t get the animal out correctly, why kill it? And every good hunter has a thorough understanding of their state’s licensing requirements to ensure their hunt is legal, safe and ultimately, successful. Hunting is a high-stakes sport and can often end in unsuccessful seasons, only for the hunter to restart the process the following year.

Some variables in hunting are uncontrollable (weather, migration patterns, luck). But some variables can be controlled; gear failure is one of them. Whether it’s sighting in rifles, tuning in a bow to perfection or dialing down the features of a pack, having dependable, comfortable gear is one way a hunter can tip the odds in their favor.

Alex Rich, a Product Designer for MYSTERY RANCH Mountain and Hunting, articulates the need for an exceptional pack.

“It has been said that on western hunts, the two most important pieces of gear are a good pair of boots and a good backpack. Here at MYSTERY RANCH, we do our best to satisfy the pack part of that equation. When it comes to packs, the three most important aspects we pride ourselves on our quality and durability, useful features like our overload system and above all, comfort. Those three elements are rarely, if ever, found in bargain packs and off brands.”

Let’s dig deeper into these “three key elements” to better understand why MYSTERY RANCH is the pack leader in elite hunting gear.

Comfort: Load-Bearing Capability is Key

In many states, hunters have a narrow window of opportunity to harvest a big game animal. Colorado, for example, offers elk rifle hunts that are broken into “seasons,” each lasting only about seven days. For this reason, hunters often put down significant miles in a short amount of time to locate their quarry over high altitude rugged terrain. Creek crossings and scree scrambles are commonplace, so a backpack that provides maximum comfort is a necessity.

Rich tells us about his most comfortable go-to hunting packs:

“As the primary Designer for MYSTERY RANCH Hunt, I try to run as many packs and systems as I can to familiarize myself with fit and function. My go-to packs are generally the METCALF for archery season and the PINTLER for rifle season. Both packs feature our Guide Light™ MT frame system, so the fit and load-hauling capacity is exceptional.”

With its heavy-weight carriage capability, the Guide Light™ MT frame, segmented waist belt, and the customizable fit are staples of MYSTERY RANCH packs that a hunter simply cannot find in a cheaper off-brand version. In addition, MYSTERY RANCH hunting packs provide functional expandability via a load sling between the pack and the frame, allowing hunters to put the bulk of the weight closest to the back for optimal comfort.

Quality and Durability: Bomb Proof Packs that Won’t Fail

For a big game hunter, pack failure is not an option. In most states, hunters are legally required to harvest all four quarters of a big game animal along with the backstraps and tenderloins. This equates to hundreds of pounds of meat that must be hauled out of the field.

Rich can trust that his MYSTERY RANCH pack will get the job done even in the most challenging terrain:

“One thing that I do really like about our packs is the fact that we build them durable and comfortable enough to where the pack is never a limiting factor to a hunt or a pack out. Last season I shot a bull elk on top of a mountain, miles away from my truck, and throughout the laborious process of getting hundreds of pounds of meat out of the backcountry (over several trips), never once did I have to be concerned that the pack would fail before my legs did.”

The METCALF and many other MR packs also feature 500D Light Plus fabric that delivers high tensile and tear resistance which means it’ll take a beating and still perform.

Useful Features and Accessories for Serious Hunters

Another unique aspect of a high-end pack is the buyer’s ability to pick from various features unique to them and their hunts. Cheaper off-brand packs don’t offer the number of choices and features to ensure their pack can carry all necessary hunting equipment into the field.

Rich explains:

“MYSTERY RANCH offers several styles of bags that let the user decide which type of access and feature set suits them best. In addition to that, we have several accessories that really help improve the hunting experience, some of which I cannot live without. The most important would be our bino harness. The bino harness is effectively a chest-mounted case for your binoculars that also provides pockets for quick access to other essential items and a mounting platform for equipment like rangefinders and GPS.”

Additional features provided by MYSTERY RANCH packs that are attractive to hunters include removable lids with zippered pockets, side zips for easy access and storage of meat and compression straps for bow, rifle or tripod carry.

Women-Specific Options: Off-Brands Just Can’t Hang

More and more women are participating in hunting, but, unfortunately, very few brands respond to the need for women-specific gear. MYSTERY RANCH is tuned into and meets this growing demand by designing packs, like the METCALF, with gender-specific fit built to work with a woman’s body as she packs out big game. Featuring a five-point waist belt, the METCALF provides exceptional weight distribution and eliminates slippage over the hips, which is common in many off-brands designed only for male hunters. The METCALF also includes women’s specific harnessing and patented Futura Yoke, which adjusts to the torso length taking the weight off of the shoulders and redistributing the majority of the weight to the hips and legs, ensuring a stable and comfortable carry.

MYSTERY RANCH’S attention to detail and commitment to designing packs that fit all users’ needs mean these packs are an investment worth making. Rich says it best:

“There are only a handful of pack brands that hold up to the miles of abuse western hunting deals out, and in my humble opinion, MYSTERY RANCH is the leader in the hunting category when it comes to quality and comfort.”