Mystery Ranch | The Apex of Packs


His name has been mentioned on this site before, but it bears repeating: Dana Gleason. He founded Kletterwerks in the 70s, then created (and eventually sold) the infamous backpack behemoth Dana Design. Since 2000 he’s been designing and hand-building backpacks in Bozeman, Montana under the name Mystery Ranch. They are the best packs he’s ever made and arguably some of the best packs available for purchase. Decades of research and experience go into each model and they are all absolute workhorses. Every Mystery Ranch pack is designed specifically for the unique tasks required of soldiers, firefighters, rescue professionals, hunters and mountain climbers.

This winter I bought a Mystery Ranch ASAP daypack for steelhead fishing in the Northwest. I stared into my closet full of canvas totes, weekend duffels and clever work briefcases and realized I had nothing that was suitable for hiking and bushwhacking into coastal steelhead streams with enough room for a day’s worth of extra layers, a lunch, a first aid kit, fly boxes and other fishing tackle. After a bit of research I landed at Mystery Ranch. What sold me on the ASAP was not only the waterproof 3-Zip design, but also the internal pocket configuration that takes the guess work out of accessing gear when it’s open. It has a built-in large hydration port, a grid of PAL webbing for lashing on an additional rod case and comes in 3 standard sizes and 4 colors options – multicam, black, coyote and foliage.

I’ve taken it out fishing once already and it’ll be put to work again this weekend. My initial impressions are in line with what I already knew about a Dana Gleason built pack: it is rugged, ingeniously thought out, and the fit and finish is meticulous. And while we all love to pack a nice weekend bag for a couple of days in the city, a Mystery Ranch bag makes packing for a weekend trip to the woods equally exciting. – AJ




Comments on “Mystery Ranch | The Apex of Packs

    Pappas on January 9, 2014 2:07 PM:

    This over a Goruck GR1?

    Chris on January 10, 2014 7:43 PM:

    Here’s the think I don’t really understand about these $250+ daypacks. What are you paying for? I mean, you don’t need a lot of support in there, and you’re not going to be needing to access something deep in the bag, thus negating the deep zipper. A jansport will do, perhaps something waterproof.

    I’ve got several Mystery Ranch rucks and they’re AWESOME. But they’re also HUGE bags with frames and pads that we use for patrolling. These bags go the distance. They’re awesome, I have no complaints about them. They’re worth the price. But a MysteryRanch daypack? Tacticool at best.

    texica on January 11, 2014 1:17 PM:

    is that the deschutes? did you catch a steelhead? some anglers fish all their lives to catch one but never do.

    RKW on January 11, 2014 10:57 PM:

    Um…..those of us who have been flyfishing for many years, understand the less you carry on the stream the better. A light vest, or a small chest pack is plenty. UNLESS you are packing in to the back country, and then its to carry the waders, and leave stuff at stream side. On the other hand, if you need a pack, these look great (but not in the stream). Carry a pack on the Madison like that, and wade with it, you might get laughed at and have rocks thrown at you from afar (or have dogs bark at you in disgust).

    HeadOhio on January 12, 2014 4:52 PM:

    What streams did you grow up fishing on in NE Ohio?

    Knock O-h-I-o all u want some great fishing in the state……

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