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Looking for info on Mystery Ranch
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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Looking for info on Mystery Ranch on 01/12/2013 20:19:02 MST Print View

I was noodling around and found Mystery Ranch!

First off, gorgeous website. Possibly the nicest I've seen in the outdoor industry.

Anyone know how these backpacks carry? Especially the Trance XXX. The price is super-steep (I assume because they're made in the US, correct me if I'm wrong) but the old phrase "You get what you pay for" entices me to have another look. Are these packs especially comfortable or long lasting when compared to similarly priced bags from, say, Osprey or Arc'Teryx? Am I comparing apples and oranges?

I'd love an indestructible rucksack that my kids will thru-hike in, if that's what I get for 400 bucks.

Thanks for any and all information!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Looking for info on Mystery Ranch on 01/13/2013 00:43:09 MST Print View

Not the typical pack that the lightweight hikers here would use, so you're not going to find many who have experience. Mystery Ranch is owned by Dana Gleason, who founded Dana Packs before you were born. Dana is a good designer. Some of his Dana brand packs are iconic classics. Mystery Ranch has a good reputation.

IMO (and many folks around the world agree), McHale Alpine Packs are the best carrying, most comfortable, and longest lasting of any brand on the planet. And yes, hikers pass down McHales to their kids.

I can't recall any BPL members who regularly use Mystery Ranch. Quite a few do use McHales.

McHale doesn't have a fancy website. Just great packs.

Renais A
MR Trance on 01/13/2013 05:15:07 MST Print View

I own a MR Trance and have been very impressed with the quality of the sewing, design details, and overall comfort of the pack. I used this for two months on the AT, and did not have any issues with breakdown, or comfort. When I went through Neels Gap, and talked to the people at Mountain Crossings, one of the comments I got was that they never see issues with the MR pack durability or aging; these packs just keep going. The mesh pockets are built to extend out the side and back of pack so that they do not impact what is placed inside; shoulder straps are comfortable, and easy to adjust; pack bag has a wide opening to make loading a breeze. This pack does weigh a little bit more than some other packs, but you do get what you pay for. I have a ULA Catalyst which I considered for the AT as well, but I'm happy I went with the Trance. The Catalyst is a very nice pack, but, in my opinion, does not have the sublime comfort carry of the Trance. The people at MR are very easy to work with, and were quite helpful answering my questions. Dana's reputation for building a comfortable pack is justified in my opinion.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Trance and UL, and McHale Durability question on 01/13/2013 06:34:22 MST Print View

The Trance XXX is only 4lbs, which is less than a lot of non-UL packs. I think with legendary durability, the extra 2lbs could be worth it. McHale packs range around 3lbs, by comparison (from what I can tell on the website- I'm sure there's a spectrum).

I like the trance, but I like the fact that McHales are so customized. I'd want the freedom to choose certain things if I was going to pay 350+ for a pack, and I don't believe Mystery Ranch does that.

How do McHales last so long with the ultralight materials? Is Spectra especially tough?

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Mystery Ranch on 01/13/2013 07:18:13 MST Print View

I have owned a Mystery Ranch BDSB (now the Grizzly, I think) for many years, and before that I had a Dana Design Terraplane (bozeman made, before Dana sold out). These backs carry as well as any I've ever worn, with a marvelous weight distribution system. By today's standards they are very heavy and many (including the Grizzly) much larger than many hikers need. They are also very rugged and will take years of heavy abuse. Quality of the work is exceptional.

MR is based here in Bozeman and does a very substantial military and local government (firefighters especially) business. Its line of ski packs is quite popular locally, and illustrates a good current use. The extra weight is well worth it for added durability.

Full disclosure - I know Dana, and over the years have beta-tested several packs for him.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Trance and UL, and McHale Durability question on 01/13/2013 08:26:51 MST Print View

"How do McHales last so long with the ultralight materials? Is Spectra especially tough?"

Yes, Spectra/Dyneema is especially tough. One of the most durable materials on earth.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Looking for info on Mystery Ranch on 01/13/2013 10:23:44 MST Print View

I have owned both the Trance, Sweet Pea, and Dragon Slayer. I also have used two different Mchales and own one right now.

The MR packs simply carried better.

I would avoid a Mchale. You won't get one with reasonable options for less than $750 to $800 after demoing.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 06/17/2013 10:26:03 MDT.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

McHale on 01/13/2013 11:49:21 MST Print View

Thanks for the info. Very helpful. I won't be buying a new pack until my current one wears out (and I am a fan of it anyways) but I will likely look to a McHale in that case.

Nice pun, too!

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Trance and UL, and McHale Durability question on 01/13/2013 22:25:03 MST Print View

"How do McHales last so long with the ultralight materials? Is Spectra especially tough?"

Yes, it most certainly is.

The McHale's aren't just made with custom features. They're made with custom fitting. Dan will work with you help you figure out what you need, get your measurements right, and build a pack that's basically made to fit your measurements + your gear.

You do pay for that, but even if you don't shell out the extra bux for Dyneema, you'll end up with a pack that will carry loads astonishingly well, and with less weight than most comparable packs.

I suspect that the average weight of McHale's packs is over 3 pounds, but that's because a lot of his packs are quite large. Mine is something like 80L. He's added smaller packs in recent years, but I haven't checked them out too much, because the full Dyneema SuperSARC that I got has been perfect for my needs. It actually makes a good day pack with the Bayonet stays, and the lid converts quite nicely and easily into a summit pack. I've trekked all over the Cascades with mine for 5 years, and other than being dirty it doesn't look much different from when it was new. :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
lDurability? on 01/14/2013 04:48:25 MST Print View

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

McHales are tough! on 01/14/2013 08:24:34 MST Print View

What a story! Wow!

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
McHale Packs on 01/14/2013 08:36:39 MST Print View

I own three McHale packs, and love the way that they fit, and the way that they carry. I have a large torso, and my McHale packs are designed in such a way that they cover a large surface area on my back, thus spreading the load out across my body. Other packs sometimes are not built that way. His suspension is second to none. As David and others said, the fabrics and stitching are stellar. I can take off all of the pouches and straps in order to streamline my packs in order to simplify them, or I can leave them on. IMO, they are a bargain. Understand that they are a CUSTOM pack, and Dan spends a lot of time making sure that it fits only YOU.

On my full Spectra model, I lost my footing once on a steep scree field and went sliding down on my butt, and the bottom of my pack was being ground into the scree. Once I was able to stop the descent by grabbing a tree branch. and we were able to get out of that situation, my friend had a large hole in the bottom of his pack, a cordura bottom, and there was no sign of abrasion at all on the bottom of my McHale.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
i've had 3 dana's on 01/14/2013 13:03:09 MST Print View

peter has owned 3 of Dana Glewason's packs, and they were all built nicely, and Dana himself seemed on several occasions a gracious individual.
they did not, none of them, on my body frame, carry more than 55#'s with any degree of abilty for the hip belt not cave and let everythign drop down onto my shoulders.
his design has some great features, like the bottom compartment folds up (carrys better that way too), and the zippered compartments on the back.
but, at over 6 pounds, and unable to carry more than about 50 pounds, what is all the rukus about ?
i am forever indebted to Dana for developing his Wet Rib, of which i have deconstructed and made (and worn out) two of my own creation. (he no longer sells them)
on the other hand ... my McHale pack carries with reasonable comfort, and one must understand what that means is that no one part hurts more than the rest, well over 90 pounds. the hit seems well spread over all of me.
i have toted 1/2 my bdoy mass, and it was not really all that terrible. humping that hard gets HOT though. that's the big issue.
Dan's packs really have no comparable challenger.
the LoadLifter/bypass desing is patented, and quite obviously the correct way to do things. the bayonet system is also years ahead of everybody else.
if i am going north for 2 months, it's already 9k worth of lost wages, whats the cost of the pack if it hurts me all the time ? for what it does, McHale's packs are quite reasonable. and not to forget, it's not the total cost, it's the delta between it and something else that works not as well.