In Western big game hunting, especially for hunters who trek great distances in the mountains day in and day out, a good pack might very well be the most important gear item. After all, your back is what carries all of your other gear, and then when it comes to the hard task of packing out, you need to reply on a good strong back that will be balanced, comfortable, and ease the burden of the load.
Mystery Ranch has been winning over so many big game hunters that it’s now common to hear a hunter rave about his or her Mystery Ranch pack in the same way someone else might talk about keto or CrossFit. At Rack Camp, we have tried just about every pack out there, and we have to say that after spending time with the Mystery Ranch Metcalf, the hype is real.
Any time I showed up to elk or deer hunt with a friend, he consistently commented with frustration about my pack choice. “What’s that?! That’s not a Mystery Ranch.” This particular friend has been beating the heck out of his pack for literally as long as that no longer produced model was made, and he swears nothing comes close. And now, we have to say, the Mystery Ranch Metcalf is about as good as it gets.
Built for the Field
Out of the box, this pack feels (not literally) tough as nails. I’ve torn a lot of fabric in the field, and I could tell right away that the 500D Light Plus fabric was going to hold up against the elements and against thick brush, day-in and day-out abuse, and more.
Ten miles of hiking in the high country is a common day for many hunters. Then add in the elements, and comfort is critical for stamina and to avoid aches and pains that might slow you down. The Metcalf is built on Mystery Ranch’s Guide Light MT Frame, and when carrying a packed pack, it feels like the load is relatively easy to bear. It’s balanced, the padded straps cut down on soreness and shoulder fatigue, and it’s clear that this bag is build for the long haul.
It’s hard to imagine a hunter wanting more straps from this pack. You can strap on a bow, bear spray, devices (such as a Garmin or compass) and plenty more. Sections or compartments for water bladders or bottles make it easy to pack your water, and a side zip makes it easy to find things. (Love this feature.) And finally, there’s a removable zippered upper lid for more storage of items you might want separated from everything else.
As far as the other key details, the pack comes in three colors: Coyote (which is like a tan), Foliage (which is like and olive, and Optifade Subalpine camo. The pack costs $499 unless you get the camo for $525, and it comes in small, medium, large, and XL. The pack weights 5.7 pounds and has a volume of 4,335 cubic-inches.
Disclosure: Mystery Ranch is in a professional relationship with Rack Camp. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.