At Eagle Cap Outdoors we strive to provide unbiased opinions on gear and what truly works in the field for all hunting, hiking and whatever else you might find yourself using these products for. With that being said the team wanted to do a pack review. Packs can be very individualized and different for everyone. There are a lot of other people out there that do pack reviews, but we wanted to tailor this review specifically to the tall guys in the industry. As a tall guy myself, I feel like we get the short end of the stick most times because when companies are manufacturing items to sell, 80% of the clientele is considered average height. Nowadays companies are starting to catch on that there is a market for us taller folks and adjustability in the gear we love so much.
Packs today are almost as important as boots. To me having the right pack is everything, I do not go anywhere without a pack. Whether it’s loaded just for the day or a 10-day backpack trip. As mentioned before I am 6’5” and finding something to properly fit has been a challenge. Mystery Ranch was next up on my list. They have been around for quite some time. I was eager to load up one of their packs and put it to the test.
MYSTERY RANCH – MARSHALL
Volume: 6405 cu in
Dimensions: 31.5”x 14.75”x 14.5”
Frame: Guide Light MT Frame
When I first pulled the pack out of the box I noticed it a bit heavier then most dry packs (dry meaning nothing in them). Once I started looking through everything I began to notice why this was. This pack is 100% ready to go out of the box. You don’t have to buy any extra accessories. There are several pockets throughout the whole pack and plenty of room to keep things organized. Everything felt really well made, such as, the fabric, padding on the waist belt and the straps. This bag separates from the pack frame to haul meat or extra gear, a feature I look for in any good pack. Nothing was very hard to figure out with this pack, all the pockets/clasps/etc. all seemed very self-explanatory. Now lets get this this loaded and see how it handles in the field.
The pack is made from a 500D light plus fabric – very strong against abrasion and tears. Most of my hunting takes place on the Oregon coast and I was very surprised with how well it held up to everything I sent its way (blackberry bushes, thorns, mud/dirt, thick downfall and bushes, etc.). The frame is an upgrade from previous packs, the new Guide Light MT has been redesigned to handle more – carries a heavier load and a bit more rugged. Auto-locking buckles and reinforcing the frame itself from past models. The frame is fully adjustable to get the perfect fit. When ordering you need to make sure you get the proper waist belt size. The waist belt was constructed well – has a lot of support with great lumbar and hip padding. The shoulder straps have plenty of padding as well. The body of this pack is topped with a top shroud with two pockets. This shroud also has another function built into it. On the bottom side of the shroud are built in straps that can be deployed to use as a small pack. This can be used for day hikes or on stocks to bring very minimal amounts of gear saving you from having to carry your whole pack. Once you unclip the top shroud you have access into the main body of the pack. You also have two full-length zippers on both sides to access the main body of pack as well. Once inside you have a hydration pouch to hang a bladder, as well as, a built in hanging bag to store gear you need easy access too. It comes with one large storage bag in main compartment, with more webbing that you could buy extra hanging bags for increased organization. The outside front of the bag has two big vertical pockets big enough for a spotting scope or extra clothes, snacks, etc. Bottom of the bag has a “quick zip” pocket that is meant for storing your sleeping bag. There is also a water bottle pouch on both sides of the pack for easy access to a water bottle or this could be used for storing a tripod/rifle. Mystery Ranch offers a Limited Life time Warranty on all their products. They pride themselves on their customer service and will get you taken care of the best they can.
Likes: I really like the construction of the bag and pockets. When I was loading everything up I was never searching or thinking where was I was going to put things. I found great homes for everything within this pack and had plenty of room for more. It balances very well – meaning it wasn’t pulling on or sagging to one side, making things uncomfortable. Some of this is the pack itself and some is just knowing how to load a pack properly. While in the field and hunting everything was very accessible and I never struggled to get anything out. All the clasps and quick clips are extremely nice to use and make it easy to get the pack tightened down.
The waist belt was another feature I liked, it had enough padding and lumbar support that it rode very comfortably once I had it loaded up. I had to adjust the shoulder straps a bit to fit, but once that was taken care of the pack rode well with everything I had in it. Being able to cinch it down tight made for a great fit.
Loading meat onto the load shelf section of the pack was very easy. Unbuckle a few clips and the pack easily separates from the frame and you’re ready to start loading meat/extra gear. I packed out several animals with it and each pack out I was pleasantly surprised how easy and comfortable it was. The pack rode very well! I mentioned earlier the pack was a bit heavy right out of the box, however, while wearing it in the field I didn’t notice the extra weight
Dislikes: I really don’t have many dislikes with this pack, but the one that I do have has to do with the shoulder straps. When I had it loaded with gear and/or meat I found a weird pressure point at the top of my pectoral muscle before it goes into the armpit. I’m thinking the straps were not long/wide enough for me. They start out thick where they connect to the pack and tapper down thinner at the cinch points. The thinner part of that strap was riding on my upper pec causing some discomfort.
All in all this pack is a great option for any outdoor enthusiast and in my opinion proved to be superior to the previous Stone Glacier pack I reviewed.