Mystery Ranch is a world renowned brand known for their comfortable, tri-zip packs built for everyone from the military to city dwellers. The brand’s designs also caught the eye of the US Navy SEALs, as they designed custom packs from them back in the early 2000s, leading to the adoption of their 3 Day Assault pack by USSOCOM. Wildland firefighters have also been active customers of Mystery Ranch garnering an entire line purpose built for them. Although Mystery Ranch has officially been around since 2000, the two owners, Dana Gleason and Renee Sippel-Baker, have been working together for decades, making and designing packs as part of Kletterwerks and Dana Design. Not too long ago, Mystery Ranch began introducing a line of everyday carry backpacks that have received critical acclaim. On that note, I was very curious and excited to see what this pack could offer given its lineage.
|Capacity||976 cu. in||16L|
Quality and Comfort
The Street Fighter might be one of the most comfortable packs out there thanks to the adjustable Futura harness that carries the weight. The harness uses a yoke and straps to divide the weight through both traditional padding, contoured straps, and other more rigid plastic bits. The harness is adjustable for height and requires some fitting at home before providing stability and comfort like few packs are able to do. Out of the box, one of the tags shows the user how to properly adjust the Futura harness. Mystery Ranch also provides that same graphic on their website in case any users get a secondary market pack or lose their tag. The straps and the back of the pack have a mesh padding that helps keep your back breathing and reduces the amount of sweat that collects through prolonged carry.
The quality of the backpack is excellent with 500D Cordura and YKK Aquaguard zippers throughout. The 500D cordura keeps the backpack durable but with a lighter weight. The YKK Aquaguard zippers provide a more water resistant barrier between the backpack’s contents and any inclement weather. On the inside the pack uses a nylon material for its pockets and non-Aquarguard zippers. On the outside, there are several thin nylon tabs around the zippers of the main compartment, and the admin pocket — the inside tubular pocket also features these tabs. Even after a long while of heavy use, there’s no fraying on the main body of the bag and the stitching remains like new.
The organization is surprisingly good for such a small bag. The inside of the backpack features two sleeves on the back which thankfully feature a false bottom and are suspended about half an inch to help keep those valuable electronics from slamming down too hard. The first sleeve is taller and slightly wider with some elastic to compress the contents down. While it does compress, it’s easy to fit a full 1” binder, a notebook, and a somewhat full folder while having them be secured towards the rear of the wearer. Larger items like laptops or tablets with cases are easily secured there as well, and it’s also useful for storing a hydration bladder.
On the topic of hydration bladders, there are openings for the hydration tubes on both sides of the pack as well as a loop to hang the bladders. The second sleeve is a shorter sleeve for tablets or smaller notebooks/sketchbooks. Inside there’s also a small, narrow pouch right at the top of the main compartment that’s good for a small hygiene kit, chargers, snacks, hopes and dreams, keys, or other smaller items one may want to have on hand.
On the outside of the packs there are two elastic water bottles holders that fit my 750ml Camelbak Eddy water bottle really well, but can expand out to fit the bigger 1L Nalgenes or other similar water bottles. These water bottle pockets also serve well as stash pockets. I’ve used them for cold weather equipment like a pair of gloves, gaiter, and beanie all in one pocket. For the air travelers, it’s a great way to stash a phone, wallet and other pocket items for quickly passing security checkpoints.
On the face of the pack, there is a rather basic but versatile admin pocket. The pocket layout has a smaller square pocket for 3” x 5” index cards or other similarly sized items, along with several pen/pencil slots that can fit two writing utensils or penlight sized items each. With all the slots full, it’s still possible to add some extra, bulkier items as there’s a bit of room between the organizational slots and the face of the bag. As a student this is particularly helpful as it allowed me to carry a full writing set, chargers, keys, and other goodies; on the my days off it also carries a knife and multitool.
- The Futura harness is incredibly comfortable even under weight
- The bag seems to fit more than it’s advertised 16L without feeling larger
- Carries well whether it’s fully loaded or only holding a few small items
- Travels well – easy to fit under seats and navigate crowds with
- Small main compartment opening can make packing difficult. This could be remedied on future versions by providing a full clamshell zip.
- Nylon tabs fray easily and should maybe be replaced with a slightly heavier material
- Current model excludes a set of bottom loops (in exchange for sides loops) that could previously be used to attach a Stick-It or OV Innovations Cache
The Mystery Ranch Street Fighter is a sleeper hit. It’s a pack that’s rich with features but seemingly not as popular as it should be. Although made more for city use, the layout of the pack makes organization a breeze and makes it adaptable for both city and outdoor use. The Futura harness, generally on more expensive bags, makes the Street Fighter a very comfortable pack for heavy loads, a must for fellow students. The pack also tends to pack more than its advertised 16L volume but can still pack light when not completely full.
I would even argue that the Street Fighter is functionally a better pack than the popular Urban Assault due to the distribution of its organization and how the organization lends itself better to city use. Overall, if you’re looking for a pack that can serve in a multitude of roles for a day’s use, can carry itself comfortably, and provides good organization then this pack might be the pack for you. The Mystery Ranch Street Fighter retails for $149 USD, but can often by found for $100 or less.
Disclaimer: the Street Fighter was purchased privately and used subsequently for this review. The content of the review was not shared with Mystery Ranch prior to publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never edited to keep brands happy.