Mystery Ranch probably isn’t the first brand you think of when I tell you I’m reviewing a climbing pack. They are best known for their military assault packs, or their tough-as-nails firefighting gear. On the other hand, their gear has always been at home on a mountain trail, with a broad range of dayhiking and backpacking options. Well, dear reader, I am confused about a lot of things, but when I tell you Mystery Ranch offered us the opportunity to test out their newest ‘daily climber,’ I can tell you I was excited.
Now if you’ve made it this far without deleting ThePerfectPack.com from your bookmarks, I can assure you of two things. First, I may not be an excellent climber, but living in New Mexico has given me the opportunity to get to know and climb with a handful of wonderful people who have seen (and probably destroyed) more than their share of bomber gear. Second, that the Mystery Ranch Tower 47 is actually a generalist rather than a specialist when it comes to being able to take on outdoor adventures.
Primary Fabric: 1000D Cordura
Quality and Comfort
If you’re a regular on this site, you’ll know about Mystery Ranch harness systems. If you’re not: they are brilliant, which is good because If I’m going to lug a bunch of gear a few miles down a trail I want to be sore from the routes I climbed, not the load on my back. Look, I may not be a good climber, but at least I can be a comfortable climber.
The Tower utilizes the Futura Alpine yoke, which is a slightly lighter weight and more streamlined system than their normal Futura setup. While it lacks some of the bulk I’m used to in a normal MR pack, I was easily able to haul everything I needed and keep it off my shoulders with the removable hip-belt. Best of all, if I ended up packing in too much beer-weight, the adjustability of the harness meant I could share the load with my wife (who is a real climber). As always, a word of warning those new to Mystery Ranch: take the time to adjust the harness! That being said, the alpine yoke seems to be more forgiving of a not-so-perfect fit than some of the other MR gear I’ve tried.
One of the big problems I often run into with climbing gear is the strength:weight ratio. Climbing bags seem to see more than their share of sharp rocks, while at the same time being crammed full of heavy, bulky gear. At about 2kg the Tower is not ultralight by any means, but doesn’t add too much to my overall base weight. At the same time, the 1000D Cordura means it has no problem holding it’s own against the skin-macerating Albuquerque granite. Luckily, the human-interfacing side of the bag is covered by the yoke, so I didn’t have the age-old problem of your bulletproof bag eating through my delicate (and expensive) merino wool base layer.
The setup in a technical backpack is always one of the most difficult things to get right. Every user has a different “ideal” gear list and so making an organizational system that is specific enough for the task but general enough to adapt across different users’ needs is something that many pack makers struggle with.
When it comes down to it, this bag is really meant to bring gear to the crag and rest at basecamp, and that’s what it excels at. Thoughtfully, the designers have given users have ability to quickly grab odd things they might need on the walk in, by adding a few quick-access pockets as well as a stash area in the non-removeable “brain” of the pack.
Obviously, any good climbing pack needs lots of lashing points and MR doesn’t disappoint by trading in their usual MOLLE and PALS webbing for compression straps, daisy chains, and attachment points galore.
- Stays true to the MR standard of high comfort, high quality
- “Super Clamshell” design makes everything easily available at the crag
- High amount of customization makes it a great choice for any gear-heavy outdoor activity or travel
- Would love integrated hip-belt pockets and maybe a rope-mat
- Some of the deeper compartments are very hard to access on the fly
- Random buckles everywhere makes the pack seem chossy
Overall, Mystery Ranch’s foray into the wild world of crag-bags is a raging success. While no pack is going to tick every box for every climber, the Tower 47’s strengths lay in it’s versatility and durability. At $275 it’s far from a bargain-bin find, but if you’re looking for a bag that can handle weekends on the rocks, weeknights in the gym, and a variety of experiences in between, the Tower is a “treat-yo-self” candidate that will long outlast your so-called “climbing phase.”
Disclaimer: The Tower 47 was provided by Mystery Ranch for use in this review. The content of the review was not shared with Mystery Ranch prior to publication. Our reviews are impartial and never altered to keep a brand happy.