Expert Review: Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey Backpack

This review is my honest opinion of the pack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.

Close up of the Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey pack.

All photos courtesy of Allison K.

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the pack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.

My take

The Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey is my go-to pack for a day of hiking, biking, or just a casual stroll around town. An 8L bag with a sleek design, it also has a large capacity and numerous pockets. In addition, the bag is supremely comfortable to wear on one’s hips or slung across a shoulder.

A woman unzipping a Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey pack.

About the gear

  • Model: 2022 Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Size: One size
  • Pack capacity: 8L

About me

  • Height: 5’5”
  • Weight: 145 lbs
  • Experience: 11 years of hiking/backpacking

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: April 2022
  • Length of trips: 20 single day uses
  • Total pack weight: 15 lbs with water
  • Used for: Day hiking, biking
  • Where I’ve used it: Fruita, Colorado and NW Montana trails
  • Terrain: Hiking trails, high alpine, desert
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer

How it performs

Back Breathability

What I was looking for

I was looking for a smaller, sleeker pack that allowed my back to breathe and be free while carrying all I needed around my waist. I also wanted more than one pocket and the ability to put a hydration bladder in it.

Why I chose this gear

The Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey was the perfect blend of style, comfort, affordability, and features that I was looking for. I loved all the pockets, the price, the color choices, and the overall design. It would suit all my hiking, biking, and other use needs. I did consider buying other hip packs (REI Trail 2 Waist Pack and Topo Designs Mountain Hip Pack), but this had more capacity than the others, and I liked the general design better.

The Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey pack.

What I love about it

  • Durability: This hip pack is extremely durable in my experience (made of very tough Cordura). I’ve had it brush up against trees, branches, and rocks during use, and it has not torn or broken in any way. It still functions perfectly.
  • Weight: This pack is lightweight that I can fill completely, but it does not carry too much weight on my hips to cause any discomfort, making every experience with it so awesome. The Cordura fabric it is constructed of definitely contributes to its perfect durability versus weight ratio.
  • Ease of use: This pack is so easy to adjust and use overall. The zippers and straps are intuitive, and strapping it on myself requires just one buckle clip.
  • Suspension and comfort: This pack sits quite comfortably on my hips, with a padded, vented panel against my lower back to breathe and wick sweat. After using it for many hours over a few day trips, I did not have any discomfort, bruising, etc., and would have no issues wearing it for even longer durations.
  • Adjustability: This pack sits quite comfortably on my hips, and the adjustable straps are easy to use and help fit the pack perfectly around my waist.
  • Capacity: This pack’s capacity is 8L. The size enables me to comfortably carry a 2L water bladder with snacks, a light clothing layer, and my wallet, keys, and phone. It is the perfect size for a day hike or bike.
  • Features: This pack features an adjustable hip belt (for use around my waist or slung over one shoulder) with a ventilated back panel, compression straps, and many pockets with YKK zippers.
  • Organization and pockets: This pack features a few pockets to keep all my essentials well organized. The key clip keeps my keys secure.
  • Hip belt: The comfortable hip belt supports this pack.
  • Pack access: This pack is easily accessible from each zippered pocket.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Weather Resistance: It would be helpful to have the outside material made of a waterproof fabric in case I get caught in a storm, or a small rainfly to keep the contents inside dry.
  • Lack of holder: This pack would benefit from an additional water bottle holder on the outside.
A woman on a bike wearing the Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey pack.

Favorite moment with this gear

My partner got me this pack for my birthday right before a bike trip in the desert with my closest friends. I stored my daily essentials comfortably and rode through brush, rocks, and trees without damaging my pack. After biking, we walked around town, and I used it slung around my shoulder as a purse. It is the perfect accessory I didn’t know I needed until I used it on this amazing trip!

Value for the money vs. other options

This pack is an amazing value for the features it provides. Other packs of similar price (i.e. REI Trail 2 Waist Pack, Topo Designs Mountain Hip Pack) have much less capacity to store essentials. The durability and style also make it a solid deal and a good buy.

Final verdict

The Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey pack has been a game changer for me when it comes to carrying essentials for outdoor activities and walking around town. With its large capacity, the comfort of the adjustable hip straps, and the versatility to carry it as a shoulder sling, it will always hold all I need to make the most of my adventures.

Selling Mystery Ranch on
Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey Pack
From $39.15
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Written By
Camping/Hiking and Snowboard Expert for Curated! Likes to make friends with animals (and humans too). Forever gear head and outdoor junkie. Michigan born and raised, then to the Tetons with many ski bum days at Grand Targhee, currently in Missoula, Montana. 15-ish years in outdoor retail. Snowboard...

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