Expert Review: Mystery Ranch In and Out 22 BackpackPublished on 05/12/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2022.
Hiking in Grand Teton National Park with the Mystery Ranch In and Out 20. All photos courtesy of Sam Stephenson
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2022.
The Mystery Ranch In and Out 22 Backpack is a great option for a backpacker who would like to have the feature of having a day pack that is packable into a larger pack.
About the backpack I own
- Model: 2022 Mystery Ranch In and Out 22 Pack
- Gender: Unisex
- Size: One Size
- Pack capacity: 22 Liters
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 150 lbs
- Experience: Hiking/backpacking for over 13 years
- When I bought it: September 2022
- Length of trips Day trip, daily use
- What I carried:
- Sleeping pad: None
- Sleeping bag: None
- Tent: None
- Other: Jacket, water filter, food, water, fishing gear
- Total pack weight: 10 lbs
- Used for: Day hiking, daily use
- Where I’ve used it: Grand Teton National Park, WY; White Pine Lake Trail, UT
- Terrain: Desert, wet forests, snow, wooded areas
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer, fall, and winter
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a packable day bag to pack it in my larger, backpacking bag for day trips while I am in the backcountry. I also wanted it to be lightweight and have straps on the side to lash gear onto it.
Why I chose this gear
I bought this pack because it fit the criteria I had for what I was looking for. It met all of my needs for my day trips. A simple main compartment, a water bottle pocket, a durable mesh front pocket, and it is packable. Another one I was considering at the time was the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack. This one just didn’t quite fit the bill for me because it wasn’t as durable, it didn’t have the features I wanted, and it wasn’t as comfortable.
What I love about it
- Durability: Mystery Ranch is well-known for how durable their products are and having a long product life. This pack is no exception. I have taken it into some rough desert environments where it scraped against rocks and such and it has taken it like a champ. There is not even a scuff on it. It has YKK zippers which are really smooth. I have had no issues on the durability front.
- Weight: This packable day pack is a little heavier than some of the competition, but I decided I was ok with that because of the features and durability that I get with it. When one considers the fact that it is a 20+ liter bag and all the different features it has, it is actually very lightweight.
- Suspension and comfort: Because this is a packable day pack, it has very minimal shoulder straps and suspension. There is a little bit of cushion on the shoulder straps, but don’t expect to carry a lot of weight comfortably. This is really meant to carry just the essentials of a day hike. When used with a minimal amount of weight, it is very comfortable. I never really over-packed it, and I didn’t have any comfort problems.
- Capacity: The capacity of this pack is 22 liters. I find this to be the perfect size for taking the essentials on a day hike. I typically take food, water, a jacket, first-aid kit, water filter, and sometimes I’ll strap a fishing pole to the side of it. I’ve also used this bag as a carry on for flights, and it has worked great for that purpose too.
- Organization and pockets: Total there are three main pockets and a water bottle pocket on this pack. The main compartment, mesh front pocket, and then another small, zippered pocket on the back. The small, zippered pocket is fine for very small things. I have not been a huge fan of the mesh pocket. It is not that stretchy or large, so I can’t really fit too much in there. I would prefer it if they used a very stretchy mesh with no zipper closure.
- Pack access: This pack has an over-the-top closure system used in conjunction with a drawstring underneath. There is a little tab to easily pull open the drawstring opening. This makes it really easy to access the pack.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Ease of use: I would really have preferred if they designed this with two water bottle pockets. The fact that there is only one not only means I can’t carry as much water, but it also makes the pack lop-sided when loaded with a full water bottle just on one side. I usually combat this issue by putting my heaviest things on the inside on the opposite side of the water bottle pocket.
- Adjustability: There is very minimal adjustability on this pack because it is designed to be a simple, one-size-fits-all pack. There is no hip belt or anything like that. Depending on one’s torso size, it may ride higher or lower on one’s back. I have a 20-inch torso size and it fits me just fine.
- Weather Resistance: This pack is not waterproof but it does fine in very light rain. If it is raining heavily, one will want to invest in a pack liner or a pack cover, as it does not come with one. I’ve set it on snow before and water seeped up through the bottom and got my gear wet.
- Features: This pack has a small hydration sleeve, one water bottle pocket, a back mesh pocket with a zipper closure, and two bungee attachments to attach poles or something similar. I had a pretty big problem with the mesh pocket on the outside of the pack. It is not as useful as I would have hoped. It is not very stretchy, so I can’t fit as much stuff in there as I would like. I would prefer it if they used a very stretchy mesh and got rid of the zipper closure on top.
- Hip belt: This pack does not feature a hip belt.
Favorite moment with this gear
One of my favorite moments with this backpack was when I took a trip to Teton National Park. We did multiple hikes there throughout the entire weekend. I was able to carry all the essentials as well as some extra toys and such for my kid.
Value for the money vs. other options
When it comes to the value for the money, I think this pack is totally worth the purchase, assuming the features it has are what one is looking for. However, its price tag is pretty steep for such a minimalistic pack, but part of that cost is the brand name and durability. A competitor to consider is the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Packable Day Pack for roughly half the cost. This one, however, is not nearly as durable and comfortable and doesn’t have as many features. Like I mentioned before, Mystery Ranch is known for making durable products that last a lifetime. So a hundred dollars is not too bad if one plans on using it for many years to come.
Overall, this is a great backpack for someone who is looking for a simple, packable pack to throw into another larger backpack. If one has no intention to pack it up for traveling, this is not the best pack. What this backpack really unlocks is the option to pack it up in a larger backpack and use it for day hikes from one’s basecamp.