Mystery Ranch Bridger 65: Trail Backpacking Redefined

Rugged, Innovative, Breathable, Versatile, Durable

In my many travels, I've encountered a vast array of backpacks. Each tells a story, each has its purpose. One such standout is the Mystery Ranch Bridger 65. At first glance, this pack may seem like a splurge, especially with its hefty price tag of $375. But, as they say, you often get what you pay for.

Mystery Ranch, renowned for their rugged, external frame expedition packs, has seamlessly transitioned into the realms of everyday carry, travel, and now, trail backpacking. What caught my attention was how they've managed to maintain their signature robustness while venturing into the domain of lightweight packs. This is evident in the Bridger 65, which feels like a harmonious blend of the brand's rugged legacy and their innovative lightweight experiments.

The founder of the company, Dana Gleason, isn't a fan of most ultralight packs. However, the 2024 Radix series, of which the Bridger 65 is a part, has managed to embrace lightweight materials, such as Ultra-PE, while still retaining the capacity to carry traditional loads. This is no mean feat. But it's not all roses. Acquiring the Bridger 65 comes with its set of challenges, namely its learning curve and, of course, the cost.

But what truly sets the Bridger 65 apart? For starters, its harness is unlike any other in the market. This pack boasts a breathable frame, a feature that's bound to be appreciated on those long treks. The hydration yoke is thoughtfully designed, ensuring you remain hydrated without much hassle. Moreover, the lid isn't just any lid; it can be detached and converted into a hip pack. Quite nifty, if you ask me.

Speaking of design, the Bridger 65 doesn't skimp on accessibility. The endurance yoke, inspired by trail running vests, ensures everything you need is within arm's reach. Whether it's water, snacks, or even bear spray, you won't need to rummage through your pack. The stretch-mesh pockets on the shoulders and waist are strategically placed, allowing for quick access. Additionally, the fabric is engineered for breathability, ensuring you remain cool, even during strenuous hikes.

While its weight, a modest 5.5 lb, is impressive, what truly stands out is its volume. At 3845 cubic inches, this pack has ample space for all your essentials and then some. Its dimensions, 29″x14″x15″, further testify to its generous storage capacity.

In conclusion, the Mystery Ranch Bridger 65 might not be for everyone, especially those on a tight budget. But for seasoned hikers and novices alike, who prioritize comfort, durability, and innovative design, it's undoubtedly worth considering. After all, on the trail, as in life, it's the journey that matters, and the right backpack can make all the difference.

Pros:

  1. Robust Design: Built on Mystery Ranch's reputation for creating rugged, external frame packs, the Bridger 65 maintains this legacy.
  2. Lightweight Yet Durable: Despite venturing into the lightweight realm, it successfully retains the ability to carry traditional loads.
  3. Unique Harness: Features one of the market's most distinctive harnesses, ensuring comfort during hikes.
  4. Breathable Frame: The overhauled frame ensures better airflow, providing comfort on prolonged treks.
  5. Versatile Lid: The detachable lid can be converted into a hip pack, offering additional utility.
  6. Accessibility: Inspired by trail running vests, the endurance yoke ensures that essentials like water, snacks, and bear spray are easily accessible.
  7. Optimal Comfort: Breathable shoulder pads and aerated fabrics are designed for maximum comfort.
  8. Generous Storage: With a volume of 3845 cubic inches, it provides ample space for all trekking essentials.
  9. High-quality Materials: Made with high abrasion-resistant fabric and water-resistant zippers, ensuring durability.
  10. Hydration Compatible: Thoughtfully designed hydration yoke allows for easy hydration access during treks.

Cons:

  1. Hefty Price Tag: Priced at $375, it might be out of reach for budget-conscious consumers.
  2. Steep Learning Curve: New users might find it challenging to familiarize themselves with all its features.
  3. Compromises: While it marries the brand's rugged heritage with lightweight experimentation, there are trade-offs, such as the aforementioned learning curve.
  4. Potential Overkill for Casual Users: With its plethora of features, casual hikers might find it excessive for their needs.

$375

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