Mystery Ranch has been making high-end backpacks for military, hunters, fireman and serious backpackers for years. The new Patrol Series is designed to take advantage of many of the more advanced features found in other lines, and apply them to snow sports. This is not your average ski or snowboard backpack! I used the Mystery Ranch Patrol 35 for 2 months of backcountry splitboarding. Read on to see if the Patrol is right for you.
Mystery Ranch Patrol 35 Features that Other Bags Don’t Have
The Patrol backpacks have several top-notch features that are not found in other ski backpacks. For one, they are incredibly adjustable. Meaning you will really want to spend some time dialing in the fit for your body. It is not as easy as a few straps to adjust. You will need to take some time to adjust the back panel and all the straps to fit you. Trust me, you want to dial this in before hitting the skin track! If you don’t, it can cause you some frustration. I did not spend enough time dialing it in for the first day of use and it was uncomfortable. After that tour, I went over to Engearment Dave’s home and spent some time dialing the fit in. Dave has years of experience fitting backpacks and specific experience with Mystery Ranch and their unique suspension system. Once adjusted, the difference was night and day.
Besides the ultimate in adjustability, the suspension system allows you to carry much more weight than most ski backpacks. I was able to load the backpack up with extra water and kit without feeling it on my body. Its something that has to be felt to understand. Mystery Ranch claims that the fiberglass frame stay allows you to carry over 50lbs. That is impressive! I did not get close to that, but it did carry weight better than other packs.
The Patrol backpacks also feature a “Rip-Zip” back panel that allows you to quickly access the inside of the backpack via the back panel. Even if skis are attached. This is a neat feature that I found myself using in times of rescue practice and in times of hunger. You know, when you need to get to that bagel and salmon and its deeper in the pack than you thought. In all seriousness though, the Rip-Zip feature is the fastest I have ever seen. Once you have the 2 should straps unclipped, it is just a second of pulling the red handle and the entire contents of the backpack are exposed. Great for getting to a puffy, bivy or that lunch your stomach is crying for.
Even more features
Mystery Ranch really thought about the organization with the Patrol packs. There are two legitimate hip pockets, 2 lid pockets (one with fleece-like lining for optics) and snow safety pocket. The snow safety pocket fit my shovel, probe, snow saw, first aid kit and extra straps with ease. It helps that the zippers are brightly colored as well. Features like that give an extra bit of help in a time of need. There is a slot for a water reservoir, though I did not see a port for the tube. So I just put it out the top part were the zipper dead ends. On the other side, I put the cable for the communications (BCA link radio). This set up seemed to work just fine. The zippers were the smoothest I have seen in a snow backpack. There is even a kangaroo-like pouch on the outside. This was helpful for skins, jacket or other assorted items.
How Does the Patrol 35 Function?
After the first day of use, even with the suspension system not properly adjusted due to my error, the Patrol performed excellently. The beefy suspension proved versatile for different situations. From quick laps too long days, the Patrol delivered. I found the pockets very helpful for organizing gear. The full-sized hip belt pockets came in handy for a knife, sunscreen, snack, optics, camera, and tools. There is no specific helmet carry sleeve on the outside, but I was able to fit my helmet inside the backpack. Also worth noting is that the Patrol 35 does not carry a snowboard in snowboard mode. It carries a splitboard or skis in A-frame or diagonal well. You can purchase the snowboard carry straps separately for $28. I did not get to test that feature out, but I imagine it would be worth having for us splitboarders.
Mystery Ranch Patrol 35 Review
The Patrol is an extremely well-built backpack featuring a lot of good technology from some of Mystery Ranch’s other backpacks. It performs well for backcountry ski or splitboard use. If you are snowboarder that uses snowshoes, you will want to purchase the snowboard carry attachment. The 330D and 500 D PU coated Cordura fabric proved durable after a few months of use and abuse. Make sure to spend some extra time dialing in the fit for your body. This will make or break your experience with the backpack. I usually go with a 40-liter backpack, but the Patrol 35 seemed to swallow up all my gear with ease. The only thing I would add to make this back perfect would be dedicated hydration and comes sleeves on the shoulders. Not necessary, but it seems like a logical step for them as they have already engineered the heck out of this line of backpacks.