Our friends in Bozeman have released a slew of new packs lately but none more intriguing to me than the Mystery Ranch Front.
Why? I’ve long obsessed over the 1DAP but it’s lack of availability here in the states coupled with specs that aren’t “big dude” friendly convinced me not to acquire one. With the Front, Mystery Ranch created a pack similar to the ASAP/1DAP, but made it larger. If the published dimensions are to be believed, the new pack is 22″H x 12.5″W x 9″D and 1,159 cu in/19L in volume. I’m skeptical because the ASAP/1DAP was 16″H x 10W x 6″D and 900 cu in/15L in volume. If the new pack is 6″ taller, 2.5″ wider, and 3″ deeper… well… sorry, but that adds up to more than a 259 cubic inch difference in volume.
A friend of mine up in Wisconsin who recently acquired the Front graciously offered to give me a first hand look. I took my old school Sweetpea along to do some comparison pics. The Front wasn’t packed full but it didn’t seem to be 6″ taller than the Sweetpea, which according to Mystery Ranch is 18″. It’s taller but not that much taller.
Here are the straps. My Sweetpea has a large Futura harness installed. The harness on the Front looks to be the Futura Lite, which was used on the 1DAP and is slightly narrower and not as bulky as the Futura (used on the ASAP and 3DAP). I like that because it’s easier to sling the pack over one shoulder and the Futura on a pack the size of the Front is overkill anyway.
Here’s the Front on Ryan, who is 5’8.
As you can see, it’s a decent sized pack on him. I tried it on and it’s an adequately sized small (bordering on mid-size) pack. I’d have no problem carrying the Front.
Mystery Ranch wisely included some interior storage. The top accessory pocket has another zippered mesh pocket inside the lid to separate smaller items.
The main compartment was two more small zippered mesh pockets and an elastic sleeve designed to hold a hydration bladder, but it can also be used to secure a tablet or a small laptop or surface type device. Note that the sleeve is not padded as this was intended to be a hunting or outdoor pack and not designed for device carry. Also… thankfully… the rest of the compartment is slick. They opted not to include the nylon bottle sized pockets that some felt the need to cut out so their gear wouldn’t get hung up by them.
Instead, Mystery Ranch added stretch pockets designed to hold a Nalgene sized water bottle on the outside of the Front. Note that smaller sized bottles aren’t as secure and might fall out if the pack is turned sideways or inverted.
Despite the uncertainties about the Front’s dimensions and volume, I’m sold on it as an option for those who might be looking for something in between the size of the ASAP and 3DAP. The Front retails for $199 and is available in Foliage (pictured), Coyote, Desolve Bare, and Mulitcam. It’s available direct from Mystery Ranch’s website or select retailers.