I have owned (and used) nothing but Mystery Ranch bags for almost 7 years now. To my wife’s dismay, I own 7 packs/bags and numerous “add-ons” like their Flip Top Box. Yup, I love quality gear and that’s what Mystery Ranch makes. Not to mention, they make a pack for every adventure and every need. What’s even better is that you can now get one, or seven, of their packs from us here at Campman.
I was drawn to Mystery Ranch by an Iraq War Veteran years ago when I was running a non-profit in Bozeman Montana called Warriors and Quiet Waters or WQW. Our program was the nation’s first to use fly-fishing as a recreational therapy for wounded vets and we had some amazing individuals come through our program.
Even though I had grown up in Montana and had lived in Bozeman for 10 years, I had only heard of Mystery Ranch a handful of times and I knew them more as a piece of equipment that my wild land firefighter buddy used and always said he loved. I personally didn’t know they made “standard” packs and I didn’t think to much about them. Then I picked up a wounded Navy Seal at the airport one summer day for our program and all that changed.
Not ten minutes after picking he and five other wounded warriors up at the airport, he asked if this was “the Bozeman where Mystery Ranch was located?”. I could tell that his question was about much more than just a desire to get a new backpack. There was a sense of pride in his voice and as he talked more about the company, I began to understand why that pride was there. I found myself learning about what goes into each Mystery Ranch pack and even more so, the company.
Mystery Ranch has made packs for our military and special forces for a long time and I quickly learned that these “Made in the USA” packs mean more than a bag to carry your gear around. They sometimes mean the difference between life and death for our servicemen and women.
Now don’t get me wrong, they’re not bulletproof nor do they themselves fire rounds at the enemy. But they do carry the all-important gear of the US Military including medical gear for those who serve as combat doctors and more. They are the reliable piece of gear that so many depend on throughout their deployment.
After hearing numerous stories that week, I made time to take a couple of the guys into Mystery Ranch on our way home from the river one day.
I watched three of America’s finest individuals walk into one of America’s finest companies. They all shared an equal sense of admiration and pride with one another. After we all bought a pack, we (I included) walked out of there with our chests puffed out, heads held high and our new packs on our backs. I knew it was more than a pack to the warriors but this one was was more than just a new backpack for me as well. It was a new found symbol of Montana and National pride that I didn’t know was there.
The following week, I spoke with the WQW founder, president and amazing Veteran himself, about approaching Mystery Ranch to see if they would help our local non-profit while continuing to help our nation’s vets.
I walked into a presentation ready to “sell” the importance of Warriors and Quiet Waters and the vets we helped just like I had with other companies many times over. What I found out quickly was that unlike the other sales pitches, the one I had prepared for this day was not needed. In fact, our “ask” as a small non-profit actually became their “ask” as a proud and successful outdoor company. They were all in and couldn’t wait to help us help others.
After the meeting, I walked out with my second pack. I was so proud to purchase yet another pack and I went home knowing that our vets would be in for a great surprise when the next group arrived in the Treasure State.
Most of the vets that come for our program have never fly-fished before and many haven’t fished at all. That being said, much of the gear is foreign to them. They get excited about the new rod and the waders; especially those who have prosthetics or amputations and find out that we have the waders tailored specifically for them or special reels to allow them to fish with one arm. Those special pieces of gear help ease the worries and questions that so many have when entrusting us to take care of them for a week.
As much as all the new gear helped, it was one particular piece of gear, and more so a brand, that eased them the most; Mystery Ranch packs and duffle bags. They would see that “spinner” logo and immediately get excited. It was like watching a group of kids in a candy store! A brand that they knew and trusted was once again there for them. Forget the awesome waders, boots, rod and reels… they got new packs! It makes me smile just thinking about it as I type.
You see they didn’t just get new packs to throw all the other gear in, they got something they could trust as much as those who fought beside them. They got something that many of them hadn’t seen since they were airlifted out of the combat zone. They got a trusted friend back.
Mystery Ranch is not just a company dedicated to making packs we all want as outdoor enthusiasts; they are a company dedicated to making the very best packs for those who NEED them.
From special forces and paramedics, to hotshots, engine crews and more, ystery Ranch packs are used and trusted around the world by people who, let’s face it, do much more important and dangerous things than many of us do. But just because we may not be fighting a raging wildfire or headed into a combat zone doesn’t mean we can’t have the same quality gear that our warriors use every day.
Something I think we can all hopefully agree on is that we should support our troops whether we agree with the conflicts our country is in or not. It's not our troops who make the decisions to engage but it is our troops who are sent to engage. They deserve the support of all of us and it's great to know companies like Mystery Ranch are out there and I am proud to own their packs.
It turns out that I bought my first Mystery Ranch pack because I found a sense of pride in supporting a company that did (and does) so much for our service members. Though that reason still exists, it’s the quality, reliability and trust I have in their products that keeps me coming back. … Even if I don’t always need another piece of gear ;)
MY FAVORITE PACKS and PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS:
Day Tripping/Hiking: Mystery Ranch Scree