- Buyer's Guide
Best Specialist Results – The Sixth Annual Carry Awards
Mystery Ranch have one of the most respected reputations in the industry when it comes to functional, rugged gear that thrives outdoors. So when they put their minds towards a ski-mountaineering pack, the magic happened.
You’ll find all of Mystery Ranch’s trademarks here. A super-comfy design over extended carry periods, courtesy of the adjustable Futura Yoke and Redirect waist belt system. A burly build that’s rugged in all the right places (we’re looking at you here, sharp ski edges), yet thoughtfully integrates lighter materials to keep the load down and allow greater pack flexibility on the go. Quick access to avy tools, and dual entry with top-loading and back panel access to keep snow at bay and get easily to gear when skis are attached. Speaking of skis, the Patrol offers A-frame and diagonal ski carry (and a “Snowboard Attach” add-on) and comes in 35L and 45L sizes for day-long backcountry trips or hunkering down overnight.
Supreme organization, access and carry comfort are expertly brought together in a pack that lets you focus on the adventure at hand. The Patrol is tough as nails, hard-charging, and will never let you down.
And for that, we applaud you, Mystery Ranch.
These are the pieces that just missed out, and in most cases, by the smallest of margins. To them, we award a High Commendation. The below were of outstanding quality, displaying fine craftsmanship and design flair. With honor, we bow our heads in the utmost respect and kudos. If this were a dais, they’d be biting their teeth into silver medals, while their flags were hoisted into the horizon – a feat not to be overlooked. And we’re sure they’ll be back, to take it one notch higher, next year.
Pack Animal are the go-to brand for vintage motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. Not only do they meticulously craft heritage-inspired pieces from 18oz waxed twill and vegetable-tanned leather, but they design in modern smarts too, like their Saddlebag’s vinyl waterproof lining, there to keep your gear bone-dry when the rains strafe your bike and the blacktop. And what’s more? The Saddlebag offers adaptability for on and off-bike carry too. The optional mounting kit lets you secure it to a motorcycle when it’s time to hit the road. But once you’ve reached your destination, slip on the optional shoulder strap and carry it as your daily. No need to carry separate bags, and no awkward transitions from riding mode to work or EDC-ready. And that’s definitely something to get revved up about.
Fine work, Pack Animal!
Arc’teryx designed the Alpha SK 32 Pack with a simple aim in mind: create a backcountry pack for minimalist loads. But doing ‘simple’ well is tough. Of course, this is Arc’teryx here, and their laser focus on the design task at hand is evident throughout this pack. Clean lines and minimal snagging points? Check. Weatherproof durability for long days hitting the slopes? You bet. Unhindered access on the go? Sure thing, with top and side entry points keeping gear at the ready. Just enough organization for the essentials, while maintaining the clean feel? You can tick that box too. Unnecessary extras that will add weight, clutter the design and don’t fit in with a minimalist packing approach? Nope. This pack has been designed for a very specific user. Someone who wants to travel light with minimal loads, appreciates sleek durability, and doesn’t require lots of pockets or nice-to-have but ultimately unnecessary features. And boy have Arc’teryx nailed that design brief. Well done!