There’s no mystery about why you need this travel bag

Quick, when you think of someone who has to be super efficient at packing, who comes to mind? That is, someone who needs to pack all the essentials, needs just the right place for every bit of gear, and who doesn’t have time to tarry. Who comes to mind?

Yup, the military.

So it stands to reason that when they go shopping for luggage, they look for a pack maker that excels at making durable, dependable and smart packs. A pack maker, say, like Mystery Ranch.

Fitting, too, considering Mystery Ranch’s relationship with the military. That relationship may only go back to 2004, but the company’s reputation for packs that work dates back to the late 1970s, when owners Dana Gleason and Renee Sippel-Baker started working together at Gleason’s first company, Kletterworks, which built packs and specialized carry systems for cameras and other electronic gear with Mojo/Quest Systems. In 1985, the Gleason and Sippel-Baker founded Dana Design, building an internal frame pack that quickly became the go-to pack for folks carrying heavier loads. A decade later, the pair sold Dana Design to K2 Corp.

In the Navy

Retirement didn’t last long. In 2000, they started Mystery Ranch with the goal of further advancing the technology of load-bearing packs. When they were approached by the Navy SEALs in 2004 to design custom packs, their business plan shifted and they soon found themselves designing specialized packs for other arms of the military, and for forest firefighters, mountaineers and hunters. Eventually, the work done in those fields lead them into designing tough, smart packs for the wholesale market.

“They employee old-style craftsmanship to create packs that focus on function and durability,” says Chad Pickens, manager of our Chapel Hill shop. Chad’s a longtime fan of Dana Gleason, who speaks wistfully of a Dana pack he bought in the 1980s that he only recently parted with. “It was a little heavy, but it was a great pack … .”

Pack like a SEAL

Today, that Mystery Ranch commitment to durable function and design transcends daypacks and backpacks, and can be found in travel gear such as the Mission Rover travel backpack. Worried about cramming your pack into a tight overhead or having it tossed willy-nilly into the maw of a baggage compartment? Don’t be: the bag’s main construction is 5000 Cordura® nylon that’s rip and tear resistant (remember, the Navy SEALS use this stuff). They also have a 200D nylon liner to keep the inside protected. Eager to get the most use out of its 43 liters? How many times have you laid into a piece of luggage with all your weight and might, pulled the zipper and said a little prayer that it would hold? Your prayers are answered with this pack’s ultra stout YKK zippers.

A smaller outside pocket holds a passport, wallet or anything else you might need fast access to, while a larger outside pocket includes a padded sleeve for your laptop. A zippered pouch on the pack’s bottom is ideal for shoes, dirty clothes or anything else you prefer separated from the main compartment.

See what you won’t forget

That cavernous main compartment is accessed via a three-quarters zip that filets the pack into two equal main compartments, each with a zippered mesh compartment for small toiletries, electronics and other small stuff, giving immediate visual assurance that you didn’t leave behind a phone charger or toothbrush.

And you can carry the pack in one of three ways: with a handle, with an over-shoulder carry strap or with backpack straps (the latter two can be tucked into the bag when not in use).

It comes in cool sounding colors, too: Coyote (or tan), Deep Earth (what Crayola might call forest green) and Black (black). 

Form and function engage in a death-match battle in the Mission Rover travel bag. It’s a battle in which there can only be one winner.


Read more about the history of Dana Gleason, Renee Sippel-Baker and Mystery Ranch on their website.