Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 Review
The Coulee 30 combines everything we expect from Mystery Ranch into a capable hiking pack, though the lack of organization may deter some travelers.
- Lightweight and durable materials
- Several ways to add gear to the exterior
- Comfortable and adjustable harness system
- No dedicated laptop storage
- Harness system overkill for short trips
- Not much internal organization
2.7 lb (1.2 kg)
22.5 in x 10.5 in x 9.5 in (57.2 x 26.7 x 24.1 cm)
Recycled Nylon, DWR Coating, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware
From the get-go, the Coulee 30 has all the usual extras we’d expect from a Mystery Ranch backpack. The harness looks amply padded and adjustable, it has Mystery Ranch’s signature 3-ZIP design, and the look is sleek. However, at just 30 liters and without much organization, we’re curious how well the Coulee will function while traveling. Let’s dive in!
The primary pack material is 100% recycled nylon 210D Robic dobby, a lightweight, malleable, and durable fabric. In addition to lasting through rugged adventures, it’s pretty water-resistant. Whether in the city or on the trail, this pack will hold up against the elements. The bottom of the bag has a double layer of fabric to withstand more wear and tear.
The pack utilizes YKK zippers with paracord-like pulls. They’re easy to grab hold of, open, and close. At the end of every zipper track, little tabs help you get a good grip on the pack, which is helpful, especially if you struggle with zippers. The pulls blend in with the primary pack material but are easy to locate when needed.
We’ve got Duraflex buckles on the compression straps, sternum strap, and hip belt. They’re snappy and stay secure while in use. They feel adequately sized for the job, which is a bonus. Nobody likes a buckle that’s way too large or small.
There are a few elastic loops on the pack, and the hard plastic adjusters are from Woojin. They’re easy to slide, don’t loosen while in use, and don’t get stuck when adjusting them. Again, Mystery Ranch has done well to ensure the hardware is as durable and reliable as the primary pack material.
On either side, there are water bottle pockets. These things are huge—you’ll have no problem fitting a 32-ounce Nalgene (or larger) inside here. This gives the Coulee a leg up compared to other daypacks, especially if you like to do outdoor activities.
Two compression straps on either side of the pack work in tandem with the water bottle pockets to store taller gear. You can quickly secure a travel tripod or other large item using the pocket with the compression straps. Plus, the straps are attached using hook and loop fastener strap keepers, so there isn’t any extra material flying about in the wind as you set out for a hike, cross the city, or try to stow this thing under the airplane seat as your travel backpack.
There are attachment loops on the front of the pack to secure gear for the long haul. The top two are elastic, and the bottom two feel like nylon. You can attach trekking poles, ice picks, or even a fishing rod and reel here for hikes to a lake or stream. Or, hook a carabiner on and hang a pouch or other gear.
The back panel is adjustable so that you can set the perfect fit. There’s a hook and loop fastener behind the upper portion of the rear panel; you can undo it and shift it up or down to create a fit that works for your body type. It isn’t very easy to adjust, so it won’t move around once it’s in place.
The back panel is firm and well-padded. It also has aeration to keep things cool, so you won’t have too much back sweat on a hike, even on a warmer day.
The shoulder straps have a curvature to form to your body, but they can feel a bit large on smaller frames. Load lifters at the top help distribute the weight for heavy loads and longer journeys.
The sternum strap is on a rail broken up into smaller pieces. An elastic band on either shoulder strap can grasp a water bladder hose or be used to attach a pair of sunglasses if the clouds roll in.
There aren’t any strap keepers on the shoulders or sternum straps, which is a bummer. If you like to keep things tight on your body, know that some extra material will be floating around.
The hip belt has a load of padding and is more malleable than the back panel. There’s aeration, too, so things don’t get too hot. If hip belts aren’t your thing, it’s easy to remove. Unhook gatekeeper clips on either side and a hook-and-loop fastener underneath the center to remove it—you can finish the whole process in only a few seconds.
If you keep the hip belt on, a pocket on either side works great for snacks and other quick-use gear. It’s too small for most modern phones, but a snack bar fits perfectly.
It’s safe to say that a lot is going on with this harness system. Because of that, wearing a sling with this pack is hard. Smaller slings will work okay, but anything significant will feel like too much.
Inside The Pack
There are two front pockets on the left and right sides of the pack. They’re like water bottle pockets but on the front of the pack. There’s elastic on the side so you can shove more oversized items inside, and the corner attaches to the compression straps to cinch down the pocket around smaller objects. The pockets are suitable for shoes (not boots), a rain jacket, or similar-sized gear.
You access the main compartment through the trademark Mystery Ranch 3-ZIP design: two zippers on the top meet in the center, and one runs from the top to the bottom of the pack, creating a lid and two flaps.
On the lid, there’s a large zippered pocket accessible from the exterior. The liner material here is mesh, which is a bit odd. It’s breathable but lets water through, so if you stowed something wet, it would leak into the main compartment.
Because of the 3-ZIP design, it’s easy to load and unload things from the main compartment. You can access all corners of the pack without upsetting your gear too much, which is helpful for packing.
On the interior, there isn’t much organization. A liner pocket on the back wall works to stow a water bladder. A toggle at the top holds the bladder up, and there’s a pass-through to feed the hose through. From there, you can attach it to either shoulder strap for quick hydration on the go.
On the top of the back panel inside the main compartment, two small orange tabs look like construction workers’ vests. You can attach one of Mystery Ranch’s small Zoid bags here using gatekeeper hooks. The placement keeps the pouch from falling too deep inside the compartment and makes it easily accessible; open the lid, and you’re ready to rock.
The rest of the main compartment is free real estate—there’s no organization. Because of this, packing cubes and other organizers are a must. Without them, keeping your gear segmented and easy to find is hard.
Overall, this pack is incredibly comfortable and easy to load. However, because it lacks internal organization, it may not work for everyone as a travel pack. That said, It excels for weekend trips, day hikes, and hybrid trips that you know will be unpredictable.
- The Robic Nylon feels durable and looks sleek—even for a hiking-styled pack
- There are easy adjustments on the back panel, which looks comfortable for longer trips
- Dual water bottle pockets are helpful for hydration—and maybe extra gear
- Materials are durable and lightweight
- Zippers are easy to open and close thanks to pulls and tabs
- Not much internal organization to speak of, so cubes and pouches are necessary