Mystery Ranch Forager Hip Mini Review
The Mystery Ranch Forager Hip Mini offers the durability and function expected in the backcountry inside a tiny, comfortable sling you can take anywhere.
- Durable materials capably handle trails or urban streetscapes
- Ample padding and aeration for a comfortable carry
- Seamlessly transitions between hip-pack and crossbody modes
- Main compartment opening isn’t very large
- No padding or aeration on the strap
- Larger phones too big for secondary back pocket
0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
4.5 in x 8 in x 3.75 in (11.4 x 20.3 x 9.5 cm)
ROBIC®, Nylon, Polyester, Duraflex Hardware, YKK Zippers
Here at Pack Hacker, we take pride in helping travelers like you pack smarter. However, your next trip might head off the beaten path. Brands like Mystery Ranch make gear designed with the trail in mind that also works for urban travel. We’re amped to try the Forager Hip Mini and see how it handles city streets and dusty back roads. Let’s dive in!
We’ve got two materials to work with here—330D Robic ATY (air-textured yarn) fabric and 210D Robic Dynagin nylon. The externals feel durable enough to handle a hike but not so heavy that they’ll weigh you down.
At the time of writing, there are nine colorways to choose from. Some options have a logo patch and zipper that match the primary color, while others offer a nice contrast. The one we’ve got on hand at Pack Hacker HQ is Desert Fox, which provides a nice pop of mint teal to spice things up. Given the number of colorways available, you should be able to find an option that works for you.
The sling utilizes YKK zippers, which should be no surprise as the other Mystery Ranch gear we’ve tested (so far) have, too. This iteration is small, easy to open, and has a slim paracord-like pull.
We’ve got Duraflex hardware here, and there’s nothing to complain about. The buckle feels a bit large for the job at hand; however, it doesn’t get in the way or feel bulky. It works well, as we expect from Duraflex hardware.
There’s not a ton going on here, but that isn’t bad. It’s such a small sling that bogging it down with external components could hinder usage as well as the ability to stow it inside your travel backpack or daypack on a more extended trip.
The strap attaches to the sling using a piece of rugged plastic hardware. It’s semi-hidden, but you can access it reasonably well. It’s quick to secure a carabiner here; then, you have a place to add gear if you feel the need. In testing, it could hold a small fishing net while wandering through the streams and creeks of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We wouldn’t put too much weight here—if the hardware breaks, you won’t be able to wear the sling without modifying it.
The back panel has some padding and good aeration, making it comfortable, even when the sling is packed out. A pocket on the backside can affect how comfortable it is, but, for the most part, we’ve had no issues with anything digging in while wearing it. The aeration keeps things reasonably cool, too.
The padding and aeration on the back panel extend into the hip-huggers. These add comfort while wearing the pack, and we’re used to seeing them on Mystery Ranch hip belts. Although it may be overkill for such a small sling, it ensures the strap doesn’t dig in around the waist as much. It does make it look more like a hiking sling, but it is, so why hide it?
Unlike the back panel or hip huggers, the strap has no padding or aeration. However, at just 75 cubic inches, or 1.229 liters, we don’t miss it. It stays comfortable, even if you load the sling with Lake Superior rocks on a long beach walk.
The straps have elastic keepers to ensure the excess materials don’t go too wild. This simple addition makes the pack look sleeker, and they work effectively. You can wear the Forager as a hip pack or a crossbody sling, so there will be more or less strap depending on how you’ve got it on. The keepers ensure you don’t look like one of those flailing blow-up tubes at a used car lot.
Inside The Hip-Pack
We’ve got just one secondary compartment to work with. It’s a snap pocket on the back side behind the padding and aeration we discussed earlier. It secures with a tiny metal button, and you can fit most standard-sized smartphones inside. Plus-sized phones or those inside larger cases might not work; you may be unable to secure the button. Flat items do well here because whatever you stow becomes part of the back panel.
The main compartment doesn’t open very wide, so fitting more oversized items inside can be challenging. Sometimes, gear you know will fit into the main compartment won’t be able to squeeze through the opening. For example, a GoPro with a small tripod will snap together once inside, but you have to put the pieces inside separately because the opening isn’t large enough. This niche case won’t affect many users, but we try to be thorough!
A zippered mesh compartment is inside for stowing smaller items or things you want to be locked down. The mesh isn’t stretchy, so you can’t hold larger items. It’s an excellent spot to stow essential things, like your phone, wallet, passport, or fishing license.
The rest of the space is yours to work with, but, as mentioned earlier, this thing is barely over a liter in capacity. You can fit the items you usually toss in your pockets, but not much more. Unless you’re rocking cargo pants with a ton of pockets, you might need a bigger sling!
Depending on the size of your everyday gear, you might be able to fit more inside than you’d think. If you have a tiny rain jacket, like the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, you can toss it inside without much issue alongside other gear. However, with a larger travel jacket, you won’t be able to stow much more than the extra layer, your phone and wallet.
The materials used in this pack shine inside and out. On that fishing trip we mentioned earlier, we stowed a pair of forceps and some needle nose pliers inside without a case, and they didn’t do any noticeable damage to the interior lining, even after being thrown on the ground when landing fish and tossed in and out of the trunk for a week straight.
You aren’t going to fit a ton of gear inside here, but your belongings will make it to the destination, and your pockets will be free to hold other goodies. What else could you ask for from a mini hiking sling?
- The materials are lightweight but still feel durable
- Great colorway options—we’re curious how they’ll hold up after an adventure
- The interior is thoughtfully designed, but how much can you fit inside?
- Materials have held up well, even after multiple hikes
- Hardware continues to work as expected
- Mesh on the back panel keeps things cool