Mystery Ranch Gallagator 25 Review
The Mystery Ranch Gallagator 25 has all the features you’d expect in a hiking pack from the brand, but the lightweight materials make for a lackluster carry.
- The materials are lightweight but retain durability and water resistance
- Hardware and external features work well together
- There’s plenty of space for hydration
- The pack can look a bit saggy
- Back panel padding can bunch together
- We wish that there was some organization in the main compartment
1.43 lb (0.6 kg)
18.25 in x 11 in x 9.75 in (46.4 x 27.9 x 24.8 cm)
Nylon Dobby, Recycled Materials, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware
Before we dive too far into this review, we should mention that the pack we have on hand is a pre-production sample, so the packs manufactured for regular sale might have a few slight differences. If there are any minor differences between what you see here and their product page, that might be why! If we notice anything, we’ll update this page.
Upon first glance, it isn’t hard to tell how lightweight this pack is. We love thin, durable materials, but how well will this thing carry and, more importantly, hold your gear? Let’s dive in.
The primary pack material we’re working with is recycled N.70 x 140 dobby, which is incredibly lightweight, durable, and water-resistant. Seriously, this stuff does excellent in those three categories. It doesn’t hold its shape very well, making the pack look a bit droopy when not fully packed. There are compression straps to help with that, but we’ll get to those later.
At the time of writing, Black, Fox, Hummus Dobby, Pacific, and Twig colorways are available. This isn’t a long list of options, but there are sleek and saturated options, so we think there’s something for everyone here.
There’s a Mystery Ranch patch on the top of the pack, which we dig. It has a heritage look and feel without trying to be too vintage.
We’ve got YKK zippers throughout the pack. We think zips from YKK are some of the best in the business, so there isn’t much to report on there; they work. The pack utilizes Mystery Ranch’s tri-zip design, but we’ll get to that when discussing access to the main compartment.
The plastic hardware is from Woojin, which is another best-in-class brand as far as we’re concerned. The hardware holds up, plain and simple.
There are adjustable daisy chains on either side of the pack’s front, which makes stowing gear easy. You can attach pouches, shoes, or other outdoorsy gear here. There are adjustable elastic loops at the top, which are handy for trekking poles, ice picks, and other larger tools you need to bring along for your journey.
Two compression straps wrap around the pack. The lower only goes around the pack’s front, whereas the upper secures the side of the pack, too. This helps corral the extra materials if the bag isn’t fully packed out and can make it smaller.
There are two water bottle pockets crafted from special stretchy mesh. You can fit a big bottle here, like a 32-ounce Nalgene, which is ideal for staying hydrated. You can stow other gear here, too, and you can secure taller things using the upper compression strap, which is handy.
On the bag’s top, there’s a minimalistic handle. It has no padding or aeration, which can be uncomfortable; however, it’s incredibly lightweight, so it doesn’t add much mass to the pack’s overall weight, which we dig. After all, one of the big perks of this pack is how light it is compared to all the things you can stow inside and attach to the outside.
The back panel has two padding strips covering a large portion of the pack’s back side. It’s amply padded and has aeration to keep things cool. However, because the base fabric doesn’t hold its shape very well, the back panel doesn’t always feel like it is sitting how it should be. You can fix this fairly easily, but sometimes it bunches together and can be uncomfortable.
The shoulder straps on this pack are odd; there’s no way around it. However, just because they’re odd doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose.
They’re fairly heavy but not structured; we don’t love that combination. There’s mesh for airflow and a small amount of padding for comfort. There’s a ton going on here feature-wise, which is what adds weight to these shoulder straps. Generally, wearing them is comfortable.
There are load lifters on the top to help you shift around the weight of what you have stowed inside the pack. Further down, there are elastic loops where you can attach gear or wrangle your hydration bladder hose. There are two on either side, so you’ve got some customizable options to work with.
Near the bottom of either strap is a large accessory pocket. These are similar to the water bottle pockets, and you can fit a large bottle here (again, think 32-ounce Nalgene), but that can be awkward in practice. If you only stow one bottle on the shoulder strap, it can feel lopsided. You can use these for snacks, your phone or wallet, or a GPS unit, and they include an elastic topper that you can tighten or loosen. It’s handy for ensuring smaller items don’t get lost in the shuffle.
There are two sternum straps, which is awkward but oddly comfortable. You can easily remove them, so you can use none, one, or two, depending on your preference.
The shoulder straps have strap keepers, too, which we dig, as they keep extra material from blowing about too much while you’re hiking, exploring a new city, or trying to eat a sandwich.
Inside The Pack
There’s just one secondary compartment on the Mystery Ranch Gallagator 25, a simple offering with a key clip and no other organization. It’s a solid place to stow quick-use items, like your phone, wallet, keys, headphones, and maybe a tech pouch if you’re into that sort of thing. The bottom material is mesh, so you can see what’s stored here from the main compartment, which is handy for those who like to have an eye on everything before heading out through the city or on the trail.
To enter the main compartment, you must first go through Mystery Ranch’s trademark tri-zip. If you’re unfamiliar, the lid has zippers on the left and right sides, and a separate zipper runs down the pack’s center, giving you unprecedentedly easy access to the main compartment. Typically, we love this. However, due to the lightweight materials, they aren’t as easy to use as other Mystery Ranch packs we’ve tested. It’s hard to quantify; however, trust us when we say it isn’t as satisfying to rip open as on packs like the Urban Assault 21 or 24 or Coulee 30. Don’t get it twisted; we still like this feature; it just isn’t as effective (or satisfying) as on packs with heavier materials.
Inside the main compartment, there’s hardly any organization. There’s a sleeve for a water bladder (which you can use to stow flat gear if you don’t have one), which is handy. A toggle on top keeps it from sulking onto the bottom of the pack, and there is a pass-through on either side of the compartment’s top.
Apart from that, there’s no other organization. Because of this, we recommend using packing cubes and other organizers to ensure you can find your gear quickly and easily.
Like most bags, how well-suited this pack is for you will depend on what you plan to do with it. Is it your solution to working as a digital nomad for three months straight? Probably not. However, if you’re going on a trip with rolling luggage and want to bring a versatile pack that will work for hiking or adventuring around the city, this is a pretty solid bet. Or, leave it in your trunk for a spontaneous hike after work or while on a road trip.
It’s worth mentioning that if you like the tri-zip on this bag, you’ll love it on other Mystery Ranch bags! Check those out here.
- The materials are incredibly thin, which gives us durability concerns in the long term
- The hardware appears sturdy, which is a good shout
- We’re curious how it holds up when packed out with such thin fabric
- There are no issues with the hardware or external features
- The internal organization, or lack thereof, may be a dealbreaker for some
- The materials have held up but are often annoyingly flimsy