Mystery Ranch Robo Flip Pack Review
The Mystery Ranch Robo Flip Pack features a simple layout, comfortable carry, and clean looks, spoiled only by a sag-prone top pocket.
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- Roomy main compartment
- Hardware looks premium and adjusts smoothly
- Simple harness system is comfortable
- Top quick-access pocket tends to sag if heavily packed
- Water bottle pocket could be refined
- Lacks strap keepers
Like the Look
Polled on Instagram
1.8 lb (0.8 kg)
21 in x 13 in x 9 in (53.3 x 33 x 22.9 cm)
Nylon, YKK Zippers, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
Laptop Compartment Size
If there are two things we know about Mystery Ranch’s bags, it’s that they’re well-built with high-quality materials and they’re comfortable to wear. Really, these are two key qualities those in the market for a backpack should be looking out for. You want something that will last and not break both your shoulders in the long run.
The Robo Flip Pack ticks both boxes. Its harness system has the dense padding and mesh we’ve seen in the brand’s other bags, and its mix of heavy denier fabrics and nickel hardware is equally praise-worthy—all good things for sure, but what about space? Compartment access? Device protection? Stylishness? While the Robo Flip doesn’t nail everything perfectly, it certainly comes close—let’s see how.
Materials & Aesthetic
We’re not quite sure why Mystery Ranch calls this the Robo Flip Pack. Whichever angle we look at it, there’s nothing robotic about it. Then again, “mystery” is in the brand’s name, so we’ll probably never know the answer. Regardless, it is a clean-looking backpack considering that it has four compression straps and two different fabrics outside—they nailed the balance just right, so kudos to Mystery Ranch there.
Want to guess what catches our attention, though? If you think it’s the nickel hardware, then, by golly, great minds do think alike. They’re metallic, but not the chrome-y, shimmering-in-the-daylight kind of metallic. They’re a bit tamer than that, bouncing off just enough gleam to complement the black colorway’s dark fabric. The best part? They’re easy to adjust, which is the first and foremost duty of a backpack’s hardware.
We like to rock the black-on-black aesthetic, but we get that it’s not for everyone. If you’re one of those who are looking for colorways that stand out a bit more, you have two choices. There’s Lemon and Gravel (yellow on gray) and Forest and Galaxy (green on blue, with red accents). Odd naming combinations aside, we still think the black colorway looks the most cohesive.
What’s all the style in the world worth if the bag itself falls apart the moment you carry it, right? Fortunately, the Robo Flip is as resilient as RoboCop. Okay, not quite as bullet-proof as him, but the 1000-denier nylon feels as durable as the heavy denier suggests (i.e., very). Heavy denier nylon fabrics typically handle abrasion better versus lighter deniers, and it’s no different here. The sides use 840-denier nylon with a TPU coating, making it look more matte than the rest of the bag and adding some weather resistance.
Lastly, the inner liner is 210-denier nylon. It’s black-colored as well (at least on this colorway), so we’ll get a chance to see how that fares in terms of interior visibility later. As for the zippers, they’re your standard-issue, ever-reliable YKK-branded zips. They operate smoothly—as does the rest of the hardware—made even smoother since they come with knotted paracord pulls that are easy to grab.
The harness system on the Robo Flip consists of just a pair of trusty shoulder straps. No load lifters, hip belts, or sternum straps—no frills, just what’s necessary. That’s okay; we’ve always had good experiences with Mystery Ranch’s shoulder straps, so we gave the Robo Flip the benefit of the doubt.
That benefit is not unfounded because these shoulder straps are just as densely padded as their other bags, like the Ranch Urban Assault 21 (UA21) and Rip Ruck 24. Yes, those bags have more than just their shoulder straps for support, but it’s their densely-padded shoulder straps that we remember the most, which is the case for the Robo Flip as well. We like the thickness of the padding here, especially when we find ourselves carrying the bag for extended periods.
One minor gripe about the shoulder straps is the nylon loops stitched on top of them. Well, they’re not really loops since they’re so big. They’re more like nylon strips, similar to those where sliding sternum straps are usually mounted. You can still attach accessories like carabiners and keychains, but we wish they were more segmented; having them as wide as this could potentially lead to tangled gear. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened on ours yet.
The top portion of the shoulder straps is also TPU-coated, which should help fend off rainwater in case you find yourself in a light shower.
Despite the soft and supportive feel of the back panel’s mesh and padding, it’s also well-structured, thanks to the frame sheet inside. Overall, the Robo Flip’s simple harness system and back panel are well-mated to its size. The carry doesn’t feel cumbersome in day-to-day use, so much so that we don’t see the compression straps as necessary.
There are four compression straps on the Robo Flip: two on each side, one at the top and one at the bottom. If you’re wondering, there are no side pockets or any opening that may conflict with these straps, so you won’t have to worry about any zipper gymnastics there. No, our grip is more on the aesthetic side of things.
Like we said earlier, we think the Robo Flip has a clean look on the whole. The only nitpick we have in that regard is the compression straps’ lack of strap keepers. The look can get a little dangly with all four tightened down and with their slack hanging off. We tried tucking the slack into the small loops at the front of the bag as a workaround, but it looks a bit awkward.
Lastly, there’s a daisy chain of nylon loops front and center of the Robo Flip, with a total of seven loops from top to bottom. It’ll be up to you how to best utilize these loops. We use them for attaching bulky items like shoes using our Nite Ize S-Biner. Also, we find it super satisfying to see our S-Biner hook onto two loops and embed itself seamlessly.
Inside The Backpack
The Robo Flip has a top quick-access pocket guarded by a reverse-coil zipper. It’s not as well-protected as YKK’s AquaGuard zipper, but it’s the next best thing. The positioning makes it function like a pouch that’s built on top of the Robo Flip’s flap.
The available space inside is enough for all our usual everyday carry items, namely our keys, Zippo, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. There’s spare room to throw in our iPhone 13 Pro Max and wallet in a pinch, but some sag begins to happen once the pocket gets heavy. This is especially noticeable if the top compression straps are tightened down, resulting in an hourglass effect.
While we’ve left the “Robo” part of the name as a mystery, the “Flip” part is almost self-explanatory: the main compartment’s opening is a flip-top, as in the lid can be flipped over once it’s unzipped. This is similar to roll-tops and knapsack-style bags, where access to the main compartment goes through the top, which is then covered by a flap, roll, cinch cord, etc. The main drawback to this approach is that items at the bottom can’t be accessed quickly if there’s something on top of them.
As far as top-access backpacks come and go, the Robo Flip is among the more convenient ones to use. Its 21-liter size means it’s not so deep that small pouches take forever to dig out. That said, the black liner fabric is no friend of small tech accessories, so we’d keep very small items like dongles and adaptors in their own pouches. In fact, the relatively cavernous space of the main compartment is a prime use case for packing cubes and other gear for organization.
For those wondering if there’s a place for a water bottle, yes there is. The main compartment has a water bottle pocket, but it’s a rather basic one. It gets the job done, fitting bottles like our 18-ounce YETI Rambler and keeping it in place. However, we can’t help but feel like it’s not as well-thought-out as the rest of the bag. It lacks any elastic, VELCRO, or anything to tie it down when not in use, so it just kind of flaps around inside.
There are also two dedicated device sleeves, one for a tablet and one for a laptop. We dig the tablet sleeve’s VELCRO tab because the corresponding target is large enough to lock it down relatively easily, even with packing cubes in the way. We also like that the laptop sleeve has over an inch of false bottom for protection, letting other softer items absorb impacts from below. We can’t take this for granted, as some larger backpacks with similar 15-inch laptop sleeves have smaller false bottoms than this.
Internal organization has some rough edges, mostly because of the water bottle pocket. In general, though, the Robo Flip is a well-built and well-designed daypack, the kind that’s convenient to use on short trips with a little help from packing cubes and pouches for organization.
- Flip-top opening reminds us of rolltops
- Fixed compression straps lack strap keepers
- Shoulder straps are relatively thick and well-cushioned
- Simple layout with this pack best used with packing cubes and pouches
- Top can sag down if there’s too much gear in the top pocket
- Comfortable harness system, which isn’t a surprise with Mystery Ranch
- Nickel hardware is a nice touch and feels quality in the hand
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