User Review: Mystery Ranch G6000
Design: top loading internal
Size: 6000 cubic inches
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 65-70 pounds
Height of Owner: 5 foot 10
Price Paid: $525
These are first impressions, as I have only taken this on a few hikes. I will give it a year or two then update.
So far, I have taken a few hikes with a pack weight of fifty pounds. My frame of reference for large backpacks is an old external frame pack and a North Face internal frame expedition pack made in the late 1980s. I shopped and tried on the Gregory Denali, Osprey Crescent 110, Granite Gear Cirrus 7000, and Arc'teryx Bora 95, though I have not hiked with any of these packs. I also debated McHale packs but just could not justify the expense of a truly custom-made pack. All the others were a big improvement over my old internal frame pack, and all fine choices.
The suspension on this backpack is tremendous, very comfortable. Well-designed hip belt, a frame that can handle a lot of weight and put it on your hips easily, and a shoulder harness that is adjustable for torso length and is very comfortable on the shoulders.
The bag has a number of nice features. The top is divided into 2 compartments, so my small stuff isn't quite as jumbled around. The two large front pockets are classic Dana Design, very large and very convenient. The sleeping bag compartment (separated by a barrier with fastex clips that can be undone to create one large bag) has a very wide mouth for large sleeping bags and a very beefy zipper. There are external load compression straps and an internal compression strap too. There is also a heavy zippered opening on the front of the pack, in addition to the top load opening. Finally, it has two bottle pockets that actually fit a one liter bottle within reach while walking, with a grommet in the bottom for drainage.
Build quality appears to be excellent, though not for the ultralight crowd. Fabrics, stitching, and hardware are all heavy duty and heavy - the pack weighs close to eight pounds empty. Hard to say how it will wear over time, but it's made in Montana in small quantities.
Small things I would change: the Dana packs had a very useful daisy chain of webbing on the back; the zipper access prevents that. I would have liked to see the loops somewhere else on the pack. Also, the top can be converted into a rudimentary day pack - that's fine, but I don't have much use for it, and the shoulder straps are completely unpadded. Better to dispense with that feature in my opinion.
Features to watch over time: I have never owned a pack with carbon/synthetic stays rather than aluminum. 7075 aluminum is the gold standard for expedition packs; This one has handled 50 pounds without a hitch and could easily take more. I will be watching how the stays hold up and bear the load over the long term, putting my trust in the company and the design.
Update: February 22, 2008
This is a brief update to my previous review, after taking the pack winter camping in New Hampshire. The suspension held up well under 65-70 pounds, no pack bruises, chafing, or adjustability issues in mixed snow/ice and occasionally steep terrain. Consider the G7000 for long expeditions. Also, extra straps/lash cords I bought came in very handy. Plenty of lash points, but I needed the extra straps.
Finally, I actually used the top sack that converts to a daypack and thought it was convenient - shoulder straps aren't padded, but it was a nice feature to have. Totally unscathed despite the proximity to crampons, snowshoes, and an ice axe. worth the expense.