Mystery Ranch 3 Way Expandable Briefcase
For the outdoor professional who is compelled to appear as, and travel like, a professional, this "briefcase" is the perfect shoulder bag for meetings.
- Pockets, pockets, pockets
- Lightweight, but not fragile
- Could look slightly more professional
- "Expandability" is minimal
The "3 way" aspect of this bag is that it has storable shoulder straps, allowing it to be worn as a backpack, like a kid on their first day of school, grab handles for when you want to carry it like a briefcase, like a grifter about to make the exchange, and a shoulder strap for when it is worn on a shoulder or across the body, like Indiana Jones.
The expandable describes the aspect of this bag that allows the user to unzip a full-length zipper and reveal an extra couple inches of expansion which yields several liters of additional volume. This part of the bag is legitimate, however, I wish the expansion was larger. It goes from briefcase (by definition a case for carrying briefs, often printed on paper-thin sheets of paper) to an overnight bag. The extra, expanded space makes room for a change of socks and undies, but little else.
Were this bag capable of expanding a full ten-extra-liters, it would exist between the realms of everyday carry bag and true overnight bag. It could haul 10 liters of socks, undies, toileting kit, and even a sport coat (for those of us who fly in the cozy hoodie, but then I toss the sport coat on for much improved first impressions. But alas, the toilet kit is reduced to a toothbrush and wet wipes, and the sport coat gets stowed in the overhead bin. Not a deal breaker by any means.
As it is, I am fine with the minimal expandability, as this bag makes up for minor constrictions with massive amounts of organization. I fly maybe six times a year, but I carry this bag six days a week, full time, year round. My laptop is safe and nestled behind some light armoring (plastic reinforced divider sleeve), my pens and pencils, flashlight, and snacks are grab-able via two angled zippers and a quick release buckle on the front of the bag.
On several Mystery Ranch emergency worker bags these triangular zippers with pull-clip are designed to you can open a pack or a pocket, even while wearing gloves, in one quick motion. On this bag, when I really need an energy bar and my AirPods, this same quick access feature is incredibly cool.
The sealed zippers will, at first, likely frustrate some users. Let me say that I experienced the same, "oh man, I want these things to slide like they were sewn into buttered ballbearings," however, moving between buildings all day at the ski area where I work, I was psyched to have sealed zippers protecting my files, electronics, and snacks on a powder day dumping six inches before lunch in the form of glass-eye-sized flakes.
The burly, overall construction of this pack allows me to carry other necessities for my job like a couple sets of pliers, a multi tool, a small pry bar, and a dozen or more wires, adapters, dongles, and cords. I have had much heavier bags that could take the abuse, but that I never wanted to carry, and lightweight bags that felt like clouds stuffed with cotton candy, but lasted about as long under the abuses of professional outdoor recreation work.
Overall, this is my go-to, do it all, get the job done, everyday user. I don't find myself muttering, "ya know, if it only had," or "I should sew a-" This bag does what I need day to day, in a semi-professional environment, where sometimes I am on skis and sometimes riding in a golf cart, and always on the move.
I work at a large resort with a ski area and two golf courses; I manage, I ski patrol, I am a ski instructor, and I work outside most of the summer supervising the golf courses. I also teach at a local community college where we do classroom work as well as fieldwork in the outdoors. I have been using this bag since start of winter 2023.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $160
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Current Retail: $185.00-$199.00
Historic Range: $138.93-$199.00
Reviewers Paid: $160.00
1345 cu in
9 x 14.5 x 7 in