Powder Cloud Likes: Mystery Ranch Gallatin Backpack

Powder Cloud Likes: Mystery Ranch Gallatin Backpack

Finding the right backpack seems simple—I mean, it’s just a backpack, right? But like most everything these days, the options are endless, which can make selecting a pack something akin to searching for the Holy Grail. What volume? Clamshell or toploader? Minimalist, or feature-rich (and heavy)? Helmet-carry? Dedicated avalanche-tool pocket? Color? Fit? There’s probably a (horrifying) spreadsheet somewhere comparing every brand and model. Luckily, however, the Mystery Ranch Gallatin meets all of my needs with very few compromises—so I’ll leave the spreadsheet to someone else.

I’m a guide and tend to carry a lot of junk most days—large first-aid kit, rescue sled, beefy repair kit, full snow study kit, etc. I also like to bring lots of food and water and layers, because comfort is happiness. So though MR makes a solid 25 L option (the Saddle Peak), I can’t get by with a smaller backpack, even on personal ski days. I prefer a 35-40 L pack that compresses and expands to accommodate my changing loads day to day. The Gallatin Peak (40 L) is just such a pack; an excellent everyday carry that can also be pressed into service for hut trips and mountaineering adventures.

If MR is known for anything, it’s great load-carrying ability and bomber construction, and the Gallatin retains these qualities without blowing the weight budget. It’s an extremely comfortable pack, even loaded down with ribeye steaks for the yurt. A telescoping shoulder strap yoke and sized hip belt accommodate different waist, torso, shoulder, and neck shapes for personalized fit, and it has carry options for both skis and a snowboard. It’s held up to 100-plus days of use and abuse extremely well. It’s a hybrid toploader with full back-panel access—an awesome way to retrieve buried gear without pulling everything out or getting the back panel covered in snow. It also comes with a large top pocket for essentials, an avy tool pocket large enough for pro-grade shovels, and an easy-stow helmet hammock. My only complaint lies with the buckles, which are sensitive to being clogged with snow, and more fragile than traditional buckles. I swapped out the hip belt buckle with a $2 hardware store variety—much improved. Otherwise, it’s everything I need in a pack—comfortable, versatile, durable—and nothing I don’t.

Drew Pogge owns Big Sky Backcountry Guides and Bell Lake Yurt. He is the former editor-in-chief of Backcountry Magazine and an award-winning freelance writer and photographer. He lives in Bozeman with his wife and a dingo/lab mongrel named Waylon.

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