Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Backpack Review

Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Backpack Review

The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 is a rugged hunting backpack that’s perfect for multi-day backpack hunting and can handle up to a week’s worth of gear or more if you pack light.  It is completely different than anything else in the Mystery Ranch hunting pack lineup largely due to the innovative zipper and bag configuration. The Beartooth is also a comfortable backpack to wear with a wide range of sizing options with a unique yoke that allows for a near custom-fit that’s hard to duplicate in other pack lines with pre-set adjustments. This pack has some features that will make it particularly appealing to anyone looking for one do-it-all hunting pack. This pack was designed to be used in the harshest of outdoor environments which often includes cross-country travel through heavy brush, weather extremes, and rough terrain.

Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Hunting Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Major Load Hauler

The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Backpack is made with gear organization in mind and is a great pack for longer backcountry trips. It's breakaway load shelf lets you haul meat between the frame and the pack bag.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 100 oz (size XL)
  • Volume: 5187cu-in (85L)
  • Dimensions: 30.25”x15”x16.5”
  • Color options: Coyote (tan), Foliage (green), and Optifade Subalpine Camo
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Frame: External Frame w/ Carbon Fiber support stays
  • Pockets: 7, plus the main compartment
  • Torso length range (multiple sizes available): 15″-24″
  • Hip belt lengths range (multiple sizes available): 26″-39+”
  • Materials: 500d Light plus, 330d Lite plus CORDURA fabric, YKK Zippers, SJ autolock buckles
  • For complete specs and sizing, visit the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 product page

External Frame Breakaway Backpack

The Beartooth has a well-designed breakaway overload feature built into the pack which allows the bag to expand away from the frame to carry meat, antlers, or hide. This eliminates the need to put meat inside the pack bag and makes the heaviest of loads more stable and closer to your back (same fundamentals as regular backpacking), so carrying a very heavy load becomes a lot easier. The custom-developed SJ auto-lock buckles are strong, lightweight, and make transforming the pack into the overload function quick and easy.

Additionally, there is a 270-degree “duffle style” zipper, which makes access to items like food, jackets, and other gear easy to grab no matter where they are packed inside without having to pull everything out of your pack to find it. This feature provides a lot of flexibility and is a unique addition to the Mystery Ranch line-up which has always been innovative when it comes to pack access.

The first time I used this backpack was on a late August archery hunt. I had harvested a young cow elk and the morning was quickly warming up. I wanted to get the meat off the bone and off the mountain to cool. I had my 11-year-old son with me at the time, and we wanted to minimize the trips even though we were only a mile from the trailhead.  We elected to load as much meat as we could carry into our packs.  After stuffing the meat into T.A.G game bags, we loaded my pack on the edge of a deeply cut stream bank so that I didn’t have to lift the pack onto my back but rather slide it forward and let it settle onto my back. The overload feature worked as it was designed as we snugged the side straps down to stabilize the load against the frame. I can safely say that the Beartooth was loaded with a little North of 100 pounds.

The weight was heavy as the pack settled onto my back but once the hip belt and shoulder straps were adjusted the pack was astonishingly comfortable. On the way out, the pack rode remarkably well with no slop, slump, or excess shifting of the meat. The hip belt and shoulder straps were comfortable and did not pinch, rub, or chafe while under the load. The hike out was heavy but manageable with the assistance of my trekking poles. I recommend using trekking poles when carrying any backpack; they add a dimension of stability and safety especially when carrying heavy loads.   I have since carried several other loads of varying weights using the overload feature. The Beartooth has performed flawlessly with plenty of well-placed straps and buckles to secure even the most awkward and unbalanced loads.

Backpack Organization and Storage

The Beartooth 80 has five external pockets and two internal pockets for gear organization. The face of the bag has a giant zippered front panel pocket which is useful for storing extra layers and gear. The two side stretch pockets are good for packing a water filter, snacks, rifle, spotting scope, or anything that you may want to access frequently during the day.

The straps and buckles on the exterior of the pack are designed to allow fast and efficient gear attachment
The straps and buckles on the exterior of the pack are designed to allow fast and efficient gear attachment

The lid has two large zippered pockets and is designed to be removed if you don’t need the extra space.

There’s a hydration pocket in the main compartment where you can hang a water reservoir if you choose to use one. I have found that this is a great way to carry extra water when needed because it helps center the weight closer to your core.

The main compartment is large and easily accessed through the 270 degree zipper
The main compartment is large and easily accessed through the 270-degree zipper

The main compartment is large and easily accessed through the 270-degree zipper. It is very useful in visualizing not only what you have packed, but how it is packed. This is handy when trying to balance the weight distributions within the pack. There are two internal zippered mesh pockets for items that you want to keep separate from the rest of your gear.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The new Guide Light MT frame is an improved version of their original frame system but provides for a more customized and comfortable fit. The new frame has smaller carbon fiber supports stays that not only reduces weight, but adds to the flexibility, and overall adjustability of the yoke over a large range of torso lengths. Load lifters on the main pack help counter the backward tilt of a heavy pack, especially when the overload feature is extended, bringing the load closer to your back, and shifting more of the weight onto your hips.

The Guide Light MT frame has carbon fiber frame stays
The Guide Light MT frame has carbon fiber frame stays

The hip belt is segmented into 5 sections which are designed to wrap around your waist creating more contact points for a better fit and more comfortable ride with heavy loads. The hip belt can be canted to further customize the fit and adjustment. The outside of the hip belt features Molle webbing attachment points for a bear spray holster, forager pockets, or a range finder.

The hip belt is tensioned with a pull forward mechanism on each side, which makes it easy to adjust on the go. The sternum strap slides up and down along webbing attached to the shoulder pads and is easy to adjust.

The hip belt features Molle webbing attachment points
The hip belt features Molle webbing attachment points

In the backpacking world where ounces equal aches and pounds equals pain, the weight of this pack is considered moderate to heavy for a pack of this size. However, when considering the exclusive features, utility, and convenience of this pack, the added weight can be easily overlooked.

External Attachment and Compression System

For a larger pack, the Beartooth condenses remarkably well with the compression straps to make for a sound fitting, usable daypack that feels secure during any hike. Web keepers, which are strips of Velcro used to mind the loose webbing ends, keep the straps secured and tucked away until extra lengths are needed for pack expansion.

Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 with load shelf extended with antlers
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 with load shelf extended and antlers

The position of the straps and buckles on the exterior of the pack are designed to allow fast and efficient gear or weapon attachment. A rifle is secured by sliding the butt of the gun into the stretch pocket on the side and using the three straps to secure it to the pack. Attaching a bow to the face of the pack is also quick and easy, with plenty of straps to secure it safely.

For example, attaching a bow to the face of the pack is also quick and easy with plenty of straps to secure it safely. Typically I take care to secure my bow upside down on the pack with the quiver and arrows facing down and to the outside. This allows the sight and arrow rest to face the body of the pack protecting them from accidental bumps and brush when hiking off-trail. The arrows themselves are a little more susceptible to dislodging in heavy brush, so I use a separate Velcro strap to secure them to the quiver to reduce that likelihood. Care must be taken when setting down the pack depending on the overall length of your bow so that the strings, cams, and limbs of the bow are not damaged. I usually attach my bow to my pack when traveling into the backcountry so that my hands are free to use trekking poles. Once I am in an area where the game is more likely, the bow comes off the pack and into my hands so I am ready for the possibility of a quick or unexpected shot opportunity.

Comparable Hunting Backpacks

Make / ModelVolumeWeightPrice
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 8080L6 lbs 4oz$550
Seek Outside Lannier 540088L4 lbs 8 oz$549
Seek Outside Goshawk 480079L3 lbs 11 oz$499
Kuiu Pro 6000 Full Kit98L5 lbs 10 oz$569
Kifaru Mountain Warrior / Duplex Frame Lite94L5 lbs 13 oz$632
Stone Glacier Sky 590097L5 lbs 7 oz$569
Exo Mtn Gear K3 480079L5 lbs 9 oz$649

Recommendation

The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Backpack is made with gear organization in mind and is a great pack for longer backcountry trips. For hunters familiar with the Mystery Ranch line of packs, the Beartooth is completely different than anything else in their hunting pack lineup, largely due to the new zipper and bag configuration, and fills the size void between their Metcalf and the Marshal packs. For those looking to travel a little further and stay a little longer, the Beartooth 80 might just be the perfect hunting pack for you.

I chose this pack over the competitors for three simple reasons: First, while a few other packs have similar overload features for game meat, The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 seemed to have a little more robust design that was extremely user friendly and easy to make adjustments on the go. Second, the yoke and hip belt offered the most comfortable fit for me, especially when adding weights of over thirty pounds to the pack. When making your own choice for a hunting pack, I would recommend adding some significant weight to the pack to test the ride and feel of the pack under load.  Finally, the 270-degree zipper on this pack sealed the deal for me. It is so convenient to have near-effortless organized access to all of my gear when I am in the field. Overall, the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 has proved to be a functional and reliable do-it-all pack for my hunting needs.

Disclosure: The author owns this backpack.

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About the author

Sven Peery is an all-season outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking, camping, hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. He is also an experienced hunter and fisherman who is not afraid to wander off the beaten path. His wanderings have led him to hike and explore the vast trails of the High Uinta Wilderness, Wind River Range, and the Frank Church Wilderness in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho respectively. Sven spent 8 years with a county Search and Rescue team in Northern Utah. His training includes man tracking, wilderness survival, backcountry, cave, and high angle rescue. Whether hiking in National Parks with family, rising up to 13,527 feet elevation of Kings Peak, or dipping nearly a mile below the rim to cross the Grand Canyon, he is always ready for the next adventure!

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8 comments

  1. Even though I no longer hunt, I appreciate your reviews. It’s useful information and shows the love of the outdoors that most hunters share. My brother’s family hunted yearly when they lived in Montana and he’d tell me that it got him up at hours and to places he’d never have done otherwise. The memories of the expeditions–the hiking and camping in the wild and the experiences therefrom are the most treasured. I went with him on one elk hunt in the Bob Marshall and can testify to that. Bagging game was the bonus–and we didn’t get the bonus that trip, which was a relief to me because I didn’t want to pack anything extra on that 4000′ ascent over the pass back to the trailhead.

    I have no problem with hunting for food–I eat store bought meat and it has to be slaughtered as well. When someone asked my sister in law how she could shoot Bambi, she replied, “When I’m sighting through the scope, all I see is meat in the freezer!” They could acquire a year’s supply of meat for a family of five in one hunting trip.

    I know your posts sometimes bring negative comments from ones who are against hunting, but please don’t let that discourage you. Although I wouldn’t shoulder a weapon, I’d love to be on one of your expeditions, just to be in that awesome outdoors.

    • The conditions and navigation problems that hunters face are more like my bushwhacks and off-trail fishing trips than all of the hikes listed in AllTrails. Dealing with horrendous weather, accidental cold water immersion, getting soaked by wet grass – there are enormous similarities between the two sports. I really appreciate Sven’s sharing his experiences with us.

  2. You could carry a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon in that pack.

  3. Great review. That zipper configuration looks real convenient. Starting to look into some backpack hunting options and this was very insightful.

    • Nate,
      As I emphasized in the review, many of these hunting pack brands have some great features. Ultimately, if you have some backpacking experience, it will make it a little easier to choose, but do some homework on fit and function before you make the investment. You will be glad that you did.

      • Yea. The backpacking is not an issue, thru hiked the AT in 2018 and a bunch of other multi days. All my hunting experience though has been on family property in the same stand for all my life. Moved away and now looking to combine my two interests. Been watching Meat Eater a lot while in quarantine and that is really making me long for a nice trip.

  4. Interesting solution to carrying our meat.
    Mystery Ranch is Dana Gleason’s company after selling his first company (Dana Designs) which subsequently went under due to poor management.

    I have an original Dana Designs Terraplane that I’m selling WITH two spare side pockets and a Wet Rib for $75. Forest green.

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