Comfort and functionality are the cornerstones of any Mystery Ranch Pack and the Women's Sphinx 60 Pack is no exception. Its innovative Active Frame is built to carry a load and in this case, it’s designed specifically for a women’s frame. Full featured and ready go, the Sphinx 60 is a winner.
“Necessity is the mother of all invention” holds true for the pack-makers at Mystery Ranch, who started manufacturing their own designs after repairing and modifying existing packs to better accommodate heavy and awkward loads. Noticing repetitive failures in certain areas on most packs, they were able to make improvements to greatly increase the comfort and functionality. This expertise became integral in the designing of their own packs, with an emphasis on dynamic, adjustable and well-built load carrying systems.
Built to carry loads comfortably the Women’s Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 is a workhorse of a backpack.
Mystery Ranch packs have a custom frame design that features a telescoping yoke and lumbar wrap, which is slightly different than the exaggerated S and C curves incorporated in most packs currently available. This ‘active frame’ design helps transfer the load over the surface area of the entire back, rather than just loading the hips and shoulders. The impetus behind the Load Carriage™ system came from the excessive weight the packs were initially meant to carry - produced for military and wildland firefighters. Rather than working from static ergonomics, designers focused on how the forces of a heavy load transfer into the carrying mechanisms. This results in an undistorted frame when loaded and a distributed, stable load. What is essentially a hybrid of an internal and external frame, the flexibility and customizable fit of 'Load Carriage' packs help to created the illusion of a lighter overall load. Rather than pursue ultralight materials to shave ounces, Mystery Ranch holds true to phrase “a 40lb load that carries like 30lbs is better than a 40lb load that feels like 50lbs…”
The frame is constructed of two composite vertical rods and an aluminum lumbar stay. Three composite cross stays secured by a HDPE sheath allow the vertical rods to pivot and flex while maintaining stability. This three-piece frame design is an integral part of the Load Carriage™ system, creating a comfortable weight distribution. The pack body is a burly 210D and 330D ripstop nylon with YKK zippers.
The Sphinx 60’s fit is customized by removing the plastic yoke from the compartment behind the shoulder strap panel and sliding it between the pack and the panel itself, breaking the velcro connection.
The user then slides the shoulder strap panel and yoke along until the shoulder straps are at the desired height, then removes the yoke allowing the velcro to attach and secure the panel in a custom position.
From there, one can either keep the yoke inside the pouch for added rigidity or leave it out for a flexible shoulder panel. The shoulder panel can be removed if the load lifter straps are reverse threaded through the plastic keepers, although there isn't a quick release. The hip belt is completely removable, which is a great feature for any air travel or storage.
A tool loop is located a the bottom of the full length zipper. All the compression straps can be stowed with optional wrap-around velcro. Both Men and Women’s packs are available in a large variety of torso and waist sizes, check out a comprehensive size chart and fit information here.
The Sphinx 60 is an excellent load carrier. Coming in a 2.2kg, this pack makes heavy loads feel comfortable and stable over long periods of time. Although Mystery Ranch packs may seem to be a bit more bulky and over designed when compared to other brands, the Sphinx falls right into the mix with packs marketed as lightweight. An Osprey Renn 65 (1.6kg), Deuter Aircontact Lite 60 (2.0kg), or Gregory Deva 60 (2.2kg) as well as most other brands are all within the 1.6-2.4 kg range. Without significant added weight, the carry system on the Sphinx is a superior design. As a wildland firefighter, I have personally used the same Load Carriage™ and adjustable yoke system to carry loads upwards of 45kg (100lbs) over rough terrain and can vouch for the advertised load distribution and comfort.
As far as features, the two zippered hip pockets are a personal highlight. Each could easily fit a small camera, GPS unit, wallet, or full complement of snacks. The full-length zipper on the pack front is convenient and makes packing items much easier, and the exterior and brain pockets are all impressively spacious. The pack is manufactured from quality, durable materials and comes with a lifetime guarantee. The only improvements I could offer are slightly taller bottle pockets and making the front zipper a double.
Price: $350CAN / $269US
Sizes: S-XL (for waist and torso lengths, different combinations exist)
Weight: 2.2kg, 4.8lbs
Volume: 60 litres, 3662 cubic inches
Colours: Grey, Blue
Dimensions: 83 x 33 x 28cm, 32.5 x 13 x 11”
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