This Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack review was born from the intriguing design that the Beartooth 80 offers, along with its generous size, making it a great option to be used on extended backpack trips. The real question for me though, was how it would do in the field with a load, and how it would function practically on trips. We had the opportunity to test it throughout the spring, summer, and fall for this review during training hikes and hunting trips, to really give us a good feel on how it functions.
The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack is a monster, multi-day hunting backpack that gives you the ability to pack a week or mores worth of gear in it, while still being able to haul meat in the event of a successful harvest by utilizing the Guide Lite MT frame that separates from the bag. (More on that later.) This Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 review comes after we first tested one of Mystery Ranch’s minimalist packs. The Beartooth 80, with its many pockets and large size, couldn’t be more on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to backpacks.
Make sure to check out our other hunting backpack reviews as well!
Test Parameters: Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Review
Over the course of many months, I used the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack multiple times each week for heavy pack training hikes in the spring, along with backpack hunting trips in the fall. While I didn’t get the chance to pack out an animal with the Beartooth 80, I did haul loads between 50 and 100 pounds multiple times per week for months on end. This gave me a pretty good idea of the load hauling ability of this pack, and where it started to become less comfortable. My backpack hunting trips provided some great in-the-field experience to see how this Mystery Ranch backpack performed when it counted most.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth Pack Specs
The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 is a very large pack that features a massive 5185 cubic inches and gives you a ton of pockets for organization. It features Cordura material and a Guide Lite MT carbon fiber frame wrapped in Cordura, an adjustable harness, and many hip belt sizes to make sure you get the proper fit.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Hip Belt and Harness
The Mystery Ranch hip belt is a 5 piece design that is pre-formed and exceptionally comfortable. I found this hip belt to ride extremely well, even days on end. The harness system is also pre-formed and provides excellent comfort and a ton of adjustability. Below I’ll cover what I liked and didn’t like about the hip belt, but overall, I was extremely pleased with it.
The hip belt is made of high density foam and is robust enough that you don’t feel the belt webbing when the time comes to cinch it down with a heavy load. It was very comfortable for me and my body type. Over time and with testing many different packs, I’ve found that packs with a thicker lumbar support tend to fit me most comfortably, and the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack has what I would consider to be a medium thickness.
Ideally, if there was a way to add more lumbar support, I’d do it, but unfortunately that’s not an option. It was still very comfortable, but I wish there was a bit more lumbar support to make it even better, especially with a super heavy load.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Frame
The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 is equipped with a bomb-proof, carbon fiber Guide Lite MT frame wrapped in 500D Lite Plus fabric. The Guide Lite MT frame offers a unique blend of flexibility and rigidity. There is actually a lot of lateral flexibility in the Guide Lite MT frame while still giving you robust vertical rigidity. This allows the pack to flex with you as you move and bend, but it doesn’t flex vertically when the pack is loaded down with a lot of weight. It performed extremely well for me with both light and heavy loads until I got over 80 pounds.
The frame flexes a fair amount when cinching down a hind quarter of an elk (or half an elk) and flexes horizontally, but once the load is strapped on, there isn’t any noticeable vertical flex which gives you a very comfortable ride with a heavy load.
One of the things that I didn’t care for with the Guide Lite frame was that there wasn’t a great way to secure a sand bag for training hikes. The integrated load shelf sits too low on the frame to keep a small sand bag from dropping below the hip belt, so I had to use the straps on the bag to cinch down the sand bag for my training hikes.
I could have picked up a backstrap attachment for these heavy pack training hikes, but it has the same issue. The load shelf attaches near the bottom of the frame rather than a quarter or third of the ways up from the bottom. A higher position would help keep those heavy loads from wanting to drop below the hip belt, which causes the pack to become uncomfortable.
The other issue I had with this setup is that you can’t use the backstrap without taking the bag off. This is a bummer if you are someone who likes to have your meat-hauling, compressing strap always attached to your pack. It would be an improvement to be able to have both attached to the frame so you can utilize it to secure a large, heavy load while still maintaining the functionality of having a bag for other items.
How The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Handled Weight
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to field-test a good number of the top packs on the market. With that experience, I’ve learned that packs can be like shoes. They fit everyone differently, so always take what someone says about how a pack handles weight with a grain of salt, and try to look at the build of the pack and figure out if that design will work with your body type.
For instance, I know that for me personally, a pack with a very substantial lumbar pad will nearly always be more comfortable for me than a pack with a lesser lumbar pad. I’ve tried both extensively with light and heavy loads to come to this realization. Both are still comfortable with up to 60 pounds or so, but above that is where it really makes a difference for me.
With that in mind, I set out to test this Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack with both light and heavy loads. The Mystery Ranch Guide Lite frame doesn’t have a monster lumbar pad, but I was curious how the 5 section hip belt would offset that, if at all.
While I really like the hip belt and lumbar pad, I found the comfort limit on this pack for me was around 100 pounds. Around that 100 pound mark was when it started to get uncomfortable. Sure, that’s a lot of weight, and it’s going to be tough no matter what pack you use, but after about 1 mile, it just became impossible to keep the load from sliding down my back.
This made for a less-than-ideal remaining 2 miles of hiking, but it wasn’t miserable. Once the weight starts to slide down to a lower position on your back, you’ll notice it just gets a lot more uncomfortable, which is what happened to me. Again, it wasn’t awful, but a larger lumbar would have helped me here. Instead, my shoulders took more weight than I prefer, which wore on me after a while.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Bag Configuration
At a monster 5185 cubic inches the Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack is a pack made for long backcountry trips, and for those who like organization. There are a lot of pockets integrated into the bag, and it features a huge u-shaped zipper that opens up like a suitcase. I found this to be super useful when loading up the pack for a trip. It just made the job that much easier.
All the pockets are really nice as everything has its place. It might be a bit tough to remember which pocket you put an item in, but none the less, it’s nice to be organized. The Beartooth 80 pack also gives you a nice water bladder pouch on the interior of the pack. The downside is that the extra pockets add some weight.
The Beartooth 80 pack comes with a unique two-pocket lid that splits down the middle. I really like this lid, and love that you have so much usable space in the lid pockets. The split down the middle is brilliant so that neither pocket gets cinched down tight, making it tough to access the contents of the lid. I’m someone who likes to put as much as I can in the lid, so this was a huge hit for me. I’d rather not dig into the main bag unless I need to, so two big thumbs up on the lid design for Mystery Ranch!
If you like pockets integrated into the pack for organization but like the Guide Lite MT frame, you may want to look at the Mystery Ranch Beartooth or the tried and true Mystery Ranch Metcalf pack. The bag does detach from the frame for meat hauling, but we’ll get into that more below.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Accessories
There are a ton of different accessories available for Mystery Ranch packs. I was able to test the Forager hip belt pockets and Hydrapck 3.1L water bladder, but there are a lot more to try! Both of those accessories have been great so far.
What I liked: Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Review
Ease of loading
I came to love a lot of things while doing the testing for this Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 review. The bag’s design and massive C-shaped zipper makes loading up this pack a breeze.
Another thing that is a huge plus with the Mystery Ranch Beartooth pack is how versatile it is. It’s got a ton of straps, pockets, attachments and places to store things that so you can do just about anything you want to with it.
The lid on Mystery Ranch packs is one of my favorites of the packs I’ve tested. I love the dual compartments and large size as I like to store as much as possible in the lid to avoid getting into the main bag as much as possible. Each compartment is large enough to put things like your Jetboil, food, flashlight, gloves, etc. in. The fact that it’s split in the middle keeps the contents from getting compressed and allows for super easy access with its large, center zippers.
In our last review of a Mystery Ranch pack, I noted that the harness shoulder straps were a bit on the narrow side and not quite as comfortable as others I’ve tried. As you can see in the picture above, Mystery Ranch made a change and the shoulder harness is now wider, and I found it to be more comfortable than the previous model. This was a welcomed change!
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Hip Belt
I really like the design and comfort offered with the Beartooth 80 hip belt. The pre-formed hip belt is super comfortable, and adjusting it is quick and easy. Once set, it really does a nice job of staying put.
If you are someone who uses molle attachments, the Beartooth 80 pack has a number of places on the exterior of the pack to use these. I personally don’t have any molle attachments, so I can’t speak to its functionality, but the option is there to use those giving you a ton of versatility with how you use the pack.
What I Didn’t Like: Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Review
Difficult to Get into Main Bag
I found that, with all the versatility that the many straps give you, they also make it a bit of a pain to get into the main bag. If you have the pack all buttoned up, but then need to get into the main bag, you may need to undo as many as 6 or 8 buckles to get there. This can be annoying one moment, but at the same time it’s also very nice to have the versatility.
Strapping a load down
I really wish there was away to have the Backstrap attachment AND the bag in use at the same time. This would aid in securing heavy loads. I also wish there was an additional compression strap or two on the frame so that you could strap the quarter to the frame and compress it, then use the bag as a secondary compression. As is though, the bag is used as the compression strap, so this can cause an issue with your gear getting smashed or broken inside your pack.
Meat Shelf Position
I found that the position of the meat shelf seemed to be a bit low in some cases. For instance, when hauling sand bags for training hikes, or when taking a smaller load, the load shelf is too low on the frame and allows the load to drop below the ideal position for hauling heavy weight. Even with larger loads I personally like to have the bulk of the weight no lower than 3/4 of the way down the frame to make sure it doesn’t come close to dropping below the hip belt. This proved a challenge at times with smaller and heavier loads.
Now, with a larger load it didn’t pose an issue, so in most practical hunting situations where you are hauling an animal out, you won’t have a problem. This is just something to keep in mind when using it for training hikes.
This one isn’t a huge negative, but I was a little disappointed in how uncomfortable the pack was with 100 pounds in it. I really started to feel the pull on my shoulders once I got over 80 pounds, which is what you don’t want in a pack. Yes, 100 pounds is a heavy load, and that’s not a weight you are going to carry very often, but it really makes a difference when you can keep a high percentage of the weight off your shoulders.
With up to 80 pounds, however, this pack felt great to me. It was only when I bumped it up to 100 pounds that there was a lot more noticeable discomfort.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 Review: Conclusion
The Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80 pack is a huge pack that can accommodate long trips into the backwoods with ease. Heck, I was even able to carry out my gear plus my wife’s on one backpacking trip with room to spare! While the seemingly endless possibilities with how you configure the pack and the insane amount of straps can be a bit overwhelming and frustrating, but after a little time with the pack you become familiar with it and it becomes much easier to use.
You’ve got a wide adjustment range with the harness, and the hip belt is very comfortable and can accommodate either hip belt pouches, a side arm, water bottle, or any number of other molle compatible attachments. This is a do-it-all kind of pack that can be a day pack (although not as ideal for this as others) all the way up to hauling enough gear for a week in the backwoods. If you can only buy one pack and want it to accommodate different kinds of trips, this bag is definitely worth a look. As always, Mystery Ranch makes high quality gear, so you can expect it to perform for a long time for you in the backcountry.
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