Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Review – Field Tested

The Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Pack was one of the new packs from Mystery Ranch in 2019.  We decided it would be a perfect fit for our backcountry hunting pack review series given its light weight, minimalist design, load hauling ability, and multi-night capacity.  We had the chance to test this pack in many conditions over the course of the last year, and go over what we liked and didn’t like, how it performed in the field, and under heavy load testing.

Make sure to check out our other gear reviews as well!

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Test Parameters

For this test, there really wasn’t anything better than just getting out there and using this pack in the field in real-world conditions.  I used this pack on multiple heavy-load training hikes, scouting trips, hunting trips, and backpacking hunting trips.  We got to pack out an animal with this pack, as well as do a number of heavy load training hikes with everywhere from 40 to 100lbs of sand bags.

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Specs

The Mystery Ranch Selway 60 comes in with some impressive specs and offers you a very light weight pack, while still handling a load amazingly well.  It features Cordura material and a Guide Lite MT carbon fiber frame wrapped in Cordura.  Here are some of the Sitka Mountain Hauler specs:

  • 5.00lbs
  • 3783 CI
  • Guide Lite MT carbon fiber Cordura wrapped frame
  • Adjustable harness
  • Multiple size hip belts
  • Minimalist design (few pockets)
  • Built in meat shelf

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Hip Belt and Harness

Mystery Ranch pack harness

The new Mystery Ranch hip belt is a 5 piece design that is pre-formed and exceptionally comfortable.  I found this hip belt to be one of the most comfortable of the packs I’ve tested.  The harness system is also pre-formed and provides exceptional comfort and adjustability.  Below I’ll cover what I liked and didn’t like about the hip belt and harness, but overall, I was extremely pleased with it.

Mystery Ranch Guide Lite MT hip belt

The hip belt was extremely comfortable for me and my body type. Over time and with testing many different packs, I’ve found that packs with a larger lumbar support pad tend to fit me best.  The Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack has, what I would consider, a medium to large thickness lumbar pad, so this one was right in line for me.  Ideally, I’d probably even like a little bit thicker lumbar pad, but it did awesome as it is.

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Frame

The Mountain Hauler frame is made of 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 a lateral flexibility in the Guide Lite MT frame, but a ton of vertical rigidity.  This allows the pack to flex with you as you move and bend, but doesn’t flex vertically with heavy loads.  It performed extremely well for me with both light and heavy loads. 

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 an incredibly comfortable ride with a heavy load.  This new Guide Lite MT frame was one of my favorites after testing the packs for these reviews.

How the Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Handles Weight

This was an area I expected the new Mystery Ranch Guide Lite MT frame to excel, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.  Mystery Ranch packs have historically had a reputation as great, load-hauling packs, so it didn’t surprise me that this new Guide Lite frame was awesome.  I tested this Selway 60 pack with anywhere from 25 to 100lbs and was thoroughly impressed. 

If you’ve ever hauled over 100lbs out of the backcountry for any length of time, you know that gravity is what a pack faces in keeping the load from sagging/sliding down your back and on to your glutes, restricting your muscles’ movements, adding unwanted strain on your shoulders, and just being uncomfortable.  That was NOT the case with this Selway 60 pack. Out of all of the packs I’ve tested, this one was one of my favorites in the heavy-load hauling department.

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Bag Configuration

The Selway 60 is a minimalist style bag, so that means pockets are limited to the basics, but you also save weight.  The Selway 60 weighs in at just 5lbs, which is impressive given how well it handles a heavy load.  The Selway 60 offers you one main bag with a water bladder pouch and clip to keep your bladder from ending up at the bottom of the pouch.  You also get two small side pockets on the bag, as well as a small pocket on the lid of the pack. 

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack

The Selway 60 doesn’t really have a true lid, but rather it’s integrated into the top of the bag and has an access zipper.  The pocket is mesh on the inside and is great for items you need quick access to.  If you like having your gear organized, I’d recommend picking up something like the VIAM Outdoors G3 Gear Grabs and organizing your gear in those, then throwing them in the main bag. 

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack

If you like pockets integrated into the pack for organization but like the Guide Lite MT frame, you may want to look at 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 more into that below.

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Accessories

There are a ton of different accessories available for Mystery Ranch packs.  I wasn’t able to test any of them, but the “Mystery Ranch Back Strap” load shelf that just came out in 2020 looks like one I’ll be picking up which will solve one of the complaints I had about this pack.  The hip belt pouches are usually a must, and I’ll be picking some of those up as well.

See the Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Video Overview

Mystery Ranch Selway 60: What I liked

Load Hauling Ability

There was just a ton to love about this Selway 60 pack.  First and foremost, was the way this pack carried a load.  It really excelled when carrying a heavy load.  I love how simple and fast the bag detaches from the frame, changing to meat hauling mode.  My one and only complaint about the frame/meat hauling aspect on the Selway 60 was that the load compression straps are attached to the main bag.  In order to get the meat securely tightened down, I had to compress the contents of the pack.  I ended up breaking a piece of gear because of this. 

Mystery Ranch Selway 60

Mystery Ranch obviously saw the need and came out with the Backstrap load panel this year that fits all their packs, so my only complaint is already solved.  This load panel will effectively be the compression that holds the meat to the frame so you don’t have to smash the contents of your pack to get the meat secured.  Perfect!

Huge Main Zipper

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack

Another thing I really liked about this pack was the way the pack opened up.  The Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack has a center zipper that runs the entire length of the pack, making it super easy to load and unload.  The way the bag opened up made it easy to get gear in and out, especially when packing up for a multi-night trip.  While there are no interior pockets on the Selway 60, it’s easy to organize the bag with a few of the VIAM G3 Gear Grabs. 

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Hip Belt

Mystery Ranch Guide Lite MT hip belt

I really liked the design and comfort offered with the Selway 60 hip belt.  The pre-formed hip belt was super comfortable, and the adjustment was quick and easy.  Once set, it really does a nice job of staying put. This pack has a great setup design that keeps the load where it is intended to be.

Load Hauling Ability

As I mentioned before, Mystery Ranch packs are known for being great load haulers, and the Selway 60 pack equipped with the Guide Lite MT frame is no exception.  The integrated load shelf gives you the ability to keep the weight from sagging down to lower part of the pack and allows you to adjust the load height.  The addition of the new load panel will make load-hauling even better!  If you’ve hauled a heavy load, you’ve probably experienced the discomfort of a poorly loaded pack where the weight sags down too low.  It’s very uncomfortable to say the least.  This Selway 60 load shelf does a fantastic job of keeping the weight on the upper 3/4 of your frame.

Molle Webbing

If you are someone who uses molle attachments, the Selway 60 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.

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Pack: What I didn’t like

Shoulder Harness

Ok, so here is where I get to nitpick what I didn’t like about the pack.  We all know there is no perfect pack, it’s just a matter of picking what’s most important to us and what we can put up with. While there is a ton that I love about the Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack, there are a few things that I thought could be better.  First, while I loved the new hip belt on the Guide Lite MT frame, I wasn’t as crazy about the shoulder harness straps.  They were a bit too narrow and didn’t have quite as much padding for my liking. 

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 harness

This may be a personal preference thing, but I feel like shoulder straps that are a little wider would make this an even more comfortable fit.  I wouldn’t say that the narrower shoulder straps were uncomfortable in any way, but to me a wider strap would make this pack even better.

Side Pockets

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 pack

Going into this review, I knew there were going to be minimal pockets on this Selway 60 pack.  In my opinion, the two side pockets it does have are just too small to be very useful.  You really can’t fit much more than a headlamp and an elk call in there, and when the pack is compressed when not using all of the space, they become very difficult to use.  They are also impossible to get to while you are wearing the pack, so if you need something from them, you have to take the pack off.  Kind of a pain.  

If these two pockets were either larger, (maybe a full length pocket) and/or the pockets were accessible while wearing the pack, I think the functionality would improve.  Again, these are personal preference things, so it might not matter to you.

Strapping a load down

Mystery Ranch Selway 60

As I mentioned above, I broke a piece of gear strapping down a quarter of an elk because this pack uses the back panel of the bag as the compression to hold the meat in place.  This would be a huge complaint for me, but Mystery Ranch already solved the problem and now offers a new Back Strap Accessory which now holds the meat in place.  This is a new accessory I’ll be picking up!

Mystery Ranch Selway 60 Review: Conclusion

So would I recommend the Mystery Ranch Selway 60?  If you are a minimalist and don’t want or like all the extra pockets, then absolutely!  We all have different needs and wants in a pack, and that’s entirely a personal thing.  Packs fit everyone differently as well, so what was a great feeling pack for me may be horrible for you.  If at all possible, it’s always best to try on a pack before deciding if it’s the best fit.  They are sort of like boots; they fit everyone a little differently.  Mystery Ranch has long been a staple in backcountry hunting packs, and this new Guide Lite MT frame accomplishes everything you need in a hunting pack.

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