Gear Review

By Bjorn Dihle

When it comes to backpacks, Mystery Ranch makes some of the toughest, most long-lasting on the market. The brand is known for hunting, climbing, firefighting, and military grade products, so I was surprised when I got my hands on their new Catalyst 22L backpack. It was more “urban” than I expected. Imagine a backpack you’d use for work or school, but that’s also a good day hiking pack, and you have the Catalyst. Mystery Ranch designed it for office work, coffee shop life, and whatever else the urban wilderness can throw at you. It has a padded sleeve for a laptop and organizing sleeves for a tablet or notebooks. However, it’s still built tough enough for a wet, nasty day-long bushwhack up a mountain in Alaska. 

The Catalyst comes in three different sizes: 18L, 22L, and 26L. It has Mystery Ranch’s well-regarded, handy three-zipper access system, which makes the contents inside the pack very accessible. The zipper is burly. I break everything I touch, especially when it comes to zippers, and I’ve never broken a Mystery Ranch zipper. I can’t say the Catalyst is completely waterproof, but it’s close—Mystery Ranch uses some of the most durable, weatherproof materials that I’ve found in backpacks. If you’re looking for a hiking or climbing backpack, Mystery Ranch has better options than the Catalyst. But if you want something that’s more versatile and good for town, country, and even adventures like exploring different ports on an Alaskan cruise, then the Catalyst is well worth checking out. 

Mysteryranch.com; starting at $139


Bjorn Dihle is Alaska magazine's gear editor and a lifelong resident of southeast Alaska. You can follow him at instagram.com/bjorndihle or facebook.com/BjornDihleauthor.

Comments are closed.