Mountainsmith Mystic 65 Backpack $220
The Good: The Breezeway suspension system, removable top pocket, comfortable padding on hips and shoulders, plenty of accessible pockets.
The Bad: The breezeway causes the main pocket to curve which makes packing tent poles and rolled sleeping pads a bit awkward. 65L can be a bit small for a multi-night trip.
The Awesome: An exceptionally dry back after a hot day of hiking, that’s a first with 45 lbs strapped on all day in 85 degree weather.
One of the most essential pieces of gear for wilderness adventure is a good pack. A solid backpack is essential for comfortably bringing everything needed for shelter, sustenance, and a bit of fun. A great bag has plenty of space, exterior lash points, and pockets to keep gear organized and secure; while also allowing for a comfortable fit and even distribution of the load. Mountainsmith’s Mystic 65L pack has plenty of room for a lightweight overnight trip, with a detachable top pocket, separated sleeping bag compartment, and external side straps for tents, pads, or other long items. The diamond airmesh padding and Breezeway suspension back panel hold the load away from the back for excellent airflow to keep from heating up during hot days, while also locking it well at the hips and shoulders for a secure load while moving. The contoured PE frame sheet has a steel hoop for added stability, but the internal frame is too flexible to support a heavy expedition load. Exterior mesh pockets on the hips keep cameras or snacks close at hand, and a large top open main compartment is easy to access for that extra layer when the weather turns cool. The three point adjustment system means that a hiker can dial in a nice fit that conforms to the proper torso height.
Our tester took this bag out on multiple overnight trips in Northern California near Lassen park during the warm spring. Weather was a solid 75-85 degrees with cooler nights that required a few layers to stay comfortable. The pack was weighed down with about 45 lbs of spring gear, and handled the load well. Packing the main compartment was a bit difficult with the long items like a sleeping pad due to the slight contour bend of the Breezeway feature of the bag, and until the hip belt was buckled in place, the load did feel a bit unstable. Overall, the pack held plenty of gear and food for overnight trips in the spring, but would be small for anything more than a few spring/summer nights. The detachable top pocket was great for keeping track of small essentials while in camp, and made it easy to organize frequently used items.
Overall, the pack’s unconventional contoured form really impressed with excellent ventilation without sacrificing load stability. For a great standard overnight pack, the Mystic 65 is a great pick.