Built with a dynamic and versatile frame, the Mystery Ranch Subalpine Metcalf Pack is a reliable pack for the field. Watch this video to learn more about the Subalpine and why it's an all-around durable pack.
The king of bivy hunting backpacks.
The METCALF is an all-around workhorse, enough volume for more than a week in the field but compressible enough for an afternoon stalk. Built onto our Guide Light Frame™, the METCALF has ample heavy-weight capacity, and the OVERLOAD™ feature keeps bag contents clean when packing out a carcass. With a detachable lid, side detail pocket, and full-length side zip access, this pack is a favorite among hunters looking for versatility and all-around utility.
The Guide Light Frame™ is a rigid yet dynamic frame system that moves with you. With lightweight carbon fiber stays that flex with your body to comfortably carry heavy loads, it also features heavy-duty compression straps and load lifters to stabilize the load. It also features a Redirect waist belt system that secures in a natural, forward pull direction that requires less effort to tighten and with patented features and construction methods, the waist belt cants and conforms over the hips to effectively transfer and distribute the weight eliminating slippage down over the hips.
OVERLOAD™ feature provides functional expandability via a load sling between the pack and the frame, allowing you to put the bulk of the weight closest to your back for optimal comfort.
The patented Futura Yoke easily macro adjusts to the torso length allowing the proper amount of stand-off between the back and frame.
Weight: 6.1 lbs
Volume: 4333 cu-in
Frame System: Guide Light Frame
Side zip access
Bow and rifle carry via compression straps
Hydration reservoir compatible
Detail side pocket for small items
Available in GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Subalpine pattern to seamlessly add another layer of superior gear to your system
I was turned on to this pack from Randy Newberg, and I has yet to disappoint. It may not be the lightest on the market, but it definitely is the best value. I hauled two deer out with this pack and it will easily fit a quartered deer if you need it to.
I bought this pack because of Randy Newberg's recommendation. I wanted a good quality pack since my last one only lasted two seasons. I mostly shed hunt in the spring, along with elk hunting in the fall. I have not actually used this pack yet, but am very impressed with fit, comfort, and quality. The durability has yet to be proven, but I am sure it will outlast the previous ones. I like the idea that they will do repairs also.
I have an NICE from that I bought in 2005. I used that until this year without problem! The new guide light frame with the Metcalf is fantastic. I can't believe how great it feels. I tried the other big name packs and I liked the layout of this one and the feel. I did a 6 day backpack elk hunt in Idaho with no problem. It fit everything I needed into it, including a tent because of the snow. I also hauled out 2 elk quarters with it. The belt system allows you to really tighten it up so none of the weight goes to your shoulders! I love this and glad I finally upgraded!
This is a great pack! Used it for 6 days in the Big Horns. Easily converts from stow it all bag to a slimmed down day pack. Very comfortable with loads. One thing though-make sure you have everything adjusted right. I was able to talk with customer service a few times to get squared away on adjusting the pack. Once the pack was adjusted right, it is very comfortable and can handle good sized loads. Buy with confidence, this is a great pack!
When you want to get serious about back country hunting and are tired of poor performing, low quality packs, buck up and invest in a mystery ranch pack. It will most likely be the last pack you will ever buy and you will thank yourself every time you throw it over your shoulders.
I bought this pack about 6 months ago after saving up for several months but didn’t get much of a chance to use it until my early season cow hunt. I ended up dropping a good size cow 2.5 miles out and 1400 feet above the road. Thanks to this pack I was able to get that 150 lbs of meat out in three trips by myself. I’m not in great shape by any means but two of those three loads were heavy enough that I could hardly get up off the ground once loaded. This had me pack concerned about my back and shoulders but I honestly did not have one bit of pain in either during the day and a half it took me to pack that cow out. You can keep your ultralight pack, I’m taking the one keeps me smiling the whole pack out.
As a special ops player who has done some extreme (to put it softly) activities with a pack on my back and an avid hunter who has continued this tradition of personal brutality in my pursuits, I can say with authority and without a doubt that this pack is simply put Bad-Ass-Gear. I am not a weekend warrior who has packed into a few high mountain lakes on the weekends. I am a guy who has put himself and his gear through absolute hell. I can tell you from experience that a non stop 30 mile hump at 70 pounds is a bit less hellish with this pack and if used properly it is perhaps the most important piece of gear for a serious backcountry hunter. Super impressed with the simplicity, customizable nature (something serious operators have to have), durability (worth every ounce) and comfort beyond what anyone could hope expect making you more effective down range (huge) repeat (HUGE). Buy this pack you will go farther, longer and be more effective when you arrive at your target period.
I could not be more happy with this pack. I am a backcountry hunter and leader of our local Boy Scout Troop. This pack is now my “go-to” pack replacing my Gregory Baltoro as my first pick in the gear closet. It gets lots of use, everything from Boy Scout backpacking adventures to elk hunting. The biggest test was in my most recent elk hunt. We covered 50 miles during the week in the back country. No trails, horrible terrain and weather, and not a single problem.
Even better, I can attest to the meat hauling capabilities of this pack. It is capable of hauling loads far heavier than I could carry.
One step further, the Mystery Ranch folks stand by their product. I purchased the rifle slung accessory. One week before departure I broke one of the buckles on the rifle sling. Mystery Ranch was very friendly and exceeded my expectations in expedite shipping a new sling for my pack with days to spare!
Great product, great corporate mission. Very happy and now loyal customer.
First thing that sold me on it was the durability one longevity of Mystery Ranch. I work on a Hotshot Crew and know what Mystery Ranch packs can go through. I’ve only used it on training hikes so far with 35lbs in it, up 1 mile with 1,750 elevation gain and it feels like almost nothing is on my back. There’s plenty of room in this bag for a multiple day spike out hunt and can carry extra gear in the overload shelf for spike camp supplies. People complain about it not having external pockets, if you want more pockets then get the Marshal. The top pouch is enough space for me for external pocket needs. There’s a side zipper on the Main compartment that makes it nice getting into when gear is on the bottom of the pack. Thinking about buying the Mule bag and putting it in the overload shelf with day hunt needs and then leaving the Metcalf at spike with camp supplies and using the Mule while out on the hunt. With that set up I think you could haul in everything needed for multiple days.
Versatile and dependable, it is the best pack ever built for the back country hunter.
I first heard about Mystery Ranch when I was deployed in 2012. I thought, "What better proving ground than some of the most demanding conditions in one the most in inhospitable mountain ranges in the world." When I returned stateside, I put a Metcalf on my wishlist for Christmas. On Christmas morning my wife surprised me with a OD Green version of the pack. I've now had this pack for 5 years and I can attest to its construction. It is bulletproof. I've thrown everything at it from oversized loads to demanding environments to small day packing. It does it all and asks for more.
It is a minimalist pack, great for some, but MR falls far behind Kifaru or Eberlestock in allowing for its pack to be more versatile. The lack of any PALS webbing makes attachment of pockets impractical. The detachable "day lid" was not designed with any sort of waist belt or shoulder straps, unlike the older version of Metcalf which had hidden shoulder straps. I was told you could sling it over one shoulder, which I tried, and it's awkward--definitely not any way to carry even a small pack for stalks. Strapping a rifle or shotgun to the side of the pack, with the butt of the gun in the elastic pouch seemed precarious, as the elastic material flexes quite a bit, and with the pack semi empty, the gun moves quite a bit.
On the plus side, the pack is very comfortable, which is not surprising considering the Dana Designs pedigree, but it seems as though the accessories are a distant afterthought. Overall, disappointing for a "versatile, hunting backpack."
Well this was my first year with a Metcalf, after participating in 5 elk, 3 antelope, and 2 deer, I am thoroughly happy with it. I have 2 complaints overall, the small clips for the chest strap have a pointed shape that really dig into your shoulder/armpit area, bad enough to the point that I removed them, also if the NICE frame was designed with higher stays/load lifters, it would not only help carry the load but it was also a feature I was jealous of, while watching a friend sling his rifle over his on the Kuiu pack, to keep his rifle readily available in bear country. Just a thought. Overall I would recommend one to anybody, But I would highly recommend redesigning the chest strap buckles.
Luckily there few great backpack designers out there and if you only said there’s one you would be full of it, I bet even the guys at Mystery Ranch would agree. I watched a ton of videos on YouTube and Vimeo of them all, read all the reviews podcasts blogs etc. I learned a ton and the more I learned the more I saw most folks didnt really know the details of simple design and use. The hardest part about designing something is making it simple. Yet simplicity take years.... more like decades of trial and error. Myster Ranch bags are that. The adjustments for the yoke height is an absolutely beautiful thing. Do yourself a favor and YouTube how any competitor adjust yoke height. If you did that you are probably already back at this site! Once I figured that out I had to choose between the bags at Mystery Ranch, and this was harder than I thought. So I called their customer service, and everyone should call them, just to see what it’s like. They were awsome! Half of the value (maybe more) in the product is customer service after you buy it. After some debate I decided on the Metcalf and now I’m getting the Metcalf ready for hunting season working the kinks out and adding weight and learning the load shelf. The one thing nobody mentions is when you buy the bag it’s like buying a new catchers mit or stiff leather boots. You need to work it in. Foam padding started to form to me and it takes a bit of adjusting before, after and during your first hikes, and this is super easy on the fly adjusting! The really cool thing about the Metcalf is I can remove the bag from it’s frame and put on the Pintler or Mule on the existing frame. Would I buy it again? Yes and after my buddy tried mine he is buying a Metcalf and a Pop-Up 28. You can’t go wrong.
Hauled 120#s 3 miles with this thing. Just about killed me, but the pack held up fine. Also impressed with the waist belt. First I've used that actually rests on my hips and doesn't try to slide down all the time.
I'm always looking for better gear! Been eyeballing Mystery Ranch packs for while now. When you guys came out with the Metcalf in Sitka Subalpine camo it sealed the deal. I've found that with this pack, taking the time to adjust the yoke properly made for an awesome fit! Living and hunting here in western Wyoming , gears got to be tough as nails! This pack is that and so much more! I'm not a big fan of lots of pockets and such so this pack is perfect! I like the adjustability of the size and how well it compresses. Makes it quite versatile. Anything from day hunts to week long trips, this one does it all!! I've found in over 30 years of backcountry backpack hunting, you get what you pay for! This pack is the most comfortable and durable that I've ever owned! Worth every penny!!
Love just about everything. Well worth the purchase...too much to go into detail, but the wait belt needs to be wider. Too narrow. Especially when hauling heavy loads. Second. Very frustrating when the hip pouches move all over when you unbuckle the waist belt. They constantly need adjusted when you unbuckle due to the design of how they are held in place by the webbing and only stay tight when the belt is buckled. Last. No external pockets and the pack is a little heavy. If those deer items were addressed, hands down would be the best pack out there. What MR is doing, especially here in 2018 is very promising and exciting. Thanks.
I've owned my Metcalf for about five years now. I bought the Longbow first, and then added a Metcalf bag the next year. It's seen a lot of miles and a lot of weight. My thoughts, worth what you paid for them:
I don't mind the lack of pockets. I keep my spotter/tripod on the side with the mesh pouch, and use the cinch straps to hold it. My trekking poles go in the same spot. Never a problem with either of these items coming out.
The NICE frame is about as solid as they come. I did add the frame extenders so the load lifters work properly. I also added the Power Pulls from Oneiros Valley. Good addition.
It takes a little fiddling around with the frame initially, but once you get it dialed in mark the yoke with a sharpie. That way, when you pull your frame apart to clean it at the end of the year you can get it back to the same location easily.
Love the load shelf on the Metcalf bag. I've carried several deer on the Longbow, which does not have the load shelf. The shelf makes things easier and you don't have to fiddle with things as much.
I like the simplistic functionality of the bag. I'm not much into individual pockets and such, if you are then this probably isn't the bag for you.
The Metcalf compresses down just fine for day hunting. I've done a number of multiple day backpack hunts with this pack and wear it every day. As far as volume, I was able to fit food and gear for a 9 day bow hunt in the Rubies in Nevada. With more cold weather gear I would likely have to lash some stuff on the outside.
Durability seems to be very good thus far. No stitching has come loose, and other than some wear on the yoke it's still as good as new.
The pack is heavy, no doubt. However, I can't say I really notice the extra 2-3 pounds when I get it on my back. I do notice the extra 10 pounds on me when I cinch the belt down.
it was some doing to get this pack. a few years of missing the boat; trying - only to find them sold out. finally!! the pack is sturdy. very sturdy. the material is so robust. i have an old MR DragonSlayer that i use as a daypack, when there is a truck parked at camp. that thing is a tiny tank. one time, it was up to me to keep my spotting scope on a deer, while another hunter stalked up to it. my job was to offer up hand-signals to keep them informed of what was going on. my perch was covered with sharp shale, and small bushes with thorns. sitting down was not an option until! i just put my pack on the ground and sat on it. when that deer toppled over dead, all i had to do was get up, brush off the pack and go. my new Metcalf feels just like it. you can grab it anywhere to hoist it anyway you want. it wont tear.
the Metcalf; i have not been honored with carrying meat with it yet. i did take the pack apart in my living room to see how that plays out. not super intuitive (for me). i had to watch a few videos online. i'll probably do it one more time to make sure i get it right. i have used it many times to go backpack fishing. one trip was my wife's first backpack trip. i carried everything to keep her load to a minimum. i wanted to make sure she enjoyed the experience. my pack was loaded down..stuff tied to the outside. super easy to do, by the way. the hip belt was comfy. i could cinch it to the point of it not ever slipping without choking myself off at the hips. the shoulder straps were great. i even had one big hike, with a rifle strapped to one side pulling the load sideways awkwardly. not ideal, but it worked.
i need to put a pouch on the outside..i'll poach one from another competitor's pack that just hangs there in my garage now.
i cant wait for the new hunt season. gonna backpack in for squirrels..and grouse. plus all the elusive big game..happy hunting you all. this is a great pack option.
i dinked one star for the difficult ordering, could use better organization in the main pack (including water bladder) and the fact that they discontinued their regular ball caps. :) <- all subjective stuff.