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Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 Review

The Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 is a good all around pack that has a predictable feel and carries medium weight loads quite comfortably.
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Price:  $270 List | $268.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Large hip belt pockets, Long front access zipper
Cons:  Small water bottle pockets, expensive, not great for heavy loads
Manufacturer:   Mystery Ranch
By Adam Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 16
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 6
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Mystery Ranch, located in Bozeman Montana, has been making backpacking packs since 2000, but the company was founded by Dana Gleason and Renee Sippel-Baker of Dana Designs, who had been making great load haulers since the mid-eighties. Mystery Ranch now makes packs for all types of uses, from law enforcement, fire fighting, hunting, and for the military, but they haven't forgotten their roots as a mountain backpack maker: enter The Sphinx 60. The Sphinx has a perfect combination of comfort and ergonomics. The pack has simple features that make packing a breeze, and it comfortably carries moderate loads.


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Price $268.95 at Backcountry$202.46 at Backcountry
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Pros Large hip belt pockets, Long front access zipperLight-weight, comfortable with heavy loads, perfect pocket combinationLight-weight, comfortable, supportive, functional feature setAwesome pockets, excellent ventilation, general comfortPacked full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic design
Cons Small water bottle pockets, expensive, not great for heavy loadsTiny buckles hard to operate with glovesNo lid, back-panel lacks ventilationNot supportive for loads over 40 poundsSlightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads
Bottom Line The Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 is a good all around pack that has a predictable feel and carries medium weight loads quite comfortably.The Blaze 60 is a super-lightweight load hauler, that is both comfortable and full of awesome features.The ULA Catalyst blends excellent carrying comfort with arguably the best-executed set of features, all in a light-weight package.The Atmos 65 AG has earned its spot as a cult classic in the backpacking world due to having a great breathable suspension and other great user friendly features.An extremely comfortable and feature-rich design that handles heavy loads, while only being marginally heavier than average.
Rating Categories Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 Granite Gear Blaze 60 Catalyst Osprey Atmos 65 AG Osprey Aether AG 60
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
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6
10
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8
10
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8
10
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8
10
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8
Weight (20%)
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4
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9
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4
Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
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7
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9
Adjustability (15%)
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8
Specs Mystery Ranch... Granite Gear Blaze... Catalyst Osprey Atmos 65 AG Osprey Aether AG 60
Measured Weight (pounds) 4.8 lbs 3 lbs 3 lbs 4.54 lbs 5.13 lbs
Volume (liters) 60 L 60 L 75 L 65 L 60 L
Access Top, front Top Top Top + sleeping bag compartment Top + side access zipper + sleeping bag compartment
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials 210D, 330D Robic 100D robic nylon w/ DWR coating 400 Robic fabric Main body: 100D X 630D Nylon Dobby
Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 420HD Nylon
Main body: 210D Nylon Dobby
Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 500D Nylon
Sleeping bag Compartment No No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Mystery Ranch may not have quite the name recognition that Osprey or The North Face has, but they know a thing or two about packs and have an extensive history in pack manufacturing.

Performance Comparison


The Mystery Ranch was a comfortable pack when not overloaded and was easy to get used to.
The Mystery Ranch was a comfortable pack when not overloaded and was easy to get used to.

Suspension and Comfort


The Sphinx 60 is a pack that has a traditional feel. The suspension is easy to get used to, and comfortable for carrying loads up to about forty pounds. The back-panel feels firm and supportive and has a nice lumbar pad, but because the shoulder straps and hip belt have soft foam and a less rigid structure, for anything heavier, we found the pack lacked support.

Weight


This pack weighs in at 4.8 pounds. If it were to carry heavy loads exceptionally well, which it doesn't, 4.8 pounds would be an acceptable weight. However, since this lacks carrying support for heavy loads, we feel the pack is a little heavier than it needs to be.

Features and Ease of Use


We were quite pleased with the features this pack offers. A long zipper runs down the outside of the pack to allow access to the main compartment without having to dig down from the top to find things. The top-lid is roomy and easy to remove with a few quick-release buckles. Its zipper wraps around in a way that makes accessing items inside super easy, but there isn't much of a lip holding everything in when the zipper is wide open.

Nice wide opening on the top lid  but not a whole lot is keeping stuff from falling out.
Nice wide opening on the top lid, but not a whole lot is keeping stuff from falling out.

We absolutely love the large zipper pockets on the hip-belt. They easily hold a large phone, small camera, snacks, map & compass, or any other small items you want to keep accessible.

This pack had excellent hip belt pockets. Plenty large for a large phone  small camera  tons of snacks or a map and compass.
This pack had excellent hip belt pockets. Plenty large for a large phone, small camera, tons of snacks or a map and compass.

Not everything about this pack is ideal. While the water bottle pockets works pretty well for Nalgene bottles, they are much too short for using tall bottles and there is no forward-facing bottle option like on some other packs. Admittedly, we don't have too many issues with their function, and the bottles are easy to access while on the go, but the design seemed dated.

Side Bottle pockets are oddly short and with no tensioner  narrow bottles were not super stable.
Side Bottle pockets are oddly short and with no tensioner, narrow bottles were not super stable.

Adjustabillity


The Sphinx comes in four sizes, and the Mystery Ranch website does a thorough job of explaining how to pick the right one for you. Each size can easily be fine-tuned, which makes fitting this pack straightforward. The adjustable shoulder yoke attaches to the back-panel using a heavy-duty hook and loop panel, and a removable framesheet acts as the tool to break the hook & loop free from the pack for adjustment. The hip belt on this pack is fixed, and doesn't extend, but has a pretty good length that will accommodate most waist sizes pretty well.

Behind the shoulder straps  you can find the framesheet used to break the torso adjustment hook and loop.
Behind the shoulder straps, you can find the framesheet used to break the torso adjustment hook and loop.

Value


The Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 is a great all-around pack. It feels great on the back, has some great features, and feels like a pack is supposed to feel. With that said, it comes with a fairly high price tag. It's not unreasonably expensive, but nothing makes this pack stand out above the rest to justify the price.

This is a great overall pack and we were pleasantly surprised by the comfort whe is wasn't loaded too heavy.
This is a great overall pack and we were pleasantly surprised by the comfort whe is wasn't loaded too heavy.

Conclusion


The Sphinx 60 is one sweet pack, and with its' basic design, it is comfortable and has a predictable feel. Of all the packs we tested, this one ranks high on the user-friendly scale. However, the small water bottle pockets left us scratching our heads but overall worked fine. This pack is also not very light-weight when compared to the rest of the packs we tested.


Adam Paashaus