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.
Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 Review
Cons: Small water bottle pockets, expensive, not great for heavy loads
Manufacturer: Mystery Ranch
Compare to Similar Products
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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