The Mystery Ranch Patrol 45 ski pack is a refined piece of history. For those readers old enough to recall the Dana Bomb pack, the Patrol 45 has a familiar air about it. The Bomb pack was the go-to day pack for ski patrol, ski guides and any backcountry skier who appreciated a quality pack in the 1990’s. In an age of superlight everything, a daypack that weighs almost five pounds may seem a bit, well, overkill. That is, until you load it up and put it on. I understand the whole light-is-right movement, and I certainly appreciate a sub-two-pound pack with my sub 15-pound summer backpacking load. But the Patrol 45 has bigger aspirations. Number one, the materials and construction are top notch. Nothing on this pack leaves you wondering if it will last. Just the opposite is true – I look at this ski pack and wonder if it will ever wear out.
Next, Pack Design
The reality of packing for an overnight ski tour is that your pack isn’t going to weigh in under 15 pounds. The first day I tested out the Patrol 45, I loaded it with a full overnight kit (see list below) plus 20 pounds of chain coiled in the bottom (The chain was part of a winter shelter-tarp). Having watched the video at the Mystery Ranch site, and taken the time to adjust the pack properly, I was truly amazed at how this mid-sized pack carried such a heavy load with ease and serious comfort.
The fit is widely adjustable and remarkably comfortable. The pack is built with a combination of fabrics to be burly where necessary against skis and winter tools, but still be flexible and packable. All the modern bits are there:
- Watertight zippers with mitten friendly pulls
- Streamlined pockets on the easily adjustable waist-belt
- Easy access zipper down the side for easy entry to a puffy or insulated bottle
- Fully opening back panel for total access even with skis or board attached along with traditional top loader access.
- The choice of either A-Frame carry or Diagonal Loop for skis
- An internal frame system to distribute larger winter loads
- Dual storage pockets on the lid
- Easily adjustable front pocket or “Stick It” for awkward sized items
- Fully self-contained safety equipment pocket that easily swallows a full size shovel blade, probe, saw, and avy tools bag.
- Stretch woven, snow-shedding material on harness and back-panel
I usually trend towards simple as a general rule, and when I first looked at this pack and saw all the straps, zippers, adjustments and buckles on it, I was a little overwhelmed. It takes a while to get to know all of the features and figure out all it’s secrets, but that is OK because you are going to have a long time to develop a relationship as the Patrol 45 ski pack is built to last. I would love to think that I have the outside time needed to wear it out! For twenty-first century ski touring this thing is the bomb, just bigger and better. It’s also available in a 35 liter volume for smaller loads.
Here’s the list of what I managed to pack and carry with comfort in the Patrol 45!
- Mountain Hardware Kiva (shelter) w/groundcloth
- 150 Down Bag
- Inflatable winter sleeping pad
- MSR Reactor Stove w/pot
- Extra clothes bag
- Puffy jacket and pants
- Extra hats, gloves, and mittensShovel, probe, and saw, repair/first-aid kit
- Food bag plus spoon and insulated mug
- Nalgene water bottle
- 1 liter insulated stainless bottle for teaSunglasses, goggles, compass, map
- Down booties
- Crazy Creek chair
- And of course, the requisite 30 feet of chain we always seem to need to carry!