Pack sizing - head hitting frame (Mystery Ranch)

Joined
Sep 14, 2021
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7
After lurking for a few years it's time I made a post. I'm in the market for my first frame pack, but have some questions on frame sizing and head movement.

5'6" 140 lbs
15.5 - 16" torso
29-30" waist

My local store in Missoula primarily carries Mystery Ranch packs, so I tried bunch on. While I wasn't able to try on the exact models I'm most interested in, the size small seems to fit me well in the waist and shoulders, and I really like the overall design of the meat hauling system on the MR packs. However, it seems like the top portion of the frame (where the load lifters connect) is quite tall. I didn't have any weight in the packs, but the frame prevented me from tilting my head back more than a couple inches when load lifters were tightened a bit. This seems like it could get frustrating when day hunting away from camp. Mystery Ranch says the size small packs should fit a torso length of 15-20", but have other people experienced this limited head mobility with the Mystery Ranch pack frame?

This got me thinking about the Kuiu Icon Pro system as well It looks like their frame is shaped with a deep scoop between the load lifters to increase head mobility. I also really like the concept of interchangeable bags, but can't get a Kuiu bag in my hands without ordering one. The Kuiu would also cost ~$100 more without a discount code and reviews are mixed, so I'm a bit hesitant. Budget is $500 max so brands like Stone Glacier and Exo aren't really an option.

If it makes any difference, I'm primarily looking at the MR Pintler, MR Sawtooth, and Kuiu Icon Pro (a couple sizes). This will be used for 2-3 night backcountry hunts. I'm an experienced backpacker and prefer a relatively minimalist approach, so I'm tempted to go with these smaller bags and use the meat shelf for additional capacity if needed. At 140 lbs, I shouldn't be carrying 80+ lbs anyways.

Does anybody have experience with their head contacting the pack frame or recommendations for a guy with a short torso length? Thanks!
 

Marbles

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May 16, 2020
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With a torso as short as yours, you might have an issue finding a load hauling frame that does not stick up. An Exo with a 24 inch fram will fit, and the fram is shaped to minimize contact with your head, but with a sub 40 pound load you will only be able to lean your head back so far before coming in contact with the frame.

Some frame shapes are worse than others. Order some packs from companies with good return policies and see which one works best for you. Kifaru, Exo, and Seek Outside have generous return policies, other US brands probably do too.
 

Conrad101st

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Jun 28, 2017
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Oklahoma
Maybe go old school and get a MR NICE frame pack. That frame is notoriously short for most people but might be perfect for you. There are several very good packs that fit that frame. Some have built in higher load lift extenders and others do not.
 

Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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Don't take this the wrong way, but you might consider Initial Ascent's women's frame. It fits torsos from 13" to 17".
 

madcalfe

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May 9, 2019
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Location
British Columbia
I think your probably going to find that with most higher end pack frames.
im 5'11 155lbs but with a 19" torso and my stone glacier and kifaru both hit my head if I'm looking up hill.
it doesn't overly bother me though while hiking or even really notice it.

the only pack i can think of that probably wont hit your head would be like a 22" or 24" kuiu one
which would probably be fine for 2-3 day back pack hunts providing it fits you properly
 
OP
T
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
7
Thanks for the suggestions, folks! I did some reading on the Seek Outside website and they have an option for adjusting hip belt location to lower the frame for just this situation. However, I can’t wait 12 weeks on this backpack. Maybe I’ll give them a call and see what they say.

Drenalin, no offense taken at all. I’m a small guy in an industry built around lumberjacks haha. Having looked at the Mystery Ranch sizing chart, the women’s XS might actually be perfect. The hip belt is the same as a men’s small (at least in circumference), and the frame fits a torso length of 13-18”.

Im not wild about the Metcalf bag, but I suppose that could be sold/traded for a different bag in the classifieds if I hate it?
 

MattB

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Sep 29, 2012
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Most packs will do that to varying degrees with no weight. Add some and revisit.
 

hikenhunt

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Jan 28, 2013
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Location
WA
If cost is a big factor, I'm not sure about MR, but KUIU has several sales throughout the year and if you sign up for their email list, you will get one on your birthday.

FYI, the "Icon Pro" system was upgraded to the "Pro", which has much improved suspension.
 
OP
T
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
7
Update: I spoke with MR customer service and went by the store with 2x 20 lb weights. It seems like the first time I tried packs on, the load lifters were tightened more than "a bit." They were cinching the frame right up to my head.

The men's size small Sawtooth 45 carried the 40 lb load well and the frame didn't come as near to my head with the added weight. A simple 20 lb load (more like a day hunt) also carried well and while I could still touch my head to the frame, it seemed quite manageable. The ability to look upward was much improved with these adjustments. I'll still send some fit pictures to the MR customer service rep I spoke with, but I now have a Sawtooth 45 to start playing around with.

Thanks again for the suggestions and advice! This forum has been instrumental in my big game hunting success.
 

muchach0

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
23
Was in the same boat as you, I’m 5’6 as well with an exo pack after doing the same adjustments as you I had no issues


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

roosiebull

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Aug 23, 2014
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oregon coast
Thanks for the suggestions, folks! I did some reading on the Seek Outside website and they have an option for adjusting hip belt location to lower the frame for just this situation. However, I can’t wait 12 weeks on this backpack. Maybe I’ll give them a call and see what they say.

Drenalin, no offense taken at all. I’m a small guy in an industry built around lumberjacks haha. Having looked at the Mystery Ranch sizing chart, the women’s XS might actually be perfect. The hip belt is the same as a men’s small (at least in circumference), and the frame fits a torso length of 13-18”.

Im not wild about the Metcalf bag, but I suppose that could be sold/traded for a different bag in the classifieds if I hate it?
exo makes shorter frames as well, you could call them up and get dialed in well... great packs too.

kifaru has a 22" tactical frame too, which is another awesome option

i was not a fan of kuiu packs for several reasons, some people love them though, i'm the other end of the spectrum.... they make good clothing, but the kuiu pack i had was one of my least favorites i have owned, and i shredded it pretty quick.

i think the little bit of extra money a Kifaru or EXO costs is well worth it in the long run (and short run) i have had a pile of packs and those are the 2 systems i have settled on..... trust me on this, it's way cheaper to buy the right pack first.... way cheaper.

on a side note, any frame pack that is going to perform well with a heavy load will touch your head if you look up... i think a 22" frame would be a good compromise for you, but it's not going to feel like a non frame pack.... if you want that, the mystery ranch popup is your best option, and they handle heavy loads relatively well for what they are.

the frame used to bug me a little years ago, but i have gotten used to it now, i don't even notice it anymore, but my head touches if i put my head back.

a lid on any pack will make that sensation worse, so take that into consideration if it's a factor to you.
 

tdot

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Aug 18, 2014
Messages
1,818
Location
BC
Thanks for the suggestions, folks! I did some reading on the Seek Outside website and they have an option for adjusting hip belt location to lower the frame for just this situation. However, I can’t wait 12 weeks on this backpack. Maybe I’ll give them a call and see what they say.

Drenalin, no offense taken at all. I’m a small guy in an industry built around lumberjacks haha. Having looked at the Mystery Ranch sizing chart, the women’s XS might actually be perfect. The hip belt is the same as a men’s small (at least in circumference), and the frame fits a torso length of 13-18”.

Im not wild about the Metcalf bag, but I suppose that could be sold/traded for a different bag in the classifieds if I hate it?

Seek Outside is what I was going to suggest. The frame/hip belt can be manipulated to make it carry like a much shorter pack. Then add frame extensions when you have a heavy load to carry.

I've set my pack up for a friend with similar dimensions to what you listed. The frame carry's like a 22" frame in normal mode and a 25" frame with the modified extensions I have. The only negative to this system is the frame itself hangs slightly lower then ideal. If you have a big arse, then you might rub. Also when you sit with the pack the frame will hit the ground before your butt. Another positive is you still have a full size bag attached to the frame.

I'd also suggest that you have an internal load shelf added to the bag, as any weight low in the bag will be considerably more awkward then it would be for a normal pack layout.
 

kodiakfisher

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
24
Mystery ranch pop up 28 will do the job just fine and eliminate all the sizing issues. I also am only 5'8 and have a MR Pintler and was concerned about head clearance. My bonnie hat does rub occasionally on the frame but looking up is no problem. Yes be careful about the load lifters pulling the frame too close to your head.
 
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