US bag brand Mystery Ranch has established an enviable reputation for bombproof gear used by firefighters, the military and other hardcore heroes. The Gallagator is its lightweight backpack designed for outdoor athletes who want to get to their kit fast and it works well on the bike if you’re OK with free-range rather than carefully curated contents.
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With a nearly 20-liter capacity, there’s plenty of room for epic day rides that demand multiple clothing choices and if you’re traveling light it could handle a few days of bikepacking, too. Twin compression straps mean it doesn’t flop around if you don’t have the pack loaded up to its full volume. Getting into the main compartment is really easy too, thanks to a super tough, easy running full-length YKK zip down the front of the bag.
At the top, this overlaps with another two chunky, easy running zips with bracing tags at the far end that come in from either side of the lid so you can completely spatchcock the bag rather than rummaging down from the top. That potentially makes the lack of any internal pockets or dividers, apart from an elasticated sleeve for a bladder, less of an issue for organization.
There are no hip pockets on the narrow stabilizing belt either but there is an external zip (again refreshingly free running and bracing tabbed at either end to access a compartment that takes up the whole hood. There are stretchy ‘bottle pockets' on each side with lightly elasticated collars too but they’re sized for big flasks, not narrower bike bottles. There is a bladder sleeve with supporting toggle and exit flaps on either side for the hose and you can obviously use the side pockets for a jacket or other stuff you want to get to fast.
You’ll also need to pack carefully to make sure hard objects don’t poke you in the back while riding as padding is limited to two strips on either side of the spine. The tapered shoulder straps are only very lightly padded, too. That keeps weight low and reduces sweat build-up and there’s plenty of length adjustment for taller riders. An adjustable strap across the sternum helps keep the Gallagator stable when you’re jiving around in technical sections but the thin belt does mean it can creep up more easily and bounce on the back of your helmet on slow, steep descents than a backpack with a lower center of gravity.
The Gallagator lacks internal organization and hip pockets. It can also shift around on steep descents but has a great balance of low weight, durability, easy access and on/off-bike versatility otherwise.
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Tech Specs: Mystery Ranch Gallagator backpack
- RRP: $89.99
- Weight: 590g
- Colors: Gallagator, Aegean Blue, Black, Desert Fox, Foliage, Vice, Flame (tested)
- Size: 19l