Mystery Ranch RADIX 57
Paige Triola

Tested: Mystery Ranch’s RADIX 57 Holds It All on Backpacking Trips

New for 2024, this 57-liter pack is a great choice for multi-day excursions.

A solid backpacking pack is key to keeping that eager smile plastered to a hiker's face. And, after testing the newly-launched Mystery Ranch RADIX 57 on a very rainy, four-day backpacking trip, I can attest this lightweight pack won't leave you with regrets.

The RADIX series is Mystery Ranch's newest line of lightweight packs with ultralight features. Available in 31L, 47L and 57L gear capacities, Mystery Ranch plugs the pack as being ideal for fast-moving long days or multi-overnights and thru-hikes on the trail.

At first glance, this pack has everything you'd want in a backpacking pack: a top-loading shroud, handy exterior pockets, a removable aluminum frame, well-cushioned shoulder straps and hip belt, and plenty of interior space.

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But I know looks can be deceiving, having a decent amount of backpacking experience under my belt, ranging from a weekend on the Appalachian Trail to two months building trails in Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest. My husband, Rob, meanwhile, is a beginner to backpacking; as such, he was particularly primed to test this pack on our four-day trip, since correctly gearing up on your first time backpacking is crucial to avoid being traumatized by your first experience.

After multiple days hiking with this pack, we were happy to find that the RADIX 57 is intuitive, beginner-friendly, and tough as nails. Here's our full review.

Mystery Ranch RADIX 57 Technical Specs

Weight: 3.78 lbs
Stripped Weight (pack without lid, frame, and waist belt): 3.02 lbs
Volume: 59.6 L

  • Large and spacious pocketed lid (removable)
  • 7000 Series aerospace aluminum frame (removable)
  • Pocketed waist belt (removable)
  • Adjustable lightweight harnessing
  • Front and side pockets for holding water bottles, snacks, or small gear
  • Durable construction with Technical Ultra-PE Birdseye and recycled 1000 Robic Ripstop fabric
  • Men's and women's harnessing options for ideal ergonomic fit
  • Hydration reservoir-compatible (does not include bladder)

How the Mystery Ranch RADIX 57 Performed

Mystery Ranch RADIX 57

Paige Triola

With 57 liters of gear capacity, this pack impressed us with its ability to accommodate a lot of stuff without tipping the wearer over. We filled it to the brim with hiking essentials, as well as clothes and gear, toiletries, loose snacks, and even a hefty bear barrel full of food. And, as a true test of strength, we strapped our 7-pound tent (not ultralight, but we love that tent) on the bottom.

While the RADIX is plugged as a lightweight pack, once it was filled up, we managed to make it decidedly not lightweight. And on the first day when the pack was filled to the brim, lifting the bag with one hand begged the question: How on earth is anyone expected to carry this for four days?

But we were surprised to see that concern disappear once the pack was on Rob's back and the shoulder and hip straps were adjusted correctly. I even tried it out myself: The weight rested evenly on the cushioned hip belt and floated lightly over my shoulders. Magic? No, just a smart, well-thought-out design.

And once we were on the trail, the pack continued to impress: My husband found that it was comfortable to wear all day (well, as comfortable as a fully stuffed pack can be) and distributed weight beautifully. The pockets were in all the right places, the straps were easy to adjust, and it rested evenly on the hips for optimal weight distribution.

Between enduring daily downpours, while backpacking and having heavy items to haul, the RADIX 57 was put through the wringer over the course of four days. On the pack's exterior, we found several sturdy fabric loops for attaching carabiners and accessories. These loops held up great and showed no signs of wear or tear.

The overall fabric was equally tough and rugged, especially on the bottom panel where the pack was heaved to the ground during hiking breaks. And up top, the clamshell-opening lid was like a Mary Poppins bag, offering quick access to a seemingly endless space for snacks, hand sanitizer, a compass, a pocketknife, and the like.

Mystery Ranch RADIX 57

Paige Triola

Of course, no pack is perfect, and there were a few details that our testing showed need improvement: We noticed the chest strap is attached by small plastic clips that very easily detach from the shoulder straps; if these small clips are lost, the chest strap is useless.

We also learned (during the trip, unfortunately) that a rain fly is not included with the pack. Since only the top lid and base fabric are waterproof, the body material became wet in heavy rain, causing the items inside to become damp. You can buy a rain fly separately, but it's always nice when this accessory is included.

Lastly, the hydration bladder pocket is quite narrow, and—since the pack doesn't come with its own water reservoir—it may not be wide enough for the bladder you already own.

So, Should You Buy It?

Mystery Ranch RADIX 57

Paige Triola

While there are plenty of other excellent packs out there, the RADIX 57 stands out for its incredibly tough construction and convenient exterior attachment points. Not only is it guaranteed to last for years, it allows you to carry more even when you can't fit anything else inside of it.

If ample space, durability, and comfortable carry are important to you, then the RADIX 57 is well worth its $299 price tag. At the very least, you're getting a reliable pack that isn't going to tear or malfunction on the trail.

Mystery Ranch is renowned for producing high-quality packs made with tough fabric that holds up over time, so the value is there. But, if you're not planning on doing long days on the trail for multiple nights, you'll be fine getting an even more entry-level pack that has a lower price point.

All in all, this is a hardy and capable pack that holds more than you think it can. Despite its few flaws, it is an excellent choice for hauling what you need on multi-day trail excursions. Reliable, comfortable gear was critical for making a good first impression on my husband to ensure future backpacking trips together—thanks to a solid performance by the RADIX, we are looking forward to hitting the trail again soon.

Men's Mystery Ranch RADIX 57

Women's Mystery Ranch RADIX 57

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