Mystery Ranch Vs. Cabela's Alaskan Freighter..I tried both



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  • Mystery Ranch Vs. Cabela's Alaskan Freighter..I tried both

    Just back from my 12 day moose hunt on the Alaska Peninsula; quite an adventure. Before the trip, I toyed between a Mystery Ranch NICE 6600CU pack or the Barneys freighter frame and pack. After doing a great deal of home work, I chose the Mystery Ranch. I had the pack fitted to me twice, then trained with the pack religiously once per week, loaded with 75lb’s, walking 4 miles and doing a ½ mile of incline hills months before the trip. Along with my regular running regimen, I felt I was ready for “bivying” out on the Peninsula.

    On the second day, my partner shot a beautiful 62”+ bull in 2’ to 3’ of water, and we set out on the prodigious task of butchering and hauling. I carried the first three loads myself while he continued to butcher. EVERY 1.5mile load was over 100lb’s, and probably 115lb’s +. I could not lift the pack off ground myself, thus my partner had to help lift and load my pack. I’m 6’1” and weigh 187, and in “hauling” shape.

    After the 3rd load, I felt like the pack was literally dragging on the ground. The pack/frame kept wanting to ride lower and lower, and although I had plenty of energy, the pack wore on my rear end. I had to continuously stop and adjust the pack higher. I just figured it was part of the work. On the 5th load, I asked my partner if I could try his Cabela’s Alaska freighter frame and pack. I slipped it on and it was incredibly different. The same heavy weight, yet the frame road higher, and I didn’t get that “ass dragging” feel. There simply was no noticeable flex in the frame and how it rode on my hips. I actually think the frame made my hauling about 20% easier. I’ve thought about that number quite a bit before assigning the figure. Undoubtedly it was SIMPLY easier to haul.

    Now I love my Mystery Ranch pack, and it’s going stone sheep hunting with me next year. Yet for pure hauling, I personally would go with a freighter frame; PERIOD. In addition, my buddy’s frame made short order out of our routine 1/2 mile water hauling (from the lake) trips, and I loved the shelf for hauling other items. Thus I‘m going to go ahead and buy a Barneys Frame and Pack. Hauling 115lb’s+ is simply a different game when compared to hiking with 75lbs.

    I’m a novice compared to guys on this board, but this is my experience. Yes, I was surprised in the difference between the two frames/packs.

    The hauling wasn’t fun, but it was challenging, thus it made for part of the experience, which I enjoyed. I like work. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me.

    Very best,

  • #2


    while your experience does not surprise me, the mystery ranch is still a quality pack. you will love your barney's pack.
    Cold Zero
    Member: S.C.I., N.R.A. Life Endowment Member & L.E. Tactical Firearms Instr.


    • #3
      Why would you buy a Barney's packframe if the Cabela's frame worked just as good?? Just curious.


      • #4
        pack frames

        i am not sure that cabelas are just as good.

        for one thing the belt from barneys has much more padding and is more comfortable. i beleive the tubing used is diff', read stronger as well. the barneys frame is guaranteed for life as well.

        that being said, the cabelas frame with a barneys bag on it is not a bad way to go.

        most times , you get what you pay for.
        Cold Zero
        Member: S.C.I., N.R.A. Life Endowment Member & L.E. Tactical Firearms Instr.


        • #5
          I don't know if you've looked at the newer Cabela's pack frames but they have made significant changes to their suspension system and I am almost 100% sure that Barney's uses the same tubing as Cabela's. Instead of using pins Cabela's went to a newer attaching system instead of using pins like Barney's does. I have one of the Cabela's frames and can't wait ti use it on a moose pack. If one were to buy the Barney's pack there are some changes that I would make to it and with the Cabela's frame, I don't have to make any. Thats my .02 worth.


          • #6

            I went from the best camp trails back pack to the barneys and will never regret spending that money on it. My camp trails frame actually snapped in half with a huge load of moose meat and the rack on it. I use my barneys for moose and sheep. I love it and will go with no other. I have not seen the new Cabelas, so can't comment. The Barneys is hands down the best pack I have ever worn and it handles the huge loads that I usually pack better than any pack I have ever seen. My buddy uses an internal frame (kelty) for sheep and he has load issues quite often. We spend a lot of time trying to get the weight in the right place. I just load my pack up and away I got. Good luck in whatever you choose, but I can guarantee you won't go wrong with a Barney's pack. Make sure you have them "fit" it for you.


            • #7

              Originally posted by northway View Post
              ...Good luck in whatever you choose, but I can guarantee you won't go wrong with a Barney's pack. Make sure you have them "fit" it for you.
              I have heard a lot about the "fitting" Barney's this something you must have done at the store or is there a survey of questions when you order it or what?

              I am seriously considering Barney's pack, but I wish I could try one on and see how it handles before I make the purchase. I am a small to medium framed guy and have a hard time finding a comfortable fix. Will they allow "test runs" (buy/try/return if not satisfied)? What's their service like? Will they ship down here to Michigan?

              Thanks a bunch!


              • #8
                "fit it"

                When I bought mine at Barneys, they adjusted everything so it fit me. I am 6' 3" 230#'s, so having it adjusted by them to fit my frame was good. I am not sure I would have touched a thing if I had just bought it without them. It is amazing at how little adjustments can make the pack feel so much better, especially when there is 120-150 #'s in the pack!


                • #9
                  AK Hunter 45-
                  Although I enjoyed my buddy's Cabelas, I'd buy the Barneys. On my way back from my trip, I stopped into the Barney's store, and the owner showed me the differences. They are all logical. He thought the Barney's frame would make the haul easier than the Cabela's (because of construction). I'm willing to bite and try it.

                  BTW, if anyone's reading this, the only rain gear that kept me dry was Helly Hanson Impertech. I rought a full suit of Rivers West, and realized after day one that this "junk" will get you killed. I can't belive Eastman's magaizine endorses this crap. Oh, it keeps you warm until and dry during the first rain, but becomes IMPOSSIBLE to dry in your tent, thus the gear stays wet, inside and out, your entire trip (unless you get sun, which we did not). More later on my rain gear test from the peninusla.
                  Kind Regards,


                  • #10
                    Barney's Pack

                    I love my Barney's pack. Stuffed a 200lb wet 10ft + hide in one and we packed it out for 2 miles. Some of my guide friends use the Mystery Ranch pack and like it OK for sheep hunting and light loads. It hangs up less in the alders and has it's some advantages. But my big Barney's pack will hold more volume and is very well built. Not many pack's out there that will carry that kind of a load and not split at the seams.


                    • #11
                      i've wondered about the rivers west stuff i've seen, didn't look like anyting a good breeze and a bit of sun would dry out like the HH impertec.
                      by the by, you'll love your barneys i've seen most of them on my clients adn they all sit there adn just stare at my barney bag and wondery why they never heard of it before. price tags stings...but at least the load on your back don't. i'vetaken several loads out over 200lbs and would do it again if i had to...the frame makes it work. i'm five seven and 170lbs and the frame still fits me pretty good. i'll log on over 300 miles a year under my frame and still sit on it, camp with it, cook on it, lean on it and dig holes with it if i have too...
                      great gear...
                      thanks for the rivers west report...that was informative.
                      Master guide 212


                      • #12
                        What is the difference between the Cabelas Alaskan Frieghter and the Cabelas Alaskan?

                        I have a Badlands internal frame pack and love it, however, like you I have noticed for pure hauling it does not seem perfect. I bought and Cabelas Alaskan, with pack but intend to use it soley for packing meat, with only the frame. The shelf looks great, but this year I did not get an elk and was very dissappointed I did not get to try it, so I am curious about your experiance.

                        Incidentally, not sure if this is the best plan, and I have not hauled over 100 lbs, but to get up with heavy weight on my pack I have laid it down and then laid on top, stomach up, buckled the pack, then rolled over to a crouched position and pushed my self up, using my hands pulling on trees if available. However with 100 lbs this might be begging to pull your back or something else.


                        • #13
                          Cabela's original Alaskan series packs were based on the CampTrails Moose Freighter frame.

                          My Alaskan II is now 15 years old and been on dozens of trips. Other than an occasional repair and the addition of a few more grommets its still in good shape. Its not the sexiest pack out there or the lightest but it rides where it should under any load.
                          If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


                          • #14
                            Cabelas for me, Barneys will have to pass

                            Ok you guys. I have gone back and forth on my pack selection and here is what i have come up with. I have posted many times on here and to me there are just not enough benifits from the barneys pack for me to get it. I did not like the kelty freighter so that was just out of the question. BUt now im going wit the Cabelas Extreme Alaskan Outfitter pack. With the total weight at 7 lbs. 14 oz for a 4700 cubic inch pack is leighter than the barney. and i can buy 2 of them and still have money to spend before i buy a barneys. THe pockets on the cabelas zip off and i like how i can manipulate the bag to minimum weight all the way down to bag weight of 1 lb. 11 oz. and the frame minimum weight to 4 lbs. 5 oz. Plus the warranty on the Barneys pack is just on manufacturer defects for life. So if i drop my pack on a rock and it cracks then they will not replace it, or this atleast how i understood it( correct me if i am wrong). I just cant and will not spend that much on a pack when i can save 300 dollars and go and buy a new sleeping bag or almost have enough money for another tent. This is what i have seen and i have spent a ton of time doing my research and fitting. So cabelas gets my money.
                            NRA life Member JVJ


                            • #15
                              no one faults you for buying cheaper cost and cheaper made gear...we all have a budget. if you don't use your pack like a freakin' animal your cabela's bags, both of them that you are buying, might work out just fine. its like binos. you can spend lots of money for great ones. or spend half that for good ones and be just as happy. you'll be fine with your cabelas until something goes wrong...i mean IF something goes wrong.
                              i'll never use one, seen to many that my clients have had and listen to them complain about them. but i use a pack like a freakin' animal so my purpose is different than most weekend warriors or two trip a year kind of guys.
                              Enjoy your cabela's bags and show them some fantstic game!
                              Master guide 212


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