How to Pack a Daypack
Seven items that the Mystery Ranch founder always has on the trail
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Dana Gleason first came to fame after starting Dana Designs, a brand of durable packs known for their innovative interior frames and the ability to comfortably carry heavy loads over long distances. Backpackers loved them, and by 1990, Dana Designs was the best-selling manufacturer of backpacks. Gleason sold the company to K2 Sports in 1995 and retired to ski, climb, and hike around his home in Bozeman, Montana.
“I got to ski powder for 90 continuous days,” the 65-year old designer says. “It got to the point where it actually felt like work, which was disappointing.”
Then, after sewing a simple hip pack for his teenage daughter, Gleason rediscovered his love for pack design and founded Mystery Ranch in 2000. Today, the company makes consumer packs but also works with the military, wildland firefighters, and rescue teams to build highly technical packs for their needs.
We wanted to find out what Gleason keeps in his daypack when he goes for a hike, so we called him up and asked. Here’s what he said.
Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 pack ($170)
This is my favorite daypack. It has a unique, three-zip design which lets you quickly access any pocket on the pack. This zipper was originally built for ski packs. Turns out the military loves it so we’ve now incorporated it into all our military packs.
Brunton Compass ($15)
I’m old school, so I have a little junky compass that I’ve been carrying for 30 years. If you don’t have your own old-school compass, go with this simple model from Brunton.
Power Traveler PowerMonkey Explorer 2 Battery ($100)
I always have a backup battery with me. I’ve been using this one for at least three years. It’s a 6000mAh lithium-ion battery that can charge your phone three times.
Oboz Scapegoat Mid Hiking Boots ($145)
I’m partial to these Oboz. I also have a pair of Danners, which are great, but they’re heavy and I’ve been getting lighter and lighter with my kit. And no Gore-Tex boots for me. If it’s gonna get wet, it’s gonna get wet. I don’t want the extra weight.
Outdoor Research Foray Jacket ($215)
This is a solid two-layer rain jacket that I like because it packs down tight into the bottom of the pack. I don’t bother with rain pants.
Ray-Bans Folding Wayfarer Sunglasses ($150)
These incredibly cool Ray-Bans fold up at the nose so they don’t take up as much space. They are my favorite pair of sunglasses so far.
LED Lenser MH10 Headlamp ($80)
I love this company and the MH10 packs 600 lumens in a tiny package.