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Review: Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 Pack

Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 backpack

As the work landscape changes to a more hybrid model, work/life balance has extended into the backpack world. Why have separate packs for the plane, the office, coffee shop and the trail? That is the question that Mystery Ranch tries to answer with their Catalyst 22 backpack. A hybrid pack that can be taken to the trail but also has a laptop sleeve for trips to the office. My friend Brooke helped test the pack and has a review.

As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I was given the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22  so that we could write this review. I also have an affiliate marketing agreement with Mystery Ranch. So, If you make a purchase from this page using a link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions on this page are our own and based on our own experiences with this backpack. We are not compensated for the opinions on this review. Your experience with the backpack may be different.

Meet Brooke, Guest Reviewer

I was looking for someone to help me review products who had the same passion for adventure as me. Luckily, I met Brooke while we were both negotiating our way down a ten foot rock wall on the way to Donut Falls in Utah. We had a great time hiking and talking and the more I learned about her adventures, the more I knew she was the right person to help me do some reviews. 

Brooke loves exploring and adventure. Her job allows her to travel quite a bit and she always finds a way to get out and explore where she ends up. You can follow along with Brooke on her Instagram below.

From Mystery Ranch

Before Brooke begins her review, we always like to share just what Mystery Ranch has to say about their Catalyst 22 pack.  From the website they state, “The CATALYST 22 is an all-purpose pack that is built for those who have no intention of compromising on quality, comfort, or efficiency in their daily adventures. It has the capacity to handle anything from boardroom meetings to coffee shop telework sessions. With a padded laptop sleeve, organizing sleeves for a tablet or notebook, and external water bottle pockets, it’s perfect for work, travel, or an afternoon hike.”

Here are some more of the stats and details about the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 directly from their website.





Black, Mineral Gray, Noble Fir, Paprika, Pebble, Sagebrush

Size and Weight*

Weight: 2.2 lbs
Volume: 1280 cu-ins
Dimensions: 19.5″x10.75″x8.25″


  • 3-ZIP design for rapid access to interior
  • Two internal zippered pockets to hold those small-but-important items 
  • Padded laptop pocket with elastic holds laptops up to a 16″ in size
  • Additional sleeve on the front of the laptop pocket holds a tablet, notebooks, maps, etc.
  • Zippered lid pocket holds items that you need to have at the ready


  • 500D Recycled CORDURA® re/cor Nylon
  • YKK® chain and coated zippers

All information from Check the website for full details and options.

What I liked about the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 (From Brooke)

There is a lot to like about the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22. This is an all around quality product and perfect for someone like me who hits the mountains as equally as I do local coffee shops for work.  This bag is extremely multifunctional and also very aesthetically pleasing. Win- win! 

I own a fair share of backpacks in all different sizes. And as someone who is always on-the-go or always on an adventure, each one serves their purpose. The difference, to me, between the Mystery Ranch and my other backpacks would first off be the storage. It may not be something that is as important to others, but to me- it is extremely important.

I am someone who is extremely organized in all things I do. And that definitely carries on over to my adventures. I prefer things to be in order when packed and nicely organized. It instantly puts my mind at ease. This backpack had just the right amount of organization in it without being overwhelming. It perfectly fit and kept my laptop safe (padded sleeves) and all its accessories in other compartments for all of my coffee shop trips. 

Another thing I liked about this bag was the Triple Zipper system. There were so many ways to access anything in my bag without having to empty it out. If something was at the bottom of my bag, all I had to do was open the vertical zipper and VOILA! There it is. I really loved the convenience of that and the time it saved me finding what I needed.

What I didn’t Like (From Brooke)

Backpacks are one of my most used items in everyday life. So, they are something I take a little bit more seriously than other products as I use one for almost everything I do. I would definitely say I’m extremely picky about them and may be a tad bit more critical than your Average Joe. I only mention this because my concerns about this bag aren’t a make or break deal, but just little inconveniences and things that if tweaked would make the bag perfect- to me. 

From a hiking perspective, this backpack was great for day hikes with light weight. My main concern about it was the overall stiffness, especially the adjustable straps and zippers. Compared to other bags I’ve used, I had trouble adjusting everything to sit properly on my body due to the extreme stiffness and the zippers often catching and not budging. They were just extremely difficult to pull and some didn’t move at all. 

I always over prepare for my adventures in the mountains and bring ample clothing, food, and water as we all know Mother Nature can always take a turn for the worst. That means my day pack can lean more on the heavy side. I wish there was a tad bit more space for that and to hold bigger water bottles on the sides, but for someone who is a lighter hiker and doing shorter hikes- I think it does it job.

Wrap Up of the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22

When I originally used this bag, I was indifferent about what I thought. But I knew writing a review only based on a handful of experiences wouldn’t be fair. I decided to use the bag even more and in several different settings to see if my feelings would change. I’m very thankful that I did do that because my original experience was SIGNIFICANTLY different from how I feel about the backpack now.

Overall, the structure of this bag is quality. You can feel and see that from the original use. I cannot speak for the durability of it as it is still new and I am breaking it in, but considering how rough I am with my outdoor gear and how often I use it- it’s holding up extremely well. My biggest complaint would still be the stiffness of the bag and the zippers not easily opening. I’m not sure if the company making tweaks on that would compromise the quality, but to me- I feel that would make a world of difference. Ultimately, this is a bag I know will continue to get a lot of use, primarily in my day-to-day activities. I’d say it was the most perfect for my work trips to the coffee shop and short travels/ hikes. 

Buy It!

More From the Fatman

For a list of other products that I have reviewed you can check my Product Review page here. If you have any products you would like me to review or any comments you can email me at or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

1 thought on “Review: Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 Pack”

  1. Id guess her difficulty in getting a good fit would at least in part stem from how ridiculously how she has it on her back. Those straps are way too loose and the top of the bag should be up much closer to the tip of the shoulders for a proper fit. The load lifters are then able to help you dial it in really well. She’s got it slumped so far down and those aren’t in use at all!

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