Mystery Ranch Big Bop Review

Overall Score:8.8

After 19 months of use and abuse, we can confidently say that the Mystery Ranch Big Bop is a solid shoulder bag for minimal travel EDC. With a slim-profile, gusseted construction, and utilitarian design, the Big Bop is functional and has ample room for your everyday items.

Durability: 9.0
Functionality: 8.5
Performance: 9.0
Aesthetics: 7.5
Value: 10.0

Capacity: 3.5L

Weight: 181 g

Main Material: 330D Robic nylon

Hardware: YKK, Duraflex

Strap Style: Unpadded 

Dimensions: 20.3 x 15.9 x 14.0 cm

Manufacturing Country: Vietnam

Length of Test: 19 months

Countries: Bhutan, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Somalia, and Thailand

Climate(s): Continental, Tropical Savanna, Tundra, Local Steppe, Desert, Subtropical

Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 35 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp -6 C), and Light Rain. 

The Big Bop is designed for:

  • Travel & EDC use.

It’s not designed for:

  • High output activities.
Durablity

Build Quality

Mystery Ranch gear epitomizes durability and the Big Bop is no exception to the rule.

The main fabric is a tightly-woven 330D Robic nylon that has proven to be exceptionally abrasion and tear resistant over the past 18 months. From falling onto sharp rocks on the beaches of Oman to scraping against brushwood in the mountains of Nepal, the pack has faced its fair share of hardship and it still looks brand spankin’ new.

Additionally, there’s been zero pilling and we can’t find a single stitch out of place. The construction quality, as expected from Mystery Ranch, is impeccable.

Hardware: the Big Bop features buttery-smooth #8RC Head-to-Head YKK Zippers which you can expect to function (flawlessly) for years of service. The zippers themselves have 550 paracord pull tabs attached, making them easy to operate in a variety of conditions or with gloves on. 

The pack also features a simple yet reliable Duraflex adjuster plus two snaphooks with accompanying D-rings that are sewn into the bag.

Overall, the adjuster is intuitive to use and provides built-in strap management. As a bonus, it can be operated quickly and with only one hand, whenever you’re on the go. As for the snaphooks, they’re also intuitive which makes them easy to fasten or unfasten from the D-rings.

Functionality

Main Feature Set

Organization: the Big Bop’s main compartment is cavernous for a small pack and is accessible via a horseshoe-style zippered opening. 

On the inside, the compartment is lined with a tan-colored nylon pack cloth. While not particularly high visibility, it does help you find your items faster, when you’re on-the-go.

As for organization, the compartment is spartan – there’s only a single elasticized pocket that’s useful for storing a phone or small items in. Due to its minimalist design, you may need to organize items via small accessory pouches.

As a capacity reference, May usually keeps her iPhone XR, sunglasses, a Sea to Summit Travel Wallet S, an Anker PowerCore 13000, a pair of Sony headphones, a Spyderco Pacific Salt 2, a hand towel, and a pen in the main compartment with room to spare. 

The Big Bop’s front pocket has a gusseted construction and is accessible via a VELCRO flap opening. Due to its gusseted sides, you can stuff more gear in here than meets the eye. It’s great for storing USB cords, hand sanitizer, and other small miscellaneous items that you’ll need throughout the day. 

Two nitpicks though, we would’ve like to seen a keyring for safekeeping as well as a magnetic closure rather than noisy VELCRO. Other than that, it’s a highly functional quick-access pocket. 

However, it’s worth noting that the use of VELCRO is the major weak point of this bag – it’s the only part that’s noticeably showing signs of wear (it’s gradually losing stickiness). 

Modularity: while the Big Bop is all business in the front, it’s pure utilitarian in the back. 

Along the back panel, there’s a built-in MOLLE system that allows you to lash the pack to your belt or a larger pack like the 2 Day Assault. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a carabiner loop where you can attach a HeroClip, allowing you to hang the bag from pretty much any surface. 

We have to admit, we’ve never used these features but its nice to have built-in modularity. Our only concern is lashing stability, as the attachment straps lack the the snaps usually found on MOLLE systems.

Performance

Practical Utility

Comfort: mentioning comfort on a bag this small might seem ridiculous, but it’s worth mentioning that the Big Bop is comfortable enough for all-day wear.   

With that being said, if the pack is filled to the brim with gear, its thin unpadded straps can dig into your skin and become uncomfortable with weight. Most of the time, this is a non-issue though. 

For its intended use cases, the Mystery Ranch Big Bop is comfortable and has become a staple piece of kit. From traveling through deserts, jungles, and new cities, the Big Bop has been a highly reliable first line of carry.

Our only complaint, which is a general issue with shoulder bags, is the floppiness that ensues with high output activities. Unlike close-to-body slings, bags of this nature tend to flop around like a fish out of water with fast movements. 

Below, you can see our impromptu Hamer tribe video as a reference: 

See what we mean?

Floppy McFlopkins…

In all honesty, that’s our sole complaint and it isn’t much of an issue unless you plan on running a marathon or dancing non-stop with remote tribes.

Most of the time, during non-tribal dance-off use, the bag is pretty stable – especially when exploring rural villages in Mae Hong Son… 

Or when exploring massive temples in Chiang Rai… 

In regards to security, the Big Bop has a simple approach – which we dig. 

The zippers store neatly into a fabric covered area and are protected from the money-grubbing hands of pick-pockets. How can we be sure? When we were exploring the awe-inspiring architecture of the crowded Taj Mahal, a thief tried to open the Big Bop when May wasn’t looking. And Thanks to his inability to open the covered zippers, we caught him in the act! His mistake… May might be small, but she grew up drilling some vicious Muay Thai.  

If you can’t tell by now, we’re just gonna go ahead and say it: we love the Mystery Ranch Big Bop for how well it has performed over the past 19 months. We didn’t expect to have this much adoration for the bag when we first got it, but lo and behold… it’s damn near perfect.

And no, we weren’t paid to say that… we bought the Big Bop with our own hard-earned cash, alongside the Coulee 25. This bag was an impulse buy, which turned out to be one of our best random purchases…. ever.

Aesthetics

Design Elements

The Mystery Ranch Big Bop has a utilitarian yet gender-neutral design – which we appreciate. The bag isn’t decidedly masculine or feminine, it’s more of a chameleon – it adapts to the wearer without looking out of place.

With that being said, May is the primary user of the bag and that’s why she’s featured in the photos. It’s not that I don’t like the Big Bop, it’s just that May has grown possessive of it and I don’t want to catch a flying Muay Thai elbow across my face for it.   

Branding: while the bag has a relatively minimalist aesthetic, the front pocket hosts a pretty large logo that we’re not fans of. To be fair, we tend to prefer subtle branding. 

Value

Primary Alternatives

The competitive landscape for the Mystery Ranch Big Bop is mostly a mix of fashionable sling packs and tacticool shoulder bags. The Big Bop seems to fill a void between these two polarizing styles – dare we say, a ‘crossover.’  

If you’re looking for more of a waistpack / crossbody bag than a shoulder bag, we highly recommend the Arc’Teryx Mantis 2.

If you’re set on getting a shoulder bag, but want something that’s more fashionable, we recommend the Bellroy City Pouch, the Fjallraven Kanken Sling or the Greenland Pocket.

The primary competition (read: alternatives to consider) for the Mystery Ranch Big Bop are:

Pack Main Fabric Gender Vol. Weight Adjustable Length? Padded?
Big Bop 330D Robic Unisex 3.5L 181 g Yes No
Mantis 420D HD Nylon Unisex 2.5L 180 g Yes No
City Pouch Venture Weave Unisex 2L 179 g Yes No
Kanken Vinylon F Unisex 2.5L 190 g Yes No
Greenland G1000 HeavyDuty Unisex 2L 170 g Yes No
8.8/10 Rating

Overall Verdict

Barring some minor gripes, the Mystery Ranch Big Bop is a damn near perfect shoulder bag for minimal travel EDC. If you’re in the market for 2-4L sling, the Big Bop 100% deserves your consideration.

Over time, May has developed an emotional attachment to this bag. She loves it and will not go on a trip without it. For her, the Big Bop holds more than just EDC items… it holds the memories of some of our greatest travel experiences. And while this may sound a bit corny and B-movie cheesy, it’s the stone-cold truth. 

Overall, it’s a great feeling to invest in travel products that enhance your experiences. Thank you for your service Big Bop – we salute you.   

What We Liked

  • The bag is rugged enough for outdoor use, but subdued enough for city use.
  • The gusseted construction allows for more than 3.5L of capacity. 
  • The bag’s shape and patterning allows for easier access to gear, compared to crossbody slings. 
  • Strap and buckle placement allow for a comfortable dual-carry with a backpack.
  • The pack is a 100% dangle-free carry experience.

What Could Use Improvements

  • The MOLLE attachment system needs snaps to be added for lashing stability.   
  • Changing to a magnetic rather than VELCRO closure for the front pocket would increase ease-of-access and overall longevity. 
  • Adding a keyring hook in the front pocket would increase organizational points.
  • Making the branding more subtle would increase style points.
Longevity

Usage Timeline

Excellent

Initial Usage

Fit and finish is excellent, although organization could be improved.

Excellent

Good

19 Months of Usage

We’ve been highly impressed with the performance of the Big Bop. It’s still going strong, but the VELCRO on the front pocket is starting to show signs of wear. 

Good

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