December 05, 2023
I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but I am super-excited about a new fanny pack I’ll be using this fall for my saddle-hunting adventures. I’ve always despised the fanny pack and consider it one of the most egregious fashion faux pas in history. However, the moment I saw the new Treehouse 9 from Mystery Ranch, I knew it would be the perfect saddle-hunting companion, allowing me to comfortably carry my saddle gear and access it easily and quietly.
Oh, and for the record, Mystery Ranch calls the Treehouse 9 a “hip pack” worn using a waist belt (or carried via the removable shoulder strap). Available in Wood (pictured) or DPM Canopy camouflage in sizes S-XL, the Treehouse 9 weighs just more than 3.5 pounds and offers nine liters (545 cubic inches) of storage volume designed with the minimalist whitetail hunter in mind. Although Mystery Ranch does not specifically mention saddle hunters in its description of the Treehouse 9, one look at the pack and I knew it was a marriage made in heaven — starting with the two, cylinder-shaped, drawstring side pockets perfect for storing a lineman’s belt, tree tether and other climbing gear. In between those pockets is a main compartment more than adequate for holding binoculars, rangefinder, calls and other essentials. This main pocket features what Mystery Ranch calls a “magnetic rip-zip top flap” that allows one-handed, zipper-free access. And within the main pocket are several small elastic pouches and one large, zippered, interior pocket.
Rounding out the storage options on the Treehouse 9 are a large, front zippered pouch with two smaller elastic pockets inside; a pair of small zippered pockets on the waist belt — left and right — perfectly sized for holding your release aid, wind checker, headlamp, snack bag and other small items you want to keep handy; and a pair of lashing straps underneath the main compartment that allow you to attach a set of climbing sticks, spare clothing or other items.
I also must mention the extremely quiet, soft, fleece exterior of the Treehouse 9 polyester fabric, offering a level of stealth that matches its functionality. Meanwhile, a 210D laminated nylon backing and coated YKK zippers ensure the pack keeps all your stuff protected from foul weather.
As for comfort, the Treehouse 9’s generously padded, adjustable hip belt does a great job of supporting the pack’s weight. And the absence of shoulder straps means that I can easily wear the pack facing backwards as I walk from my vehicle to my tree, then simply rotate the pack to my front side and have easy access to everything inside while climbing. Testing with my saddle confirms I can use my lineman’s belt without interference as I scale the tree. The pack makes it really easy to access everything I need without having to twist sideways to access gear pouches on my saddle. In fact, thanks to the Treehouse 9, I’ve removed those pouches from my saddle, reducing its weight and allowing me to clip my saddle platform to the saddle while walking and climbing.
Oh, and once you are at hunting height, you can remove the pack and easily attach it to the tree using the integrated tree strap or, if you prefer, by using a tree hook and hanging the pack by the grab handle in front of the main pocket.
I haven’t been this excited about a fanny pack since 1985, and I can’t wait to strap the Treehouse 9 around my waist and strike out in search of big bucks! — Editor Christian Berg