wildland packs and bags

Firefighter Gear Essentials: How to Choose the Best Packs and Bags

The job of a wildland firefighter is nothing short of grueling. They can work 14 days in a row, up to 16 hours per day, and may even have to travel three days before and after the 14-day work schedule. When they aren’t battling flames, they may spend their shifts cutting down trees, burning the wood or scattering it, prepping and digging lines for prescribed burns, and maintaining equipment, engines, and gear.

To equip firefighters for emergency work, gear bags, and packs must be well-constructed, durable, and able to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions.

Wildland firefighters must ensure the product possesses the following characteristics when shopping for packs and gear bags.

Top-Quality Materials

Wildland packs can be made with special materials such as DuPont® 1000 Denier Cordura®, 500D and 1000D CORDURA® with Teflon®, and/or Uretek® coated YKK® #10 Zippers. For example, the Mystery Ranch Hotshot Pack has PU coatings for maximum durability and UV and weather protection.

The First In Wildfire Strike Team Bag is constructed of Cordura® Plus nylon, heavy-duty buckles, webbing, foam padding, and YKK® zippers to ensure teams can carry gear and wildland boots on extended trips.


Construction is critical, and gear bags and wildland packs must be built using advanced techniques and features for maximum reliability.

Mystery Ranch is a top brand creating wildland packs and gear bags for firefighters. The company has extensively researched and tested the optimal construction of wildland packs and gear bags to ensure each product has the best fabrics, frames, and features. For example, the Mystery Ranch Monster gear bag is equipped with an ultra-wide opening for easy packing and access to the entire bag, as well as built-in compartments and pockets for easy separation of dirty laundry.


Another important feature of high-quality gear bags and wildland packs is the ability to transport heavy equipment and essential supplies with ample capacity.

Wildland firefighters, on two-week assignments, bring their Mystery Ranch SHIFT 900 MWP Wildland Pack for its Operational Load Shelf. The Load Shelf is created for maximum capacity when firefighters haul hose-packs, five gallon jerry cans, mount modules, or strap on a few drip-torches. In addition, the pack has daisy chains on shoulder pads for hanging accessories and other tools.


Wildland firefighters often encounter extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions while on the job, which makes it crucial for their gear to provide them with as much comfort as possible. This can mean having body-facing components built with spacer mesh materials for moisture transfer and body heat dispersion, as in the Mystery Ranch Hot Speed Pack. The pack also has a sized and fully adjustable Hotshot Yoke telescopes to fit any torso length.


Wildland gear is a significant investment, so it must be built to last. Firefighters can clock over 1,000 overtime hours in six months and need a bag to serve them through the toughest days and jobs.

When shopping for durable gear bags and wildland packs, consider the Mystery Ranch Monster, which is made with custom spec’d 500D and 1000D CORDURA® with Teflon® and PU coatings for maximum durability and AQUAGUARD® coated YKK® #10 Zippers with nickel plated sliders for exceptional weather-resistance and durability.


Wildland firefighters need gear that can quickly adapt when conditions out in the field can flip on a dime. The best wildland packs are built to be multi-functional, with features that support versatility. For example, the Mystery Ranch Hotshot Pack has a haul handle on the upper yoke that can also double as an attachment point for hanging fiber tape and flagging. In addition, fusees can fully zip away for rotor-wing crew shuttles.

Another one to consider is the Gear 911 Star Duffle. Billed as a big tough duffel bag, the Star Duffle can serve as a travel or turnout bag.


In emergency situations, wildland firefighters need to quickly access supplies, equipment, and tools without wasting precious time searching through their bags.

External pockets, MOLLE systems wing pockets, and daisy chains are features that make it easy to access everything from water bottles and radios to flashlights and gloves.


Various organizations certify wildland fire gear and packs. When browsing gear and packs, firefighters should check to make sure products have one or more of the following certifications:

  • CAL FIRE PPE Working Group approved to CAL FIRE Spec 1728
  • UL® Certified to NFPA 1977-2016
  • ISO 9001 Manufacturer

In Conclusion

Once you find the right firefighter bag or pack for you, you’ll be prepared to complete any assignment that comes your way — whether that’s putting out a wildfire or overseeing prescribed burns. The best brands have committed themselves to developing superior materials and efficient designs to make your job easier and safer.