I wanted to take the time to sit down and review a few new pieces of kit that I’ve been using recently. To be included are the Oneiros Valley Generation 2 Load Lifter Panel, MEAN Pad and Belt Guides for the Mystery Ranch NICE frame. This review will be somewhat lengthy, but if you want the punch line, buy Oneiros Valley Products, they work.
A word on my association with Oneiros Valley:
I contacted them early this summer after becoming aware of them as a custom nylon gear builder to request a quote for a custom pack bag. The customer service I received was second to none and one of the owners and I quickly became friends. I purchased an early production MEAN Pad and perhaps the first production set of Belt Guides as I became aware of my need for these items. I was provided this 2nd Generation Load Lifter Panel in exchange for posting a review on various forums. So while I am friends with the company owners, I am also a customer and a user of their gear. If this review violates any forum rules, please let me know and I will be happy to remove it.
Here are a couple photos of what we’ll be discussing:
More photos will be posted below.
Description of the Gen 2 Load Lifter Panel:
The Gen 2 Load Lifter Panel (LLP) is a simple piece designed to effectively increase the height of the load lifters on a NICE frame. If any of you are over about 5’8” tall, you know that the Mystery Ranch (MR) frame is too short to provide adequate load lift from the shoulders. The OV LLP is advertised as adding between 1” and 6” of additional height to the attachment point of the male buckles that MR uses on their shoulder straps. The LLP is supplied with high strength fiberglass stays that are virtually indestructible, though carbon fiber stays are an option as well. The LLP attaches to your MR frame through the use of 4 different straps that facilitate a tight and solid fit, as well as the advertised height adjustment. The LLP does cover up the 2 rear facing female buckles at the tops of the NICE frame, but an adaptor is supplied in order to provide 2 new rear facing buckles if your Load Sling of Crew Cab requires them. All of these features are designed to integrate almost flawlessly with your MR frame and pack bag. The price is currently $35 for an LLP with the fiberglass stays, or $47 for one with the carbon fiber stays.
Review of the LLP:
The Gen 2 LLP functions and does what it is supposed to. I am 5’10” and have hauled 50lbs-100lbs+ on the NICE frame with and without the LLP installed. The LLP is very effective at providing adequate load lift to keep the shoulders happy.
Attachment of the LLP is fairly straight forward. There are 3 straps that attach the bottom of the panel to the horizontal stay built into the MR frame. These straps also provide for the adjustability of the LLP for the appropriate height. There is also a horizontal strap that wraps around the frame to pull the stays in close to the frame and provides some side to side stability.
I wish I could provide some insight to the integration of this unit with an MR bag installed on my NICE frame, but I do not currently own one. I run my frame as a more of a heavy hauling daypack, with a Tactical Tailor Removable Operators Pack attached. In the even I need to do an overnighter, I run a Hill People Gear C20M pack bag under the Tactical Tailor bag.
I have seen no durability issues with the LLP. It is built as close to mil-spec as possible, so it should last as long as the legendary NICE frame that you are strapping it onto. I used the carbon fiber stays with 100lbs+ loads with no issue, though OV will tell you they did not pass their durability standards. I have not used the fiberglass stays in the field, but I was able to stand on them at full span without breaking or cracking them. I weigh about 215lbs, so I have to assume that they really are indestructible.
This LLP weighs in at 9.8 ounces with the fiber glass stays and 7.8 ounces with the carbon fiber stays. The buckle adaptor for the Load Sling or Crew Cab attachment weighs 0.8 ounces.
Description of the MEAN Pad:
The MEAN Pad is a simple lumbar pad for those of us who prefer more padding in that area of our waist belt. The pad is supplied with different pieces of foam in order to customize the fit to the user. It is built with a non-slip surface to really lock the lumbar portion of the belt into the users back. It attaches simply by wrapping around the MR belt. The price is currently $28.
Review of the MEAN Pad:
The OV MEAN Pad is just what I needed. Prior to installing the unit on my frame, I noticed what I would describe as sagging in the lumbar portion of the belt even under moderate loads. This led me to purchase the MEAN pad. It does just as it needs to, providing some more direct pressure to the lumbar region and the sticky surface does indeed keep the belt in place. I recently carried two different loads of 2 Elk quarters (100lbs+) with this installed, and even over a set of insulated bib-overalls, I was able to maintain constant weight transfer to the hips and keep that weight off the shoulders.
My unit weighs in at 2.0 ounces.
The MEAN Pad installs easily and quickly. If you need a lumbar pad, I can recommend this one without hesitation. At $30, it is well worth the investment.
Description of the Belt Guides:
These are a small simple piece. They are just a short length of webbing with a 2” ITW loop attached. They attach to the Triglide at the front of the padded portion of the MR belt. They serve to act as a pulley to route the belt through in order to provide extra tightening ability. They are designed with a folded portion to prevent the pulling of the unit free from the triglide. The price on these is $5-$7 depending on the color.
Review of the Belt guides:
These are perhaps the best $5 I have ever spent. They increase the usability of the MR belt drastically! I had these installed during the same haul of elk mentioned above, and I credit them with allowing me to get the belt tight enough to sufficiently transfer the load to my hips. I really cannot see how I would have gotten the belt tight enough without them.
The ITW loop is securely attached in such a way that it cannot rotate off the axis it is designed to operate at. I have hear a few different times, and experienced it myself on a Duplex frame, that the webbing is too loose around the plastic loop, allowing the loop to pivot and preventing the belt from tightening. These are tight and secure, and there is no way that the twisting of the loop will be an issue.
Attachment of these is my only concern. In an effort to provide the most usable belt length, the webbing portion of these is very short; so short, that I had some difficulty getting them attached to the triglide on the hip belt. Installation requires a little patience.
Despite my gripes, these will increase the ability to tighten your waist belt much more than the $5 price tag would indicate. Buy a set, you will not be disappointed.
The Oneiros Valley Gen 2 Load Lifter Panel, MEAN Pad and Belt Guides are all solid products that will greatly increase the usability of your Mystery Ranch NICE frame. All three pieces described above add 11.2-13.2 ounces (my pieces are slightly different than production, so use 11.5-13.5 ounces for reference) to the frame, which is a worthy trade off in terms of comfort and function. I have carried loads on a Kifaru 24” MMR/Duplex frame in the past and must honestly say that I prefer the MR/OV rig in terms of fitment, load transfer to the hips, integrated attachment points on the frame itself and the variety of bags designed to work with it. For those of you looking for a load carrying system, I can wholeheartedly recommend the NICE frame with these extras from Oneiros Valley. If you are one of the many who already carry a NICE frame, it is well worth the $70 + shipping to add the Oneiros Valley pieces to your pack.
Check them out at:
Oneiros Valley | Cutting-edge hunting, outdoor and tactical gear | Las Vegas, NV
God bless you all,