The Mystery Ranch Scree is a mid-sized rugged backpack capable of hauling heavier and awkward loads better than most packs this size and could easily find itself in the gear closets of photographers and craggers alike. I tested this pack over the course of 3 months while day hiking, sport climbing, trad-climbing, and alpine climbing and I’m ready to share my opinions on it.
At 3.1 pounds this 32 liter (2000 cubic inches) pack is a little heavier than most of the packs in my quiver but that extra weight is attributed to a very robust suspension system that distributes heavy loads very comfortably and protects the back from feeling bulky camera gear or that #4 Black Diamond Camalot.
This heavier suspension system, the “Load Carriage™”, is the cornerstone of Mystery Ranch packs and allows for total customization of the suspension system to fit anyone’s torso as if the pack was custom made. The demo model I tested fit my 17 inch torso perfectly out of the box so I did not need to make any adjustments but for those who do Mystery Ranch explains the process in this video (note different model in video but same process).
Quite a bit of the design of the Mystery Ranch Scree is focused on storage and access to the gear you are hauling. The main compartment can be accessed like a traditional top-loader by unzipping the top pocket or by unzipping a centered vertical zipper that runs the length of the pack and allows for convenient panel loading access. The main advantage of having these two access options is when packing I can really stuff a lot of gear in by just using the top loading option. If I need something that I packed near the bottom of my pack the vertical zipper allows access without having to empty most the pack.
An internal hydration sleeve can hold a 100 ounce reservoir and a hydration port is well concealed behind the right shoulder strap. The top pocket has two zippered compartments, a large one with see through mesh and a smaller one at the very top of the lid. Two water-bottle pockets made from a stretchy nylon can hold 32 ounce Nalgene’s but do not have a draw-cord or compression strap to help secure them so care should be used when using. The padded waist belt has a zippered pocket on each side providing a convenient place to store some energy gels or lip balm. Two daisy chain down the back round out the storage options.
Mystery Ranch has a lot of experience building packs for military and fire fighting and you can tell they carry this bombproof type philosophy over to their expanding recreational lines. Made of 420 Denier Robic™ nylon fabric and waterproof YKK zippers with a double layered bottom you can expect a long life and many miles from this pack. After about 15 days of field use my demo model shows no signs of wear.
The Mystery Ranch Scree is a solid option for travelers hauling heavy gear in the mountains. The compression system allows it to cinch down to carry-on size for most airlines making it suitable for travel. While the suspension is a little too heavy for multi-pitch climbing this pack worked great hauling the whole trad rack for a day of single pitching at Cathedral Ledge and Sport Climbing at Rumney, NH. The impressive carrying capacity and unique access options would make this a solid choice for nature and adventure photographers as well as those who like compartmental organization. The only improvement I might suggest is the addition of a sternum strap whistle, a feature I like on all of my packs. If you are in need of a robust mid-sized pack for your mountain adventures take a look at this one, it might be a perfect addition to your pack quiver!
See you in the mountains,
Northeast Alpine Start
Disclaimer: This pack was provided to the author for purpose of review. Affiliate links in this post help support creating content here at no cost to you.