The Mountainsmith Scream is a lightweight frameless day back made of durable nylon. It’s got a carrying capacity of 24L with a big main pouch, a zippered flip-down top lid pocket and a vertical zippered pouch on the front of the pack that is sizable enough to fit a small first aid kit, maps, etc. There is a sleeve inside the main pouch to fit up to a 3L hydration bladder as well as the accompanying hose hole.

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On each side of the pack is a deep elasticized mesh pocket that works well for holding water bottles or other gear. They are quite stretchy and would easily fit a Nalgene style bottle. As I typically use a hydration bladder, these worked well for holding my hiking snacks and drying socks. The pack also has some compression straps and loops for holding your trekking poles.

The pack weighs in at 15oz and keeps its weight down by minimizing bulk and extraneous features. The shoulder straps are made of unpadded mesh and the pack is entirely frameless. It does have a waist strap, but this is designed to serve for stability rather than bearing weight.

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What’s good Mountainsmith?

Lightweight

The Scream pack is an excellent minimalist design with the ability to handle plenty of gear for a day trip. The capacity is actually a little on the large side of what I would normally carry for a day trip; though this allows for the carrying of extra layers or emergency shelters if on an extended day hike. Its lightweight construction means you can also toss it into your main pack and bring it along as a summit/day pack on multi-day trips. In fact, the front pocket is reversible and the whole pack can be stuffed inside for easy compact packing!

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Durable

I’ve tested the Mountainsmith pack extensively over the past few months and it has held up well to all of the abuse I could dish out. Unlike my main backpack, which is made of a delicate material and designed to stay on cleared paths, I want a day pack to be more robust to handle my faster paced adventures when scrambling on rocks or bushwhacking through brush. The Scream pack has held up well and still looks new. The mesh side pockets are tight enough that they don’t snag easily and there is a minimum of external cords and straps, which makes this pack great for orienteering races and the like.

 Innovative Design

Although it is not designed to be a dry bag, I did get caught in one of the heaviest rain storms I’ve ever hiked in with the Scream on my back. Had we waited for another minute before deciding to put on our rain gear, there wouldn’t have been much point in putting it on at all. My pack contents stayed much drier than I would have expected even though I neglected to have any other internal waterproof layer such as plastic or a dry-bag, which is a nice surprise!

I’m a big believer in getting the most out of my gear and I’ve used the Mountainsmith pack for the past six months: carrying everything from gym gear, overnight clothes, and on plenty of day hikes. The elasticized side pockets fit a pair of runners for the gym, the internal hydration sleeve houses an iPad with no problems, and the top and front pockets allow for easy access to essentials while on a plane.

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What’s not so good?

The same things that make this a great lightweight pack can also serve as downsides, depending on what you are expecting from a day pack.

Lack of Structure

For one, the frameless structure means that if the pack is not filled up it will droop and contents will shift and lump at the base of your back. Obviously this is unavoidable if you want to keep the pack weight down and also maintain the ability to stuff it in a main pack. What I do to get around this is just fill the excess space with light stuff; an uncompressed down jacket does a great job of filling up the excess room.

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Lack of Padding

Again, Mountainsmith decided to leave out padding in the straps and back to keep weight down and stuffability up. This is another trade off that I’m willing to accept as I prefer to carry less on my day trips. However, if you were looking at carrying any substantial weight on your day trips, such as climbing gear, I would look for a pack with more structure and padding. Mountainsmith recommends carrying no more than 2o pounds with the Scream pack.

 

Summit-up

I expect I’ll be using this pack for every day trip in the future until it falls apart (and after 6 months of use it hasn’t shown any signs of wear). However, it won’t be replacing the more padded and structured pack I use for volunteer search and rescue as I need to carry substantially more weight.

Depending on your needs as far as structure and weight capacity this pack may not be the best choice. On the other hand, if you want a simple, well-designed, lightweight, waterproof day pack at a great price I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Mountainsmith Scream.

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Manufacturer: Mountainsmith

Date available: Now

Manufacturer’s Website: Mountainsmith Scream 25

MSRP: US$69.95

Listed Weight: 15 oz

Actual Weight: 15.6 oz

Dimensions 17.5” x 10.5” x 7.5”

Volume 1465 cu. in. 24 L

Materials: Duramax High-Density Nylon

Model tested: Scream 25 – Asphalt Grey

Colors Available: Asphalt Grey, Golden Yellow

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