Mystery Ranch claims the Scree is a daypack with the durability, adjustability, and load-carrying architecture of a backpacking pack. So we put it to the test.
Mystery Ranch has a legendary reputation for creating backpacks with phenomenal load-carrying characteristics and adjustability. Its large, expedition-size packs are hallmarks for the brand, and it has never touted an ultralight credo.
Enter the Scree Pack, a smaller cousin to the brand’s established lineup. The Scree boasts a full pack’s function in a smaller package. We reviewed the Mystery Ranch Scree on day hikes and climbing trips for several months in this test.
In short: The Mystery Ranch Scree ($180) offers adjustability, load-carrying capacity, and durability not often found in daypacks. While not a light pack, the Scree’s comfort, suspension system stability, and convenient triple-zipper opening are well worth the weight penalty when ultralight isn’t the goal.
Mystery Ranch: Load Carriage Philosophy
The Scree, like other Mystery Ranch offerings, sports a dual-component design. The brand designed the “Load Carriage” suspension system independently from the pack’s main body.
The flexible, straight mainframe conforms to the upper back when the load lifter straps are engaged. And because of the separate design, the shape of the pack and its contents won’t affect the form-fitting function of the suspension. This leaves the pack in an ideal configuration.
Additionally, there is an upper yoke that telescopes vertically to adjust for torso length. The yoke is molded from semi-rigid plastic to follow the curve of the upper back and is combined with an HDPE frame sheet. Plus, the pack is available in three sizes to ensure an ideal fit.
Rugged Build, Weight Penalty
With a verified weight of 3 pounds 3 ounces for the M/L size and a claimed volume of 32 liters, the Mystery Ranch Scree is not vying for featherweight titles. The suspension system, 420-denier “Robic” nylon, full-size zippers, webbing, and hardware aim for durability rather than weight savings.
Three separate YKK water-resistant zippers form a Y-shaped opening that covers the front-center and top of the Mystery Ranch Scree. This unique opening allows access to the pack as a top loader or front loader. You can lay it out wide open, providing visibility and access to all the contents of the main pack body.
The Mystery Ranch Scree in Use
The Scree fulfilled the promise of a great fit. I have an unusually long torso at 21.5 inches, but my waist is barely 32 inches. The telescoping yoke adjuster on the M/L size pack brought the shoulder harness up to the top of my shoulder blades. And this ensured the load lifters functioned optimally and the hip belt fit, even with light layers of clothing.
I preferred loading the pack from the top with two upper zippers. Rope, quickdraws, a harness, shoes, water, snacks, a jacket, and other climbing accessories fit in easily.
The double-pocketed lid with a mesh bottom panel held my first-aid supplies. Meanwhile, two elastic side pockets held water, two front buckled compression straps harnessed the load, and two front-mounted daisy chains offered lashing options. Lastly, the double hip belt pockets carried lip balm, a knife, tape, and other small, often-accessed items.
The typical 25-pound load carried wonderfully; it felt evenly distributed from my shoulders, along my back, and down to my hips. The shoulder yoke and flexible frame sheet twisted with hiking and scrambling motions, and the ample padding on both the shoulder straps and hip belt proved comfortable. Aggressive and quick movements never produced any feeling of instability – even careless loading didn’t change the feel much.
The pack is definitely the heavier option in my daypack quiver, but the weight is largely unnoticed because it carries the load so well.
If I had to find any fault with the Scree, it would be sweat management. While mesh covered all contact points with the body, I found the broad, flat footprint of the back panel to be hot on warmer days. There is no contouring to create any airspace, so you might feel damp in high temps.
Conclusion: Mystery Ranch Scree Test
The Mystery Ranch Scree brings the brand’s lauded load-carrying comfort to a daypack. These attributes, plus durable materials and hardware, push the pack out of the ultralight category.
But if load carriage is a priority over weight, and it’s anything short of blistering hot, this pack deserves serious consideration. It proved stable, strong, and convenient on my adventures.