It’s always a little tricky picking out a daypack for snowshoeing. There aren’t many backpacks that cater to this niche, especially when it comes to snowshoe storage. However, Mystery Ranch’s Scree 32L backpack is a different story. After multiple snowshoe outings last winter and several day hikes this summer, the Scree 32L is now our go-to daypack. Through our review of the Mystery Ranch Scree 32, we (my wife and I) share the qualities that make this pack great for snowshoers.
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Fit & Comfort
In our experience, the Scree 32L offers a comfortable fit and support in the chest, shoulders, and waist.
The shoulder pads are fitted with densified urethane foam, making them very comfortable to wear. After full-day hikes (typically between 4-12 hours), my shoulders were never sore compared to other packs.
A waist belt and chest strap provide natural support for carrying the pack as well. As part of the Scree’s versatility, though, the waist belt is removable if you prefer not to use it. The Scree 32 also offers torso adjustment through the Futura Yoke so you can adjust the torso to fit your body. Luckily, my wife and I have similar torso sizes, so there wasn’t much adjustment needed, but it’s a handy feature none the less.
The Scree 32L is an internal framed pack, which is characterized by a frame (in the Scree’s case, an HDPE frame) that sits against the back, as well as a large internal pocket for storage. Internal frame backpacks, because of their weight distribution, are excellent for hikes that require a lot of back and forth movement (scrambling or steep climbs).
Mystery Ranch’s Scree 32L is built with ventilated mesh in the back to prevent moisture build-up as well. On our snowshoe hikes, I didn’t experience sweating, because well, it was cool enough to where I didn’t overheat. However, my back sweat quite a bit while summer hiking because of the internal frame. To me, this isn’t a downside of the Scree, just a fact of all internal frame packs, since I naturally sweat quite a bit.
With all that said, I would recommend trying out the pack before buying it. It’s imperative to ensure the fit and comfort is right for you and your body.
By definition, a snowshoeing pack needs to be able to carry snowshoes. Snow conditions can change on the trail, especially in the spring, and there may be occasions when the trail doesn’t require snowshoes. In these instances, it essential to have a pack that allows for snowshoe storage, either by included straps, attachment points, or a pocket.
With the Scree 32L, it has a daisy chain with adjustable loops as well as two included small elastic bands for attachment (which we used to secure the snowshoe frame). Additionally, there is a full-sized clip strap that conveniently holds most of the snowshoe in place. We tested our snowshoe storage out on multiple snowshoe journeys and have found it to work quite well. The snowshoes stay secure as we’re moving, and they are easy to remove and reattach with gloves.
My only concern is that the elastic bands may wear out after a few seasons of use. However, if that happens, Mystery Ranch offers an excellent warranty and repair program. According to their website, they “offer repair and replacement for issues with materials or craftsmanship.” Additionally, they can repair damage due to normal wear and tear for a reasonable charge. Or, if you prefer, it would be easy to attach washboard straps as a replacement for the elastic bands.
For a day snowshoeing pack, 24-32L is about the right size (at least for me). A typical day pack (16L) is too small for the layers I want to carry (especially in winter), and a standard overnight bag (40-50L) is too large.
For my usual snowshoeing journey, I want to plan for the coldest temperatures and snow. Typically I carry the following items at a minimum:
- pair of winter gloves
- outer layer
- winter hat or cap
- extra pair of socks
- two bottles of water
- first aid kit
- pair of crampons or traction device
- snowshoes (attached to straps)
Then, if planning for a more extended adventure (anything over an hour or two), I might carry, binoculars, or journey entertainment like an SLR Camera or a mountain beer.
With all these items, 32L is the sweet spot for day trip snowshoe journeys. It can fit all of the items listed here and have room for the little extras.
There tend to be two schools of thought when it comes to pockets. Some people like them to organize their things, and some do not, as pockets can add weight. I’m firmly on the side of having pockets because I like to be organized. There is nothing I hate more than having to pull everything out of my pack to find the teabag at the bottom of my backpack.
Even with the internal frame, Mystery Ranch’s Scree 32L has a plethora of pockets. Two outer pockets can easily fit my liter water bottle and most 50oz water bottles with ease. If you prefer a bladder, there is an inner pocket to accommodate a hydration reservoir. With different pocket options for water, the pack accommodates your personal preference of bladders or water bottles.
Along the waist belt, there are also two waist pockets. I liked using the waist pockets for storing my cell phone or anything I want to keep close at hand during my hikes, like a GPS or hand sanitizer.
There are also two pockets in the lid (where I can store my tea) and two internal side pockets (not counting the hydration pocket). To me, that’s about the right amount of pockets I want on a pack.
Moreover, the three zipper design for the main pocket is incredibly helpful for snowshoeing adventures. Even with the snowshoes attached to the pack, the top zippers can be used to access items in the main compartment of the backpack quickly. Without anything connected, you can use the lower zipper to access gear stored towards the bottom of the pack, without having to fiddle with other contents. I typically like to carry my extra water bottle or snacks at the bottom of my backpack under my layers, so being able to access them in the middle of my snowshoeing adventure easily is essential. The Scree 32L’s third zipper makes that a little bit easier.
Weight & Durability
After considering all the features, we have to talk about one of the most important specs about this pack: the weight. The Scree 32L, including the waistbelt, weighs in at a total of 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg). If you remove the waistbelt, which is 6 oz or 0.375 lbs, the total weight of the pack is approx 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg).
That weight is about the middle of the road for a pack of this size. Competitor packs come in about 1-0.5 lbs lighter, with fewer features. Alternatively, cheaper packs and packs with more features come in heavier. It’s a toss-up.
But to lose weight on this pack, it would lose durability or be just a big pocket. Personally, because of the Scree 32L’s versatility, I’m okay with the one-pound trade-off compared to lighter packs.
Speaking of weight and durability, the fabric the Scree 32L uses is 210D Robic nylon. When it comes to materials, I’m going to keep it simple. The 210D Robic Nylon is probably one of the better fabrics to use for a pack without getting into exotic materials. It is relatively lightweight, it doesn’t let tears spread, and it’s water-resistant. The Scree 32L is also reinforced with a double-layered bottom to provide increased durability underneath the pack as well.
Plus, this fabric has excellent thermal properties. It will hold up down to -20F (-30C) indefinitely or down to -60F (-50C) for short periods (like a 4-5 hour hike).
Overall, the Scree 32L is an excellent snowshoeing day pack. The fit is comfortable and adjustable, and it’s incredibly easy to use. We can store our snowshoes quickly and simply and still get to the gear we need in the pack. As I mentioned, this is our go-to snowshoeing daypack now, even though it is slightly heavier than other packs, and we may need to replace the elastic straps at some point.
If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile snowshoeing daypack, the Scree 32L by Mystery Ranch will not disappoint. For more info on all of the features of the Scree, check out the video below. You can purchase the Scree 32L at Mystery Ranch.
Would you use the Mystery Ranch Scree 32L for your snowshoeing adventures? Let us know in the comments below!
Mystery Ranch provided the Scree 32L backpack for testing. All views and experiences shared in the article are our own.
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