The Mountainsmith Scream 55 is a roll-top rucksack that is surprisingly affordable and durable but has some features that miss the mark. Our testers were not be impressed by the tight side pockets or the vertical rear pockets and the provided webbing loops are not accessible unless other means of attachment are produced. Compared to other packs in the test group, the Scream 55 has great durability and value, but falls short when it comes to crucial features.
Comfort The Mountainsmith Scream 55 is the least comfortable pack of the test group. While the frame sheet does shift a small amount of weight to the hip belt, when packed full the pack’s shape changes and becomes cylindrical, bulging against the users spine. Thin shoulder straps become less comfortable as weights exceed 25 pounds.
Storage The Scream 55 has a large primary space with built-in hydration bladder storage, two stretchy mesh side pockets, and two long vertical pockets to the rear of the pack. The hip belt’s largepockets keeps often used items close at hand. Few compression straps offer little in terms of short-term storage and a string of webbing loops are not ready-to-use.
Internal The Scream 55’s large main compartment is consistently sized from top to bottom and a removable padded frame sheet prevents items from prodding the users back. When packed full the pack loses its shape and becomes a large cylinder. The extension collar is not very versatile, only allowing for about 10 liters of fluctuating capacity.
Side Pockets The Scream 55’s side pockets are tall and tight and won’t accommodate a 1-liter Nalgene bottle, limiting storage to thinner items like maps or collapsible bottles. These pockets are difficult to access while wearing the pack and require the user to take the pack off to access them.
Rear Pockets Rather unorthodox for modern packs, the Scream 55 sports two vertical pockets separated by loops of webbing. These opaque, non-draining pockets are designed to hold the Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT tarp and can fit other large items, but it remains difficult to find smaller items that are mixed in without partially emptying the pockets. The openings to the pockets are rather narrow and their orientation sometimes requires the user to roll the pack on its side to prevent items from falling out.
Hip Belt The Scream 55’s hip belt is appropriately sized: while it does not support much weight from the pack it also does not get in the way. The hip belt pockets are large enough to hold electronic devices or a few snacks.
Shoulder Straps The shoulder straps are covered in a breathable mesh fabric and, for loads up to 25 pounds, the thin straps are adequate, but do not stand out. When the pack is any heavier, they fail to provide adequate comfort for more than 3 hours of carrying time.
Versatility Despite its roll top closure, the Scream 55’s storage capacity has limited flexibility. It’s extension collar, secured by a strap of webbing that is a few inches below the top of the closure, requires the user to roll it 3-4 times before it can be securely clipped closed. Also, the packs design does not allow for excessive rolling or compressing it down when carrying smaller loads.
Many attachment points can be found on the pack, but they require lashing of items to be made functional. If the pack is already stuffed full enough to require external attachment, it is likely that the extra materials and added weight of items lashed on the outside of a pack will not be supported comfortably.
A daisy chain of webbing between the rear pockets terminates in an ice axe loop on at the bottom and an adjustable loop of cordage at the top but remains out-of-place. Essential backpacking tasks, like drying gear in the sun or attaching a sleeping pad, is not aided by these loops; in order to use them one must utilize other methods of attachment (i.e. carabiners, extra cordage, etc.).
The compression straps are ineffective at altering the load capacity and are a bit too thick and burly for the application.
Weight The Scream 55 remains fairly light for its size due to its simplicity and thinner shoulder and waist straps. The durable fabrics, straps and buckles used add to the overall weight. Additional gear would be required to utilize the loops of webbing provided, thus adding to the packs weight.
Durability The Scream 55 is one of the more durable packs in the test group. The majority of the pack is made up of a durable 100-denier Robic nylon material and the bottom is reinforced with 610-denier nylon. This pack’s materials will easily stand up to years of abuse.
Mike Summers is an avid hiker, cyclist, climber, and outdoor enthusiast. While exploring America’s best outdoor spaces, Mike has developed an intimate relationship with his gear systems, allowing him to stay safe and comfortable in an otherwise forbidding environment. When he’s not exploring, you can find him sharing insights and chronicling his journeys at improbablebutpossible.com.