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Mountainsmith Scream 55 Review

A great option for the hiker that wants a simple, lightweight pack capable of carrying moderate loads
Mountainsmith Scream 55
Photo: Mountainsmith
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $190 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, simple, zipper access to main compartment, inexpensive, water resistant, lightweight
Cons:  No lid, only available in one non-adjustable size
Manufacturer:   Mountainsmith
By Bennett Fisher ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 2, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 7
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 7
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 3

Our Verdict

The Mountainsmith Scream 55L is a great design for minimalist backpackers with its simple, no-frills design that will have you ready to hit the trail with no distractions. It features a Hypalon seal roll-top opening for shoving your gear in and a u-shaped front zipper to access exactly what you need. It features unique "double-barrel" pockets that can fit a small tent, clothes, or any on-deck items that you might keep in the lid of a more traditional pack. Built on a foundation able to carry around 35 pounds comfortably, this pack's design will keep you from overpacking but can handle the weight when you sneak some extras in.

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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$199.00 at REI$189.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$79.99 at Amazon
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Pros Durable, simple, zipper access to main compartment, inexpensive, water resistant, lightweightHandles heavy loads well, adjustable, two large side zipper pockets, affordableLight-weight, comfortable, easily personalized, inexpensiveGreat value, adjustable hip cushioning and torso height, useful featuresVery affordable, durable fabric
Cons No lid, only available in one non-adjustable sizeLid pocket is hard to access, side pockets can interfere with tall bottles, heavier than mostlacks durabillity, not made for heavy loadsSuspension can bulge out against the back, front stretch pocket doesn't expand that muchUncomfortable, bulky straps and buckles, difficult to use pockets
Bottom Line A great option for the hiker that wants a simple, lightweight pack capable of carrying moderate loadsOur favorite budget pack that features unique pockets and a high carry capacity, all at a great priceIt may not be a heavy load hauler, but for moderate loads, this pack is comfortable and has an amazing set of features, all at a great priceA pack with a lot of the same features as more popular packs, but at half the priceThis is an inexpensive pack that can get the job done if you look past its shortcomings
Rating Categories Mountainsmith Screa... Kelty Coyote 65 REI Co-op Flash 55 Gregory Stout 60L Teton Sports Scout...
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Weight (20%)
9.0
5.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
Adjustability (15%)
3.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Mountainsmith Screa... Kelty Coyote 65 REI Co-op Flash 55 Gregory Stout 60L Teton Sports Scout...
Measured Weight (pounds) 3.0 lbs 4.3 lbs 2.6 lbs 3.8 lbs 4.5 lbs
Volume (liters) 55 L 65 L 55 L 60 L 55 L
Access Top and zipper Top Top Top Top
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials 210D Robic HT nylon with Alkex, 210D nylon embossed liner Poly 420D Small Back Stafford Main body: 100D ripstop nylon
Bottom: 420D nylon
90% nylon, 10% polyester, 210D nylon, 420D high density nylon 600D Diamond Ripstop / 600D PU
Sleeping bag Compartment No Yes No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

As Mountainsmith's logo suggests, this pack is built strong and is thoughtfully made. We appreciated the minimalist roll-top style, usually only seen in cottage brand packs, paired with a supportive frame and full zipper access, all at a great price.

Performance Comparison


The Scream 55 felt at home in the mountains of Northern Utah.
The Scream 55 felt at home in the mountains of Northern Utah.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Suspension and Comfort


The Scream 55L uses a single half-inch aluminum stay down the center of the back to create its suspension that we found comfortable at 35 pounds. The pre-curved aluminum stay creates extra space between the back and pack, allowing some airflow and comfort when picking something up or having to take large steps. The back panel features three EVA foam panels that we found added a nice supportive cushioning, especially for the lower lumbar.


Both the shoulder straps and hip belt are made of dense foam that is supportive but could use a little extra cushioning to improve the comfort while carrying heavier loads. They both feature a mesh covering that allows for extra breathability. The pack does not wobble from side to side while walking even though the hip belt is sewn in, so even with a load at its max capacity, we found it kept its center of gravity behind us at all times.

This pack fit our testers well and the straps were soft but...
This pack fit our testers well and the straps were soft but supportive.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Weight


Weighing in right at 3 pounds, this model is one of the lightest in the review. We think that a minimalist backpacker will be pleased with the valuable access points and moderate carrying capacity at a low price point.


It is made of a very durable 210-Denier Robic HT nylon with Alkex that adds some weight but keeps the pack from being as susceptible to tearing as other lightweight options.

While the U-shaped zipper may add extra weight, its worth the...
While the U-shaped zipper may add extra weight, its worth the convenience.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Features and Ease of Use


Built with a no-frills attitude, this simple pack is quick and easy to use. We enjoyed the lack of dangling straps all over the pack, which often have us scratching our heads on how to use them all. The back of the pack is built with two decent-sized zipper pockets that are great for a small tent or extra clothes. We put our tent in one pocket and used the other as we would a lid storing our headlamp, tp, hand sanitizer, sunscreen-type items for quick and organized access. These two "double-barrel" pockets have more room to expand than expected and fit an ultralight two-person tent well, minus the poles or an insulated jacket. They keep those small extra items secure or add storage and separation for large essentials.


For any bigger items like a sleeping bag or food bag, the u-shaped double zipper front opening made it simple to find exactly what we needed. The opening has a zipper on either side at the top that is covered by a zipper garage. This makes the pack look sleek, and there is no jingling of metal zippers rubbing against each other while you hike. The maximum height of the zipper is in line with the top of the frame, so if the pack is completely full, there will be some gear above the zipper that may be hard to access without unbuckling the pack.

The large U-shaped zipper of the Scream 55 means that nothing is out...
The large U-shaped zipper of the Scream 55 means that nothing is out of reach.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The two hip belt pockets are a good size for a few bars but not big enough for a phone. The zipper is easy to pull and operate with one hand when the pack is on tight. The left belt pocket has some stretch to it allowing it to be stuffed with a little extra. The other pocket is the same fabric as the rest of the pack.

There are two compression straps on each side to keep the gear close to the body, plus the roll-top can be buckled straight down the side of the pack to help compress it even more. The roll-top can also be buckled to itself if the pack is at maximum capacity.

The deep stretch pockets can hold two water bottles each, and the...
The deep stretch pockets can hold two water bottles each, and the roll top can compress the entire pack.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The top opening features a Hypalon seal which reinforces and adds more water resistance to the pack. Our testing found the Scream 55L to be highly water repellent and only letting in minimal water even after being blasted with a hose during testing.

The two deep stretch side pockets can hold two 1-liter Smartwater bottles each or a filter bottle and tent poles. While the deep pockets made us feel like our water was secure, the height did make it a little harder to access the water with the pack on. Luckily the pockets have a lot of stretch, making it easier to reinsert a bottle after fighting to get it out. If you'd rather, the pack does have a bladder pocket inside and a bite valve holder on the sternum strap.

The deep pockets and compression straps mean that your tent poles...
The deep pockets and compression straps mean that your tent poles and filter bottle are secure.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

There are 12 webbing loops and a central daisy chain that can be used to attach a sleeping pad or other bulky items that won't fit inside. Attached to the daisy change is a stretch strap that can lock in trekking poles or ice axes using the bottom tip catch loop. The location of this pole carrier is right in between the "double-barrel" zipper pockets, which keeps the pole out of the way of other features and looks sharp. The webbing loops to mod the pack are in great locations, four on the bottom for a sleeping pad strap and four on either side that could have shock cord run through to secure taller objects or add additional compression.

A shock cord and hook making attaching trekking poles or an ice axe...
A shock cord and hook making attaching trekking poles or an ice axe fast, while the two pockets keep the attached item from hitting stuff.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Adjustability & Fit


Unfortunately, this is where this pack lacks the most. With only one size available, if you are at either end of the size range, you may find that this pack doesn't work for you.


Our lead tester, at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, was on the cusp of being too tall for this pack. The only way to get a different size is to try the women's model of the same name in a 50-liter size with a shorter torso range.

The only adjustable features on this pack are the sternum, waist...
The only adjustable features on this pack are the sternum, waist, and shoulder straps themselves.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Value


This pack's simple feature set will have you organized and on the trail before the rest on the more affordable end of the review. If you are ready to simplify your backpacking with a roll-top bag, this is a great model to test it out. Unlike standard roll-top packs, this one won't punish you for forgetting an item when packing up camp due to the large u-shaped zipper access. We think this pack is a great choice for anyone who is weight conscious and wants to simplify their time spent in nature.

The Scream 55's front zipper pockets work great for all those small...
The Scream 55's front zipper pockets work great for all those small free floating items that might get lost in your pack.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Conclusion


The Scream 55 is a lightweight, affordable, and straightforward pack ready for a long walk on a dirt trail. It doesn't let rain get in the way of adventure or burden the user with endless straps that need clipping and unclipping. With its main zipper access point, there is nothing out of reach or inconvenient to store away. This pack's minimalist design will work best in the hands of someone wanting to get into ultralight backpacking without breaking the bank.

Bennett Fisher