During a recent sale, I grabbed the Mystery Ranch Scree 32 bag to use as my emergency bag I keep in my house. I’ve been looking for something in the 30L range, that would be comfortable to wear, not very tactical looking, and was inexpensive to buy. This checked all those boxes, and while I have not used it a ton (emergency bag after all) I thought it was interesting enough to touch base on quickly.
In a lot of ways, this is the hiking (or lightweight) version of the Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault CL that I really love.
Here’s some notes on it:
- The material on this is very thin and smooth Robic nylon. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the standard “hiking backpack” fabric you find on most major brands. It’s tough and light, and inexpensive to make bags out of.
- There is a general smoothness to the parts that touch your back on this bag, which is a really nice change from a lot of the tactical backpacks that I tend to review which emphasize materials not easy on the skin/shirts.
- It has the same Futura comfort, as it is an adjustable yoke bag with the classic Mystery Ranch strap layout to it. Excellent.
- Design is slightly less war vibes to it.
- Compared to the 3 Day Assault CL, the hip belt is a little softer, and whole lot better. It is thicker and more substantial, so when attached it is bulky, but unlike the 3 Day, this hip belt is completely removable from the bag.
- Softer materials mean less break in, but potential for carrying less weight, goes hand in hand with the lighter materials. I wouldn’t want to assume that if it fits the bag can carry it, and sharp corners of anything you pack could be a potential concern over many miles. That said, it’s not in any way fragile — this is just a difference between things that are not Cordura and things that are.
- The bag has the ability to carry water in two places inside of it, but it also has excellent low profile external water bottle pockets on either side as well. Best of both worlds, very little downside either way.
- Good top lid, it’s the standard larger 3-zip top lid, which is one small pocket and one giant pocket, but they don’t fully clamshell open. This is good for stuffing gear into, but less great for getting stuff out. On a trail, or traveling, these work better as stuff can’t easily fall out of them.
- Bladder sleeve in the bag, and that’s about all it can really hold.
- Hip belt has pockets, they look goofy as well, but I bet they work well.
- Daisy chain with loops at the bottom for actually holding gear, but I should add that they don’t feel as substantial as those on the 3 Day Assault.
- The compression system is very different and interesting. Where the 3 Day and 2 Day Assaults have two straps that pull across the front, with the top compressing the depth too, the Scree takes a different approach. The bottom strap is the same: pulling across the front of the bag without side compression. However the top strap only compresses the sides of the bag, which means it can/will put stress on the top zipper, so you won’t have a means of alleviating that with the strap like you can on the Assault models. It compresses better because of the straps and the materials, but I prefer the Assault compression methods to this one.
Generally the bag feels like a true 32L capacity, is super comfortable to wear when loaded out, and is made to the same standards as a general hiking bag typically is.
This feels like the 3 Day Assault light weight version and I think that is how I would frame it. If I did a lot of day hikes still, this would be a contender and likely the better option than the 3 Day Assault for pure day hiking needs. I know that 32L is big for day hikes, but I still hold firm that there’s no downside to hiking with a larger capacity pack — assuming you keep from filling it. If you aren’t into the tactical vibe bags that I have been reviewing from Mystery Ranch, but want a good hiking or travel bag with a comfortable strap setup, this is the one I would point you to.
I bought this for my emergency bag, but it’s going to be tough for me to keep it there. It’s shockingly good, and thankfully my 3 Day Assault CL will be great in any spot I would use the Scree. Given the price of this bag, and toned down looks, and the remaining comfort: I am surprised more people don’t one bag travel with this, or use it for hiking. It’s really nice.