Down 'N Dirty: Mountainsmith Mayhem 35
86%Overall Score
Durability 85%
Versatility 85%
Comfort 90%
Features 80%
Value 90%

On an ordinary weekday earlier this summer, the pull of nature was too strong to resist, and the wheels quickly started in motion on an impromptu overnight camping trip to White Ranch Park in Golden, Colorado. Eager to hit the the road, I grabbed the first pack I could find and haphazardly stuffed a raincoat, a sleeping bag, a few layers and some other camp essentials inside. The bag was Mountainsmith’s Mayhem 35, and Goldilocks herself couldn’t have designed a better bag to meet my needs that day. The 35  liter pack proved to be just the right size and included just the right amount of features for a quick camping trip close to home.

MSRP: $139.95

Pros: One of the coolest things about this pack is that it comes in men’s and women’s specific designs. With a small amount of easy adjustment on the shoulder straps, the WSP pack fit snuggly on my body and felt incredibly lightweight and comfortable as I carried overnighter camping supplies along five miles of trail before reaching our campsite. But this budget-friendly pack had a number of simple but super helpful features that made my mini adventure a walk in the park. The chest strap can be adjusted vertically, not just compressed horizontally, which makes it easy to find the most comfortable and functional position for each individual. There’s a sweet pocket on the hip belt that perfectly fit my iPhone 6s, making it easy to grab along the trail when we stumbled across photo-worthy views. The dual water bottle pockets are deeper and wider than most packs, and easily fit girthier bottles, like Nalgene waterbottles. The Anvil Airway ridged EVA backpanel padding and breathable mesh webbing on the shoulder straps and waist belt kept my clothing from saturating in sweat. And easy access to the spacious interior through a continuous top loading-meets-side panel zipper made it easy to find and retrieve my rain jacket when the unpredictable Colorado skies opened up and started to sprinkle raindrops down.

Cons: Although the bag is made out of the durable and water-resistant Cordura fabric, it isn’t fully waterproof, and doesn’t come with a built-in rainfly. Excluding a rainfly in the design keeps the pack more lightweight, but also makes the Mayhem a better option for mini adventures, and not so much for more extended backpacking trips.

Where We Took It: On an overnight camping trip to White Ranch Park in Golden, Colorado.