The Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 is an innovative and creative backpack—perfect for certain uses, but hindering for others. Here’s what I liked about it, when I’ll use it, and when I’ll find another pack in the hopper to take up to the crag.
Upon first glance this pack is different. Obviously different. The thing I like the most about this pack is the massive zipper opening. It’s easy to open, and it’s convenient to find what you want. If you packed something away at the bottom that you find yourself needing quickly, it’s not hard to find.
There’s many other creative features, like several outside pockets that are useful for various items, ranging from an easy waist belt pocket for your phone, and a side pocket that I used for my belay glasses. Other features that I found unique were the pull forward waist belt, and the side panel mesh pocket. There’s also plenty of loops to clip extra items on to. (As an Indian Creek climber, I almost always end up clipping my big cams on the outside of my pack. No matter how big a pack is there never seems to be enough room for all the cams out there.) It’s also made of CORDURA fabric, touted for its durability.
Speaking of The Creek, this pack simply didn’t have the features I needed for the heavy loads that place demands. There really isn’t a convenient way to strap the rope on the outside of the pack. When I did have a full Creek pack and I tried to affix the rope above the brain of the pack it slipped off and became a tangled mess. I suppose you could put a shorter rope in the mesh pocket in the front of the pack, but that simply wouldn’t work for a 70 or 80 meter rope; they are too bulky.
That said, I think this pack is good for areas that just don’t require a massive amount of gear. In Joshua Tree, where you hike from formation to formation, and are constantly moving around, packing up and unpacking, the Mayhem was perfect. I liked how easy it was to get what I needed and how easy it was to pack up when I was done.
This pack will stay in the “hopper”. I’ll be using it when the rack is light, and convenience is key. The “feel” of it is great, the back padding is comfortable, and the wireframe disperses the loads properly. Bring the Mayhem 45 for the casual cragging and travel, but leave it home when you’re bringing everything but the kitchen sink to the wall.
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