In our opinion, the Mountainsmith Scream 25 is the best summit pack around, thanks to its low weight, good feature set and better-than-average fit.
Good stability for a pack without any internal frame
Doubles as a stuff sack or pillow
Great durability-to-weight ratio
No sleeve for a hydration bladder
Shoulder straps have a habit of getting twisted from time to time
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The Mountainsmith Scream 25 is a summit pack, a type of daypack that’s ultralight and ditches any excess materials, such as an inner frame. They are designed for summit hikes, exploratory adventures out of basecamp, or anywhere you might need to lug in a full-sized backpack just to start the adventure.
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On the trails
While we were testing it, the Scream 25 held up to some heavy-duty usage without busting a seam – a nice surprise. Hydration bladders can affect the balance of the pack a bit, as it doesn't have a tight sleeve to hold a bladder in place. It's not a deal-breaker by any means; strategically stuffing layers around your hydration bladder solves this issue.
• RRP: $80 (US) / £58 (UK)
• Weight: 21oz / 595g
• Volume: 26L
• Compatibility: Summit hikes, basecamp exploration hikes, short day hikes
• Colors: Mint / Stone Grey
The Mountainsmith Scream 25 is one of the few summit packs that can manage to carry 20–25lb / 10kg without slinking down the wearer’s back. Despite not having an internal frame, the shoulder and chest straps keep the load as stable as possible. Deep side pockets give extra space for water bottles or hiking poles and the single ice-axe loop at the bottom makes perfect sense for snowy summit days.
In addition to being a great summit pack, it's a good option for tourist travel where you only need to pack a few things like a sandwich or water bottle. When camping, the pack stuffs into its top compartment. Put your softest fleece over it for an instant camp pillow.
The best-selling author of five Colorado mountain hiking guidebooks, including Best Summit Hikes in Colorado, James’ work has been published in National Geographic, Backpacker, Outside, Discover Magazine, and many more. He's climbed in Greenland, the Canadian Arctic, Japan, and Antarctica. James lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Sheila and their two rescue collies, Mystic and Fremont. As of 2021, he's only had one of his tents trampled by a moose.