A comfy all-day carry is the defining character of the Mountainsmith Mayhem 35L Pack. It has plenty of room for backpacking and enough support to carry a mountain of hardware to the base of the crag, with convenient pockets to access your gear at a moment’s notice. Working as a climbing guide during the summers in the front range means carrying a lot of gear to set up for groups, so a good pack that hauls the hardware well while hiking uphill and down is an indispensable resource.
The biggest positive feature for the Mayhem is the asymmetric zip for the main compartment allowing the user to access almost the entire compartment at once, great for those times when you suddenly need the item at the very bottom of your pack without having to completely repack afterwards.
The creativity continues with the forward-facing water bottle and zipper pocket, both accessible on the right hand side. Although the bottle holder needs to be tightened down a lot on a standard Nalgene to keep the bottle in place when bending forward, I love that you can easily access your bottle without stopping or removing the pack, which really helps keep the momentum up during the day. The small zipper pocket built into the side of the pack makes urban travel much easier, as you are able to keep the pack on one shoulder and get inside for wallets, phones, or whatever else you may need on the fly.
Other features of the Mayhem include a zippered, non-removable lid, and a large mesh exterior pocket perfect for carrying helmets, snowshoes, shoes, or any other items you may need easy access to while being able to easily store for carry as well. The buckle straps for the mesh pocket work well enough to carry a rope draped over the top of the pack. The back pad has just enough ventilation even with all it’s support and padding to keep your back from turning into a marshland during midday hikes in Colorado summer heat.
Being tall and skinny makes finding packs that fit both my torso and waist well almost impossible, but the Mayhem has come the closest of all the 35L packs I’ve worn. At 6’1” with a 30 inch waist the S/M fits the magic gap in sizing where the weight of the pack carries on my hips while the shoulder straps still sit well.
All straps have a wide range of adjustability, especially the waist belt with adjustable buckles on both sides allowing the user to have the wiggle room to change layers with the environment and the seasons without having to sacrifice a good carry. Even at my size, however, I need to cinch the waist belt almost all the way down, leaving a lot of tail on the straps that I’ve needed to tie off.
The Mayhem may well have taken its place as my favorite pack for single pitch days when a full rack of gear needs to be carried out to the farther routes in Eldorado Canyon, as well for backpacking, snow-shoeing, and camping in the backcountry. It’s proven to carry a lot of equipment without costing in comfort on shoulders or waist.