ProView – Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 Backpack
Mayhem – a situation in which there is little to no order or control.
Every time I pack for a trip, jackets, shirts, and pants are thrown over every chair, and gear covers every inch of the floor. What does that sound like to you? Over the past month of testing the Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 has conquered the fit, flow, and functional mayhem often encountered in the outdoor world.
Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 Backpack
Product Description: Why compromise when you don’t have to? The 2019 Mayhem 45 is ultralight, ultra-durable, and ultra-comfortable. Built with Spectra® Fiber, the pack offers a top tier strength-to-weight ratio. Used by military and law enforcement, Spectra® Fiber is an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene known for its light weight, strength and abrasion resistance properties. In the Mayhem 45, this means more efficient pack carry, more mileage, and a lifetime of adventures. Less pack weight also means more room for the essentials—like melted chocolate bars and squished PB&Js.
Price: $180 MSRP
I found the Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 to be a very versatile pack. It will swallow gear and continue to ask for more, the suspension and anti-sweat system is the best I’ve ever experienced, and the outer pack features allow quick and easy access to many essential tools. If you’re in the market for an all-in-one quiver pack, take control your trip mayhem with the Mountainsmith Mayhem 45.
- Intuitive Use
- Thoughtful Features
- A few features could use tweaks to make it 5 stars
My first trip out I loaded the pack down for a full day ski tour in the Tetons. I pulled the shoulder and waist straps, so the pack was tight against my body. I expected to have the usual shoulder and hip pains from “cushy” strap systems that dug into my bony body, but that never happened. After four hours of skinning uphill, I was free from aches and pains. The plush EVA foam provided even pressure across the contact points and resulted in absolutely no hot spots. When we reached the top, I gave the straps one last tug to tighten them up before I started downhill. The Mayhem hugged my body as I wove through tight trees and jumped off small cliffs all the way back to the car.
The next day we opted to boot pack up to the top of Teton Pass. As we left the car, I threw my shovel into the back outer pocket (great for quick access!) and strapped my skis onto the pack in the A-frame position. The retention system held the skis solidly in place as we meandered up the boot track. No matter how I would have layered for this hike, my back inevitably gets soaked with sweat.
Like many other packs, Mountainsmith claims they have a great airflow system to prevent moisture from pooling on your back. I can honestly say this is the first time that claim has ever held true. As I hiked upward, the air passed between the foam panels and my back and whisked the moisture away. The pack was doing great in the ski environment, but how versatile could it be?
The following week I took the pack out for some ice climbing. The tool retention system is great for both technical tools or a common ice axe. The hook and elastic band system can easily wrap around any grip and can be removed for speedy access to your tools if encountering slippery or steep terrain. Additionally, another great feature of this pack is the ¾ zip function for access to the main compartment. I’m always in such a hurry to get going that I throw my gloves into the bottom of my pack and when I get to the trailhead I think, “Oh man, I really need my gloves now!” Whenever I made that mistake, I quickly unzipped the side of the pack, grabbed my gloves, and zipped it back up. No need to pour out the entire contents anymore! Mountainsmith was definitely thinking of people like me when they designed this feature. The creators of the Mayhem also installed two large mesh pockets on the side of the pack for water storage, and two pockets in the top of the pack for snacks and other items requiring quick access. So far, the pack was hitting all the marks.
Two things come to mind when I think of improvements. I have a smaller waist so it’s quite often that I have the waist straps tensioned almost as tight as they can go. This results in long loose straps that need to be stored. Unfortunately, because my waist is so small, the Mayhem did not have a designated way to wrap up those loose ends; I loathe long dangling straps. If you’re someone who has a larger waist, there are elastic bands that allow the straps to be folded into. I would much prefer a waistband-sleeve or Velcro storage system instead of the band; those systems would accommodate any sized waist.
I also find the elastic waist pockets to be inadequate. The few times I placed a snack into the elastic pocket, it fell out when I leaned over to tighten bindings or dig in the snow. I’ve also found that elastic, in general, will lose its tension over time and become ineffective. I would like to see the waist pockets changed to a zipper style. I did use these pockets to store the loose waist straps, so they ended up having a good purpose, although, I’m sure, that was not their intended use.
I found the Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 to be a very versatile pack. It will swallow gear and still have room, the suspension and anti-sweat system are the best I’ve ever experienced, and the outer pack features allow quick and easy access to many essential tools. If you’re in the market for an all-in-one quiver pack, take control your trip mayhem with the Mountainsmith Mayhem 45.
David Hanks is a ski patroller, pilot, and photographer. When he’s not working, you’ll never find him in the same place for more than a few days. Most recently he’s spent his time flying planes in Alaska, climbing rocks and ice in the west, and playing in boats of all types. He loves to share his experiences and knowledge with friends old and new. Connect with him on Instagram @Dav1d.hanks.