ProView – Mountainsmith Mayhem 30

Backpacks: the epitome of life. Think about it. Whether you are a professional alpinist, a preschool student or anything in between, you own a backpack.  And while backpacks have come a long way from when the first zippered backpack was invented in 1938, they have fueled our adventures and our everyday lives for as long as we can remember.  Mountainsmith took the simple idea of a backpack and well, they kept it simple.  The Mayhem 30 is full of just enough features that will allow you to take this backpack on the most complex of mountain adventures, or simple enough to throw in the overhead bin of an airplane or back of your car.  So, whether you’re gearing up for trail or travel, the Mountainsmith Mayhem 30 has got your back…quite literally.

Mountainsmith Mayhem 30

Product Description: The 2019 Mayhem makes Mountainsmith the first in the U.S. to launch a backpacking pack with Spectra® Fiber Technology. Spectra® Fiber is an ultralight, ultra-strong fiber that puts the Mayhem at the top of its class for weight and durability. The Mayhem 30 is ideal for backcountry overnights, ski mountaineering, days at the local crag, and adventure travel weekends.

Price: $160 MSRP

  • Quality
    (4)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Fit
    (3)
  • Style
    (4)

Summary

Honestly, I found this pack to be so versatile that it can be used anywhere from the slopes, to the crag, or to the airport.  The fabric held up in snowy and muddy conditions as well as being durable enough to be slashed against trees while cruising on a snowboard.  There are truly no jokes and gimmicks here- the Mountainsmith Mayhem 30 fully meets the product description online. Before receiving the Mayhem, I saw that the website mentioned the pack’s durable, lightweight, and weekend trip functionality.  After putting it to the test, I would say the Mayhem 30 exceeded my expectations.  The Spectra Fiber fabric held up against ripping through the trees on my snowboard and being thrown around in the back of my car for weekend adventures.  It is not only supportive, but extremely lightweight providing the perfect balance for an adventure backpack.  You can strap your snowshoes on the sides, attach your trekking poles, and fit a weekend’s worth of clothing and gear inside and more! The wide range of features make it versatile for adventures big and small, travels far and wide, and for epic and everyday use.

Overall
4

Pros

  • Spacy interior
  • Gear loops
  • Comfortable/supportive straps
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Highly adjustable
  • Exterior pocket

Cons

  • Fits big for my size
  • Bulky/stiff straps
  • Not zippered hip belt pockets

As a professional in the outdoors, while I’m working (and playing), I spend the majority of my time doing life with a backpack on.  I’ve spent more than 300 days camping, backpacking, and hiking over the years with students and on personal trips.  As an outdoor educator in Colorado, the Mayhem 30 is my everyday companion and it fits my daily needs on many levels.  At this point in the season, our site is either covered in ice and snow or drowning in mud on warmer days.  The Mayhem has no problem being tossed around and set in such conditions and is roomy enough to hold all my layers for unpredictable Colorado weather.  In addition to supporting me in my everyday job, the Mayhem 30 has proved to be a proficient winter weekend adventure companion.  It has carried all my snowboarding gear, accompanied me on the slopes, assisted me on snowshoeing day trips, held all my gear at the climbing gym, and secured a weekend’s worth of clothes and gear for car camping adventures.  My snowboard excursions took me to Keystone, A-basin, Breckenridge, and Cooper, where I wore the Mayhem on the slopes and put it through the wringer as I shredded through the trees.  I took the Mayhem on snowshoeing day hikes in Cheyenne Canyon in Colorado Springs and along the trails near my home in Larkspur.  For weekend car camping trips, I would sleep in the back of my car in various Colorado mountain towns to get multiple days of riding and the Mayhem perfectly fit all my clothes and gear for the duration of my stay.  As soon as I received the Mayhem, I was wishing that I had it last Fall when I traveled to Hong Kong to work as an outdoor educator.  The Mayhem will make the perfect carry on for future airplane travels in addition to a crag companion for when the weather is nicer for climbing outside.

Fit/Comfort

The Mayhem 30 fits a little on the big side for my size, as I have to almost fully tighten the hip belt and shoulder straps in order for it to fit me properly.  I am a 5’10”, 150lb female who doesn’t have broad shoulders just to put it into perspective.  I can still make this pack work as it is extremely comfortable in the back, hip belt, and shoulder strap region especially when weighted and packed to max capacity.  I often forget I am wearing this pack as the hex pack panel and high-density foam frame sheet eliminate pressure points and provide support in all the right places.


Look/Style

The Mayhem’s sleek black exterior with yellow details looks tough and embodies the classic Mountainsmith brand style.  Even when packed to max capacity the Mayhem still looks and feels streamlined and does not appear bulky. 

Features

When I first received this pack, I was amazed by how simple it looks.  I had read about the features prior to receiving the pack and I envisioned something a lot more complicated.  Referencing these features straight from the website, the Mayhem 30 has a “front panel extension pocket with daisy chain attachment loops and built-in haul handle.”  The front external pocket is perfect for shoving an extra layer, wet clothes, or shoes.  I use the daisy chain attachment loops for clipping on my climbing shoes or a ball cap and the haul handle is perfect for throwing the bag in the back of your car. 

You will also find “pull forward waist belt pockets and ventilated waist belt padding”.  While the straps feel a bit bulky when you first put on the pack, the Mayhem does not disappoint in comfort and the ventilation system is next level.  The stretch mesh waist belt pockets are perfect for storing snacks, sunscreen, a compass, or the extra webbing for the hip belt pockets which were extra long on me because I had to tighten the waist belt almost all the way. 

The Mayhem 30 features three zippered compartments as follows:  the main/body, the top lid zippered pocket for easy access on the outside of the pack, and a secondary pocket underneath the lid inside the pack.  The main compartment can truly fit so much gear and I am surprised every time by how much I can pack in this 30L bag. 

The top and underneath pockets are perfect for organizing smaller items such as keys, a phone, chargers, wallet, Chapstick, sunscreen, etc.  There are two “side panel mesh bottle pockets with over/under strap pass thru.”  The mesh pockets are deep, securely carrying my 32oz Hydroflask.  The over/under strap system can be used to either synch down the gear inside your pack or the items in the stretch mesh pockets on the outside.  I love this feature in backpacks because it adds so much versatility depending on what you use the pack for. 

For those mountaineering hikes and longer expeditions, the Mayhem has “dual tool/trekking pole carry with elastic pole tip loops.” These loops were quick and easy to use and perfectly secured my trekking poles while snowshoeing on several day-hikes. 

The Mayhem 30 has this amazing “hex ridged pack panel padding for increased airflow and high-density foam frame sheet with wireframe load dispersion.” I know this sounds fancy and high tech and it probably is by the way it functions so well.  The Mayhem is one of those backpacks where I actually want to pack a lot of weight into it because I know it does not compromise comfort.  It is almost as if the weight lightens once I put the pack on, making me almost forget I am wearing the Mayhem while hiking.  The breathability is also incredible, which is a huge plus because I don’t know about you, but I hate when backpacks leave your back drenched in sweat.  The amount of features the Mayhem contains is remarkable, considering this pack appears so simple.  I love the versatility it brings- you can make it as simple or as complicated of a pack as you need to fit your adventures.

Weight/Packability

The design of the Mayhem 30 makes it easy to pack it full and heavy.  It has one big main compartment with a zippered top containing two small zippered pouches for increased organization for smaller items like keys, sunscreen, wallet, sunglasses, and phone.  The main compartment can pack twice as much or more than a pack only 5L smaller due to the design.  I can fit my snowboarding helmet, snow jacket, snow pants, hat, mittens, socks, goggles, water bottle, and extra layers for a weekend trip to the mountains for example.  An outer pouch in the front is perfect for a pair of shoes, wet/smelly clothes, or a rain jacket.  I have used the Mayhem on a variety of weekend adventures and often forget that it is only 30 liters due to its spacious design.  I can stuff so much gear into this pack, that it is the only bag I usually need.

Function/Performance

I cannot get over how versatile this backpack is.  As an avid adventurer, traveler, and outdoor professional I need a backpack that can fit my diverse outdoor needs/hobbies and this pack is good for almost every adventure I’ve encountered.  I’ve used this pack to fit all my snowboarding gear for the weekend, as a snowshoeing daypack, as a snowboarding companion on the slopes, on car camping weekend trips, and to fit all my climbing gear at the gym. 

It is nice to have a jack-of-all-trades pack that I can take on any adventure through a variety of conditions.  Having the Mayhem 30 in my life has replaced the need for several other backpacks I own, as it is the perfect size and its durability is unmatched.  In the future I see myself using this pack as a carry-on for airplane travels, a crag bag that can fit all my outdoor climbing gear, and a pack for overnight backpacking trips.

Durability/Construction

The Mayhem 30 contains Spectra® Fiber technology, which is fabric constructed with ultralight, ultra-strong fiber.  When I read about this technology I fully expected a bomber backpack and I got exactly that.  This pack held up against snowboarding falls, narrow paths through trees on the slopes, being thrown around my car during weekend adventures, and tumbles into the mud, snow, and ice.  I even spilled beer on it once and the fabric just wicked it right away.  I clearly need a pack that I can rely on in my crazy, fast-paced, spontaneous, and unpredictable life.

Final Words

Honestly, I found this pack to be so versatile that it can be used anywhere from the slopes, to the crag, or to the airport.  The fabric held up in snowy and muddy conditions as well as being durable enough to be slashed against trees while cruising on a snowboard.  There are truly no jokes and gimmicks here- the Mountainsmith Mayhem 30 fully meets the product description online. Before receiving the Mayhem, I saw that the website mentioned the pack’s durable, lightweight, and weekend trip functionality.  After putting it to the test, I would say the Mayhem 30 exceeded my expectations. 

The Spectra Fiber fabric held up against ripping through the trees on my snowboard and being thrown around in the back of my car for weekend adventures.  It is not only supportive, but extremely lightweight providing the perfect balance for an adventure backpack.  You can strap your snowshoes on the sides, attach your trekking poles, and fit a weekend’s worth of clothing and gear inside and more! The wide range of features make it versatile for adventures big and small, travels far and wide, and for epic and everyday use.

Room For Improvement

  • Zippered hip belt pockets for added functionality and the option to select a frame/strap size
  • Straps are pretty hefty/bulky and the frame is a little large
  • Excess webbing is therefore super long
  • Hip belt pockets are stretchy mesh and do not contain zippers.  They are functional, but if you’re someone who can’t live without zippered hip belt pockets, keep this in mind.

The Mayhem is still a bomber pack and damn good at doing what it’s made to do: be the ultimate lightweight and durable weekend warrior adventure pack.

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Bethany has been working as an outdoor educator/trip leader for two years since graduating from CSU.  Bethany’s passion for experiential learning was sparked after she embarked on a 30-day NOLS outdoor educator course in the Winds after she graduated college.  Since then her outdoor job pursuits have taken her to California, Wyoming, Tanzania/Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Hong Kong.  She is now back in her home state of Colorado where she continues to work as an outdoor educator in Larkspur.  When not working with students outdoors, Bethany is most likely climbing, snowboarding, trail running, backpacking, camping, and eating breakfast burritos in the Colorado mountains.  You can connect with her on Instagram at @adventuresof_b.

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