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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Mountain Hardwear Scrambler > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler Backpack
By Raymond Estrella
June 07, 2007


NAME: Raymond Estrella
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.

The Product

Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Web site:
Product: Scrambler backpack
Size: Regular
Year manufactured: 2006
MSRP: $ 49.00 (US).
Weight listed: 11 oz (312 g)
Actual weight 14 oz (397 g)
Volume: 1,600 cu in (26 l)
Torso length: N/A
Color: Titanium, also available in Black and Red
Warranty: (from company web site), "Mountain Hardwear guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended time and use."


Product Description

The Scrambler is a dark grey (titanium) top-loading frameless pack. It is the lightest and lowest volume of the company's Objective Series Packs. It has been positioned for use as a mountaineering, scrambling and alpine climbing pack. The hang tag that came with it suggests that it is "light and small enough to carry along for side trips and summit bids." It also says that it can be used as a sleeping bag stuff sack.

The body of the pack is made of "silicon coated, self-healing 100D Cordura, an extreme load parachute material." It is very slick feeling and slightly stiff. A cord runs around the top of the pack and through a cord lock, allowing the top to be drawn shut.

Zigzagging across the face of the pack is an elastic cord that goes through a cord-lock, and six nylon loops, three on each side. Centered below the "bungee web" is an ice ax loop. At the top of the pack is a hook and loop tool holder. It can be used to hold the shaft of an ice axe, trekking poles or shovel.

A fixed lid with storage sits on top. It is not that large. I could stuff my Redledge Elite rain parka (see review) in it, or my first-aid kit and a few small items. There is a key-clip inside at the front. This space is accessed from a zipper behind my head. Under the lid is a very small zippered pocket that could hold a wallet and permit or such. Here is a pic of this pocket.

inner lid

The contoured shoulder straps are made of open weave mesh netting with nylon piping on the edges. They have an adjustment strap at the lower end of the shoulder strap that pulls the pack higher onto my shoulders and back. A sternum strap that connects with a quick-clip buckle crosses the between the shoulder straps. It is mounted on a sliding connection. Each shoulder strap has an elastic nylon loop on them also. I keep my knife clipped to one of them. Here is a shot of the back of the Scrambler.


The Scrambler has no hip belt, nor does it have a frame. But it does have a 3.4 oz (96 g) EVA foam back panel that gives support to the pack. It can be removed, as seen below, to cut the weight down and can be used as a sit pad.

backpanel sit pad

Field Conditions

I have used the Scrambler mostly in San Jacinto Wilderness and State Park and the forests around San Gorgonio as I used it as a summit pack for those two mountains. The temperatures were around 20 F (-7 C) and elevations reached 11500' (3505 m).

I took it to Utah for a few days to use as a daypack. Temps were in the teens F (-9 C)

All use on the trips above were in winter and on snow covered trails but looking back it never got snowed on.

I used it on a couple of long day hikes in the San Gabriel mountains, temps on these hikes ranged from 30 F to 70 F (-1 to 21 C).


I bought the Scrambler pack expressly to use as a summit pack. I was pretty excited about the low weight. That was somewhat soured for me by the actual weight being off by 27%. While I realize it is only 3 oz (85 g) it still bothers me when gear weights are mis-stated.

I have another pack of this type that I use a lot more as it is lighter and more useable than the Scrambler.

One thing that has impressed me about the Scrambler is the way that it handles weight. For a frameless pack it does a good job. The pad that acts as a framesheet works pretty well. And I have had some weight on it as can be seen in this picture on the way up San Gorgonio.

On the way to the top

I had lunch, water, rain shells, gloves, helmet and crampon case inside along with the snowshoes and ice axe strapped to the outside.

When I bought it I had envisioned using the Scrambler as a replacement for my sleeping bag stuff sack to be able to save weight. This could still be done, but I have not used it this way to date.

The top pocket is pretty small. I only keep a few little things in it, like wallet, keys, toilet paper and a Larabar or two. But the main pack swallows quite a bit.

When using the bungee on the front I have to be careful that whatever I am putting there is quite secure. The silicon coated nylon of the pack is so slick that things will slip out easily. I have had Dave rescue escaping items for me.

I have used it for a couple of fastpacks of very long mileage and it does quite well for this use. I wish that it had a port for a hydration tube, but was able to get by with just running it out the side of the opening. I have never taken the framesheet pad out to use as a sit-pad as it is quite difficult to get back in, but do like the way that it keeps sharp edges away from my back. I have never left the pad at home to save weight.

The web shoulder pads work quite well. As I never had the weight too high I did not notice the lack of padding. They did not dig into my the top of my shoulders, even though I hike in just a base layer quite often in winter. When wearing my fleece or (rarely) parka, I do not even notice them. As hot as I am when I climb they have helped keep my chest from sweating as much as I normally do.

While I understand that it is too small to employ an actual hip belt, a small waist belt would help keep it from flopping around when climbing. Which it does while climbing the boulders up to the peak of San Jacinto or like areas.

All told it is a decent little pack. With the addressing of a couple of things (hydration port, waist belt, correct weight stated) I think it could be even better.

In San Jacinto State Park

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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