It’s been quite a while since we put the Coulee 40 backpack from Mystery Ranch through its paces on a many-day hiking trip in the Italian Alps. Back then we introduced it as an expanded version of the Scree backpack.
The Scree is something of a perennial bestseller for Mystery Ranch and with the upcoming 2019 model, it has received a few useful upgrades. So I thought it’s time we took a closer look at this old/new classic and exactly what’s changed in the new model.
The basic design is very similar, but what exactly differentiates the Scree from the Coulee 40 when we have the two backpack side by side? The main difference is that the Coulee has two large stretch woven pockets on the front expanding the backpack’s capacity and functionality, making the Coulee not only functionally but visually a hiking backpack. In comparison, the Scree, with its classic form, retains a broader multi-purpose functionality.
With a capacity of 32 litres, the Scree is the perfect all-rounder. Not too large and bulky, the Scree can be taken not only on hiking trips but can also be used in everyday life when you need to carry that little bit extra. Whether it’s a weekend in the mountains, the weekly grocery shop or biking to the gym, the simple and muted design of the Scree makes it perfect for all uses.
It takes just seconds to remove the backpack’s waist strap and transform the Scree for urban use. The strap can be threaded through the lower back support and velcroed in place. Similarly the sternum strap can be easily unhooked.
As can be seen in the pictures, the backpack doesn’t look uncomfortably large, and the numerous pockets give it a multi-purpose flexibility.
The core of the Scree is its main compartment with Mystery Ranch’s signature 3-ZIP design and sealed with water-resistant YKK zippers. Inside the main compartment is a large pocket for hydration packs or other tools. In the two “wings” are two narrow pockets which can be folded out when the bag is open.
In the hood of the backpack are three pockets, two on the outside and a mesh pocket on the inside. The mesh is useful as it allows you to see the contents even when closed.
Two side pockets on the outside of the backpack offer further storage and quick access to their contents, e.g. water bottles.
On the front of the Scree and on the hood are various loops and straps which enormously enhance the backpack’s functionality. For example, hiking poles can be attached to the loops, or a rolled up jacket. The possibilities are endless.
The comfort of the Scree I was able to test for myself on a many-day hike in Saxon Switzerland in Germany.
Like most of the backpacks from Mystery Ranch, the Scree also comes with a fully adjustable yoke for that custom fit. For the initial fitting, you will need a few minutes and the help of a friend, but the upside is that it is possible to custom fit the backpack perfectly to your back. (The best way to see how it works is by watching this video: https://vimeo.com/104114298). Wide shoulder straps and a well-padded and very comfortable waist strap increase the comfort of the backpack. In the waist strap itself are two large pockets, one on each side, which I use for the two things I reach for the most: my compact camera and my GPS.
And what are the updates to the Scree 2019?
The waist belt is now removable. All in all, the backpack is lighter, as 210 nylon is now used instead of 300 nylon, without losing its robustness. The frame is softer and lighter, increasing the comfort. The shoulder straps are more ergonomic, based on three years of research, and a softer and more breathable material is used for the shoulder straps and the back padding. And lastly, the Scree will be available in more colours, e.g. the cool green of my test model.
The Scree easily exceeded my expectations. Just as with the Coulee (and many other models from Mystery Ranch) the Scree impresses with its high quality and good, functional design. Mystery Ranch succeeds again in combining a classic look with a certain timeless style. With the improved padding and adjustable yoke, the backpack is very comfortable even after several hours.
I take the Scree with me on daytrips when I have a lot of equipment to carry and more than once I have come home with it packed full with the week’s groceries. The materials and workmanship is, as we are used to from Mystery Ranch, of the highest standard giving the Scree the impression that it’s made to last forever.