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Climbing Packs

Ultimate Direction SCRAM 20L Pack

Ultimate Direction tries its hand in the climbing realm

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MSRP: $134.95

BEST FOR: Multi-pitch and alpine climbing; ski mountaineering

A climbing pack from a running brand? Yep, you heard that right. Ultimate Direction, known for its hydration vests, waist belts and handhelds, is making a foray into the vertical world with the SCRAM.

Designed with UD athlete Anton Krupicka, the SCRAM is a sleek and minimalist, yet versatile pack for the mountains, made of water-resistant rip-stop nylon. The main compartment, which has a draw-sting closure incorporated into the top lid, is only 20 liters, but the pack’s external features more than make up for the lack of room inside.

The top lid has a small external zippered pocket, and locks down with an adjustable nylon strap that doubles as a rope carry. The pack has dual ice-tool holders that work with both technical tools or a mountaineering axe. The tool carry system uses standard Velcro straps to secure the tools’ shafts, and unique, magnetic clasps below to secure the head of each tool. Both of these systems are easy to use with gloves on. The pack also has two vertical daisy chains and comes with a bungee cord to string between them.

For even more versatility, the SCRAM comes with UD’s “All Season Kit,” complete with a ski hook, a ski loop, and an extra sternum strap. Add in the bungee, and you can quickly and easily rig up a ski carry system onto the pack for ski mountaineering, or take it off when you don’t need it.

The coolest feature by far, however, is on the front of the pack. As with many of UD’s hydration vests, the SCRAM comes with the brand’s classic shoulder-strap pockets. The left side has a sleeve for a 500-milliliter soft-flask water bottle, and the right has a zippered pouch that’s big enough to fit an iPhone and energy bar at the same time, or another soft flask. With these pockets, you never need to remove the pack at a belay or when you’re on the move to grab a quick snack, drink, or check the topo. The pockets are right there in front of you and are easy enough to manage one-handed. Hell, you can even take a sip of water mid route! So far, after a few days of climbing with it, the pockets don’t seem to get in the way, even when loaded up.

As for fit, the SCRAM has a simple suspension system with lightly-padded shoulder straps, an adjustable-height sternum strap, and a removable waist strap. Even without the waist strap, the pack is small and light enough (15.7 ounces) that it stays in place when climbing, hiking or skiing. The pack itself is narrow and sits above a harness, so gear-loop access and freedom of movement are unrestricted. The SCRAM comes in two sizes: small/medium and medium/large.

Overall, the SCRAM is not a gear hauler for the crag—for perspective, a 70-meter rope fills it completely—but it’s a sweet little bag for fast-and-light alpine climbing, multi-pitch outings or ski mountaineering.

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Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.