At the top of the slope, the snow gave way to a ridge of barren rock. There was no way around it: To complete our backcountry ski tour in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, we were going to have to carry our skis.
The group’s two experts set to work, buckling their skis on using their packs’ purpose-built straps. My friend, a novice like me, looked skeptically at his mesh and bungee-cord bag and laughed. “This is my running pack,” he said.
I smiled as I buckled my skis neatly into place. So is mine, when I need it to be.
Five years ago, in the midst of that human rite of passage known as “finding yourself,” I joined my college outdoors club and discovered I loved everything: backpacking, trail running, climbing, biking; if it was outside, I was into it. But I couldn’t afford a pack for every activity, so I began searching for one that could do them all.
After weeks of research, I settled on a pack that was top-loading, waterproof, and had ice axe loops and beefy compression straps: the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30. As the first piece of gear I’d ever bought on my own, it was a badge of independence.
Since then, the Scrambler has become my most reliable trip buddy. I’ve cinched it down for trail runs. I’ve worn it while climbing frozen waterfalls and 400-foot rock faces. It’s been through rain, snow, and whipping desert sand. Even when I could finally afford to expand my pack quiver, I stuck with the Scrambler.
When I first bought the pack, it was a glossy charcoal with tiger-orange accents. Now, the orange webbing has faded to near-white, and the fabric is puckered and ashy like the skin of a geriatric elephant—and still just as strong. On that ridge in Montana, it carried my skis with no issue.
The Scrambler was my beginning. Now, every abraded scar and sun-bleached seam is proof that I stuck to my goal of becoming the well-rounded outdoorswoman—and person—I wanted to be.