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Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

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Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

Postby Hetchy » Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:26 pm

The Mountain Laurel Design Exodus Backpack $185
ImageDesign- Frameless
Made of Dyneema X fabric single 3200 cu/in compartment(extension collar to 3600 cu/in) with three external mesh pockets 400+150+150 cu/in
Link: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=103

So I used this pack on my thru hike of the Continental Divide trail from Mexico to Canada. It survived the entire 2,800 mile trek without failure of material. The only damage this pack suffered was when got hung up in some Willow bushes and impatiently tore the pack free. As well as some minor damage to the shoulder strap where it was chewed by a packrat while I slept in Glacier N.P.
In fact the pack is in perfectly good condition to accompany me on the Appalachian Trail next March.
My base weight was 12 pounds of gear. Adding food and water for an 4 day carry- 2 lbs of food per day=8 lbs and a nominal 2 liters of water @ 2lbs per liter= 4 lbs.
Total weight carried(Gear+Food+Water) on average was about 25 lbs.
This pack is truly frame less. It is what the late Colin Fletcher would call a "Bloody Great Sack" with should straps and a hip belt.
By putting my closed cell foam (ridgerest) sleeping pad in the pack vertically and towards my back, and then stuffing the rest of my gear into a plastic garbage bag inside, the result gave the pack form and rigidity.
The 400 cu/in external rear mesh pocket was idea for keeping my wet shelter and items I wanted to keep handy during the day.
The 150 cu/in side pockets were handy for holding my aqua fina water bottles and sometimes my camera. However I did find it a bit difficult to retrieve my water bottles while hiking due to the height of these pockets. I found I had to reach back and inch the bottle out to the top of the pocket before I could get it. Though not a fatal flaw it would be nice if the pocket top were angled and a bit lower.
The hip belt was only necessary about 50% of the time due in part to the superbly comfortable shoulder straps and the light overall gear weight. Sometimes after a resupply when I was fully loaded the pack would ride tight against my back. The lack of padding was not a problem since my sleeping pad effectively provided cushion but the resulting contact meant for a sweat hot back at times. I learned to combat this by fastening the hip belt and loosening the shoulder straps. The resulting sag would create an airspace that kept my back cooler.
I found the sternum strap to be handy for shifting the pressure created by the shoulder straps from one muscle group to another. Some days I wore my pack for 15 hours in a row so i found that making small changes once in a while throughout the day prevented fatigue. Although, the fact that this pack only has four adjustments was never a problem for me.
A cool feature of the sternum strap is that is has a built in safety whistle. I found it handy in Grizzly bear country, making birdcalls, and just for the hell of it sometimes!
The pack, exposed to direct rain, was only water resistant. After about 2 hours I noticed water would leak in through the stitching around the extension collar. Although the Dyneema fabric itself proved to be water tight. I used a plastic garbage compactor bag inside to keep my gear dry.
As far as construction goes this pack is best described as "Bombproof". Numerous Bartacks and extremely tight stitch work make for one durable pack.
I was able, after 2,800 miles, to create a smal separation in the stitches around the haul loop. closer inspection reveals that the loop and the bartacks that hold it are intact.
I recommend Mountain Laurel Design Packs based on their durability, extreme light weight, and simplicity. While this pack could easily handle a much larger weight load i found it most comfortable below 25lbs total weight. If you are looking for 15 ounce backpack and accept the loading strategy a frameless design requires, this pack could be for you.
It must be noted that ultralight gear is a cottage industry. Many of the manufacturers of this gear are one person operations. There can be a considerable lead time between ordering and receiving your gear. I think i waited three weeks for my pack. I can say however, It was worth the wait and indeed every penny!
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.



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Hetchy
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Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

Postby evan » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:19 pm

Hetchy-

Thanks for your gear report on Mountain Laurel Designs!
After reading your post, I checked out the site, they have
great looking gear! I was wondering if you have used any
other M.L.D. products, specifically the shelters? Thanks!

-Evan
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Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

Postby Hetchy » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:17 pm

I have not used their shelters. I have met two other hikers that have used the Patrol Shelter. Basically it is a pup tent style tarp. One hiker, PI, used his by simply setting his trekking umbrella on the ground open and staking the patrol shelter's beak over the top and staking the foot end into the ground in heavy weather. He also carried a small piece of No-see-um mesh that he would drape over his umbrella, under the tarp, to create a little mosquito free dome for his head as he slept. He had the Spinntex version I believe. This is also the same hiker that advised me he might have gone with a simple 8X10 tarp just as easily due to it being more versatile and greater coverage.
I have to admit the Patrol shelter still makes me drool. I could knock 8 ounces out off my current shelter weight with a Cuben Fiber Patrol Shelter. Though the $300 price tag yikes! This is where "ounce madness" sets in. :D
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.
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Hetchy
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Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

Postby gary c. » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:20 am

Hetchy, I have a friend that has the same complaint about accessing his water bottles. What he did was get one of those rubber rings made to slip over a water bottle and carry from your belt. But what he does is he just uses one of the shorty bottles (I think 6oz) and attaches it with a D-ring to his shoulder strap. He still has to work the regular bottles out of his pack for refills but it cuts down on the hassle.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack

Postby Hetchy » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:46 am

Thanks Gary! Yea the bottle holster thing is my only real issue with the pack. My Go-Lite Pinnacle had angled pockets on the side made of stretchy material. The water bottle sorta hung tilted forward and a few inches lower so it was easy to retrieve. I think I might make a slight mod to my Exodus while I have all this sewing stuff out.
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.
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