I’m planning to take the last step in my lighten-up process and buy a new backpack. I’m currently using a Granite Gear Precipice (like a Vapor Trail, but beefier), and have narrowed the search down to the MLD Ark/Exodus and the ULA Circuit. I briefly considered the Vapor Trail, but its lack of any pockets and that silly extension collar just don’t work for me. The Mariposa Plus and SMD Comet are excellent designs too, but I use a water bottle and prefer access on the left side - so these packs as offered don’t make the cut.
Here’s some background that outlines my question...
1) Even after upgrading my other gear, I tend to fill up my 3200 cubic inch (3lb, 4oz) Precipice, and with a base weight of just under 15 pounds I’m quite happy and comfortable even though I’m not technically UL. Sure, I’ve got the Contrail tarptent, Western Mountaineering Caribou bag, Firefly stove and Titan kettle, O2 Rainshield raingear, and POE Max Thermo pad (the BA Clearview, even with a Gossamer Gear 1/8” pad, was too cold for this sleeper), but I also regularly carry a 1-pound folding chair, fishing gear, nice Thermarest pillow and some other luxuries, so I don’t see myself ever getting a base weight down below about 12 pounds. I marvel at how some of you guys can drive base weights down into the single digits, but that is not a place I see myself going.
2) It seems to me that the ULA Circuit is a well-regarded pack that bridges the gap between mainstream packs and ultralight packs (bu including stays, padding, etc), while the new MLD Ark/Exodus has some really great features but is more of a true ultralight design.
With that background information, I guess my question is - could the MLD Ark/Exodus be too UL for me? It’s a clean, appealing design (and 2+ pounds lighter than the pack I use now) but if I’m not a candidate for it I should know that before I step off the cliff and buy one. The ULA Circuit shaves 1+ pounds off my current pack weight, but it probably carries as comfortably as my Precipice does now and looks like it might win in the durability department too.
Such a dilemma. Do my BPL comrades have any input to provide?