I am trying to decide which pack to get to match my move to ultralight, and I've pretty much come to a standstill about which pack to get. I have been oscillating between the Z-packs Blast 32, the MLD Exodus, and the ULA Conduit. They each have pros and cons and grah! I can't figure out which one is best!
Here are my guidelines/restrictions: expense is not so much an issue as durability. I am willing to invest in order to get years out of this baby. I want it to be versatile as possible, useable for overnighters, 3-4 day trips, and even the 10 day long hauls (my base weight is hovering between 6-8 pounds right now). And of course, I want it to be lightweight. Here's the pros and cons as I see it:
ZPack Blast 32: 3200 ci, 7.53 oz with the options I want, excellent compressibility options, and winged hip belt with built in pockets. No mesh outer pockets to dry stuff, but shock cord lashing makes that moot. The main concern is the relatively poor durability of the fabric when compared with the other packs. This is a pack I can use for years if I don't do a thru-hike and am very careful with it. But I'm rough with my packs.
ULA Conduit: 3200 ci, 17.4 oz with desired options. The main sell of this is the price, the good durability, and the luscious hip belt with built in pockets. I have an old version of this, and hoo boy it makes for a lovely ride.
MLD Exodus: The best durability, as well as the best compressibility, of the three at an excellent weight of 13.8 oz with a max capacity of 3,600 ci and a minimum of 1,800 ci. The only minus for me is the lack of built in hip belts. I love me some hip belt pockets, primarily for easy access to cameras, GORP/bars/snacks, gloves and the like, so after adding two large hip belt pockets, the weight creeps up to 16.2, close to the Conduit, which you can purchase with built in hip belt pockets.
As y'all can tell, I am pretty hung up on hipbelts! I think I'm leaning towards the MLD, but the lightness of the Blast 32 and the hip belt of the Conduit really have a hold on me.
I'd appreciate any thoughts and advice.
I hope all is well out there.