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Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/22/2011 16:32:38 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review

Skip Booth
(the1skipper) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
MLD Exodus Review on 03/22/2011 18:59:15 MDT Print View


Another great review! I'm really looking forward to your state of the market on frameless packs.

I'm curious what you impressions where regarding the hip belt pockets? I recently purchased an Exodus from a fellow BPL member and I was extremely pleased with the pack design. That being said, I just can't get the hip belt pockets to work correctly. They seem to have a tendency to either bunch up if they are attached to the shoulder straps or slide/fall off the hip belt if not anchored to the shoulder straps. I'm curious what your experience was here?

I also missed the integrated internal pad sleeve from my ULA Conduit, especially since I'm a hammock camper and like to just use a small pad to offer some padding from my gear and my back. That's not a show stopper for me but more of a convenience issue. In comparing packs though I find that the assumption that we all carry a torso/full pad not necessarily a valid assumption. Maybe something to consider in your roundup?


Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Nice on 03/22/2011 20:56:42 MDT Print View

Will, I enjoyed the review of the MLD frameless pack. I'm a ways off from really being using something this minimum, mostly because of having to carry a bear canister. But nevertheless, did enjoy reading about this pack. And can't wait for your State of the State on Backpacks. Hopefully that report will address the lightest ways to comfortably carry a bear can. BTW, noticed you were in your favorite windshirt.

Dave Heiss

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ark/Exodus on 03/22/2011 23:58:26 MDT Print View

I'm a huge fan of the existing MLD Ark/Exodus pack design. I particularly like that it's an ultralight pack that's built to last. Yes there are other frameless packs that are lighter, and if that particular attribute is an overriding concern, then choices are plentiful.

There are other packs that offer removable frame stays, but that's a deceptive benefit because the (resupply) conditions where you say they'd be useful are the same conditions where a frameless pack will likely be full and taut and delivering the best percentage of weight to the hipbelt.

I believe the Ark/Exodus packs offer the highest quality combination of bomber materials, brilliantly simple design, and a useful but not excessive feature set. I love mine, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/23/2011 06:12:29 MDT Print View

I do love my Exodus. From your pictures I can see that the one thing I would have changed in the design from mine (a 2008 model) has been changed-- more bellow to the mesh pockets, since I can barely fit a 20 oz gatorade bottle in the side pockets with mine.

The Exodus is my first and only frameless pack, so it's interesting to me that you say it's so much larger than it needs to be. I agree that you can fit a lot of stuff in there. I'll have to test out some smaller packs later on, but I'm definitely pleased with what I've got. In some ways I keep waiting for this pack to die so I can justify getting a newer, smaller, lighter pack (maybe a Prophet, maybe something else), but after nearly 3000 miles my Exodus is in the same condition it was after my first trip with it. It just won't die. So I'd say the durability makes for a good value.

Robert Carver
(Rcarver) - MLife

Locale: Southeast TN
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/23/2011 07:07:25 MDT Print View

I absolutely love the whole MLD pack line. I use my Exodus for winter loads. Prophet for early spring and late fall loads. The Burn for the rest of the year.

I like the fact that they are all made the same way. The only thing I would change, would to be add straps to hold a pad in place against the inside back panel. I should have had Ron add this when I placed my order.

All in all. Ron has a great pack line up in my opinion and I hope he does not make any radical changes to it.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/23/2011 07:33:09 MDT Print View

These are def some great packs. I am still using my 4-5 year old MLD Super Zip which is the same basic design. I too found the extra volume to be abit annoying. I have recently resolved this by converting the pack to a rolltop closure. Def does the trick. I also added two bungee straps to the inside similar to the ULA Conduit/CDT to hold my sleeping pad down.

Nathan Lare
(cirque) - MLife
Re:Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/23/2011 20:03:40 MDT Print View


Thanks for the review. As a point of reference, could you please post the gear list you used for your testing? I think this would help to determine is this pack is a good "fit" for people who are considering a new pack.

Also, do you have a projection for when your report on frameless packs will be published?

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/24/2011 01:36:30 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 06/16/2015 14:20:18 MDT.

Steven Berg
(Fjalltindr) - MLife
Hipbelt Pockets on 03/24/2011 10:38:58 MDT Print View


There's a small webbing loop on the pack where the hip-belt attach, and another on the pocket that should be attached using a z-clip. Are you attaching the pocket to that or to the shoulder strap? Once I got that sorted out, my pocket doesn't seem to bunch or fall off.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/27/2011 05:04:00 MDT Print View

My Exodus' shoulder straps have flattened out.

I'd be bummed with most of the recommendations. I find the volume to be perfect for thru hiking. And I prefer frameless packs to framed ones. Its a review of frameless packs right?

Edited by Found on 04/08/2011 22:31:51 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Backpack Review on 03/27/2011 05:11:34 MDT Print View

Instead of folding your pad, let it unroll. It'll give your pack the structure that you desire.

I find maximum comfortable carry to be about 25 lbs (I've carried up to 42lbs in it).

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
would be ideal pack for me with removable curved stay on 03/27/2011 16:22:58 MDT Print View

This may be heresy to some but the Exodus with a REMOVABLE curved stay and a longer side pocket would be ideal for me. It would be easy for MLD to add it plus pad straps against the back ala GG Gorilla - and making the stay removable allows you the flexibility of not using it when you don't need it.

The GG Gorilla is a great pack but I'd like extra volume for when I need it. Some will then suggest the Mariposa Plus, but the Mariposa carries the load farther from the back than the Gorilla, and the materials are far less durable. Give me an MLD Exodus with removable curved stay and pad straps or a higher volume GG Gorilla. Pretty please MLD and GG?

As for volume, I want the flexibility of the extra volume as long as I can compress the pack easily when I don't need it.

Ross P Hemphill
(rbimli) - F

Locale: PNW
minor error on 03/28/2011 11:59:48 MDT Print View

66 liters is 7 greater than 59, not 9 as stated.

Ross P Hemphill
(rbimli) - F

Locale: PNW
removable stays and whatnot on 03/28/2011 12:16:56 MDT Print View

I'm with E J (mountainwalker) here.. I find it odd that many of the ultralight packs continue to have no stays or other structure, even when high-volume, or as an option. I understand that one might have a bulky, low density load (winter puffiness), but is that really the most common scenario? With typical food/water/toy loads for longer or winter trips, I'd think that the structure is usually well worth the spent weight, particularly if off-trail.

Rick Horne
(Rick778) - M

Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Re: removable stays and whatnot on 03/28/2011 15:58:11 MDT Print View


Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
I love this pack. on 03/30/2011 16:40:07 MDT Print View

I have one of these and have used it for several week long trips. I have no complaints whatsoever. I think the people who would add stays and beams and braces are crazy and/or smoking crack. The only thing I might consider if I were to order another of these, would be to ask if I could get the pack without a waist belt, it has always seemed superfluous for loads of 30 pounds and under, to me that is (of course). A great little pack and I am glad to have a bit more durability at the price of a bit more weight! Glad to see it reviewed. I have thought of getting the next larger pack (the Ark) to have enough volume for a more bulky synthetic quilt or bag.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
lots of people smokin' something on 04/01/2011 14:01:49 MDT Print View

Thomas, apparently there are a large number of people who are crazy and/or smoking crack. Seriously though, I share your enthusiasm for the Exodus - my comments and those of the reviewer and others are not a complaint about the excellent pack design, but rather a request for an additional feature/capability that would great enhance its use range and comfort.

I and other potential customers are not asking for a permanent stay, but rather a removable stay - the weight penalty for a few loops to hold a removable stay and two pad loops against the back is negligible (the pad loops are an option that MLD does). Also see feedback from the many users of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla - I have never heard a Gorilla user complain about having the option of a removable curved 3.4 oz stay, and have only heard raves about the comfort and load carrying it adds. Having tried it recently, I fully agree - though I'd prefer volume closer to that of the Exodus as long as there's good compression.

In addition, the more supportive Ark hip belt is offered as an option on the Exodus for a reason. A well-designed stay and hip belt helps take weight off the shoulders - important for anyone carrying a heavier load or needing to protect/rest their back. Your back takes a lot of stress backpacking or running - anything you can do to share the load is going to be helpful over the long run. Your back might be able to take it now, but this may come at the expense of later...I know one local highly experienced very fit lightweight backpacker who recently sold his Ark after many months trying to make it work only because of the lack of a stay.

I have asked experienced users of this pack for the max comfortable load capability and the answer has always come back max 20lbs. There are plenty of situations where you will start a trip with more than 20lbs, or remain at above 20 lbs especially if you are carrying supplies for others. A removable stay will help quite a bit in those situations.

Ron and MLD, hope you guys are listening. I and quite a few other people I know would snap this pack up with a curved removable stay and pad loops.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
MLD Packs on 04/01/2011 14:08:50 MDT Print View

I love my MLD packs. Super strong Dyneema, and no gimmicks.
Start adding stays and other stuff, and i'll look elsewhere. Plenty mainstream manufacturers do that kind of gear.
Don't listen to those evil voices Ron. :)

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Listen to all the voices and offer it as an OPTION! on 04/01/2011 14:38:08 MDT Print View

Ron, there's no need to choose one or the other. Offer them as options and you'll greatly expand the user base and sales, without harming one group or the other.

Mike, there's no need to threaten Ron for innovating solutions that meet the needs of a much wider group of users. Why would you walk if Ron offered a stay and pad holding straps as an option that you don't have to order???

Ron, if Mike walks, there'll be hundreds more lining up to take his place.