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Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus

in Backpacks - Frameless

Average Rating
5.00 / 5 (5 reviews)

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Jeremy Pendrey
( Pendrey )

Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus on 07/26/2009 17:20:19 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Exodus is the new 2009 version of the MLD Zip pack. So far, I have taken it on 2 overnight trips and one 9 day trip. This is my first frameless pack, so I can't compare to others, but the pack is well made and performed beautifully.

The pack weighs 14.3 oz including the optional sternum strap. The shoulder straps have just enough padding, and no more. According to Ron's specs, the main pack bag is 2400 ci, 3200 ci when you include the outside mesh pocket and side mesh pockets, and 3600 ci with the extension collar. The Dyneema X material is durable.

Some observations based on my experience with the pack. The Gossamer Gear Night light torso pad fits well in the pack as a surrogate frame. The outside mesh pocket in the back is something I thought I wouldn't use, but I have used it extensively for everything from drying a bandana to carrying an extra water bottle on a dry stretch of trail. Ron is spot on with his observation that about 25 lbs is the limit on comfort even though the pack can carry much more. I had to lug lots of water on a dry stretch of trail, and the pack had room for it all, but I noticed the tug on my shoulders when the pack was at around 25 lbs. Once the water was gone and the pack was back to 20 lbs or less, the ride was much smoother. I use the pack in conjunction with a bottle pocket on the shoulder strap, so I can't comment on the hydration system compatibility, though you can buy the pack with a hydration sleeve and it has ports on both sides of the top for tubes. I bought the pack with an optional clip in mesh pouch, which I have since abandoned because it just doesn't work well with my packing system, so I can't recommend that option.

To give you an idea about the flexibility of the size of the pack, on an overnight with my kids I carried their Squall 2 in one of the outside side pockets and my son's sleeping bag, plus my quilt and bivy and tarp, and all my other gear and food for 3 for the night. I was surprised that I could easily carry all of this in a frameless pack. Although the pack was full it rode fine.

This is now my preferred pack for pretty much all trips, though I have a trip coming up where I need to carry a bear can and food for my whole family for multiple nights (short daily mileage though), so I'm not sure yet whether I'll be taking the Exodus, but I'm going to try to pack it and see how it feels.

Edit: I wasn't able to comfortably fit everything in it for the family trip, so I ended up using a different pack (an old Gregory) that had more room. Nothing wrong with the Exodus, it just isn't made to carry gear for my whole family for 4 days, especially when I have to carry a bear can and my son's sleeping bag. I'm still happy with it and plan to use it on future trips when possible.

Edited by Pendrey on 08/21/2009 11:31:18 MDT.

a b
( Ice-axe )
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus on 02/04/2011 14:21:30 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

It was on the Pacific Crest Trail in Sept of 2009 near the end of my thru hike when I first saw another hiker(Lint) using an MLD Exodus frameless pack. Upon examining the craftsmanship of the pack, and the near total lack of wear despite the miles, I knew I wanted that pack for my Continental Divide Trail thru hike. I ordered a 2010 model Exodus with two medium removeable zippered pockets.
With a base weight of 11 lbs and the first three days of food and 3 liters of water bringing the total load to 23 lbs I found the pack remarkably comfortable. Having my ridgerest stuffed inside between my gear and my back provided all the support the pack needed to remain rigid and comfortable in the 23-30 lb range.
The lack of load lifter straps was never missed with this design due to the shape of the shoulderstraps and the almost rectangular cut of the pack body which when stuffed with gear and food kept the upper shoulder strap attachment points nearly level with the top of my shoulders. Adjustment of the sternum strap was all I ever needed to vary to keep the Exodus comfortable over a range of load weights. Sometimes merely loosening or tightening the sternum strap was all I needed to maintain comfort thoughout 14 hours of hiking a day. If you already have a frameless pack you probably know what I mean. For it's volume I found the Exodus packed all the same gear I used for the PCT(10.5 lb base weight) and still had plenty of room in the extension collar for 6 days worth of food.
The bungie lacing criss-crossing the back of my Exodus worked brilliantly for drying socks. I also liked being able to slip my ice axe through the loops and quickly draw the bungie lacing over to secure the shaft.
The rear mesh pocket held things I used during the day in fair weather and my soaking wet shelter during wet weather. I really like the little loop at the top of the rear mesh pocket that allows the pocket to be positively locked shut with the top strap so thing did not fall out during offtrail scrambling or when I self arrested on a Colorado snow slope.
The side mesh pockets hold a 1 liter aqua fina type bottle very securely. The trade of is it took a bit of effort to retrieve the bottle while hiking but the positive side was I never lost a water bottle or anything (ie: camera, Wolf guide, snickers bar) that I put into the side pockets even when I took the occasional fall. My main water source was a Platypus 3 liter with a hose threaded through the hydration port of the pack.
Even though I always used a garbage bag liner I noticed the pack allowed very little rain water to get inside. I credit the tight construction and bomb proof weave of the dyneema fabric.
I attached the medium pockets to the side compression straps and they worked brilliantly to keep all the little odds and ends in order and out of the depth of the main compartment where they would no doubt disappear.
The pockets remained dry when exposed to light rain for about half a day. Since I kept eveything inside them in a ziplock it did not matter but I was impressed with how well the repelled water though by no means are they water proof. (Nor are they claimed to be)
One tip I learned about frameless packs in general is, that by eliminating stuff sacks, gear like sleeping bags/quilts and clothing actually use the volume in the pack more efficiently by making the pack more rigid. The gear becomes the frame. So stuffing the gear into the garbage bag liner in my pack left no empty voids and the load remained stable throughout the day. The folded ridgrest inside between the load and my back was key to keeping the pack tight and as if it had a frame but soft and comfortable.
I never had an issue with folding or sagging with the Exodus like I have with outher frameless pack designs.
As for durability my MLD Exodus went from Columbus New Mexico to Waterton Alberta Canada without any failure of material or construction what so ever. The only damage done to it was where a packrat in Glacier National park decided to chew a bit of the mesh off the rear pocket, no doubt to add to it's gear collection in some subterrenian abode. I can't fault the rat for it's excellent taste in UL gear!
In fact my Exodus is going with me on my next thru hike; the AT, this year.
If you are in the market for a superb frameless pack in the 3600 cu inch range, of absolutely flawless construction and carry total loads in the 25-30lb range the Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is for you.
Update 6-29-11***
My Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus and I completed the Appalachian Trail together. That is two thru hikes on the same pack. Yes, there is wear. None of the wear is catastrophic. In fact I am confident my Exodus would last another thru hike making only minor repair to the side mesh pockets. Structurally my Exodus is still in serviceable condition. You better believe i brought my Exodus to the top of Katahdin!
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Pack survives two thru hikesMountain Laurel Designs Exodus on the CDT

Edited by Ice-axe on 06/29/2011 23:52:35 MDT.

Seth Brewer
( Whistler )

Excellent mid to high volume lightweight pack ! Durable, Comfy, Simplistic! on 03/03/2012 10:55:21 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Used a 2011 Exodus in size Large for 600 miles of training hikes and A.T hiking from Springer Mt, GA to Damascus, VA. Excellent capacity for a cold weather / shoulder season kit. Plenty of volume for a thru-hike and even for many winter campers. I actually found the volume to large for my kit, once summer hit. I did enjoy using it with an average 4 day food / 1 L water pack weight of 25 lbs. Felt best under 22 lbs for me.

My winter kit used was:
Neoair Large, WM Caribou 35* Long, Gossamer Gear Polycro Ground sheet, MLD Cuben SoloMid, MLD Superlight Bivy, Montbell Thermawrap Jacket and Pants, Fleece Hat/ Socks, MLD Rain Mitts w/ Synthetic liners, Steripen Opti, Snow Peak Ti Mini Solo Pot w/ Packafeather XL stove, Sea To Summit 20 L SilDry Bag (food), about 1/2 quart zip lock of med kit/gear repair/journal/chargers/etc. Very easy to bag this bag burrito style, and LOVE the large mesh back pocket.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Montbell Thermawrap Jacket - Women's priced at: $98.95
Montbell Thermawrap Jacket - Men's priced at: $72.47 - $144.95
Andy Howell
( ecotrend )
Absolutely Top knotch Pack on 05/27/2012 08:32:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

My Exodux is the 2011 version (basic).

I have just completed a two week hike across the Scottish Highlands with this pack. The terrain here is hilly and difficult. The pack coped well and proved to be very comfrotable in use. At times the pack was near its weight capacity — I was carrying a tripod and six days of food — but the pack remained comfortable. Quality design and quality build.

My only quibble was with the sternum strap. This operated very well but the clips had a habbit of detacthing themselves from the shoulder straps — this is a design fault that needs addressing. But even with the problem clips this pack easily warrants a 5/5 review!

Yet another great product from MLD!

Charles Tufankjian
( ctufankjian )

New Hampshire
The only pack you'll need... ever. on 10/04/2012 20:48:14 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Well, I definitely had, at the very least, minor reservations about throwing down the cash for one of these, but seeing them on the backs of so many accomplished back packers and thru-hikers gave me the confidence to pull the trigger. Let me say, I'm glad I did. This pack is light, spacious, and COMPLETELY bomb proof. In fact, It's an exquisite balance of the above mentioned. While my last pack was a ULA CDT, and there are some striking functional similarities between the two, the Exodus is definitely larger...but in a good way. Not in a way that gives you space to senselessly fill, but it does afford the security to cary extra food and consumables between longer resupplies without losing anything along the way! With this, the big bonus would be the compression system at the bottom of the pack that brings the volume down to a more CDT proportion. Mine's completely stock, and I've added two cuben Zimmerbuilt pockets to the shoulder straps to add a bit of accessible storage which brings me to my only criticism. The side waterbottle pockets, while generously sized, are difficult to access while the pack is on. It might just be my pack, and I have seen others out there that appear to have more "angled" pockets, but otherwise this pack is a drop-dead contender for the greatest light weight all-around pack on the market IMHO. Will I purchase more MLD gear in the future?.. I'm already reaching for my wallet.

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Edited by ctufankjian on 10/04/2012 21:39:01 MDT.

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