Rating: 5 / 5
Last weekend I went on an 18 mile overnighter on the AT in southwestern Virginia. The elevation gain and loss was a little over 7000 feet. The daytime temperatures were roughly in the high 70s; and at night it got down just below 60.
I used four items from Mountain Laurel Designs. The Ark pack, the Soul side zip bivy with Event top, the silnylon poncho, and the Spirit Quilt.
The Ark pack is designed to hold a full length closed cell foam pad and still have plenty of room for gear, especially synthetic quilts and insulted clothing. I used a POE Hyper-Mountain pad which is about three quarters of an inch thick. (This is the one that has the 1 ½ inch self-inflating pad in an hourglass shape built-in to the closed cell foam.) I had far more room than I needed for an overnighter. Had I taken a small stove and some food to cook, I would still have had more room than I needed.
I used the new top lid and the new hip pouches (medium) which Ron Bell has designed. They both provide significant convenience. You can put a small camera or GPS or a Steri-Pen Adventurer in them. I use them to keep such items as those plus a small notebook and pen and some toilet paper and Purel.
In the top lid I keep a hat and gloves and rain jacket and maps. I keep my poncho in the back mesh pouch.
My total pack weight was under 14 pounds. The pack was quite comfortable. My expectation would be that it would be comfortable up to about 20 pounds.
This is an excellent pack for those who like the convenience of the top lid and pouches and for those who want to be able to carry a full length closed cell foam pad and a little bit more gear or food than most ultra-light weight hikers take out. Or it could be used to carry bulkier synthetic quilts and insulated pants and tops for colder weather hiking.
Here are some stats from the MLD web page:
• Total Volume: 4200
• Main Pack: 3150
• Main Outside Pocket: 500
• Side Pockets: 200 + 150
• Extension Collar: 400ci/ 7L
• Large enough to use 1.5" full length inflatable pads (and full length 3/4 foam pads) as the internal frame support and still have plenty for room.
.6oz / 18gms
6.5 X 5 X 1.75
Top lid 1.5 oz.