Mountainsmith packs - long term reports?

4:09 a.m. on January 11, 2015 (EST)
NM_forester
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I'm curious about the most recent line of Mountainsmith packs, like the Lariat 65, Apex 80, and Juniper 55. I'm wondering about the most recent models, which came around I think about two years ago. Specifically, I'm looking for packs that have are a little more beefy suspension-wise than my Osprey Volt. I'm thinking the Lariat 65 for myself and the Juniper 55 for my wife. They were comfortable packs and we both liked the features.

There are quite a few reviews online, but as far as I can tell, few are from people who have used the packs for very long. How have they held up? Have they remained comfortable? How have they performed with heavy loads?

2:46 p.m. on January 11, 2015 (EST)
trouthunter
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Hi CO west,

I don't have experience with these packs myself but I hope some of the other members here can help. I see you did look at at least one review here on Trailspace but, the review has not been updated.

Anyhow, welcome to Trailspace and I hope you get some help on this!

1:40 p.m. on January 31, 2015 (EST)
hikermor
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I am still using MS packs purchased thirty years ago.  They are durable (obviously), comfortable, and sturdy.  I am not familiar with the particular models you list, but MS packs are good items, IMHO

4:28 p.m. on January 31, 2015 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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i would discern between that 30 year old Mountainsmith backpack and the newer ones.  Mountainsmith was started in Colorado and made great backpacks in its heyday.  The company eventually took manufacturing offshore, then sold out.  It's a story not unlike what happened to Dana Design after K2/Marmot bought them out.  http://mountainsmith.com/about-mountainsmith I have no personal experience with their more recent products but have heard that they are nothing like the early years in terms of quality and durability.  that said, they may make a fine product today.  

Mountainsmith's founder, Patrick Smith, was/is behind Kifaru, a hunting/military oriented pack manufacturer that is reputed to make high quality gear (i'm not personally familiar with Kifaru either).  Made in relatively small quantities in the US, quite expensive.  If I were looking for a backpack with the old-school Mountainsmith DNA, I would look at Kifaru and look carefully at the product before buying Mountainsmith. http://www.kifaru.net/aboutus.html  

12:47 p.m. on February 1, 2015 (EST)
hikermor
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You make some valid points. I would add that I have a more recent MS product, a waist pack plus strapettes, that has held up well for the last five years or so.  The OP was asking for long term reports, but ownership changes,and quality varies.

1:44 p.m. on February 1, 2015 (EST)
ghostdog
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leadbelly2550 said:

i would discern between that 30 year old Mountainsmith backpack and the newer ones.  Mountainsmith was started in Colorado and made great backpacks in its heyday.  The company eventually took manufacturing offshore, then sold out.  

 That is why I didn't answer, not to mention they have made various builds that are so different. I had two way back when and they were both... I think they called it the Mountainlight series. Mine got eaten alive in sandstone canyon country. They were very light and comfortable though. I believe they made beefier models that would have held up much better in that environment but I moved on to other manufacturers...

8:05 a.m. on February 3, 2015 (EST)
g00se
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leadbelly2550 said:

i would discern between that 30 year old Mountainsmith backpack and the newer ones.  Mountainsmith was started in Colorado and made great backpacks in its heyday.  The company eventually took manufacturing offshore, then sold out.   

Unfortunately, this is such a common occurrence. Trek bike use to be the top brand, handmade in Wisconsin; now they're a lower end bike made overseas.

I just posted a review on Otter Box, which use to offer a lifetime warranty. Now, they are being made in China & Mexico, and the warranty is only good for 1 year.

And there is a thread that KiwiKlimber started on Herman Boots.

9:39 a.m. on February 3, 2015 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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i should add - taking manufacturing overseas and selling a company does not necessarily mean doom and gloom.  i picked up a Marmot version of the Dana Design Bridger a decade ago, a close-out.  It was mildly different from the Dana  version, with which I was familiar, but the design, materials and quality were very, very good.  Over time, my opinion about Marmot's 'adoption' of Dana Design declined; I have heard similar things from Mountainsmith afficionados.  

Ditto for the Gregory Baltoro that replaced the Bridger.  Manufacturing in the US ended years ago (except for the big expedition backpack, maybe), but it's a really great backpack.  

11:10 a.m. on February 3, 2015 (EST)
Bill S
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The history of Dana Designs is a good example of how quality tends to decline after a company is taken over. Dana Gleason stayed on as an advisor for a couple years after he sold Dana Designs to K2 (who put it in their Marmot devision - K2 also owns Kelty and Sierra Designs, but was taken over by a bigger conglomerate a couple years back). Dana had disagreements with the Marmot folks, then found a way around the non-compete agreement and started Mystery Mountain. Currently Mystery Mountain is run by Dana and Dana (Dana's son) and is producing top quality packs (see my review of the current version of the Terraplane).  

At last summer's OR Show, Barb bought a Mountainsmith pack that was being sold as part of a fundraiser for the American Alpine Club. The quality has proven far below what Mountainsmith used to produce - it has come apart in a couple places already, though only used for a few dayhikes. It is nice-looking, though, with its AAC logo (or maybe I should say, the AAC logo on the pack is nice)

May 29, 2020
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