Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus FS
My first frameless pack. I chose wisely.
- Really, really light
- Simple and functional
- MLD does custom sizing
- Other custom options
This is the first frameless pack I've owned. My older pack is a Kelty Coyote 80L, which works well enough, but is 4.5 pounds heavier than the Exodus empty. 4.5 pounds off my back without even having anything in it.
I've had it for a year now and after ~400 miles of hiking (SHT mostly) the only damage is one small hole in a mesh pocket, which I probably could've prevented.
I went with MLD based on a lot of other good reviews and the fact that they do custom sizing. I'm 6'4" and 150 pounds (very lanky). The standard large torso is good for me, but I need a hip belt that can cinch down farther than average and they did that for me. I had my eye on a GoLite (RIP) Jam 50, but the hip belt was a little too big.
I use a 3/8" tall size blue foam slab from REI for my sleeping pad which serves as the frame for the pack. I fold it over on itself to so it's about the width of my back and stuff into the pack along my back. This provides enough support and cushioning from oddly-shaped items to comfortably carry 20-30 pounds.
I mostly stick with the UL mindset as best I can when packing with some exceptions for food and high-proof rum. At the beginning of a week-long trip I'll be pushing the pack's limits in terms of comfort/weight, but after a couple days I start to forget that I'm wearing it. Base weight for me tends to run about 17 pounds, and 35 is the most I've carried, which is a little much for comfort.
When I have my pack weight in the ideal range, the fit and ride are great. I like to keep most of the weight on my hips, with the shoulder straps mostly just keeping things in place. Pretty standard, really. Stability is great for walking. If I run or lean really far out to one side it will get a little shifty. I went with the optional sternum strap, but I've decided I'm still not a big fan of sternum straps. It does have a good signal whistle on it though, which is worth it.
Comfort is great, as long as I have everything adjusted right the shoulder straps and hip belt feel good all day. There is no back ventilation. Sweaty back is inevitable. I've never used a pack, mesh or no, that could prevent that. Doesn't bother me.
Capacity is 60L, which is good for up to a week for me. I like the all-mesh external pockets: One big one on the back and two smaller ones on the sides. they're great for storing communal items, since they're easy for others to find, for quick access to items without opening the pack, and also for storing wet tarps, rain gear, or stuff that can get wet. They all cinch down well to keep stuff in.
Small external zippered pockets are available, which are a must for me for keeping smaller items organized. The shock cord webbing across the back is handy for drying laundry or storing trekking poles. Larger items can be snugly lashed to the bottom without swinging against my backside. A water reservoir pouch is available which works well with my Platy 3L.
And of course it's LIGHT. 18oz. I suppose the one catch is that they aren't cheap. I paid about $250 for mine, but it seems you get what you pay for. Provided it lasts me at least a couple more years, I would buy again. With a light and well-packed load I am very happy hiking all day with this pack.
Edit: November 2021, I still love this pack and it's still going strong.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $250
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Reviewers Paid: $250.00
|Weight||17 oz / 482 gm||18 oz | 510 gm|
|Capacity||48L / 2900 cu în||58L / 3500 cu in|
18-25 lbs / 8–12 kgs