Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus
- Mindful design
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- Waist belt does not support weight
- Lays flat against back
- Requires mindful packing
- Tight side pockets
The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is by far the lightest pack in the test group and its lightweight and durable materials can stand up to a severe beating. Pack weights above 25 pounds see a proportionate decrease in comfort since weight rests entirely on the shoulders. It can be filled to the limit of the extension collar or cinched and rolled down tight to accommodate a smaller load. This pack is tailored to long distance backpackers looking to minimize the weight of the gear they carry.
The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is different than most modern day backpacks: it’s a simple rucksack with no frame, and no extra features. Instead, improved design and craftsmanship of the basic features cater to what a long-distance hiker needs and results in an extremely durable, lightweight, and effective pack.
The Exodus remains comfortable when loads are kept below the recommended 25 pound limit. All weight rests on the user's shoulders and as pack weights increase above the recommended maximum, soreness and pain can develop in the shoulders. The back panel rests directly on the users back and can cause sweating even in mild temperatures. Contents must be placed and arranged so that the pack remains comfortable while wearing, as prodding gear will be felt through the thin fabric of the back panel.
The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus has a large main body and non-stretch open-mesh side and rear pockets with draw cords at the tops. While the pack has more than enough storage for longer trips, its lack of extra features can make it tough to access items while on the go.
The Exodus has a large main compartment comprised of 40-liters capacity in the body plus 8-liters in the extension collar. This pack is great at accommodating the added bulk of a full load as one walks out of town freshly resupplied, and also can adjust to hold smaller loads securely.
The Exodus' pack pockets are at a convenient height for all types of water bottles, and they are engineered to be about 2 inches off of the ground when setting the pack down, eliminating wear. The draw cord can be cinched down tight, or left loose to hold a 2-liter Platypus bladder tightly.They have an extra patch of Dyneema X on the front side of the pockets to protect against snags in rough terrain. While a 2-liter Platypus is somewhat difficult to retrieve and stow on the go, 1-liter Nalgene bottles or rolled maps are easier to grab and replace.
The Exodus' rear pocket has nearly 6 liters of capacity and its strong, non-stretch mesh allows items to dry quicker than other packs in the test group. A patch of Dyneema X on the bottom of the pocket adds durability and protects from poking items and butt falls. Items stay put and a draw cord at the opening can be cinched down to provide further security.
The Exodus has a minimal hip belt, which sometimes feels unnecessary. Mountain Laurel Designs pack pockets are available for purchase, but otherwise, there are no storage options. It does not support weight (as this is a frameless pack) but instead provides stability.
A thin strip of webbing covers the Exodus' thick shoulder strap, which is comfortable for days on end when within the weight limit. The included sternum strap has a built-in whistle and helps keep weight to the center of the shoulders. All of the pack’s weight rests on these straps and they perform well. There are no pockets on the shoulder straps, but instead, webbing loops can accommodate carabiners or additional accessories can be purchased from Mountain Laurel Designs.
The Exodus has a bungee attachment system that is connected via loops sewn around the exterior of the pack. This creates a very flexible attachment system capable of securing large items like snowshoes in a flash. The bottom of the pack can be condensed to lower the interior volume drastically along with the range of the roll top closure. This ability to expand and contract with ease makes the Exodus useful in the many different packing scenarios one will come across when backpacking.
The Exodus is the lightest pack on the market (let alone in this test group) at this capacity, comfort, and durability level. Each design feature focuses on the essentials, keeping weight low and durability high without reducing functionality. The simplicity and lack of superfluous features makes its light weight possible.
The exterior of the Exodus is made out of Dyneema X, an incredibly strong yet lightweight 210-denier nylon with a white 210-denier Dyneema ripstop grid. The pack is designed for the sake of durability and simplicity and, with over 50 strategic bartacks, this pack is ready to last for many adventures.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used on multi-day backpacking trips, ranging from 3-7 days. They were used in a variety of weather conditions and on diverse terrain in Southern Illinois and Oregon.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Overnight Pack
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