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MLD Burn 38L
It took many a restless night before I settled in on what pack I would bring with me on my next trek. Since my base weight has plummeted to a sub 7 lb range, I decided to forego a pack with a frame and sturdy hip belt. Previously, I toted the Osprey Exos 58L, which was a stand up pack for a higher base weight.
Mountain Laurel Designs is a smaller gear company or what they call a cottage company who doesn't just pump out factory made gear but inspired pieces hand stitched with care. Their Burn 38 pack has been well reviewed and a video review done by Lint, a well know ultralight hiker who has hiked 30000+ trail miles.This handcrafted pack will takeapproximately 8 weeks to ship. So I will not see mine until sometime in February. I will be ecstatic to don such a light pack. Thanks Ron!
The Burn weighs less than at pound at 13 oz and is made with Dynema X fabric which is ultralight, water resistant and tear and abrasion resistant. It comes in two colors for now: grey and wasabi green. The standard pack comes with un padded hip belt wings sans pockets, rear and side mesh/Dyneema X pockets and an extension collar which extends the fully cinched internal volume from 19L to 25L. It has a sternum strap and s-shaped slightly padded shoulder straps. Big selling points are the weight, the low volume capacity, the simplicity in look, the hip belt wings and the large mesh rear pocket
Like I said above, it took many nights of strategizing and thinking about different possible scenarios during the comparisons of all the lightweight frameless packs.
First, I made a chart after finding all of these great packs. It listed the things I cared about such as weight, internal volume capacity, hip belt (pockets didn't matter), sternum strap, bottom pocket and price.
Frameless pack comparison chart:
The weight of a pack is important for comfort. I don't want a pack that adds pounds to my base weight because I know it sounds crazy but I honestly can feel a half a pound difference in my pack. Walking with a heavy pack is not something I want to experience again and is how I got my trail name "Kitchen Sink" on the PCT in 2011. Since that experience, I have been shedding ounces because they really do add up quickly.
The internal volume capacity is important because I must be able to fit a bear canister in my pack for the portion of the Sierra Nevada that requires you to carry one by law. These bear canisters are roughly the size of a soccer ball. For example, theBV 450, which I plan on carrying, is 7.2 Liters or 440 cubic inches of volume and weighs 2 pounds 1 ounce. If you have too small of a pack, this would hardly leave enough room for the rest of your gear, which may be light but still a little bulky.
Having a hip belt is only important to me when I am climbing boulders or crossing dangerous snow fields where my balance is a key part of me being successful in passing though these types of environments. I imagine I will only use it in the Sierra Nevada area as the mountain passes can be steep and every step you take across a dangerous snow field with a drop off has to be carefully placed and not sloppy. The hip belt wings that the Burn has will absolutely be enough to stabilize the pack on my back so that it does not flop from one side to another or even over my head (it's happened with other packs!).
A sternum strap is a key item in a pack in which you will not be using a classic hip belt. Since there is no displacement of weight from a sturdy frame and hip belt, it seems wise to at least have a sternum strap to cinch the shoulder straps closer and more stable on your shoulders so that it is a much more comfortable ride.
The very talked about new feature of only one pack that I know about in the cottage company market: the bottom pocket. This deserved it's own category of things I desire in a pack. I'll talk about this pack another time.
Lastly, I did a cost comparison which wasn't as important as a pack should have all the features you need for an enjoyable and also successful hike. Cutting corners because of an extra 50 dollars in the price tag will make you regret it later on. With that said, your gear won't get you to Canada but your body will sure thank you if said gear doesn't weigh alot.
I carried an Osprey Exos 58L pack in 2016 on my 600 mile Pacific Crest Trail section hike. The the main difference is that the Exos, which is a small, weighs 2 pounds 8 ounces. Its volume capacity is much larger than the Burn as well at 58L. So, both the weight and volume capacity are double the Burn. With that said, it is very comfortable but a little bit too much for even my base weight last year of sub 10 pounds. It is made from nylon and has a sturdyhip belt with pockets.
I believe I will enjoy the Burn as it weighs much less and I cannot fit the kitchen sink in there no matter how hard I try.
Thanks for reading!!