Dec 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm #1296884
@carpenhLocale: St. Vrain River Valley
I'm thinking about my next "weight reduction" (meaning "gear replacement"), and it occurred to me that I could replace my GoLite Pinnacle with Mountain Laurel Designs' Ark: practically the same total volume, but at less than half the weight. I can only find a few reviews online, though.
Does anyone have any experience with the Ark? What can you tell me about it? How did it work for you?
Perhaps I should also ask if you've any alternatives to suggest– ULA, SMD, GG, etc.? What would be the advantages of those choices over the Ark?Dec 9, 2012 at 7:06 am #1934254
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I used to own an Ark 09 version and though it didn't work for me, I think it is still a good pack. My size Large was under 16oz, but the torso wasn't quite long enough for me (I am 21.5"), and I had problems getting water bottles out of the side pockets with the pack on as they came up pretty high. Now, that may just be me and my lack of flexibility so YMMV. I also wasn't a huge fan of the wing style hipbelt and prefer wider/longer "wings" even if they have little to no padding. That being said the pack just oozed quality and the sewing was immaculate.
I went to the SMD Swift '10 (sewn on hipbelt, before the stay) and it was almost identical in size as the Ark despite what the SMD website says (Its a BIG pack). I liked this pack much better, but admittedly the sewing is not as good. Mine bit the dust after 1300 miles. Like I said mine had the sewn on hipbelt and no stay but after a little trimming, it was down to 16.4oz. The hipbelt pockets are nice and big as well.
I also have an older 2008 GG Mariposia Plus (with the old CF stays) and it is a smaller pack than the other two, but overall carries well. The wide shoulder straps are a bit odd, but worked for me as long as I wore a sternum strap (I don't with any of my other packs). The new ones look nice, but I have no experience.Dec 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm #1934423
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
I have an MLD Ark and love it. I've carried packed weights up to the 25-30 pound range and it rides so nice…. no sore hips, no sore shoulders, no problems getting to anything inside it. I use a rectangle of blue walmart foam as a backpad and stiffener, but only because the foam is handy in other multi-use ways. The pack is comfortable enough without it. Water bottles can be a tight fit in the side pockets when the pack is stuffed full, but since I usually carry my sleeping bag at the bottom (inside a Riksak) and it's not super-compressed, there's always enough "give" down there to allow a water bottle to be fit into the pocket. Reaching the bottle is no problem for me.
I think what I like best (besides the quality, the design, and the comfort), is that the Ark is big. It's really easy to pack, with capacity for longer trips and its size allows me to minimize the number of stuff sacks I use. For smaller loads or as food is consumed it can be cinched down pretty effectively and still carry very comfortably.
I tried the MLD Exodus and it's a great pack too, but I found it was just a bit too small for my gear choices and packing style. For what I do, the Ark is perfect.
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