2015 Mountain Laurel Designs Burn


Fully loaded for 4 days/3 nights

The MLD Burn backpack has been around in one variation or another for quite a few years now.  Myself, I’ve owned 3 different Burn packs over the years.  The first one, I didn’t care for the small padded wings on the hipbelt.  Second one, I got with a removable webbing hipbelt but then found the shoulder straps to not be all that comfortable.  The biggest reason I decided to give the Burn a third chance is the shoulder strap design changed a while back to more of a gradual “S” shape as opposed to the former straight/J style.  I’ve found with regard to shoulder straps, I much prefer a mellow “S” shape over the traditional “J” shape or even an aggressive/dramatic “S” shape.  This newer style shoulder strap on the Burn is really dialed in and I find them very comfortable.  And of course, I ordered with a removable 1” webbing hipbelt.  In addition to the shoulder straps, I was also sold on the dry bag style top closure, which I prefer to the older cinch top closure and the new partially reinforced pockets.  And don’t even get me started on the wasabi . . . that is a sweet, sweet fabric color for a pack.  I really like it.


While I like a dry bag style roll top closure, I also like a top strap to keep things snug.  The Burn has both and that makes me happy.  My Burn has a single ¾” top strap but I think they are now being made with a narrower 10mm “Y” top strap.  If you have a preference, you may want to double check with MLD before ordering.  Personally, I could go either way, I suppose the “Y” strap would be better at securing something like a rolled up sleeping pad or even a bear can (of which I would never carry on the top of my pack but I’ve seen it done).  


Now isn’t that nice and neat?  Roll top secured with a top strap.  Ideal.

Volume breakdown from the MLD website:

Pack body: 1500ci (24.6L)

Main Outside Pocket: 200ci (3.3L)

Side Pockets: 150ci + 150ci (4.9L)

Extension Collar: 300ci (4.9L)

Total:  2300ci (37.7 or 38L)

Now 38 liters may seem like a lot but that number is a bit deceiving because it includes everything.  There’s no doubt about it, this is a fairly small pack and a note of caution to anyone considering this pack for more than a daypack or overnight/weekend pack, you need to have your gear down to a fairly small volume.  As far as weight carrying ability, depending on what you can tolerate, 25 pounds is probably max.  But if you can fit your gear into a pack this size, you probably aren’t going to hit that weight unless you have a lot of food and water.

Advertised weight for a stock pack, not including sternum strap is 335 grams (11.75oz).  My size medium (as pictured) including sternum strap but not including webbing belt is 296 grams (10.4oz).


Includes a hydration port over left shoulder, inside are two loops for hanging a bladder or gear pocket

External dimensions of this pack are roughly 26″ tall x 6″ deep x 10″ wide.  The gives the pack a narrower/taller profile than a lot of the other packs in this liter range.  I find these dimensions preferable to a shorter/wider pack.


Side pockets can be adjusted via 1/8″ shock cord and a burly cord lock

There is a total of 12 attachment points on the pack which consist of a web loop with 7mm glide ring.  These can be used with cordage or shock cord for a variety of lashing or compression points.  I actually prefer the simplicity of not having all that but it’s nice to have the option.  I can see maybe attaching an upper and lower loop for securing a trekking pole but I’ve never been a fan of shock cord running all around the outside of a pack.  If I need to secure that much stuff to the outside of my pack, I just need to get a larger pack.


Note the top channel on all three pockets are made with Dyneema X, much stronger than simply folding over and sewing the mesh, which many other manufacturers do

The newer style Burn includes front and side pockets which are a hybrid combination of Dyneema X and mesh.  The mesh MLD uses is pretty burly, some of the toughest pocket mesh I’ve used but adding the Dyneema X reinforcement to the areas they did makes a lot of sense.  When I’m carrying a lot of water, I like to put Evernew bladders in the large front pocket and having the bottom reinforced is going to help prevent holes in the mesh and also help protect the bottoms of the bladders.  The Dyneema X on the side pockets should help prevent some of the snags from bushwhacking or overgrown trails.


Yes, that is a big extension collar.


The extension collar is generous, to say the least.  MLD specs the collar at 300 cubic inches.  It is made with 70D silicone coated ripstop nylon.  The opening closes with two nylon snaps (or popper’s as Tony Hobbs would say) and once rolled down dry bag style, is secured again with a buckle.  


If you are interested in reading more details about some of the fabrics used in this pack, head over to the MLD fabric mojo page for more detailed info.


This photo gives you a good perspective of the subtle “S” curve of the shoulder straps which I was referring to earlier.  The shoulder straps are considered unisex and are 3” wide and 5/8” thick.  The padding is 0.5” thick EVA foam and the back of the straps are made with SuperWick mesh (1/8″ thick).  These are very well designed and I can’t stress enough how comfortable they are.


Haul loop is included as well as full length 3/4″ daisy chain for attaching gear/water bottle pockets, etc.


According to Ron at MLD, this is in fact the most awesome sternum strap in the world.  Who am I to argue with that?


Here is a close up of the attachment point for the removable one inch webbing hipbelt.  This was a custom feature, the stock burn comes with a 1” hipbelt which has small unpadded Dyneema X wings.  Check out the photos on the product page and you’ll see what I am talking about.  

As mentioned, I have owned two other variations of the Burn and just wasn’t satisfied with either of them.  This latest generation however, is proving to meet all my expectations from a pack this size as well as addressing my former complaints.  The only thing I can think of right now which I would change if I ordered again would be to have the side pockets made with solid Dyneema X, no mesh.  There’s nothing wrong with the current design, solid side pockets are just a personal preference.  Oh, and I would ditch the hydration port.  I don’t use a hydration bladder so that is just an unnecessary hole in the side of my pack.  Other than that, this generation of the Burn really is an exceptionally well thought out, well made, bomber little pack.  And as with all MLD products, the quality and attention to detail is second to none and a strong reminder why MLD is at the top of cottage manufactured ultralight gear.  A bold statement for sure, but anyone who owns or has owned MLD gear knows what I’m talking about.

*Note:  the pack is also available in stealth gray, in case the wasabi is just not your thing.



32 responses to “2015 Mountain Laurel Designs Burn

    • That’s a good question. The Virga 26 is a really nice little pack. I’m going to give the edge to the Burn for one major reason . . . simplicity. The Virga has a lot of straps on it, and while they all serve a function, I tend to find it a bit over-kill for a pack that size. Now some people really like having all those extra compression options, so for them, they are going to appreciate them. I also prefer the lack of load lifter straps on the Burn.

      Both are great packs and you couldn’t go wrong with either. The Virga is quite a bit cheaper, I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $90. Also with the Burn, you get more size options, the Virga26 only comes in one torso size.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Hi. Would really appreciate your advice and opinion in regards to MLD Burn and Virga 26, which of the two is better option and long term investment in terms of fabric strength size between two when packet/folded? Is the lack of weigh lifter straps are not an issue on Burn? Shoulder strap and overall carrying comfort? If you have to chose between two? 🙂 Many thanks

  1. Thx for the no nonsense review.

    What are you saving by having a removable webbing belt in terms of wt when it’s removed as you have it customized? Do you see the stock hip belt, which is just a piece of fabric, mainly an unnecessary feature most of the time based on how you see the pack and your typical usage? It does seem it simply just keeps the pack from moving around near the waist especially if the full volume is utilized with the cowling or packed with a higher center of gravity.

    The wheels are turning. I’m ordering a new prophet but will add two hip belt pouches.

    • My size medium removable webbing belt weighs in at exactly 1oz, so not a huge weight savings by leaving it off. But weight savings actually didn’t factor in to my decision to go with the removable belt. With a pack this size I have found a hip belt to not be necessary, even at weights which push the comfort level for me (around 20lbs). So your comment about it being an unnecessary feature . . . yeah, for me at least. But even though I will rarely use the webbing belt, I do like having the option.

      And your also right about this type of belt, be it all webbing or the stock webbing/fabric, all it really does is offer some stabilization to the pack. If people are hoping it will help distribute some of the weight to their hips, it doesn’t. Now some people may find using the belt a little more comfortable simply by having the pack held more snug against their lower back but it really doesn’t do much for me.

      In all honesty, I really don’t understand the point of the fabric wings on the stock belt on the Burn. I fully admit I could be missing something here but I just don’t see how it functions any better than all webbing.

      Enjoy your Prophet, I have a bit of experience with one and liked it. Now for a larger volume pack like that, a padded hip belt totally makes sense and I would order it as is.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and commenting.

  2. We’re on the same page. I just wanted to hear that from you to see if I was missing something. I liked your review appreciating that you have had different yr’s versions so can comment on the evolving design and functionality of the backpack. All good pts noted by you.

    I’m ordering mine set up like yours with the removable webbing belt because 1) like you, I’m not going to need it most of the time expecting usage within this backpack’s allotted design parameters 2) to tweak the function and up it to an extra 2 L volume by having the option to add Ron’s hipbelt pockets to the webbing belt 3) because I can get SUL anal like Abela so will love to drop another oz when not needing a webbing belt. 🙂

    Since you did have various versions it seems Ron lowered the top height of the front shovel pocket a bit compared to previous yr’s or size versions. That’s how it visually appears in this blog compared to your Burn, the most recent version. http://theuncalculatedlife.blogspot.com/2014/12/mountain-laurel-designs-burn-backpack.html Can you comment on that CenazWalker? I may ask Ron to make my shovel a few inches taller creating a tiny bit more usable volume outside the pack?

    • Based on the photo on the product page, I think Ron has made a couple tweaks to the design since I bought mine. I would say the shovel pocket on my Burn is maybe an inch shorter than on my older versions but looking at the photo on the product page, that pocket looks 2+ inches shorter. There’s a lot of exposed pack face between the top of the pocket and the extension collar seam. I’m glad mine is taller than that.

      So what color Prophet are you going to get?

  3. I know you want me to say wasabi. LOL. I think I’m going with the stealthier gray though. I’m ordering a Burn first since I have other packs in the Prophet’s volume to first hike into the ground.

    Thx Cenazwalker for all the valid beta

    • That’s a tough one. I can’t say I have a top 5, plus it is going to depend on the needs of the trip which pack will work for me. For lighter loads, smaller volume I’m preferring the Burn but also give high marks to the Gossamer Gear Kumo and Granite Gear Virga 26. If you need something with a good frame/suspension, I would recommend the Gossamer Gear Gorilla, SMD Fusion or something from Granite Gear. There are certainly a lot of packs I have never tried so I’m limited on what I can recommend. I’ve always wanted Zimmerbuilt to build me something custom and I’ve heard good things about Elemental Horizons, to mention a couple.

  4. Are you able to get your water bottles in and out of the side pockets without taking the pack off or loosening a shoulder strap? This is my main complaint with this pack.

  5. Issue for me too getting water bottles or other things out of the side pockets even with long arms. Much alleviated by going to one size longer torso which for me was going from the Long (21.5″ torso length) to the the XL which is the right torso length for me anyhow. Made the bone headed mistake of not taking Ron’s advice on the torso length assuming I could get away with a long rather than an XL. Since it’s custom it’s non returnable.

    I’m selling the brand new never seen a trail long with the custom webbing belt option as Cenazawalker has but in stealth grey for $160 shipped CONUS. It’s a beautiful backpack. My loss your savings.

    Posted on Whiteblaze and Lwhiker.

    Hope this is OK posting at your site Cenazawalker. Appreciate all your good feedback.

  6. Couldn’t find the link to replay to your message. Mainly I’m after a pack that could be carried with me in the travel luggage and be used for around town day walks ,but also hiking and bushcrafting. So there few major points that important for me is the durability of the bag also packed down size. After that comfort on the shoulders.
    The Burn can be packet really small from what I see in the picture on their website and is lite. Also perhaps stranger material rip-stop Dyneema used than that of Virga’s 100d Cordura. What do you think,as I never touched these materials my self? Also would love to find a picture of the Virga bakcpack folded but there is non on the web.
    The other points would be a price,as Virga is cheeper. Also is available here in UK,and the Burn is not and it would be even more expensive to import it.

    • OK. The Burn will definitely fold up smaller than the Virga.

      Durability, in my opinion, goes to the Burn. Main difference being the mesh. The mesh on the Burn will hold up better than the mesh on the Virga. The Cordura and Dyneema are both pretty durable fabrics, I’ve been happy with both. I’d say the Dyneema has a slight edge.

      Shoulder comfort is pretty subjective, honestly the straps on both are quite comfortable so i consider that even.

      Features is another consideration. The Virga has a lot more going on as far as straps and compression options, if that is important to you. I personally prefer the Burn because of it’s simplicity, I don’t need or want the extra options.

      Price and availability are a big consideration, that’s going to be a personal call. Tough one.

      Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Thank you for your answers,you are really helpful. Wouldn’t be too much to ask you for a picture of folded Virga 26? As after all I realised that to get the Burn would be too complicated and expensive.

  8. The length of the torso meets the stated size (Large 21.5″ (5’10” – 6’2″ / 176cm- 186cm))? My height is 182cm, and I think that’s the size L or M yet.

  9. Great review. I just ordered a wasabi prophet. My bw is around 11 during winter would you recommend loadlifters as I plan to use my large xtherm or xlite as frame and will have a 4 panel section of a zlite that my pup sleeps on. What did you use for a frame? Anything you would add or change on new prophet. I did add hip belt pockets. Ron is super quick to reply!

    • For a frame I typically use a foam torso size pad folded in to thirds. In the winter I fold up a couple foam pads, never been a fan of inflatable pads. I don’t really see the utility of load lifters on a frameless pack, unless you plan on having the extension collar maxed out, then they would be handy to pull the top of the pack closer to your body. But as far as working the way “traditional” load lifters work, they aren’t going to. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with them. The only thing I would change if I ordered again would be to make the side pockets solid dyneema. Having the part mesh isn’t a big deal but I prefer solid side pockets. Enjoy your Prophet, the MLD packs are really solid and my Burn has seen a lot of use since I wrote that review. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s