Gear Review: MLD Burn Backpack

Cape to Cape Walk

MLD Burn on the Cape to Cape Walk | Western Australia, 2010.

Between 2010 and 2015, I hiked more than 19,000 miles (30,577 km) carrying an MLD Burn.

This included multi-week trips in Australia, New Zealand and the calendar year triple crown of 2012 (plus eight of the other 12 Long Walks).

Suffice to say, I think it’s a pretty good pack.

Hope you weren’t waiting for a drawn out verdict; suspense has never been my strong suit 😉 .


Price:  $180

Weight: 13 oz  / 0.37 kg (includes sternum strap & external bungee cord).

Volume: 2300 ci (38 L)

Material: Dyneema X

Load Rating:

According to the MLD website it’s 25 lbs. Personally speaking, I would say it isn’t too comfy carrying anything over twenty-two (i.e. 10 kg).


Double thumbs up. Since 2010 I have owned two Burns. Each has at least 8,000 miles on it. I’ve yet to have any tears to the body of either pack. As you would expect, the exterior mesh pockets have taken a bit of a beating, but nothing that hasn’t been repairable.


MLD Burn | Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory, 2010.

In both packs, I found that the principle area to show significant signs of wear were the shoulder straps. They started to get a little thin after 6000 miles. Not too shabby, considering that’s the equivalent of roughly three Appalachian Trail thru hikes.

(Note: Since I received my last Burn pack in 2012, MLD has subsequently both widened (2.5″) and thickened (0.8″) the shoulder straps. I think this is a great move, which addresses the only issue I had with the earlier models).


The Burn is a frameless backpack with a drawstring closure on top. As with all frameless models, the key to being comfortable out on trail is knowing how to load the pack correctly. A simple, but often taken for granted skill.

As with other MLD packs, the Burn has a slim profile. This was actually the main reason I went with the pack in the first place. I’ve never been a fan of wide backpacks, particularly when hiking in technical terrain and maintaining balance is key.

The side pockets on the Burn are a good height to access your water bottles. Speaking of which, I noticed on the MLD website that the latest incarnation of the pack employs Dyneema X instead of mesh on the leading edge of both the side pockets, as well as the bottom 5″ of the rear pocket. This is to help prevent snagging and/or abrasion from sharp objects such as tent pegs. Nice touch. Worth the minuscule weight penalty.


The biggest load I ever carried in the Burn was during an approximately 240 mile stretch between East Glacier and Helena, MT, on the Continental Divide Trail (Note: In August, 2012, the Benchmark Ranch was closed because of fires).


The MLD Burn is a great choice if you have a base weight of 10 lbs or less. If you don’t, you’re better off going with a bigger backpack.

I’ve found that the Burn is comfortable carrying a total weight (i.e. gear plus perishables) of up to 22 lbs. Anything more than that (assuming you can fit it in), and it starts to feel overloaded.

For $180, I think the Burn offers good value for money and represents an excellent combination of durability, weight and performance.


MLD Burn at Springer Mountain, GA, December 28, 2012 | Finishing point for my southbound AT hike as well as the “12 Long Walks” journey (Note: The orange paraphernalia was for hunting season).

Disclaimer: I purchased MLD Burn #1 with my own funds. I was given #2 free of charge. I was under no obligation to write a review for the pack.




Gear Review: MLD Burn Backpack — 8 Comments

  1. Cam, Did you opt for the waist belt on the Burn or did you leave/cut if off? I can’t tell from your photos. I would like to get some feedback on your opinion of using the Burn with or without a belt.

    • Hey Gerry,

      I’ve never cut the hip belt off. For a negligible weight penalty, over the years I’ve found it is helpful to have when carrying more than 5 days food, and also for extended stretches in rugged, off-trail terrain. If I’m hiking on easy trails and/or mellow terrain with a light load, I’ll usually just clip it around the back of the backpack or leave it hanging loose. That gives you exactly the same effect as going sans belt, but you still have the belt there when you need it.



      • Thanks, Cam. Do you ever use Ron’s waist belt pockets with the Burn? I like them with my Prophet but am not sure if they’d fit the smaller waistbelt where they’d be stable or not.

        • No worries. I haven’t tried the waist belt pockets for the Burn. Generally, I attach two of the bottle/shoulder strap mesh pockets. I use these for my phone, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm etc.

    • I imagine it would be fine, but as I’ve never carried snowshoes on the Burn and the model I have is five years old, I’d suggest dropping Ron Bell a line at MLD to confirm.



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