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Mountain Laurel Designs: Ultralight Gear, Made in the USA (Virginia)

June 19, 2017

Part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies.

I’ve long been attracted to the ultralight offerings of Mountain Laurel Designs, especially their diverse line of pyramid tents and packs. Even better, the company is based in AMC’s region, in Roanoke, Va., where they produce all of their gear. If you’re shopping for ultralight equipment—and want to help support a regional business and jobs while you’re at it—definitely peruse the company’s line-up.

Pyramid tents

I’ve written extensively about the virtues of pyramid tents, including a recent round-up of my four favorite options. At the top of that list was the Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, an ultralight one- to two-person shelter that sets up with a single trekking pole. The rectangular footprint has been slightly expanded for 2017 and now measures 110 x 66 inches, with a variable peak height of around 56 inches. The standard silnylon version ($265) weighs in at a scant 18 ounces, not including stakes or guylines. Featherweight cuben fiber versions are also available, and tip the scales at a scant 12 to 15.5 ounces, depending on the material ($440). For more, check out this entertaining and thorough review.

Mountain Laurel Designs offers a range of other pyramid tents and accessories, including the roomier Duomid XL (24 ounces, $365), capacious Supermid (29 ounces, $385), and inner bug protection nets for all styles.

Backpacks

Mountain Laurel Designs offers a range of ultralight packs featuring both Dyneema X nylon and cuben fiber. Multiple options weigh less than a pound. One of them—the Burn 38L ($260)—was featured as one of the best thru-hiking packs for 2017 by the folks at The Trek.

Like all of their packs, the Burn 38L is a frameless backpack and for serious ultralight hikers only, which means that it’s designed to carry loads of no more than 20 pounds. Larger versions of the same basic design are available, including the Prophet 48L ($195, 16 ounces) and Exodus 57L ($195, 16 ounces). Cuben fiber versions run around $60 more and shave off several additional ounces; the Burn CF 38L, for example, runs $240 and weighs a scant 11.5 ounces.

Tarps, bivies, quilts, and more

Tents and packs may be the company’s flagship products, but there is also a pretty full line-up of specialized tarps and ponchos; superlight bivy sacks; and sleeping quilts.

Finally, it may be a bit of a stretch to designate a Virginia company as based in the Northeast—and to include in my ongoing series of Northeast-based gear manufacturers—but after profiling more than two dozen businesses over the years, it has become time to start expanding geographic boundaries somewhat.

Support your Northeast-based gear companies! Here are the 27 companies I’ve profiled over the years:

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.