The Mountainsmith Ghost as part of the Mountainsmith Mountainlight series, has changed considerably for 2004 - for the better, in my opinion. It is feature rich with a comfortable suspension, especially up to 25 pounds. Mountainsmith says 30 pounds and that may be so. I tested it with 27 pounds and it wasn't uncomfortable, but less comfortable than 25 pounds. Anyway, this is not a large capacity pack so you'd have to be creative to fit 30 pounds of gear in it, anyway.
I'm particularly impressed with the true wrap-around belt. The belt is soft and flexible yet very supportive. This is achieved in part by the wrap-around snug fit and the double straps on the side of the belt which provides more hip coverage (see pictures below). The back pads and inside of the belt have moisture absorbing and "breathable" padding produced by Brock.
An impressive amount of functionality and comfort in a 2lb 3oz package.
If the volume of this pack falls short of your needs, you might want to try the larger (4200 cu in) Auspex. This decendent of the Mountainlight 4000 and 3500 is quite similar to the Mountainsmith Ghost in feature, and certainly moreso in comfort. Of course, along with its increased capacity and additional features (top lid with external pocket, internal mesh pocket and small integral webbing belt which enable the lid as a hip sack) it carries added weight. I tested the MT (medium torso) Auspex at just about four pounds (1811 grams). It has very interesting stays. They are corrigated aluminum that are extremely lightweight (but not as light as carbon fiber). Incidentally, the old carbon fiber stays no longer fit this series of packs.
Stated weight (size MT) - 2 lbs, 1 oz
Actual weight - 2 lbs, 3.4 oz (1003 grams)
made with lightweight, extra-strength Dimension Polyant (sailcloth technology) VX-21 and VX-42 materials. Reportedly, in comparison to 500d Cordura, this material has 1/3 the weight, 2 1/2 times the abrasion strength and superb water resistance.
panel loader with what appears to be a waterproof zipper.
full suspension (non adjustable), stated 30 lb. capacity. The pack's shape is stablized by a combination of features. It has a sturdy yet flexible hoop around its perimeter. At the top is a small plastic sheet attached to the hoop and to which the load lifters are attached. At the bottom is the lumbar pad. Together with the well-padded back pads and carefully packed contents, the pack maintains both its shape and stability with loads up to 30 pounds.
internal hydration reservoir pocket with shingled exit port.
large side mesh pockets for water bottles, tent poles, etc.
side compression straps placed toward top of pack which help keep pack tapered at top as well as serve as secure point for tent poles, wands, etc. which are being carried in the side pockets.
two load lifters
single ice axe loop positioned in center of pack.
dual external straps on bottom on pack for carrying sleep pad or tent.
a 3M Scotchlite reflective bungie cord on its backside.
Mountainsmith Ghost from the back. Notice the reflective bungie; the single, centered ice axe loop with one daisy loop above and one below the Mountainsmith logo; the dual sleep pad straps; and the large mesh water bottle pockets.
Mountainsmith Ghost - side view.
Here, I pulled the pack away so you can see how the belt is attached to the pack bag which enables it to wrap closely and snuggly to one's hips.
The two substantial straps on the side of the belt helps to provide more and better belt contact than most traditionally designed packs.
Ghost back padding, shoulder harness and belt. Notice the two (hi/low) straps connected to the belt buckle. The material between the shoulder pads, hip pads and on the belt that looks like it might be mesh, is mesh - very dense mesh. The color of the pack in this picture is more accurate than the other pictures - a subdued copper color. (sorry for the poor quality picture. The dark line appearing above the belt is just a shadow).
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2004 MOUNTAINSMITH GHOST