Expert Review: Ascend MS 4400

This review is my own honest opinion of the backpack, which I got in December 2017.

Photograph of the Ascend MS 4400 backpack.

Photo by Andrea Kiture

About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the backpack, which I got in December 2017.

My take

The Ascend MS 4400 is ideal for multi-day backpacking, or car camping trip. I think it would be best suited for an experienced backpacker who is used to carrying quite a bit of gear.

Curated Expert Andrea with the Ascend MS 4400 backpack.

Photo by Andrea Kiture

About the gear

  • Model: The Ascend MS 4400 (it was my first real backpack)
  • Gender: Unisex trailpack
  • Size: Medium/Large
  • Pack capacity: 72 liters

About me

  • Height: 5'6”
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Experience: 20+ years of hiking/backpacking experience.

Test conditions

  • When I got it: December 2017 (I received it as a gift at my request for Christmas)
  • Length of trips: I have used this pack on 4 day trips to full week long backpacking & car camping trips.
  • What I carried:
    • Sleeping pad: I carried a small yoga mat for sleeping
    • Sleeping bag: A compressible bass pro mummy bag
    • Tent: My tried and true one person Trekker Tent.
    • Other: Pocket rocket stove (review link), extra fuel, clothing, food, cooking/eating utensils, survival/first aid kit, and rain gear.
  • Total pack weight: Approx. 55 lbs
  • Used for: Backpacking and car camping
  • Where I’ve used it: The Lonestar Trail, Texas, Camp Hawthorne, Florida, Yellowstone, Montana
  • Terrain: With the exception of Yellowstone, all the other terrain was sort of flat, heavily wooded with some moderate hills
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Fall, winter, and spring.

How it performs

Back Breathability
4/5
Comfort
4/5
Design
3/5
Durability
5/5
Versatility
3/5
Weight
2/5

What I was looking for

My main goal for a backpack was easy access from the front and top. The Ascend MS 4400 unzips on the side allowing access to the middle and bottom of the pack. I was also wanting a pack that had adjustable shoulder, chest, and hip straps. This backpack had all of these.

Why I chose this gear

I bought this product because it was the closest I could get to a Kelty backpack for a lot less money! I considered the Kelty Trail pack 65. It was designed extremely well, was very lightweight, and was easy to adjust. However, at the time the cost was too much for my budget.

Full photo of the Ascend MS 4400 backpack

Photo by Andrea Kiture

What I love about it

  • Durability: What I love about the Ascend MS 4400 is that it is made of tough polyester which is very resistant to snags and tears, and for me, this is important considering where I backpack.
  • Suspension and comfort: The pack was very easy to adjust and when I hiked there was not a problem with jostling. The shoulders and back were just fine and the pack does have a suspension that is adjustable, which was the second reason why I chose this pack.
  • Adjustability: It was super easy to adjust the straps which snapped in place and remained secure.
  • Capacity: This pack was large enough to hold all of my camping gear for 4 days. This was important because I like my gear inside, not hanging outside. This backpack is a boss on a five day trip!
  • Weather Resistance: The pack has a rain fly which I have only used once. It is stored at the bottom of the pack and is secured with a velcro flap that is easy to open, and covers the pack quickly if it rains.
  • Features: The backpack can hold a hydration pack which I do not use. It has an adjustable ventilated hip belt, and a very nice chest strap which was a must-have on my list. There are pole holders, however, I do not use them as I hike with a stick that I picked up years ago.
  • Organization and pockets: The pack has 4 pockets on each side that I love. They are very large and the zippers are easy to pull without getting hung up on the pack fabric.
  • Hip belt: The hip belt adjusts very well for me and I have not had to readjust it repeatedly while hiking.
  • Pack Access: This pack has a top and front load which I love. This is the main reason why I bought the pack!
  • Color: I like the color gray!

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Weight: The pack is heavy when compared to the Kelty 65, but I was willing to compromise on the weight of the pack as long as I was saving money.

Favorite moment with this gear

This pack is best for long trips because it is large. The best moment for me was hiking the Lonestar Trail over 4 days. We were trail camping and having this pack made it so much easier to function. There was space for everything and I was able to access things like jackets, rain gear, snacks very easily and quickly.

Value for the money vs. other options

I think the pack was totally worth the price. When it comes to backpacking you can only skimp so much and then the price is too high. I used another backpack in the past from the Academy Sports and Outdoor Store. The brand was Magellan which was way too heavy and too small for my use. I think the price of the Ascend was very fair and worth it.

Final verdict

The Ascend MS 4400 backpack gives me the freedom and ability to easily pack the gear I need for a multi-day trip backpacking.

Selling MSR on Curated.com
MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit
$84.95
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Written By
Andrea Kiture
Andrea Kiture
Camping & Hiking Expert
I have been camping since I was a teenager in New York City some 45 years ago! My journey began in the Catskill Mountains and includes the Adirondacks and Appalachian Trail. As you can tell I am a cold weather camper. But, I will not turn down an opportunity to campout even when it's warm. If I'm no...
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