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ULA Ohm for Philmont
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Gregg Martell
(gmartell) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/23/2009 23:39:11 MDT Print View

I'm looking for a new pack for our 2010 trek and was considering the Ohm, but was wondering if it would be big enough for a Philmont trek. I've been moving toward lightweight and while I'm not quite there yet, I will be by Philmont. My current base weight is around 18 lbs, but I targeting sub 15 lbs by next year.

We're planning on using very little of the Philmont gear (only bear bags), following a lot of the ideas on BPL. Thanks to Doug Prosser and others for all the knowledge sharing.

I know a Circuit would work well, but I'm concerned that it will be too big a pack for overnigters or other short trips after Philmont. It doesn't seem like it's able to reduce volume for smaller loads.

Thanks in advance,

Edited by gmartell on 07/23/2009 23:40:41 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/24/2009 00:04:26 MDT Print View

I wouldn't think the Ohm would have enough room for your share of troop gear, and food. Maybe it would. But I doubt it.

Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/24/2009 07:04:52 MDT Print View


Just got back on July 10th. I used a Catalyst which worked great for Trek 25. Both my sons used them too. My oldest used one for Trek 30. Mine was about 33 lbs. leaving base camp; 18 pounds total upon returning. I think the Ohm is probably a little small. Catalyst is probably a little big but worked great. At times with food and 6 liters of water it was filled to the top.


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/24/2009 08:08:08 MDT Print View

I think the OHM would bee too small. Of note, the Circuit is really not THAT big for use after as a 'day pack.' The main bag is 2400 cubes not using the extension collar and the front pocket is elasticized so stays flat against the pack when not in use. It compresses quite well as well so can effectively be used as a smaller volume load carrier without issue (IMHO).

Go for the Circuit.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/24/2009 10:07:49 MDT Print View

Gregg, you'll have to try it out with your own gear. Brian Frankle is a very helpful guy. You might just see how you could exchange the pack if it doesn't fit. Based on my experience the Ohm might work. But the Circuit is a sure thing.

I carried a ULA P-1 on a prior trek, 2,450 cubic inches in the pack bag. It's a very close match to the Circuit. I never had to use the extension collar at all.

We had guys carry the Circuit on the prior trek and this year as well. They worked very well. No one had issues with volume.

If you're lightening your gear below 12 pounds you should be fine. You also have to think about the crew gear -- dining fly, stoves, pots, first aid, etc. Has the crew also lightened the shared load and its volume? What about your tent? Are you using a lightweight down sleeping bag?

The food is high volume. That is a bit harder to test.

Finally, this year I carried a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus - 2,800 c.i. in the pack bag. Again, I had plenty of room in the bag.

I think that I could use an even smaller pack. But your mileage may vary.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
3,500 CU on 07/24/2009 11:59:36 MDT Print View

I have never seen or worn an Ohm, however, I used a GG Mariposa Plus on my trek last year. The Mariposa Plus has 2,800 cubic inches in the main compartment and including the outside pockets it has a total of 3,600 cu. My base weight before food and water was 12 lbs. which included any group gear I had, such as a 4 qt. pot, stove and a bear bag.

Your pack choice will alsol depend upon how much troop gear you take. We all went lightweight and besides the our own tarp, 2 pots, bear bags, ropes and the never used Philmont issued Frisbee, we were pretty much hiking like we usually do.

To me, food and water are the main issues. Food at Philmont is heavy and more importantly, BULKY. Nonetheless, even with a 4 day resupply I never filled my pack main compartment to the top. If I were to buy a new pack for Philmont I would buy a Gossamer Gear Gorilla just because it is a paired down version of what I already have.I think I would still have room in my pack. As far as using an Ohm you just need to make sure your base weight is low enough so that you can handle the heavy resupply days.

It also depends upon how bulky your items such as tent, sleeping bag and pad are. If they are real bulky you may run out of room. I used a Montbell SS#5, Torsolite (which does not go inside the pack), GG The One and a Polycro groundsheet. Few, clothes, toiletries, etc.

I never ran out of space and was always comfortable.

Good Luck

Gregg Martell
(gmartell) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Thanks on 07/25/2009 20:43:19 MDT Print View

Thanks to everybody for the info, which confirmed what I was thinking - an Ohm was probably small for Philmont. As far as compressability goes, Dave Ure pointed out the main bag is 2400 cubic inches which is pretty good. I guess I didn't catch that when looking the ULA web site. I've ordered a Circuit as I see Brian is going to be off hiking from August to December. I've got two weeks to return it if the "walking around the house test" doesn't work out.

Gear thoughts: We're pushing the crew on lighter gear but we have several families with more than one person going, so the trek costs alone are a big factor in what they can afford in gear. The big items were pushng to lighten up on are tents, sleeping bags and packs if they don't already own one. To minimize crew gear weight we're bring our own sil dining tarp, bear bags and Amsteel Blue rope. We still exploring cooking options, but we will not use Philmont cooking gear.


Frank Renfroe
(frenfroe) - F
Pack size on 07/26/2009 09:30:48 MDT Print View

Got back 10 days ago. I used a Golite Odyssey, a 90 liter pack. We had some small boys who couldn't pack a lot of the troop gear and we took some weight off our 2 oldest advisors. I needed the room of the Odyssey, at least on day 1 & 5 when we were hauling 4 days food. Your crew may be able to spread the load around more evenly but I would think you'd still need at least a 75 liter pack.

The food is very bulky and no real way to reduce that. The suppers are awful tasting by the way. Bad enough that I was quickly dreaming of Vienna sausages and Beanie-weanies.

Under no circumstances use the Phil-tents. They take forever to set up, take 14 stakes to do it right, and weigh at least 10lbs.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Thumbs up for ULA Catalyst on 07/26/2009 15:56:12 MDT Print View

I've used a Catalyst on 3 treks, great pack w/ sufficient capacity to carry your share of crew gear and 3 or 4 days of food.

Unless you're a superultralight'er, I don't think a pack with much less capacity will work: The food and crew gear can alone swamp most smaller packs.

Good luck,

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
ULA Ohm for Philmont on 07/26/2009 21:04:09 MDT Print View

A Circuit might work. I used my Catalyst on a 4 day group trip in Northern NM a few weeks ago, and the size was handy(had lots of group stuff and food). But I'm thinking it would have all fit in my Circuit.

Edited by skinewmexico on 07/27/2009 15:39:00 MDT.

nick safley

Locale: here/ /there
Philmont Ultralight on 07/27/2009 10:22:36 MDT Print View


I've worked at Philmont as a Ranger, Rayado Ranger, Ranger Trainer, and ROCS instructor. It has been my experience that large capacity packs work best for all applications. Outside of the ranch on week long hikes or on the Colorado Trail I carry a ULA Conduit or Granite gear Vapor Trail, but on the ranch its back to the Dana Designs redirect at about five pounds. The Om will be too small. The Cataylst is a great pack and I've seen many people use it with success without having to radically change their, or their crew's gear. If you plan to climb baldy it works as a gear day pack when compressed. Be sure to take your chap stick out of the hip pocket before you hang your smellables as this is a common mistake with this pack. In all it will probably be cheaper to replace the pack and take less stuff than to re-buy a super light kit of gear. If you are concerned about the pack being too large after philmont, just pack your gear in a less compressed manor. I find a larger less dense pack much more comfortable than a tiny dense one.

Looking at earlier posts I saw that you plan on taking your own bear rope. I don't speak for the ranch on this but, they will probably ask you to use their bear ropes. Take yours but be ready to use the provides cord. In recent years they have softened on the cooking policies, but make sure everyone in the crew has the specialty methods down. It has always been difficult to mediate the official methods with ultralight ones. The number of staff practicing light weight methods has grown exponentially and with NOLS teaching a light class, I would not be surprised to see changes to the official policies in the near future.

I hope you have a great trek and let me know if I could help out any more.

BPL needs a Philmont consultant, don't you think. I'm jobless and knowledgeable, they should give me a job!


Logan Cox
(enjoylife) - F
I did it. on 07/30/2009 12:19:15 MDT Print View

We did Philmont trek 18 in June. I carried a ULA Ohm and it worked great. Used a prolite 3 short pad folded inside for back support, had a summerlite, shared a tent ( I carried 3lbs of tent - it was not lightweight). We used their bear bags and rope and our canister stoves. Left base camp with 30 pounds including 2L of water and an unexpected 5 days of food. Still had room in the back mesh pocket. Came off the trail at 20 pounds in my pack, no water and only a few snacks. The ohm worked great, carried like a dream. Used it for day hikes and resupply side hikes as well.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
My Crew Did It Too on 08/18/2009 15:18:50 MDT Print View

Brian made one last Ohm before his 2 month vacation. One of my leaders carried it on Trek 32. Another leader carried a Circuit as did 3 of the boys. Another leader had a Catalyst.

Oh, I carried a Conduit. . . . Never crossed 20 lbs except when hauling water to a dry camp.

Crew gear was pared down to 2 pounds for each crew member (including tents, Cloudburst 2's and Squall 2's by Henry Shires). We were stopped multiple times and asked how we could carry such little packs.

Thanks Henry and Brian for all your help outfitting our crew!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
ULA Ohm for Philmont on 08/18/2009 16:33:19 MDT Print View

2 pounds of crew gear. That's too cool.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
ULA Ohm For Philmont on 08/23/2009 11:17:09 MDT Print View

The OHM is rated at 3200 cu inches.

I took a 3200 cu inch Osprey pack to Philmont and had more than enough room. I would have taken a smaller, lighter pack except for the need to carry water for a dry camp and the adult requirement to have enough room in your pack to off load those in need, for example in case of injury. My pack weighed 19 pounds on day one with 2 liters of water and 4 days of Philmont food. For common gear, I carried a stove and fuel and the means to brew fresh Peets coffee daily.

The real question is whether the rated 12 pound load of the OHm will suit your needs.

In reference to all the complaints above about the Philmont food, I would judge the food mediocre rather than "awful" although there were many breakfast and lunch items that I found inedible, these you leave behind or trade at the commissaries.

I also carried a couple of oranges and one apple, and a collection of spices to augment the meals.

On bear ropes and bear bags, I was a bit shocked at the damage to the forest floor and to the trees used to affix the ropes that was occuring around some of the bear cables. I asked one staff member if Philmont had ever considered building bear boxes or using portable bear cannisters, and from the response I got it was clear that the staff member had no experience using either type of device. While the BSA is officially committed to Leave No Trace, there is room for improvement at Philmont.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
ULA on 08/23/2009 11:21:06 MDT Print View

The OHM is rated to 3200 cubes but the main bag is 2400. The rest comes from the side and front pockets, nad an extension collar. It sure seems smaller than 3200 cubes....

B. F.
(thrush) - F
Ohm on 08/24/2009 08:58:30 MDT Print View

Depends on your gear, but I carried 7 days of food + sleeping and cooking equipment for two persons and still had much room left in my Ohm. I even had my sleeping pad inside as back padding. It was a summer trip tho.

nick safley

Locale: here/ /there
Why do it? on 11/01/2009 12:32:06 MST Print View

A few months ago I posted what I thought to be a fair piece of advice for what type of light pack on a philmont trek. To my surprise many people came forward claiming to have used the Ohm or Circuit for their treks. Great. I believe light gear can and will change the way the ranch is run and managed and I hope to hear more stories of fun injury free treks. Having to have carried one too many injured adults scouts out of the backcountry leads me to believe that lighter pack could mean a much smaller health lodge (hospital) in base camp.

This being said, unless your CREW takes a light approach, bringing a low volume pack can be counter to crew building. Showing off a light weight approach belongs on training hikes. The Philmont experience, so often spoken about, is grounded in an ethical approach to the crew dynamic. By ethical, I refer to Levinas' notion of "assuming responsibility for the Other".
While carrying a small pack lets one remain injury free and comfortable, it does little for the others in the crew and thus runs counter to a "crew" mentality. Being the one guy with the tiny pack in a crew was the position I took as a first year ranger in 2002 when I rarely carried more than 20 lbs in a pack smaller than the Ohm. The approach garnered awe, but cast me as the other or outsider and made being relatable to the crew I was leading difficult.

A few more cubic inches of volume than you need at home with loosely packed lightweight load can make the difference between having people stop you to take a picture of your tiny backpack or being able to take on more weight for a struggling 110 pound 14 year old with a pack that weighs 55 pounds. Awe is great, but common respect is much more gratifying.


Edited by nicksafley on 11/01/2009 12:34:17 MST.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Different Strokes for Different Folks on 11/03/2009 19:26:03 MST Print View


I do believe that crew building is an important aspect of Philmont, however, I do not think a kid or adult that has prepared beforehand to carry a lighter load has to carry the same weight as the rest of the crew (if that is how I understand your post).

We arrived at Philmont a day early due to train schedules so we had some time to burn. We hung out around the scale and watched the many 55-65 lb. packs being weighed. Occasionally, we would see a kid with a 35 lb. pack and give applause. One kid came in with I think was 32 lbs. which is lightweight for Philmont. He was quite pleased. However, a few minutes later one of the adult leaders came back and weighed his pack. He was quite upset and said "This is not right, the rest of the boys have heavy packs and he is not carrying his fair share. We'll take care of that" I was totally blown away. This kid took his packing seriously and now he was being penalized.

My feeling is that if the kid is already carrying "his fair share" of crew gear he should not be penalized further. If the crew had 22 lbs. of crew gear to spread out amongst the kids then they should all carry an equal load; not an amount to equalize pack weights. Philmont literature does lip service to packing lightly. This kid did it. He should be able to carry the load he packed plus troop gear and that's it. If I were that kid I would be seriously PO'd.

nick safley

Locale: here/ /there
Pack Volume on 11/04/2009 08:36:34 MST Print View


I think you are completely correct that the pack weights should not be totally equalized. Even Philmont policy states that you should carry no more than 30% of your total weight. I think this percentage is the closest to a maximum healthy load. For me the max I could carry would be 55 lbs. (1/3 of 165lbs) My point, convoluted though it may be, is that equalizing pack weight is not necessary. A close range to some proportional load is ideal. More important, and more in relation to the beginning of this thread, is the question of pack volume. By simply having a loosely packed light load one can easily aid those crew members that are having difficulty with their equitable load. This gives the crew flexibility. Having the lowest volume pack that is tailored to you ulltralight load doesn't give this flexibility.

Thanks for writing me back. This was an issue much discussed among some of us working in the Ranger and Conservation departments at the ranch. It is nice to hear feed back to what has been an internal discussion among some staff members.