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GG Blaze AC vs ULA Catalyst vs Osprey Exos 58
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Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
GG Blaze AC vs ULA Catalyst vs Osprey Exos 58 on 12/25/2011 02:29:27 MST Print View

Looking for a new lightweight big pack (i currently have a Gregory Zpack55L which is ok but slightly heavier and missing some features)

been looking at the GG Blaze ULA CAt and Osprey Exos 58.
As far as I can tell they are all pretty light for the class and apart from the Blaze needing an addition of hip belt pockets are pretty similar.

I would love to hear from owners or people who have used some of these. i intend to use them mainly for 3 season hikes but my load can be quite heavy since these are all trips abroad where i would normally take some extra stuff (city clothes, book etc)

Some main questions i have:
1) the volume of the main compartment is quite small....does this mean you find yourself needing to put heavier items outside?
2) carrying water - how effective are the front bottle loops really?
3) no top cover - in longer trips how did you cope with lack of top with pocket? I also use top cover as day/city bag....any option to add
4) load - will it carry 40lb if needed?
5) where do you out CCF pad on this?

GG Blaze:
1) where do you put CCF pad?
2) it only has single front pocket - ho big is it? in my Z55 i put gtx jkt and pants, bivi, stakes, gloves, rainmitts, 2 beanies, packcover - will all this fit??
3)water - i guess only 2nalgene in pockets and hydration inside?
4) will it wield 40lbs?
5) can i easily add waist pockets?

Osprey Exos:
1) waist buckle seems very small - does this create issues when loaded?
2) will the suspension manage 40lb?
3) can the side pockets manage Nalgene bottle?


ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Catalyst on 12/25/2011 02:52:00 MST Print View

Response to the Qs I can address:

1) the volume of the main compartment is quite small....does this mean you find yourself needing to put heavier items outside?

To me it's HUGE. I carried two bearcans horizontal (my partner was injured) for 11 days in it on the JMT - along with other gear. That said I usually backpack with a 30-37 litre pack.

3) no top cover - in longer trips how did you cope with lack of top with pocket? I also use top cover as day/city bag....any option to add

Did not notice the lack of it. I am sure you could rig something if you needed too.

4) load - will it carry 40lb if needed?

I started those 11 days with around 27-30kgs; heavy, but not uncomfortable. Very good for the legs.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Weight on 12/25/2011 11:12:01 MST Print View

40 lbs is pushing it a bit in all of these packs. While the catalyst has a 40 lb load limit, I found it rubbed my shoulders a bit raw around 35 lbs. The Blaze on the other hand felt great at that weight. Of course, everyone is different.

I think 40 lbs is going to be a limiting factor for carrying these packs comfortably (GG rates the Blaze at a 35 lb limit). I'd suggest either lowering your weight a bit, or looking for a pack with a beefier suspension.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
40 LB was really a top limit on some days on 12/25/2011 13:28:18 MST Print View

@ed - I have smaller packs (Golite Peak and Berghaus Arte45) but find it hard to do longer trips, especially when i travel abroad and need some extra gear (like civil clothes/guidebook etc) you say you hike with i guess the main compartment is big - I meant that its not really a pure 60+L bag cause a large % of the volume is in outside pockets (as opposed to the GG or osprey)

@Aron - do you have both?

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Exos 58 worked out well on the JMT on 12/25/2011 16:30:26 MST Print View


both my wife an I used an Exos 58 this summer on the JMT with our two daughters. Since we were carrying the food for our girls, our backpacks got quite heavy at the resupply (43 lbs).

The packs worked out great. The small buckle was no problem. The sidepockets fit nalgenes easily when the pack is not full. When we had our bear canisters in there it could be hard to get get a nalgene in on one side because the bear canister would not give, when trying to wiggle the bottle in.

Best Regards,


ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
GG Blaze AC vs ULA Catalyst vs Osprey Exos 58 - '35' litre pack on 12/25/2011 23:21:21 MST Print View


Yes - it is just one main compartment - I use a Crux AK37 (OK so 2 litres extra ;-)

That said I think Crux do 'big' litres. I've got an Ohm but the capacity is just to much for me - even in winter. An MLD Prophet might be my ideal pack - if it had a frame.

I'm trying switching to a Macpac Amp Race 40 or 25 though as I prefer external pockets for flexibility (that's the Ohm's fault)....but it is too early to predict how I get on with them.

I should say I mainly backpack in the UK and Europe so resupply is fairly easy and there are few circumstances when you are more than say 5-6 days from food.


Sorry for the digression from topic.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
GG Blaze AC vs ULA Catalyst vs Osprey Exos 58 on 12/26/2011 00:10:12 MST Print View

Sold my Exos 58 to finance my Catalyst, sold my Exos 46 to finance my Circuit.

Michael Schwartz
(greenwalk) - MLife

Locale: PA & Ireland
Crown 60 on 12/26/2011 01:36:46 MST Print View


If you are considering GG, do you know they are coming out with a new version of the vapor trail---callled Crown 60? You can check it out here on BPL under Summer Retailer Report Part 2. Not sure if it will meet your needs but worth considering. Mike

Edited by greenwalk on 12/26/2011 04:01:52 MST.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: GG Blaze AC vs ULA Catalyst vs Osprey Exos 58 on 12/27/2011 12:49:45 MST Print View

I can give you some insight on the catalyst.
The volume of the pack is perfect for longer trips. It held all my clothing and equipment, including a 2 person tent, and bear canister for 3 weeks on the JMT. Nothing was on the outside of my pack other then water bottles, tent poles, and misc little gear ( p00p trowel, pee bottle etc). All the major stuff was inside the pack. I can't comment on the bottle loops as I just store my water bottles in the side pockets. The side pockets are cavernous and can hold 2 bottles if needed. Plus I use platys so they are incompatible with the shoulder-bottle holders. There is no option to add a lid to the catalyst. The lack of the top cover did not bother me at all. Some people hate the roll top--I don't mind it at all. Yes it takes longer, but the added water protection kept my mind at ease during downpours. Often times I would start my hike wearing an insulating puffy (it was like 30 degrees in the morning)and after I warmed up, I would just shove my puffy on the top of my pack, and roll the top. My insulation always stayed dry, even during rain. It beat having to take my puffy off, digging out everything in my pack to take out my liner bag that held my sleeping bag and clothing, and putting the puffy in there. Quicker for my on-trail costume changes. Yes it will carry 40lbs if needed. The frame will handle that load, but user comfort is personal and dependent on conditioning, build, etc. 20-25 lbs was a dream to carry for me. When I went up to 30-35 lbs after a long resupply, I still didn't suffer from sore hips or shoulders, but I was tremendously slower in speed :) I dont use a CCF, nor does the pack require one to make a frame. If you use one b/c you don't own an inflatable, I guess you could strap it across the very top, using the the single compressing strap that goes over the roll top.

I don't own the GG blaze, but I own both a GG nimbus meridian and vapor trail (predecessors and the foundation of the GG blaze) so I can make some general comments. The volume of the 2 packs is very very comparable. The GG might have a slight edge on the catalyst, as the bottom is wider on the GG. But I would not let volume be the decision maker between these two packs...the difference between the two is almost impercievable. The nimbus meridian has a beefier suspension than the AC suspension on the Blaze series. Even then, the nimbus suspension was not as comfortable as the ULA catalyst suspension for me...therefore I imagine the AC suspension would be even worse for handling heavier loads. Because GG now adopts a Molle/PALS military style webbing connection system on its hipbelt, tons of aftermarket pockets will fit, so that should be of no concern for you. \

I read that another user had shoulder chaffing at 35lbs with the catalyst, which brings up a good point. I find the catalyst extremely sensitive to how you load the pack. Weight needs to centered and packed well for this pack to shine. One day I had shoulder rubbing at 24 lbs. I didn't understand why until I reopened the pack to check how I packed the contents. My bear canister was off center that day, so one shoulder strap was taking more of the load then the other. Once I rebalanced and repacked, all was good.

As a general note, if you find the volume to be lacking on either pack, I would highly recommend that you submit your gearlist to BPL for critiquing. I'm saying this with the most positive intentions. You can probably shave a lot of volume and weight after letting everyone scrutinize your gear. Good luck!

PS: if you really really want a lid that converts to a fannypack, look at the GG nimbus meridian. But again, I did not think the suspension was as comfortable as my ULA catalyst.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/27/2011 12:57:22 MST.