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Full featured yet light pack?
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matt brisbin
(firestarter01) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Full featured yet light pack? on 11/30/2012 14:46:30 MST Print View

Hello. I'm new to BPL and currently consider myself a pretty average backpacker. I haven't made the move to UL yet but it's pretty fascinating reading up on the subject. Looking to purchase a new internal frame backpack that's somewhere around 65L-70L and am on the fence when it comes to the more custom made 'UL cuben fiber' packs.

This is by no means light but in terms of feature set this appeals to me:

Does anyone have experience with this:

If anyone does have the ULA pack. How is the internal frame and back padding? Doesn't seem like there is much there.

My average pack weight without water is right around 25lbs, 6ft/slim fit.

Thanks in advance,

Edited by firestarter01 on 11/30/2012 14:48:51 MST.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Granite Gear on 11/30/2012 14:58:34 MST Print View

I might suggest looking at the Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60. Sounds like it will fit the bill of your transition from your current base weight into a lighter one.

By all means, not a UL backpack...but capable of carrying the load you have. A lot of UL packs top out at 25-35lbs. max load. The Blaze A.C. 60 will handle 35lbs no problem. I have taken it even higher, but comfort level goes down from there.



Edited by f8less on 11/30/2012 14:59:43 MST.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
ula on 11/30/2012 16:01:04 MST Print View

the catalyst is a good choice for your baseweight

William Johnson
ULA Circuit on 11/30/2012 16:24:14 MST Print View

I own the ULA Circuit and could have gone with the Ohm model as well. I have used the circuit for 4-season camping depending on what loads and volumes were needed.

Like many members here, we have been able to acquire knowledge, experience and the gear to make using a frameless backpack as a standard method. If you think you will have a lot of hard, irregularly sized items that require stiff back padding, then ok.

May I link for you a video of one of my favorite outdoor celebrities? He uses a ULA Ohm, which is frameless and has a slightly smaller volume than the Circuit. I think you'll be surprised at what he can fit in and on it, and how reasonable his weight is. If you carry similar loads, you can certainly consider going smaller, and lighter than the Catalyst.

And now, a video from Shug Emery. Take it away, Ginger!

3 Day Trip Using A ULA OHM.

6-7 Day Trip Using A ULA OHM

edited: trouble with our beloved site's hotlinking process. :)

Edited by Steamboat_Willie on 11/30/2012 16:28:03 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: ULA Circuit on 11/30/2012 16:59:13 MST Print View

"He uses a ULA Ohm, which is frameless and has a slightly smaller volume than the Circuit. I think you'll be surprised at what he can fit in and on it, and how reasonable his weight is"

The standard OHM is not frameless but it certainly can hold a surprising amount, up to 11 days, IME, at a weight of ~24#, with a base weight just under 11#, but not including water. I didn't watch the entire 6-7 day video, but I'll bet his weight is probably in that range, adjusted for the lower number of days. In that weight range, I would question why anybody would want to remove the OHM stay system, which weighs only 1.3 oz. It is an insignificant amount of additional weight for the increased carrying comfort. What I am suggesting is that frameless is not necessarily the best option when you have a framed pack that is already very light.

Edited: I assumed your 25# pack weight included food for a typical trip. If that was your base weight, an OHM would not be a good pack for you, as it tends to get uncomfortable above 30#, IME. At that point, the Catalyst, or an equivalent pack, would be worth considering.

Edited by ouzel on 11/30/2012 17:04:16 MST.

matt brisbin
(firestarter01) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Thanks on 11/30/2012 17:08:21 MST Print View

Thanks for the quick responses. Those videos are great... ha. What a character, I'd like to just go on one hike with that dude..haha. So after watching those and seeing the pack (outside of a website pic) I think I'm pretty much sold on ULA.

The only "Hard" item I have to pack is a bear canister which is generally required in CA. It's the smaller of the canisters but still takes up so much frickin' space :-)

Yeah a Catalyst is what I'm looking at since with water my pack is around 30ish. All kinda depends on the trip as the winter trips add in a few extra items and heavier sleeping bag, etc ...

Edited by firestarter01 on 11/30/2012 17:10:36 MST.

greg c
(spindrifter) - F
Catalyst on 11/30/2012 21:36:43 MST Print View

Hi Matt. I've had the Catalyst for about a year, and in that time I've climbed Mt. baker and Mt. Shasta with it as well as summer backpacking trips in the trinity alps and a couple of snow camping adventures at Mt. Lassen. I was a bit skeptical about a 2lb 12 oz. pack after using a classic Dana Designs Terraplane for years. The Catalyst is a marvelous pack. The padding is relatively thin but dense on the frame sheet, yet only where you need it on the hip belt and shoulder straps. I carried 40 lbs on the Baker climb since I was the rope mule and it was extremely comfortable. Additionally, though light weight, it has been quite durable. It still looks brand new. It has excellent capacity as I can attest given all the additional gear warranted in mountaineering. All in all, a very light weight, comfortable, durable, and well thought out pack. My only nitpicks would be the top closure isn't always that easy to secure when you have a bulky load, but that is easily dealt with by moving stuff around a bit. Also, the framesheet doesn't feel as glued to my back as the terraplane, but it always feels comfortable and I've never had any hotspots, so it might just be my imagination. Good luck with whatever purchase you make and have fun with the process.


Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Love my Catalyst on 11/30/2012 23:52:24 MST Print View

I've got four seasons on my Catalyst. It's a great pack. My base weight ranges from 18 to 21 lbs, and I've had it loaded up to maybe 35 total. Very sturdy, very comfortable. If this one ever wears out, I'll probably skip researching the market and just buy another one.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fit on 12/01/2012 00:07:42 MST Print View

im going to be the oddball and mentioned what people arent saying ... try on as many packs as you can and get the one that fits the best at the weight and price you want

if you order online make sure they will take it back and be prepared to lose out on shipping ...

at the weights youre carrying ... fit is everything

its that simple ;)

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Heavy on 12/01/2012 02:13:53 MST Print View

Ill say it, get that 25 pound baseweight down ASAP!

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Gossamer Gear on 12/01/2012 02:41:38 MST Print View

Mariposa and Gorilla have all the bells and whistles and none of the weight of mainstream packs. Zpacks arc blast does too.

Merritt D
(tmdraney) - MLife

Locale: No Mountains Close-by VA
Circuit? on 12/02/2012 13:03:54 MST Print View

Does your 25lb weight include the food you carry? If then you may be able go down to a Ula Circuit especially if your volume comes down. I had a Catalyst for a short time and it is great, but I quickly found it too large for my shrinking gear.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Full featured yet light pack? on 12/02/2012 14:44:34 MST Print View

I'll put in my vote for Exos 58. light, great frame, mesh back area, enough pockets to organize but not too many.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Full featured yet light pack? on 12/02/2012 17:01:15 MST Print View

A couple more to look at besides the ULA packs:

The Six Moon Designs Starlite, with the "optional" (mandatory, IMHO) stays, will carry at least 35 lbs. comfortably. I have its discontinued "little brother," the Comet, and have carried up to 37 lbs. in it. My aged shoulders, back and hips were just fine, although my knees and feet were screaming! The Starlite has plenty of room for a bear canister the size of the large Bear Vault or the Bearikade Weekender, and will undoubtely hold a Bearikade Expedition.

I have not seen the Elemental Horizons Aquilo, but have heard/read a lot of good things about it. It got a "Highly Recommended" rating from BPL last year. If I have to replace my current pack (not yet!), I will look at its "little brother," the Kalais, which has also gotten great reviews.

Do remember that the three most important parts of a pack are fit, fit and fit!

Important: If you are planning to "lighten up," the pack replacement should be last or close to last. That's because lighter gear is generally more compact, so you don't need as much space. I can go out for 8-9 days with 40 L (2400 cubic inches) plus the outside mesh pockets, even with a bear canister. I've never had to use the extension collar on my pack and am seriously considering cutting part of it off. In other words, the pack that fits your gear now may be too big later. In the meantime, you could do some judicious trimming (aka butchery) on your current pack which could remove as much as a pound.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/02/2012 17:04:42 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Boreas Buttermilk on 12/02/2012 18:19:44 MST Print View

I absolutely love my Boreas Buttermilk 40, and they make a Buttermilk 60. Check it out at

Very clean, very durable, UNBELIEVABLY comfortable.

matt brisbin
(firestarter01) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Thanks on 12/04/2012 17:07:54 MST Print View

Lots to read through... what a great community. 25lbs would include my food minus water... I just know this because I finally got a scale before the last trip and had everything packed up at the time. Up to this point I really haven't tried to cut down weight and that's why I say I'm a pretty average backpacker.

Now to get on to the details and trim the weight as well as finding a better fitting pack. Currently I own an Osprey and I'll say the pocket design is just horrible. It's really difficult to use any pockets on it without sacrificing interior space and it's seemingly hard to keep the heavier items on the bottom due to the tapered design which looks all "cool" :-) So that's basically why I'm in the market for a new pack. The mesh back sure is nice though.

I'll checkout the packs mentioned and let ya know what I end up with. To be honest I have no intention of getting down to super-duper-insane light but I can definitely shore up a lot of weight in what I currently carry.

Thanks again,

matt brisbin
(firestarter01) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Follow up on 12/04/2012 17:25:25 MST Print View

Good point on trimming weight off my current pack.

Yeah, it might just be a toss-up in terms of modifying my current pack vs. buying a new one. Looking into.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
heavier items on 12/04/2012 17:28:50 MST Print View

I noticed your last post said its hard to keep your heavier items near the bottom in your osprey pack due to its tapered design.

Generally, its recommended that heavier items are against your back, behind your shoulder blades. (lower shoulder blades for rugged off trail areas, upper shoulder blades for level trail areas) ie: usually sleeping bag and insulated (camp) clothes go at the bottom of the pack.

matt brisbin
(firestarter01) - F

Locale: Bay Area
re: heavy items on 12/04/2012 17:37:09 MST Print View

Yep, trying to get as much in-line with that as possible. Sleeping bag / clothes in a trashbag at the bottom and bear canister on top of the sleeping bag against the back. Due to the design this pushes hard against the outer pockets rendering them almost useless.

Also, while we're on the subject of weight. In a few threads I've heard mention of ditching a nalgene bottle (or something to the effect of.... "by now you probably know to get rid of that xxx nalgene bottle). I just gotta ask, why on earth would you do that? It's virtually an indestructible water container. Is it the form factor, weight, etc? It can be a pretty vial component and a strong one at that compared to a thin plastic gatorade bottle.

Edited by firestarter01 on 12/04/2012 17:55:27 MST.

Doug Coe
(sierraDoug) - F

Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA
Re: re: heavy items on 12/04/2012 21:06:08 MST Print View

A 2+ liter Platypus is much lighter than a Nalgene bottle and very tough. Every little bit of weight shed helps.

If you spend some time reading threads here on people posting their gear list and asking for recommendations for how to lighten up, you'll find plenty of ideas. Some will sound a lot crazier than ditching the Nalgene bottle!