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Which ULA pack when you need more volume?
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Rutherford Platt
(tunaboy999) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Which ULA pack when you need more volume? on 04/26/2013 08:24:03 MDT Print View

I currently have a Six Moons Swift, which I am happy with when I need to go fast and light. However, I've got some trip ideas that will require something larger.

1. Week long trip in the Colorado plateau with packraft.
2. JMT or SHR hike with large bear canister.
3. Family hikes where I carry some of the heavy or bulky items.

I am considering the ULA Epic, Catalyst, or circuit. Any thoughts?


Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Weight? on 04/26/2013 08:30:59 MDT Print View

What do you estimate you weight to be for these trips?

What is greatest volume you will need assuming you only want to buy one pack for all those trips?

Do you want the lightest you can find?

Most comfortable load carrier?

Price range?

I might not have an answer for you but if you adress these questions people should have a better idea of what you want.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

ULA packs on 04/26/2013 08:39:59 MDT Print View

I recently went with a ULA Catalyst in waterproof cuben hybrid fabric for use as a larger volume packrafting pack. I've been very happy with that. Pics and more info here:

Edited by dandydan on 04/26/2013 08:41:06 MDT.

Rutherford Platt
(tunaboy999) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Weight? on 04/26/2013 08:41:56 MDT Print View

I'm not sure of the exact weight or volume, which is why I provided those hypothetical trips as examples. Price is not an issue.

Perhaps the decision can be boiled down to these two questions:

1. Can the Circuit be comfortably used with a Alpacka packraft if the rest of the load is fairly light? (my normal base wight is 10 lbs + 1.5 lbs/day food + water). If no, then I will cross that off the list.

2. Can the Epic be comfortably used for non-packrafting situations that I described above? (extended hike with bear canister or carrying load for others). If no, then I will cross that one off the list.

So if both of the questions are 'no', then the answer is probably a Catalyst. It just seems so big and heavy compared to what I am used to!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: ULA and big loads on 04/26/2013 09:00:40 MDT Print View

With packrafting gear I think you'd run into size issues with the Circuit before overloading. Just a raft and paddle don't add too much weight or take up too much space, its the drysuit/wetsuit/PFD/throw bag/helmet that get ya. If you rarely bring any of those a Circuit could work, but a Catalyst would be safer. The Catalyst really isn't that big.

Obviously the Epic would carry just about anything you want, and its load carrying is well thought of. Harness packs like that require a different approach to packing and organization. I dislike them, but the only way to really find out for yourself is to try it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: re: ULA and big loads on 04/26/2013 09:26:32 MDT Print View

Yeah, the Catalyst isnt as gigantic as the specs make it seem.

ULA will put extra straps on to externally carry a packraft.

Rutherford Platt
(tunaboy999) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
ULA and big loads on 04/26/2013 09:37:44 MDT Print View

Great, thanks everyone. It certainly seems like the Catalyst is the way to go.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
SMD Starlite might be worth a look. on 04/26/2013 10:42:30 MDT Print View

Not sure about the Catylist but I know that the SMD Starlite will take a large bear can (BV-500) horizontally with a lot of space to spare. I used this pack for at least four years and finally got a smaller pack because I seldom needed the room the Starlite offers. Worth considering, at least.

Edited by Rincon on 04/26/2013 10:47:35 MDT.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: ULA and big loads on 04/26/2013 11:06:33 MDT Print View

I know Chris from ULA has in the past sent out "sample" packs for people to see, feel, get sizing, etc. (They have great customer service.) If you are committed to purchasing one of the ULA models regardless, you might be able to get him to send you a "loaner" to help decide.

Edited by cfrey.0 on 04/26/2013 11:07:22 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Which ULA pack when you need more volume? on 04/26/2013 11:12:43 MDT Print View

+2 on checking out the SMD Starlite. With the "optional" (mandatory, IMHO) stays it will support at least 35 lbs. comfortably. And it's plenty roomy (too big for me). It's a pound lighter than the ULA Catalyst.

I have the Starlite's discontinued "little brother," the SMD Comet. I've carried up to 37 lbs. in it with no problems in shoulders, back, hips (although my knees and feet were screaming and I'll never do it again). And even the smaller (2400 cubic inches in main body) Comet takes a bear canister sideways.

If you don't yet have the packraft or the bear canister (I assume that's why you can't measure weight or volume?), I strongly recommend you get those before getting a pack. That way you can be sure the pack will fit your gear while it's still returnable!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/26/2013 11:16:52 MDT.

Rutherford Platt
(tunaboy999) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Which ULA pack when you need more volume? on 04/26/2013 19:32:51 MDT Print View

Has anyone used a SMD Starlight with a packraft?

SMD on 04/26/2013 19:41:57 MDT Print View

I think the swift and the starlite, are surpsingly large . Id say swift is as large as the circuit.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: SMD on 04/28/2013 10:55:21 MDT Print View

+3 on the Starlite, it feels/is much larger than my Circuit, and quite comfortable in the 35+ pound range.