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ULA catalyst vs. Gregory Z55
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Emily Hardy
(emilyehardy) - F

Locale: SOUTH WEST
ULA catalyst vs. Gregory Z55 on 06/03/2007 11:38:43 MDT Print View

i will be hiking the JMT in Aug. which would you reccomend? i have a TNF beeline bag and probably will pack a tarptent or tarp. and a large bear can. have tried on the Z55 and it fits well with 20-30 lbs in it. that would likely be my packs weight for the trip. have read about the catalyst but never met anyone who had one or tried one on. any help here would be appreciated. thanks in advance.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: ULA catalyst vs. Gregory Z55 on 06/03/2007 17:07:39 MDT Print View

I've used both. I just finished a 5-day, 55-mile HOT, humid section of the Sheltowee Trace with the Z-55. I've used the Catalyst on a number of short trips since I got mine in February.

To cut to the chase, for the JMT (and I'm hiking it in July), the Catalyst is the hands down winner. My reasons? Several.

1) The suspension is simply superior IMO. The dual-tension hipbelt on the Catalyst is the most comfortable, securely fitting I have ever tried. The rest of the suspension is superb, with only one possible exception: it fits very close to the back and can get very sweaty in humid, warmer conditions. (This is the reason I used the Z55 and was very glad I did in the hot humid heat of Kentucky. Its bowed, ventilated backpanel was much appreciated. But its suspension is not nearly as comfortable with 30 lbs as the ULA Catalyst.)

2) With a bear cannister, the Catalyst truly shines. I can turn my BearVault 400 sideways and set it into place with Catalyst. With the Gregory Z-55, good luck getting a large cannister into the pack at all in a way that makes packing the rest of your gear anything short of a headache. You'll have to stand the cannister upright and pack around it and this can a pain with the reduced interior space due to its ventilated back panel.

The only issue in going with ULA is that if you want one, you'd better order it NOW. You should plan on a month's delay any way, and if Brian is having trouble getting some of the smaller more technical parts from his suppliers, you could wait longer. I had to wait about 7 weeks, but it was well worth it and Brian was great about letting me know why there was a delay and when to expect the pack.

Either way, good luck and have an incredible walk on the JMT.

Edited by Bearpaw on 06/03/2007 17:11:25 MDT.

Emily Hardy
(emilyehardy) - F

Locale: SOUTH WEST
Re: Re: ULA catalyst vs. Gregory Z55 on 06/04/2007 10:54:31 MDT Print View

thankyou for your response. what options did you get on your catalyst? i was thinking of the waterbottle holder and the hand loops. i dont think a second stay would be necessary. but i dont know. advice here would be much appreciated!
I think i will probably but the Z55 today (its on sale for 130) as i live in southern california so its usually warm here as well. i will either order the catalyst soon or have it shipped from one of the stores Brian works with.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: ULA catalyst vs. Gregory Z55 on 06/04/2007 12:52:48 MDT Print View

I ordered the dual stays, but having now seen and felt how solid the framesheet is, I agree you should be fine with just the one. I also went with the hydration sleeve ( I prefer these to bottles) and the interior mesh organizer pocket. I like the pocket for the little things like my headlamp and aqua mira (otherwise they get lost). I prefer to use trekking pole but if I didn't, the hand loops would be nice as well.