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Reader Reviews

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in Backpacks - Frameless

Average Rating
4.50 / 5 (6 reviews)

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Andrew King
( drewboy )

ULA Amp on 02/12/2007 12:10:16 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have taken this pack out only once last weekend, so this review is preliminary and could change. The construction of the pack is flawless, and came in very close to Brian's (updated) weight spec. I used the front pocket and accessories pocket options. The front pocket is fitted very nicely onto the pack in such a way as to not not interfere with the compression system. I used a NightLight torso length pad for frame support, and there was an adequate amount of room for this and the rest of my packed items. I rolled up my ThinLight insulation pad and slid it inside the compression lines on the side of the pack. The compression system is fitted to the front pocket in such a way the the front pocket is secured when you tighten the lines. I did find that even with the compression lines all the way open it was sometimes difficult to get good access to the front pocket. This was certainly exascerbated because I had my ThinLight on the side of the pack. The main difficulty I had with the pack was getting the shoulder straps to ride correctly on my shoulders. They were constantly tending to slide down my shoulders, and causing the pack to separate from my upper back. It seemed to me that a chest strap would have helped tremendously in this regard, I am considering adding such a feature to my pack. I did get things to improve a lot by tensioning up the shoulder straps, but it still seemed to be an issue. My total pack weight with comsumables was 17 lbs, within the specified weight range of the pack. If I can figure out a way to work around this issue I will post an edit to this review. Brian is a great guy to deal with and very timely with his email responses.

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Phil Barton
( flyfast )

ULA Amp meets my expectations on 03/23/2007 08:21:44 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Amp is my second pack from Brian Frankle. I’ve waited to post a review until my first outing with the pack this past weekend. The ULA Amp meets my expectations for a smaller volume pack to be used for 1-5 day trips with regular access to water.

My Amp is equipped with the Modular Front Pocket option. In size L it weighs 13.7 oz. on my scale. The volume works well for me with insulated clothing and a couple of days' food. (Listed as 1,600 c.i. for the main body on

First impressions on the pack are that it is well crafted. The sewing is all top notch. There are no loose threads or sloppy seams. The Dyneema fabric is a low key gray color.

The instructions included from ULA are clear. The recommended load distribution works well for me.

I can't comment on longer term durability. I plan to update the review here after several months.

Features that I like include:
Dyneema fabric. A lot of my gear has tears and snags from encounters with brush. I expect the Amp's Dyneema to be just as tough as my other ULA pack's fabric.

Simplicity. This pack is a top loading bag with 3 external pockets. There is very little to fail – no zippers or Velcro. As my kit has become simpler and lighter I don't need lots of features.

Side pockets. The bellowed side pockets utilize a cord lock to secure stuff in the pockets. I carried a 1 liter Platy on each side along with snacks, water treatment, map, and a few other ditties. Best of all, I can reach my water bottle while wearing the pack.

Comfort. The Amp has a near perfect fit for me (6' tall, 20.5" torso length). My pack weighed 13.5 pounds at the beginning of the trip. On short 3-5 mile day hikes, I'd become concerned that the shoulder straps wouldn't meet my needs for comfort and load distribution. On the overnight trip things just clicked. The Amp was a delight to carry. I still think that the shoulder straps could be a bit wider but they worked just fine. I used a TorsoLite pad against my back in the pack. After loading my gear I pulled the compression cord tight to give the pack an adequately rigid shape. While the Amp works well for lighter loads, I don't think this pack would be the right choice for desert trips requiring a large water load.

Front pocket. I'm glad that I picked this option for quick, external access to select gear. I especially like to stuff my wet poncho/tarp and groundcloth there. The compression strap does close the top of the pocket when it's cinched tight. Any feature that keeps me from losing more small gear items is a good thing. I carry a few other things in the pocket -- my small first aid/ditty bag, headlamp, TP, fuel, and lunch.

Hip belt. The load distribution worked well with the light load that I carried. My other packs mostly use a more generously padded and wider hip belt. The wings on the Amp’s belt are padded. The belt narrows to a 1" strap across the front.

So far, the ULA Amp is a delight. My kudos to Brian for another solid design with excellent execution.

Edited by flyfast on 03/23/2007 13:30:11 MDT.

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Andrew Richard
( fairweather8588 )

The Desert
Greatest value out there on 07/23/2007 20:35:49 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

A 10.6 oz, 2,600 cu in for only $89 is a great steal. The size M/L fits me very well (I'm 6' tall) and all of the stitching is perfect.

Edited by fairweather8588 on 06/26/2008 22:58:55 MDT.

John Adams
( scsjohn )

Great pack at nice price on 07/25/2007 12:10:46 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I recently used this pack for a weekend trip and I really like it. The two side pockets are roomy. I also like the modular internal pocket (for wallets) and the external attachment in front.

I used the external pocket (which does add 1.7 oz) to put my wet stuff in after a morning rain.

I was worried the tiny straps that connect the should straps to the belt/lower pack but they held up fine. I was also a little weary of there not being a sternum strap but the pack carried fine without it.

The pack is nice and large for one that weighs so little and doesn't cost a lot.

Mike Feldman
( harpin )
Excellent well made functional lightweight pack on 08/29/2007 10:41:18 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Excellent lightweight frameless pack. With external pocket makes for 2960 CI pack w/large mesh side pockets. 13 ounces with the 360 CI external pocket. Easy to compress, ULA did nice job. Dont miss a sternum strap. Will use this with down quilt, bivy and small tarp for 10-15 pound kit as long as good water sources. Have not had the problem another poster noted as to shoulder straps needing frequent adjustment. Nice affordable pack that will compete with my Granite Gear Virga for use.

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Duane Hall
( PKH - M )

Nova Scotia
ULA Amp on 05/29/2008 09:09:47 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This was my first experience with a frameless pack, and I must say I am very pleased. The construction/workmanship is as expected with Brian Frankel's products - flawless. I did have reservations of course. I couldn't see how all that kit on the floor could fit into that little pack, but it turned out that a 13 to 14 lb load does not fill the thing. In summer conditions I can see stretching the AMP to 5 or 6 days without exceeding the 20 lb design limit. Certainly at 14 lbs the pack carries very well. I use a 3/4 length Prolite 3 as my "frame", and find this answers nicely.

I use the detachable front pocket and hip belt pockets - both very useful options I would not do without. I have encountered no difficulties with the level of padding on the shoulder straps and hip belts; nor do I have a problem with the absence of a sternum strap. The variable compression system seems to work well, although the AMP does do best with a full load. I find the side pockets a little shallow, but the elastic is strong and in practice I had no problems retaining a 3/4 litre gatorade bottle.

For me this is a damned near perfect little pack. It will certainly be my hauler of choice for trips up to five days in three season conditions. It just plain works.


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