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Bought a new pack

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    • Bought a new pack

      I just ordered a new pack, one that I've had my eye on for a while. It's the ULA Equipment CATALYST.
      I had to special order it in the color I wanted, orange. It's listed as being just under 3 pounds with a volume of 75 liters and is advertised as being to be able to carry up to 40 pounds comfortably. Also, there are plenty of positive reviews on a variety of web sites. If we have any ULA pack users here I'd love to hear your comments, both good and bad.

      I'll still be keeping my current pack, a Gregory Baltoro 75, for winter use when I'm carrying a bulky and heavier sleeping bag as well as a lot of clothing. This pack will be about 2 pounds lighter than the Gregory.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by LIhikers ().

    • Hello LIHikers,

      I use the Catalyst. This is my second one. I bought the Catalyst over the Circuit because it is big enough to hold a bear canister inside.

      I love this pack, that's why I stuck with it after the first one developed some wear issues. The current pack is about two years old. I just checked ULA's website to see if the current version looked any different, and the biggest changes I see is that that they moved some standard items to 'options.' I do not use internal hydration, so I would not miss that sleeve. I would sorely miss the internal stash pocket and hand loops (since I do not use poles and sometimes like to put my hands somewhere).

      In terms of comfort, I find it very comfortable up to 30 ponds. Above 30 lbs comfort quickly decreases. On one long section I think I packed about 36/37 lbs. I would not want to go any heavier than that. That trip was with the first pack, they seemed to improved construction in my most recent version, but I've yet to test that one with heavy loads.

      I keep my tarp, and anything else that might get wet or dirty in the outer mesh pocket. Everything else goes inside. Small things I want to be handy go in the belt pockets. The side pack pocket I usually just load with my water bottles. I can reach back while I am hiking and grab a drink on the go.

      Hope you enjoy this pack too.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • In terms of complaints, I guess it would be the wear issues on the first one. Holes eventually developed in the outer pocket, wear on the pack bottom from tossing it on the ground. But I deserve the blame, I beat that pack pretty hard. I had a plastic buckle break once, but ULA sent me a complimentary replacement right away. The newer pack seems sturdier to me.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • max.patch wrote:

      At Above the Clouds Hostel (near Woody Gap, mile 20) this guy showed up using a 1975 Jansport external frame pack. I never used one but I had a couple friends who did. If they found a stash of new, usused ones in a corner of the warehouse I'd buy one.

      He got his trail name at the hostel -- Old School.

      scontent.fatl1-1.fna.fbcdn.net…ccf677906431a&oe=6072B14B
      Back when my son's were in Boy Scouts we a had a dad who still used one.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • I hiked Pictured Rocks with a friend who had not upgraded his gear since the 1970's. He had an old external frame pack loaded with about 50 lbs of gear, much of it lashed to the outside frame. When we stopped for a break I would have to help him take it off. Then he spent 15 min taking off all the gear lashed to the frame so he could open the main compartment to get to his snack bag. After snacking for a minute he would spend 15 min lashing everything back on the pack and I had to help him out it back on. At meals he spent hours fiddling with his old SVEA stove. He couldn't believe that my entire pack was the size of his food bag and never heard of an alcohol stove. I suggested he might find the trip more enjoyable if considered a more efficient packing strategy. He said he had always done it that way and never thought about it. Now that's old school.
    • I just took a look, and they still make plenty of Kelty External Frame packs.
      I got rid of mine years ago, but I think what I had was a Tioga.
      Here is the model now...
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • IMScotty wrote:

      I just took a look, and they still make plenty of Kelty External Frame packs.
      I got rid of mine years ago, but I think what I had was a Tioga.
      Here is the model now...

      IIRC the Tioga is most comfortable for bigger framed guys which doesn't describe me.

      Might be worth trying though, subject of course to the return policy
      2,000 miler
    • I have a Jansport D5 in the closet. Maybe my next extended weekend hike a should use it and wear blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Then stay by a shelter so I could hear everyone's comments about me and wondering if I was a homeless serial killer. It could be fun, lol.
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    • Dmax wrote:

      I have a Jansport D5 in the closet. Maybe my next extended weekend hike a should use it and wear blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Then stay by a shelter so I could hear everyone's comments about me and wondering if I was a homeless serial killer. It could be fun, lol.
      Just watched the Criminal Minds episode of the guy fitting that description living off the AT. My wife asked if there really are people like that out there.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • My new ULA pack arrived yesterday and now I'm anxious to try it. I loosely stuffed my sleeping bag into it to fill it out. It looks like there's plenty of room and our new tent fits into a side pocket. I'll probably use a water bottle in the pocket on the other side to balance the weight. It's apparent how they make it so light as it's not nearly as robust as my current pack, a Gregory Batora. And as for the color, Orange, it's very bright, just as I hoped it would be. I don't know when we'll be able to get out next but I hope it's soon so I can give this pack a try.
    • LIhikers wrote:

      My new ULA pack arrived yesterday and now I'm anxious to try it. I loosely stuffed my sleeping bag into it to fill it out. It looks like there's plenty of room and our new tent fits into a side pocket. I'll probably use a water bottle in the pocket on the other side to balance the weight. It's apparent how they make it so light as it's not nearly as robust as my current pack, a Gregory Batora. And as for the color, Orange, it's very bright, just as I hoped it would be. I don't know when we'll be able to get out next but I hope it's soon so I can give this pack a try.
      As least the hunters will be able to see you coming. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      LIhikers wrote:

      My new ULA pack arrived yesterday and now I'm anxious to try it. I loosely stuffed my sleeping bag into it to fill it out. It looks like there's plenty of room and our new tent fits into a side pocket. I'll probably use a water bottle in the pocket on the other side to balance the weight. It's apparent how they make it so light as it's not nearly as robust as my current pack, a Gregory Batora. And as for the color, Orange, it's very bright, just as I hoped it would be. I don't know when we'll be able to get out next but I hope it's soon so I can give this pack a try.
      As least the hunters will be able to see you coming. :)
      Yep, that was one of the reasons for the orange.
    • I got a length of thin bungee from the fabric store. I cut two lengths for each strap, long enough to loop around the strap and bottle. I just tie them with a square knot. It took a bit of adjusting to the them just right. They have to be pretty snug to keep the bottles secur, especial when the bottles are full. I had the mall off a few times, but now that they are adjusted, they have not failed. A key part of the system are the bottles. I use 24 oz Gatorade bottles rescued from the recycling dumpster. These have deep grooves on them to secure the straps, one at the bottom and one at the top. Plus these bottles have a wide mouth for easy filling and a cap with a twist open drinking spout. I can remove a bottle with one hand but need two hands to replace them. That works for me as I don't drink on the go, but rather at standing rest stops. Also, you do need to take the bottles off before removing the pack. The pic shows a 20 oz bottle (works the same way). The 24 oz bottles are skinnier but longer and have the drinking spout.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by odd man out ().

    • IMScotty wrote:

      I use the side pocket, works fine for me.
      I'll be carrying our tent ( 3 pounds ) in one side pocket and a large water bottle in the other to balance the weight of the tent. I was thinking of carrying a smaller bottle on the pack strap. I'm hoping to find some kind of pouch or pocket the bottle would easily slide in or out of. Otherwise I'll try OMO's method.
    • I'm convinced that varying water up front is great for load distribution. It is well known that having your center of gravity over your spine is ergonomically best way to carry heavy loads. Indigenous people in Nepal, Africa, and Central America all use some method to transfer weight to their heads. I've not seen a backpacker try that method yet, but by putting your water bottle in front, you shift your COG closer to your spine. I also can't a couple of 1 L water bags, used for my squeeze/gravity filter. Usually these are carried empty, but if I need to carry extra water (long hot dry stretch or to dry camp), I will fill these and carry them at the very top front of the pack (right behind my neck). The when walking, I lean forward a little and puts the extra weight above my spine.

      Also, when I carried water bottles in my side pack pouches I could hear and feel the water sloshing around back there. I reasoned the sloshing was due to back and forth motion, which involved accelerating mass (F=ma) which is work (W=Fd) which is wasted energy. Plus I couldn't reach my bottles without without taking off my pack (lack of flexibility). So I then tried holsters on the hip belt. That solved the accessibility problem, but they still sloshed a lot, and now interfered with arm swing (BTW, I think some of these problems are due to my large girly hips :rolleyes: ). So then I tried the shoulder straps. This solved the sloshing. I find the water hardly moves when strapped in front of my shoulder. It also felt it helps with weight distribution as mentioned above. Plus, it cost almost nothing and it is easy to see exactly how much water you have. The downside is it takes two hands to restore the bottle, they have to be removed before taking the pack off, it takes a little getting used to having bottles right up under your chin, and some may think it looks a little goofy. Plus you need the Gatorade bottle. A cylindrical bottle like a Smart Water would probably slide out.
    • IMScotty wrote:

      I just took a look, and they still make plenty of Kelty External Frame packs.
      I got rid of mine years ago, but I think what I had was a Tioga.
      Here is the model now...

      I briefly had a Tioga, before sending it back and getting a Trekker in its place. I sent it back because it seemed to me that a significant part of the capacity difference was that that Tioga bag extended lower than the Trekker, to the point that a Ridgerest pad (yeah, I use them!) would actually push up on the bag from below, robbing it of some interior space.

      Although the Trekker is undeniably a heavy pack by the numbers, if you have it adjusted right, it feels like nothing at all. It's really amazing. The only time I feel the weight is when the load lifters loosen up a bit, and it pulls back on me in the collarbone area. When they're just right, the dadgum thing practically propels me forward.

      Having said that, it has numerous shortcomings that, if addressed, I would upgrade immediately. For one, it has too many compartments, and that leads to the space being used inefficiently. I think the Trekker is 64 or 65 liters, but it packs like it's 40. If I wasn't such a "keep it stock" person I'd cut out the divider for the sleeping bag compartment, for one. And they must count the zipped side pockets generously in the 64-65L total. There are 4 or 5 of them, depending on how you count. As with the sleeping bag compartment, it's hard to use them at 100%, so they're not very efficient.

      On the flipside, it lacks features that may not even count as space in some packs. There are no dedicated water bottle pocket or other storage at the hipbelt level. There's nothing on the shoulder straps. Overall, I'd prefer a unified large central bag, plus 2 exterior water bottle pockets (or on the shoulder straps), small to moderate hipbelt pockets, a lid pocket and maybe a mesh stuff pocket on the middle of the back.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Time Zone ().

    • jimmyjam wrote:

      Astro wrote:

      jimmyjam wrote:

      Proper use of the pack Y strap.
      Something special about coming into town after a week in the woods and getting a pizza (pie). :)
      I stole this off FB. This young lady was leaving the NOC with a pizza.

      Yup .
      I look forward to it usually.

      In Lake City, CO......I was dissapointed.

      Imagine how much cheese it takes to ruin a pizza.
      Then double that.
      Almost inedible...between 1/4" to 1/2 " cheese swimming on top.

    • Muddywaters wrote:

      jimmyjam wrote:

      Astro wrote:

      jimmyjam wrote:

      Proper use of the pack Y strap.
      Something special about coming into town after a week in the woods and getting a pizza (pie). :)
      I stole this off FB. This young lady was leaving the NOC with a pizza.
      Yup .
      I look forward to it usually.

      In Lake City, CO......I was dissapointed.

      Imagine how much cheese it takes to ruin a pizza.
      Then double that.
      Almost inedible...between 1/4" to 1/2 " cheese swimming on top.


      That must be the special Hiker Plugger Upper :D
      "Dazed and Confused"
      Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
      Plant a tree
      Take a kid hiking
      Make a difference
    • Mystery Ranch makes some excellent external frame systems. For hauling serious weight. That's the external frame's advantage. Mostly milspec stuff for spec ops. But, my first pack was an external frame Kelty. I upgraded in two years to an external frame North Face. It's all they had in 1973...
    • ScareBear wrote:

      Mystery Ranch makes some excellent external frame systems. For hauling serious weight. That's the external frame's advantage. Mostly milspec stuff for spec ops. But, my first pack was an external frame Kelty. I upgraded in two years to an external frame North Face. It's all they had in 1973...
      My first pack was also a Kelty external frame. I actually had two of them and kept them in the attic until a few years ago. The nylon material had dry rotted so I cut the material off the frame and recycled the aluminum frame.
      "Dazed and Confused"
      Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
      Plant a tree
      Take a kid hiking
      Make a difference
    • Someplace in our basement I have an external frame pack that someone gave us. I want to remove the bag and mount a piece of thin plywood. Then to the plywood I'd make places to mount the tools we use for the boundary monitoring that we do. I may, or may not, ever get around to doing it.
    • Somewhere I have a picture of me wearing my first "pack". I think it was 1967. I was 8 years old and had a frameless, khaki colored, canvas rucksack. My dad took me out for a weekend on the AT in MD. I recall starting from Washington Monument St Park and hiking to a nearby shelter (Ed Garvey, maybe?). My father was a pretty serious backpacker with state of the gear (for 1967, that is). I'm sure he carried most of the load.