ULA Catalyst

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TurboHike
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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by TurboHike » Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:20 pm

kpeter,

I have a ULA Circuit and I carry my tent in one of the side pockets. I use the side compression strap to secure the top end of the rolled up tent. However, to make this work, I need to roll the tent so it's long and skinny, if that makes sense. I bought a longer tent stuff sack to make it all work. If I roll it and use the original stuff sack then the diameter is too big to fit in the side pocket and it's too short to secure with the compression strap.

I did not purchase any of the add-on pockets since the hip belt pockets were sufficient for my needs (and are excellent by the way). I hope this helps.








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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by kpeter » Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:19 pm

Thank you Turbo, that is good to know. My little Nemo hornet comes in the skinniest tent stuffsack I have had, so perhaps it would fit already. With a week of food, the bearvault, and 2 liters of water, I will probably come in at 40 lbs. Wondering how this suspension will ride at that weight, which is billed as the upper end.

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by robow8 » Sun Sep 06, 2020 7:36 am

kpeter wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:19 pm
Thank you Turbo, that is good to know. My little Nemo hornet comes in the skinniest tent stuffsack I have had, so perhaps it would fit already. With a week of food, the bearvault, and 2 liters of water, I will probably come in at 40 lbs. Wondering how this suspension will ride at that weight, which is billed as the upper end.
I was out recently with my catalyst, carrying food for me and my wife for 5+ days (she carried a couple of days of food), and I was between 40 & 45 pounds. I felt the weight, but the pack carried fine, if that makes sense.

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by kpeter » Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:07 pm

Thank you Robow, that is reassuring. As I edge ever downwards in weight and ever upwards in age, I worry about such things. It looks to me like the harness and hipbelt on the Catalyst are as beefy as on my Golite. But it is hard to pick a pack without trying it on, hence my obsessiveness.

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by michaelzim » Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:54 am

@kpeter We are on the same quest! It is taking vastly more time and effort than I imagined...including talks with the "really know their gear" folks at ULA, Seek Outside, Gossamer Gear, etc.

Did you get an answer to this question??? I have run into exactly this twice now on packs that were very close to what I'm looking for but "bearcan pushing into my back" kiboshed them:
2) The ULA Catalyst website has a video of them putting a BV500 in the pack horizontally, which is my minimum criteria for any pack. But is the padding good enough to prevent the bear can from ramming through into your back if it is stored horizontally? FItting it in, and making it comfortable, could be two different things.
P.S. I have an old Garcia bearcan with a Bearikade Weekender on order, so am using a BV 500 as a proxy. Having it fit horizontally and near the bottom of a pack appears to be ultra limiting! Have tried seven packs so far - fortunately six of them in store v. ordering and having to send back...However, I am still "new packless"!

Best ~ Michaelzim

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:13 pm

I have two packs (woman's medium, 55L and a 60 L, both a bit over 2lbs) that fit the Weekender horizontally, near the top, and do not dig into my back. I think the key is the backboard. Some of the UL packs have removable backboards or foam sit pads. The Weekender is a bit fatter, shorter and smaller than the BearVault, which does not fit horizontally in my packs. The Bear Vault lid sticks out farther. You may find that the Weekender fits just fine. I too am looking for a new pack since both the older ones are nearly worn out.

I have not experienced discomfort with the bear can near the top, rain jacket on top of bear can, roll top, then 3" removable lid. I really like a lid even if the pack has a roll-top. I just remove the lid when in camp and put it in the tent- everything I need in the tent is then organized. I am also much more interested in the volume of the main pack, not the pockets. A lot of the UL packs have small main pack volume but huge outside pockets.

Although I like the idea of a UL pack, the extra 1lb savings is not worth it to me. I also hate to tie stuff to the outside of the pack for fear of it falling or getting ripped off in bushwhacking. UL packs seem designed for thru-hiking which is mostly if not all on trails. My style of backpacking just does not match theirs. High-end UL thru-hiking gear is designed for a very niche buyer. I prefer to gain my weight savings other ways than the pack. That said, I will not buy a pack that weighs over 3 pounds.

Another thing to consider is the ease of packing. If everything has to fit "just so" I often have to re-pack several times to get it right, and that wastes time. I would rather go a bit bigger with volume than smaller. I do not buy into the idea that just because my pack is a certain volume I will fill it with unnecessary stuff.

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by michaelzim » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:17 pm

@Wandering Daisy WD...Great feedback, thank you!

I get the sense that if we amalgamated our wish lists for a pack (with what @kpeter is looking for too - and no doubt others!) we would come up with something pretty darn obvious for the major backpack manufacturers. A decently light pack, that does not have to be so screamingly light that it is uncomfortable, and also fits the bigger bearcans horizontally anywhere within the main compartment.
I say this last because three packs I have tried "taper" one way or the other so the BV500 (semi proxy for Weekender) only fits half way down, or only in the bottom sleeping bag compartment via an oval PITR zipper. (PITR = pain in the rear...Top oval arcing zipper layouts seem to snag and stick incessantly v. straight across horizontal zippers that do not! Can't fathom why that is so oblivious to manufacturers!)

Ummmm, not sure what brand your two packs are - as ULA packs have names rather than volumes in their descriptor.
I have two packs (woman's medium, 55L and a 60 L, both a bit over 2lbs)
Presumably not ULAs from what you said later?

I'm also a bit spoiled by the ease of trying stuff c/o REI and having such an assured return policy if I don't like it. Special ordering from smaller manufacturers like ULA sight unseen makes me a little hesitant (despite that I would like to support them) as my track record of getting stuff online runs about 30% keep and 70% return. Plus I don't get big thrills from shopping anyhow. It's a hassle.

I too like a lid/top on a pack and am also happier with plenty of organizing ability plus ease of packing v. dumping everything into one cavernous hole. Likewise, I will not hesitate to add a pound or even a bit more to get those benefits rather than have a setup that gives me grief, requires finicky re-packing, or having to dig through everything I am carrying to get to some small item that ended up in the bottom. Pockets, in sensible moderation rule!

I have also had my tent and (foam fill type) Thermarest strapped onto the outside of my pack, horizontally, for three decades and might be resistant to change on that configuration! I will re-visit that if I have to but don't like the idea of my dew wet tent going inside my pack or off-balancing it by being vertical in a side pocket. Vertical placement outside in a side pocket may be more feasible now c/o a new 3 pound BA Copper Spur tent v. my old REI Half Dome 2 weighing 6 1/2 pounds, as that would sure have me hiking with a tilt to the tent side!

Excellent points about thru-hiking designs! Yes, I see that now, how nearly all the UL packs are not really what I want for 10 or 12 day excursion off trail with no re-supply, etc. The closest may be the Seek Outside packs, but seems like not well known (nothing on an HST search) as one can add extras or not. I am snooping this one https://seekoutside.com/divide-ultralig ... pack-gray/ but once again it's that going with an unfamiliar product I can't touch, feel, put on, etc. before ordering it and waiting 2 months, etc.
Hummmmmmmmmmmmm???

Thanks again WD, I really appreciate your 'definitively experienced' info and insights! Michaelzim

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:48 pm

The 55L pack is Bergens of Norway Helium and the 60L pack is Granite Gear Crown 60. The Bergens pack is actually designed for ski touring. I like the GG pack, but the back panel is hard as a rock and rubs me raw. Who the hell designed that! Bergans is very comfortable, but has a horrible lid. What I do like about some of the UL packs is that you can customize them.

In addition to the Bearikade, it is extremely annoying that my new tent, Tarptent Notch (sets up on trekking poles with short end poles), is about 1 inch too long to fit horizontally in my pack. To solve this, my husband made me new end poles (1 inch shorter) out of arrow stock (he makes all his own arrows for archery). It now fits. What I gave up is an inch of air-flow gap between the tent and ground; it still sets up tight enough.

It would only take less than an inch in pack diameter to fit bear cans! What is the problem?

Have you looked at the Gosmer Gear Mariposa? It got the editors choice 2020 from Gear Lab

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by druid » Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:13 pm

michaelzim wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:17 pm

Excellent points about thru-hiking designs! Yes, I see that now, how nearly all the UL packs are not really what I want for 10 or 12 day excursion off trail with no re-supply, etc. The closest may be the Seek Outside packs, but seems like not well known (nothing on an HST search) as one can add extras or not. I am snooping this one https://seekoutside.com/divide-ultralig ... pack-gray/ but once again it's that going with an unfamiliar product I can't touch, feel, put on, etc. before ordering it and waiting 2 months, etc.
Hummmmmmmmmmmmm???
I own two Seek Outside Unaweeps, a 4800 and a 6300, both of which I'm very happy with. The 4800 looks to be about the closest to the Divide, but it's six ounces heavier. It seems to be about the same size as the Divide so I'm not sure why there is any difference in weight. I wouldn't call either of my SO backpacks ultralight but they're both significantly lighter than the Osprey Aether that they replaced. I haven't fully jumped on the ultralight bandwagon, for what that's worth. For me personally, I'll gladly trade a half pound to a pound in extra backpack weight in return for something that carries the weight comfortably. The biggest downside to the Seek Outside packs, if you want to call it a downside, is that they will easily carry far more weight than you ever actually want to lug around. I think they are primarily targeted towards the hunting market where the frames need to be able to handle packing out big heavy awkward loads. The extended lead time you're seeing is probably because we're at the start of hunting season.

After abandoning my old Kelty after several decades of use, I never thought I would ever return to using an external frame backpack, but after using the Unaweeps for a few years now I'm very happy I made the switch back. I researched many UL backpacks myself, and came to the same conclusion as you, i.e. that they weren't suitable for a 10+ day off-trail trip, at least not for me, given the amount of food I carry.

I have a custom 13" Bearikade, which I bought before they introduced the Blazer, that just barely fits horizontally in the bottom of the 4800. The BV 500 looks to be slightly smaller than my Bearikade so I imagine it would fit in the 4800 as well. The 6300 is slightly bigger and a 13" bear can fits horizontally easily.

Another HST member posted about a new "Flight" SO pack this year here:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... 85#p155985

but I'm not sure it meets your requirements because big bear cans won't fit horizontally. The SO frames are well designed and I imagine the Flight would work well on a 4-5 day trip but for me going out for a week or more would be pushing it. It seems to be targeted to the through-hiker market so I guess some people do use it for longer trips, though.

If you have any particular questions about the Seek Outside backpacks, let me know and I'll try to answer them. There are a ton of possible minor adjustments you can make that can be a little fiddly to dial in perfectly. I do recommend getting the lumbar pad accessory, which adds 2.5 ounces. For me the nicest thing about the SO packs is that it's possible to adjust the weight so it's almost all on my hips with almost none on my shoulders. I also like that the frame provides plenty of ventilation.

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Re: ULA Catalyst

Post by michaelzim » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:51 am

Once again I am so impressed with the responses and help on this HST forum. Just great!

Firstly, @Wandering Daisy
- Indeed, that "back-plate" thing on the Granite Gear Crown2 60 is...????????????? I mean, really. It's beyond me how anyone other than someone with a lot of adipose tissue on their backs could consider that not a washboard. I hike in a thin, long-sleeved white dress shirt for sun protection (no bow-tie yet!) so it's pretty much the skin on my back then the pack. I am pretty tolerant of pain and discomfort generally, but 10 days of that - NO WAY!
- That your 'Tent' fits horizontally into your pack is...impressive! My new Copper Spur is 19" packed length so hard for me to grasp such levels of packability! (Switching to a Tarptent and its ilk was too big a leap for me from my old conventional tent). A P.S. on this - if you are putting your Tarptent in your pack I presume you must have some super sealed sack so that when it goes in wet (inevitable sometimes) it does not soak other stuff in contact with it?
This:
It would only take less than an inch in pack diameter to fit bear cans! What is the problem?
has frustrated me enough that I have been telling any and every pack rep I speak to about it, plus considering a "petition" at HST and a few other forums. Maybe a winter project.
- The people I spoke to at Gossamer Gear re the Mariposa said that a BV500 or Bearikade would only fit vertically. Also the best load rating was not above 30 to 35 pounds...so I hesitated on that choice for now.
Ta much!

@druid Wow. A wealth of good info. just in line with what I was after.
- Yes the differences in the SO packs are a bit puzzling, as they are so similar re volumes and design yet have different weights. Appears to be minor things like the mesh face pocket v. solid material, etc. As these things are "customizable" anyhow it is a bit of a ???
- I see the Osprey's feature in packs comparisons with a number of other "bearcan ready pack seekers" probably because they at least make a few packs that can fit them. However, all are around 4 to even 5 pounds in weight, so not much gain if switching from an old 6 pound pack like mine. No sacrifices in comfort though. Osprey sure does the Rolls Royce treatment in that department!
- That "downside" on the SO packs of being able to handle staggering weights = 200+ pounds!!! (Where is Superman to act as my mule???) Well, no biggie to me as the total weight of the packs with a few extras I would want is just over 3 pounds...which is the same or less than a number of the other UL packs out there - or at least, those that look like they would leave my back intact!
The ULA Catalyst is 3 pounds, but has no main pack pockets, no top lid, no bottom straps, and top straps cinch to the sides so no Thermarest across there unless I wanted to pretzel it. (I may have some of that wrong as c/o their photos and some questions).
The Zpacks are so light they almost made me nervous. I would need to grab one and fiddle with it for sure. No way I could see a bearcan fitting in them either. However...if anyone has one of their packs would be wonderful to get some first hand comments re the points made in this thread so far!
- Lastly, re this...
If you have any particular questions about the Seek Outside backpacks, let me know and I'll try to answer them.
I may well take you up on that if I end up getting one as there sure do seem to be a ton of ways to fiddle with it re fit!
P.S. I still need to see that SO video their designer told me to watch about not putting most weight on hips like I have done forever. If it spins my head I will report back here.
THANK YOU!

Michaelzim

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