View Full Version : Granite Gear Vapor Trail v. ULA Catalyst

04-01-2007, 16:08
Someone (I don't remember who) asked me in the Gear for Sale forum why I was selling my Vapor Trail in favor of my ULA Catalyst. I didn't have time to answer right then, but these are my thoughts.

This is a relatively new hobby for me. I bought the Vapor Trail as my first backpack because it seemed popular on the various sites I visited and I wanted to try to go light.

I used it a few times and noticed that at 25 pounds it was very comfortable, but at 30 pounds it was noticably less so. I didn't know enough to evaluate what was causing the discomfort. I reasoned that it might simply be that its just easier to carry 25 pounds than it is to carry 30.

But I kept reading. I found McHale's site and was influenced by his pitch that a better suspension system improves pack comfort. I wasn't sure, though, if I was ready to pony up the kind of money McHale wants when I wasn't really sure what I was looking for.

The Catalyst looked like a good compromise. I ordered both a dual stay and a single stay frame sheet. I have been experimenting with the two and so far I prefer the dual stay frame sheet even at just 28 pounds. I can't really explain why, it just feels more comfortable. (Brian's rough guide is that the single stay is appropriate for 25-30 lbs, and the dual stay for 30-35 lbs.

I like the 3 mesh pockets. The large rear pocket gives me a good place to keep my tent allowing it to drain, and keeping the dirt out of my main compartment. I like the way the hip belt adjusts permitting it to be sinched with a bit of a flare at the bottom fitting the way I am shaped.

I like the way the top closes it seems more secure and it is tidier.

Finally I like the fact that it is a bit wider so that I can fit my gear in along with food without having to use the collar. The gear rides lower so I don't feel so top heavy.

Rebel, with a Cause!
04-01-2007, 17:34
And dont forget the Hipbelt Pockets, I just love the Hipbelt Pockets

From the owner of a ULA P-2 ( the older one )

Cya on the Trail

04-03-2007, 15:00
Comparing the Vapor Trail and the Catalyst isn't a fair comparison. The Catalyst is designed to carry more weight and has more space then the Vapor Trail but weights more. A fairer comparison would be with the ULA Conduit or Circuit (the Vapor Trail is kind of in between those 2).

I love ULA packs but I also own a Vapor Trail. The Vapor Trail is designed to carry up to 30lbs, but it will be more comfortable with less weight. It's suspension (Well, it doesn't really have much of one) carrys low to mid 20's well and occasional higher loads adequately (many packs don't carry as well near the top end of their weight rating). The ULA Catalyst with its true suspension will definitely carry heavier/bulkier loads easier (even the Circuit will probably carry them a bit easier, but not the Conduit).

The Vapor Trail is a good pack if you stay within its limitations. But from reading your post, it sounds like you would have been better served by a ULA Circuit or Catalyst in the first place. Good luck with the Catalyst as it is an excellent pack. I've been thinking of getting one myself for those trips where I have to carry more water or go longer between resupplies.

04-03-2007, 15:09
[quote=Miner;348328]Comparing the Vapor Trail and the Catalyst isn't a fair comparison.

I kinda agree. If you're going to use a Granite Gear pack as the base for comparison I would suggest maybe the Nimbus Ozone.

I own the Vapor Trail as well and as pointed out, it is great at mid 20 lb loads.