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  1. #1
    Registered User aclawrence's Avatar
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    Default Need help choosing pack, ULA, GoLite, Gregory?

    Hey guys, I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. I've been a member of hammock forums for a little over a year now and am enjoying using a hammock now. Now I'm ready to upgrade my pack and could use some advice on choosing a new one. Currently I am using a cheap military surplus pack but is does not really fit me. Most of my hiking trips are one or two nights and I would be embarrassed to list all the stuff I carry. My pack probably weighs between 35 and 40 lbs. I am trying to lighten my load one piece at a time but it is a slow go due to lack of finances for new stuff. I was hoping to take advantage of REI's anniversary sale going on this weekend. I was thinking I would probably get a Gregory Baltoro 65. I know it is a heavier pack but I usually hike 5 miles or less and carry too much stuff so I thought the Baltoro would be a good choice since it's supposed to be a comfortable hauler. The sale price would be around $263 I think. I know the ULA Catalyst gets rave reviews here but I'm not sure how well it will carry the heavier loads until I can reduce my gear weight. I think the catalyst cost around $250. I also looked on GoLite's site and they have some super deals going on right now too. The Quest 65 and Jam 70 are both just a little over $100. If I went with a Go Lite I could spend my leftover money on a lighter tarp for my hammock. I really don't know anything about the Go Lite packs and how they compare to the ULA. What do you all think? Thanks for any pointers you could give.

  2. #2

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    I got a golite jam 50 on sale like you are considering. It carries very well. My tarp is in snake skins in the outter pocket, hammock in skins inside, etc. For the price, maybe get the 70 until you lighten up.
    I also have a Deuter 65+10 (something like that). I also liked the Baltro, but that is a "go the the outfitter, load it up, compare". Empty, the balto felt the best. LOaded, the Deuter did (and was also cheaper at the time).
    For a couple of bucks, get a weird haircut and waste your life away Bryan Adams....
    Hammock hangs are where you go into the woods to meet men you've only known on the internet so you can sit around a campfire to swap sewing tips and recipes. - sargevining on HF

  3. #3
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    Try on some Ospreys as well when you go.

  4. #4
    Registered User aclawrence's Avatar
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    After looking at the Golite packs some more I think the Quest might be better suited for a little heavier loads. I have used an Osprey Aether 70 on one trip. I rented from a local store. It did seem to fit me very well. I am a shorter guy, 5'4" so I need a pack that will accommodate my shorter torso.

  5. #5
    Registered User aclawrence's Avatar
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    Sorry I meant to say the Aether did NOT fit me very well.

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    Understand on the Aether...I didn't try that one, but the new Osprey Volt is super adjustable, and I picked that one up a couple of months ago. Used it twice and love it. Good luck finding the perfect pack for you.

  7. #7

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    Osprey also get a lot of people out there, they must do well. I was looking at an Osprey, but went to the golite.
    Are you near and REI? You can RENT.
    For a couple of bucks, get a weird haircut and waste your life away Bryan Adams....
    Hammock hangs are where you go into the woods to meet men you've only known on the internet so you can sit around a campfire to swap sewing tips and recipes. - sargevining on HF

  8. #8
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    If you can get your gear weight down to 35 lbs. or less I would recommend the ULA Circuit. I have used it in the winter for a day or 2 carrying 35 lbs. and it was great!

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    Forgot to add...I actually just did a gear review on the Circuit if you want to check it out.

    http://www.backpackingengineer.com/blog.php/13

  10. #10
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    For me, the Circuit can handle 35 total pounds, but it's happier at 30, and it's probably not large enough for traditional gear. The Catalyst may be a better choice at this point in the OP's transition. The GoLite Jam is a frameless rucksack, mine was comfortable to about 22 pounds and then it was just bad. I can't imagine a 70 liter frameless ruck.

    I tested a Baltoro for backpackgeartest a few years ago. It's a fine pack, well made, and can easily carry 40 pounds. But but but.... buying the Baltoro keeps you firmly in the "heavy" camp.

    I would not buy any new pack right now. Spend your $263 on lightening up some other aspect of your system, and come back to your pack when your base weight is getting under 20 pounds. For that money you can get a great down quilt or underquilt, or a cuben tarp, or replace pretty much all of your smaller gear with much lighter alternatives -- get a new cooking system that weighs <8 ounces, and some cuben fiber stuff sacks, and a really light down jacket, etc. Then start in on what you can leave at home, and pretty soon your base weight for a 3-season trip (including the pack) is 20 pounds, and buying a Catalyst starts to look pretty good.

    Or grab the REI Flash 62 pack at 30% off during the sale, which will be around $120, and spend the rest on the smaller stuff. The Flash is a nice lightweight framed pack. It doesn't have the load carrying capacity of the Baltoro, but that's a feature in my mind. It may (should? will? force the issue on cutting redundant gear and replacing the overly heavy stuff. (Much of the replacement doesn't have to be expensive.)

    Good luck. Oh, and .
    Ken B
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  11. #11
    Registered User aclawrence's Avatar
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    I was planning on getting a new pack even if I don't get a lighter or smaller pack. The pack I have now is not comfortable so I really want to replace it either way. I actually already have down quilts from hammock gear. A cuben tarp would definitely be nice. Do you think the REI flash would be a better deal than the Go Lite Quest 65? Looks like they will be about the same price. Maybe I'll buy one of these packs which is a similar size to what I already have and put the leftover towards a tarp. The extras I usually bring the adds up is stuff like: pack of deer tenderloin for dinner, hatchet for firewood, gun, little bottles of Sunny D Lol.

  12. #12
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclawrence View Post
    The extras I usually bring the adds up is stuff like: pack of deer tenderloin for dinner, hatchet for firewood, gun, little bottles of Sunny D Lol.
    Well there you go. If you're going to keep bringing all the heavy stuff, then I'd recommend against one of the lighter packs, as they really aren't designed to carry it. The REI Flash is a nice pack, but it won't be comfortable at 35-40 pounds, and it'll start to fall apart. I haven't seen a Quest in a couple of years, but I expect it's the same issue.

    Lightweight hikers leave the woodcraft and personal survival stuff at home, so they can use a lighter pack. I'm not saying either way is "correct", but it does mean making different gear choices.
    Ken B
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  13. #13

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    I have had very good luck with Golite's customer service. ULA makes even better packs though, in my experience. My ULA CDT is my favorite pack I've used for long trails.

  14. #14
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    I also like that ULA packs are built in the US and the owner picks up the phone. Not sure of the other companies you are considering. The markup for REI or any other major retailer is significant, their costs is easily less than half than retail so a $200 pack from ULA which sells direct is going to be better pack than a $200 pack from REI that they paid less than $100.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I also like that ULA packs are built in the US and the owner picks up the phone. Not sure of the other companies you are considering. The markup for REI or any other major retailer is significant, their costs is easily less than half than retail so a $200 pack from ULA which sells direct is going to be better pack than a $200 pack from REI that they paid less than $100.
    Ill add a good word for ULA. I only have 50 miles or so on my Circuit but I already can say that the pack carries very well and customer service was excellent when I was deciding on what to buy. Yes the packs are not cheap but with arguably the most important piece of gear, money wasn't the main issue for me.
    HST/JMT August 2016
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  16. #16
    Registered User aclawrence's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input guys. Decisions Decisions! I know I can lose some of the extras I bring, but some of the stuff like the deer meat is part of the fun for our group. I probably won't end up anywhere close to ultralight but hopefully with a lighter tarp and getting ride of some stuff maybe I can get down around thirty pounds. Is this a comfortable weight for the ULA packs? Also good to hear about the customer service. That can be a deal maker or breaker for sure. I think I'll lay out all my gear and see what the stuff really weighs so I can have a more realistic idea of what kind of weights I'm looking at. Thanks

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    Ive had 3 ULA packs, and about to buy another.
    If you meet the weight range, you will be happy with ULA.

    Lightweight packs, are best with lightwt loads. The ULA Circuit and Catalyst can carry heavier loads, but they arent meant to all the time. The hipbelt just isnt substantial enough to be comfortable at heavy weights.

    I have carried 42 lbs in my Circuit. But I wouldnt plan to carry 30-35 every day with it, Id get a pack with a more substantial hipbelt for that. It would just be more comfortable.

    Since most of my time is from 15-25lbs it works fantastic. I can tolerate an occasional short excursion over 30 fine.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Ive had 3 ULA packs, and about to buy another.
    If you meet the weight range, you will be happy with ULA.

    Lightweight packs, are best with lightwt loads. The ULA Circuit and Catalyst can carry heavier loads, but they arent meant to all the time. The hipbelt just isnt substantial enough to be comfortable at heavy weights.

    I have carried 42 lbs in my Circuit. But I wouldnt plan to carry 30-35 every day with it, Id get a pack with a more substantial hipbelt for that. It would just be more comfortable.

    Since most of my time is from 15-25lbs it works fantastic. I can tolerate an occasional short excursion over 30 fine.
    Muddy Waters,
    Based upon the Circuit 15-25 comfort range, do you believe the Catalyst comfort range is 20-30?
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    All I can offer is the belt is exactly the same. I dont have any specific experience with the catalyst.
    I personally dont see a reason it would carry more weight better than the circuit because of this, but many claim to carry up to 50 comfortably. It has a heavier framesheet and stays, but I see the problem in the belt at heavy weights, not that.

    Of course, many claim to carry 35 comfortably in a Jam too.

    The question is....Is it more comfortable at high weights than a heavier framed pack would be?
    I think the answer is usually No.
    Its just tolerable to the individual.
    Thats fine. Buy a pack for the weights you spend most of your time at, and deal with the excursions.
    Just dont kid yourself, or others.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-20-2013 at 20:34.

  20. #20
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    I commonly carried 35 in my ULA Catalyst. It handled it like a champ. I had 40-45 in it a few times without trouble. More than that and it didn't work as well. I never had a problem with the hip belt. When there was too much weight in it the stays were unable to carry the load and weight was transferred to my shoulders. I was definitely exceeding the design parameters.

    In all, ULA Catalyst was a champ at daily loads of 30-35 lbs for 1800 miles and pretty good at 40 lbs too.

    I happen to have a Gregory Baltoro from a few years ago (that I should probably sell). It is a monster of a pack and carries very well. It does carry the weight better than my Catalyst. It also weighs ~6 lbs all on its own.
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