Here is my long term report for the ULA CDT pack. My apologizes for being a day late.
Full report in the test folder: http://tinyurl.com/26tsjvx
Thanks for your help with this,
LONG TERM REPORT
November 30, 2010
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
For the past 2 months I have used the pack on two additional occasions. Both were quick overnighters in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area west of Boulder in the Rocky Mountains. Elevations were between 8500 ft (2590 m) and 10,000 ft (3050 m). Temperatures have been getting colder and the weather has been getting wetter over the past two months. Temperatures ranged between 45° F (7° C) during the day to 20° F (-7° C) at night. For both trips I opted to carry a tent and a warmer 20° F (-7° C) down quilt. I am glad I did as light rain turned to a light dusting of snow by morning on each overnighter.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I did increase my weight for both trips by carrying a tent and a heavier sleeping bag. Both trips averaged 23 lbs (10.4 kg) and the volume of the pack was pretty well tapped out. I probably could have found space for an additional days food to extend the trip by one day but that is about it. I am a big guy so most of my gear takes up more space than the average person. Most of my clothes are XL and I carry a long sleeping bag. For me in this configuration (cold weather gear list) I would say the volume of the pack will work for 1 to 2 days max. For someone smaller than me there would be room for additional days of food. For me this pack has the right amount of volume for a 3 to 4 day ultralight set up using a tarp and a light weight quilt.
I agree with the recommendation of keeping the maximum load at under 25 lbs (11.3 kg) On both trips by the end of the day my shoulders were a bit sore and any more weight than what I was carrying and the trip would have been uncomfortable. I don't feel this will be a pack I use for a winter backpacking trip. I would consider using it as a day pack during the winter as there is plenty of room for my down parka, food and some emergency supplies.
I have not experienced any durability issues and at this point, other than being pretty dirty on the bottom it appears to be brand new.
Hydration sleeve: I did use the hydration sleeve for both trips and in the future I will not. I found that a full 2 Liter bladder creates a big bulge right in the center of my back. Not uncomfortable but noticeable. It also doesn't fit my style of packing and hydration. Even though I did not have any leaks I'm not real fond of putting water inside my pack where my dry clothes and down sleeping bag also reside. When I use the pack in the future I will carry my water in the mesh pockets on the outside.
Internal mesh Pocket: It weighs very little and it allowed me to store and find my keys and valuables easily at the end of the trip. I will continue to use it on future trips.
Water Bottle Holsters: I will remove these as I found no real use for them.
Hand loops: I will remove these. I did use them on occasion and might consider using them only when I am carrying on the heavy side. I like to use trekking poles and I find that I use them 95% of the time.
Internal Foam Back Pad: I will remove this when carrying lighter loads and I can put my sleeping pad inside the pack to add structure and padding to the pack.
Overall I am pleased with this pack and I will continue to use it in the future. It is well made, durable and comfortable as long as you keep the load under 25 lbs (11.3 kg). For me I'm shooting for under 15 lbs (6.8 kg). That seems to be the sweet spot for me and this pack.
I would like to thank ULA and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this pack.