REPOST - LTR: ULA Circuit Backpack - John Waters
Sorry for the delay and the need to repost. It's bee a tough couple of
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WHERE AND HOW I USED IT
We tripped off on several day hikes in Colorado with the Circuit just to
give it some more time on the trail to stress it. Granted there was PLENTY
of room for day hiking, and having all the extra room didn't cause the pack
to list or pull me from side to side. Of course, I do bring a lot of stuff
even on day hikes: camera, binoculars, extra AAA batteries, food, at least a
few liters of water, wind jacket and more food. Sure the Circuit is overkill
on day hikes, but it also had more time being exposed to UV rays and very
low humidity. Around here anything plastic exposed for several months gets
so brittle that it falls apart when touched. No kidding. If I were to touch
the solar patio lights we mounted in the ground a few years ago they would
break into hundreds of tiny pieces. So any of our gear needs to be kept out
of extremely long term exposure to the sun here at 5600 ft (1707 m) and
higher. I often wonder what will happen to me in another 20 years.
An overnight bushwhacking across the Cooper mountain range behind our ranch
is always fun and we took off to tent and enjoy the scenery. The Circuit
packed well with the compact tent we were testing (in its own stuff bag that
takes up less space than a rolled up sleeping pad), stove, fuel, wind
jacket, OP Saks, dried food dinners for 2, food bars, jerky, outer layer,
sleeping bag pad, blow up pillow, batteries, binoculars, a small bag of
extra 10mm rounds for my pistol, wipes, zip bags, and lightweight sleeping
bag. Pack weight with everything was about 40 pounds (18 kg) when departing,
mostly due to all that water (4 liters, or about 1 gallon, weighs just about
8 pounds (3.6 kg)
My partner carried her sleeping bag, her sleeping bag pad and her own snacks
and water, binoculars, camera, warmer clothes, etc. in her own pack.
There are no trails where we go. We bushwhack and keep a breadcrumb
backtrack trail on the GPS. Of course, we can see for over 50 miles (80 km)
being that we get up to 7,000 ft (2.1 km) or more, but having a nice
backtrack to return home can save hours of going in circles due to canyons
Since there is a pretty steep rise of 2,000 feet (610 m) or more in just 5
miles (8 km), and we are bushwhacking, the gear we use gets caught on tree
branches frequently and gets a lot of abrasion from boulders and
The Circuit handled getting tied up on cedar trees quite well. I know that
on all our trips I will get stuck on branches and need to pull and tug to
get free and this trip was no different. The Circuit handled breaking off
small branches very well.
On short treks, with the pack loaded to maybe 50% capacity, there was no
swaying with all the weight down towards the bottom of the pack. The
compression straps did allow me to tie the empty portion down. The empty
portion didn't get caught on any more branches than usual while
On the overnight trek, with a 40 lb (18 kg) load, it was still a challenge
to get under branches that are 4 ft (1.2 m) or less above ground. If I can't
break them or push them aside, I have to get over or under these obstacles
The pack did not pull me from side to side, going over or under all these
bushwhacking challenges and stayed well attached to my body without the
feeling it was going to lift off or come loose.
I didn't use the water bottle shoulder ties on the overnight trip because I
didn't want to mess around with carrying empty bottles around. I wasn't sure
if the empties would stay in place with all the motion and I didn't want to
try and push them into the pack. Maybe on the next trip. So I did use two
hydration bladders, a 1 liter and a 3 liter, and that worked very well. In
theory, the pack will allow both hydration feed lines to be exposed, but
that was too much stuff dangling in front of me that could also get caught
on tree limbs. So I just used one at a time.
My GPS worked well mounted on the shoulder strap as reported before and I
was able to insert my compact binoculars into the waist belt pouch on one
side and my Touch Pro 2 windows Mobile phone in the other. Being at those
altitudes, we get cell service. Going down into the steeply sided ravines
though, we do not.
So the Circuit has held up very well trekking in high mountain terrain. It
is comfortable and a lighter weight than I am used compared with other packs
I've own. It is well laid out and easy to use.
The ULA Circuit backpack has proven to be a durable and well thought out
design. This is a large pack, getting very close to ultra-light in weight,
yet designed to sustain rugged use and carry a load for multi-day trekking,
especially where a lot of water needs to be carried. I have yet to use it in
very frigid weather. Under low temperatures some products I've tested have
had pieces break in sub-zero temperatures. So far this pack has been great
for me. If there are any significant problems when I use this pack in
sub-freezing temps, I will be sure to post an addendum here. Meanwhile, this
appears to be a keeper for long excursions.
Thank you to ULA Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to
test this product.
John R. Waters
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version
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