The ULA Circuit: First Backpack, Best Backpack
I was shocked with how many other people had this pack on the PCT…But all for good reason.
In my original (and far too extensive and intense) research for trail, I saw that this one was rated as the most popular PCT pack…
Lemme tell ya about ULA and the Circuit Pack..
- Winner of The Trek 2022 Best Gear Award
- The most popular pack on the Pacific Crest Trail for three years according to the Halfway Anywhere Annual Survey of PCT Thru Hikers
- ULA makes all their packs in the Utah (with free delivery in the USA! Yay!)
- ULA has a lifetime warranty
- Tune ups and repairs are available
- Responsive company (personal experience with quick response time to emails and questions)
- Internal Suspension Hoop (More about this later)
- Padded Back panel
- Contoured Shoulder Straps (Customizable when ordering)
- Front Shock Cord
- Front Mesh Pocket (I adored this- perfect for shoving jackets into it without fully unpacking your stuff)
- Dual Hip belt Pockets (GAME changing snack pockets)
- Hydration Port
- Removable & Height Adjustable Pass-through Hip belt
- ULA 400 Robic Adjustable Side Pockets (Can fit 2 standard smart water bottles in each-very nice)
- ULA 400 Robic is the technical fabric of the backpack
- Roll-top Closure (sometimes it was even to much material…)
- Side/Top Compression Straps
- Trekking Pole Loops (PERFECT for attaching your ice axe)
- Sternum Strap (adjustable sizing)
- ULA 400 Robic Bottom Panel
The Back Panel
“The Circuit pack utilizes a 1.2 oz carbon fiber and Delrin suspension hoop in conjunction with a dense internal foam frame and a single aluminum stay to give you excellent back panel support, maximum load control, weight transfer, and pack rigidity without limiting your range of movement” -ULA (https://www.ula-equipment.com/product/circuit/)
I thought that the back panel was solid all of trail. It was comfortable and only started to wear/deteriorate in certain areas towards the end of trail. When I got particularly sweaty it would start becoming extremely itchy, but I fell that this is inevitable no matter what pack you have.
ULA states that their “ULA 400 ROBIC Technical Fabric“is…
“…the toughest standard fabric we’ve ever seen. Highly tear and abbrassion resistant, reinforced with a ripstop weave to increase tear strength and stitch holding capabilities. 100% Robic Nylon fabric with three-pass Teflon DWR and a three-pass PU Coating, making it highly water resistant” -ULA (https://www.ula-equipment.com/product/circuit/)
I never had a pack cover and only used a pack liner for rainy conditions on trail. I absolutely would have utilized a pack cover if it were a rainier year or if I was on a different trail, but the pack itself did the job beautifully for this year on the PCT. I was #blessed with clear skies most days in Washington particularly so rain was not often a concern for me except for a couple specific times.
Colors and Sizing
- Teal (This is what I used)
- Green (With the special yellow buckles)
- Royal Blue
- Dark Blue
J or S? That is the question…
J STRAPS: J-straps are the traditional straight straps. They are best suited for people with flat or square shoulders, as their flat shape provides better surface contact and less rub.
S STRAPS: S-straps contour body curves. They are best suited for people with standard or sloping shoulders, as their contoured shape better hugs your shoulder slope.
– ULA (https://www.ula-equipment.com/product/circuit/)
I used the S Straps and loved them, it worked well for me and most women said they also used the S straps. ULA has a whole subsection talking about the differences between the straps.
- XS-XXL options
- S-XL options
A COMPLETE CUSTOM OPTION ALSO AVAILABLE!!!!!!
I was pleased with how many options ULA gives you for a comfortable and custom pack. I loved seeing all the different colors and types out there on trail… It made me feel less basic;)
ULA provides multiple AWESOME add ons that you can purchase including…
- Water bottle holder set
- Hand loops
- Hydration sleeve
- Internal stash pocket
- The “ULA Flow”
- X pack shoulder pocket
- ULA has awesome customer service and easy access to get the answers you need
- They have a “Pack Fitting 101” recourse so you can make sure your pack will be well suited for YOU
- They have a “Pack Fitting Guide” which delves into the specifics such as S or J straps and much more to learn about your ULA pack
The Good, Bad, and Ugly (Mainly good though…)
- I got some pretty gnarly rubbing/a rash on my collarbones where the straps hit. I have collarbones that kinda stick out so that defiantly contributes to the problem BUT just make sure it fits you right when you start trail.
- Similar to that above point I had some issues with fitting it tight and I feel that I only figured it about halfway though trail. Once I got the hip belt higher up on my waist it fixed a lot of the problems.
- This pack is MASSIVE and can fit all that and more than you could ever want on trail
- The hip belt pockets were the absolute best thing for allllllll the snacks
- I enjoyed the roll top closure on the top. There is a lot of material but its not a problem.
- Water resistant for sure but I wouldn’t call it “waterproof ” by any means
- I liked the zig zag elastic cord on the outside of the big mesh pocket- perfect for drying socks from river crossings or post lunch break up in the Sierras
- I adored the big mesh pocket- you can fit a million items in there!!!
Overall… I loved this pack, highly recommend, go support ULA!!!!
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