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Feb 6, 2006 at 2:36 am #1217710Andy HowellMember
This is the new pack that replaces the old P2. The Catalyst is smaller than the P2 and now weighs in at 43 ounces.
The catalyst – in traditional ULA style – cleverly distributes volume between the main pack and a series of very useful – and trekking friendly – pockets. The main compartment takes between 40 and 50 litres.
The pack is very stable when loaded and sits very comfortably on the hips. This is probably the most comfortable load handler than I have used.
For long hikes – when a lot of food and water have to be carried – or winter hiking/camping the Catalyst would seem to be ideal.
A nice, nice, pack.Sep 2, 2006 at 2:15 pm #1362239Mike BarneyMember
@eaglembLocale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
I used this bag on a couple of small hikes followed a 75 miler / 10 day Philmont trek. Once adjusted, it rode quite well. In addition to the main compartment, there are nice sized pockets on the sides, back and belt. The pockets on the belt are very handy for little items you need quickly, be it first aid kit, camera, gps, snacks or other small items.
The volume of the main bag is pretty spacious, allowing for significant stuffing of you sleeping bag and other gear. The construction is quite durable and handles gear compression well. When the main bag was filled, to capacity, we had difficulty getting gear in the side pockets (6 moons lunar solo in 1 side and 2 liter water bottle in the other): The lesson here was to load the side pockets first.
Depending upon our daily trek and food requirements, my Catalyst weight varied between 24 and 40 lbs total.
While ULA recommends this for 30 – 40 lb loads, I would slightly lower that: 40 lbs of gear in my opinion is pushing the limits, both volume and comfortable weight carrying ability, of this pack. At 24 – 30 lbs, this was a *very* comfortable pack, and comfortable up to 35 or 36 lbs. Above that weight, (and I would certainly try to stay under it), I would likely return to my external frame pack.
As delivered with dual framestay (which I recommend for comfort and stability) in a size “large”, the delivered weight was 1/2 lb more than advertised on the website, tipping the scales just over 51 ounces. It appeared that the different sizes are not factored into the weight on the ULA Catalyst ordering website when a particular configuration is selected.
Also, it would be nice if there were a couple more attachment loops on the sides at the top of the main compartment side. This would allow for a little easier compression of the main bag or give a couple of more attachment points for items that need to stay close or loose.
Overall, this was a good choice for a larger volume ‘ultralight’ pack in general, and Philmont is specific, particularly if a degree of ruggedness is required.
It took a couple of weeks longer to receive this pack than stated, but it was worth the weight.Sep 6, 2006 at 6:40 am #1362493RolandBPL Member
Just finished a 212 mile hike in Scotland with the Catalyst and I agree with Andy, it is the most comfortable pack if have to carry a heavy load. I have the dual framestay version and was very, very satisfied with its peformance. Great Pack.Sep 8, 2006 at 8:00 pm #1362681sam sMember
We enjoyed the upgrade / revamped P2 this summer, now known as the Catalyst. No question it's a good pack, almost bordering on great, but it is a little pricey. I should give it a 3.5 : I justify this as 4/5 (1 off) for being a very good but not quite a great pack and 1/2 off for a little pricey. So I have to choose between 3 and 4, and hope for some improvements.Oct 11, 2006 at 8:25 am #1364651Cameron ColeMember
I like this pack and as lightweight funcational packs go this is a very nice pack with a couple of exceptions that might scare off potential buyers. Read on to find out why it gets only 3 out of 5.
Pros: Light… My pack weighs in at 48oz (I have the large hip belt, long torso and some extra features attached which account for the extra 5oz). Stitching and toughness seem to be spot on. I have no doubt this pack will last for quite some time. Hip belt design is excellent. Rather than a small heavily padded hip belt ULA went with a very large lightly padded belt. This is much better IMO as it distributes the weight more evenly on my hips than previous packs. While it doesn’t have as much padding, it still feels great. Hip belt pockets… every pack should have them they are very useful. No more reaching around the pack to grab something that should be accessible.
Cons: The big minus and the one that would probably prevent me from buying this pack again is the strap over the shoulder pad. It slides off and cuts into my shoulder. I carry about 30lbs including water and food in my pack which makes for a medium weight pack and I wouldn’t want to carry anything heavier as it would only make the problem worse. You can pull in the chest strap REALLY tight (almost painful) and it helps, but doesn’t fix the problem. Next is the very SLOW delivery. I ordered my pack in January and it took until April to get delivery. Personally, I didn’t mind but I am not looking forward to getting something fixed. Next, I had made some personal customizations to the hip belt that I paid for and they didnt ship with the pack. I had to get replacement items shipped to me 2 weeks later. Again not a big deal, but it seems he is probably overworked right now and seems to be letting things slip through quality control. Another very minor issue, large bite valves will not go through the bite area on my pack. I have to pinch the tube so it doesn’t leak, stick it through and attach the vavle. Lastly, the warranty. The warranty at ULA is OK and they state they will fix problems that are not defect related at the customers cost which is fair, but with other manufactorers basically warranting their packs for just about everything I think it is worth pointing out.
I almost gave this a 4 out of 5 stars, but in hindsight I probably wouldn’t buy this pack again and I can’t give a product a 4 out of 5 for something I wouldn’t buy again.Feb 16, 2007 at 9:48 am #1378792Richard LyonBPL Member
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
I'm just recently migrating to lighter loads and this pack saved just over four pounds over my regular expedition pack. Per ULA owner Brian Frankel, with the XL frame size my torso requires its capacity is about 5200 cubic inches. Weight was spot on with the website, adding up the weight of several optional features that I purchased. Of these I recommend the dual framesheet for anyone planning heavy (35+ lb) loads; with it I've carried close to 45 lb without a problem. I'm adjusting to ULA's modular approach which I have come to like, as it lets me keep stuff like a rain jacket or fly rod close to hand instead of buried in a monster pack, and also makes the pack easily usable for less-than-full loads. The shoulder straps require some tweaking but when properly adjusted are comfortable. Fabric has taken some bushwhacking without any deterioration, and overall quality and workmanship are sound. problems meant that it took a couple of months from order to receipt, sometimes without any communication from Brian – but I already docked ULA a point for this under "Customer Service" and it doesn't affect performance, so this pack earns top marks.Aug 1, 2007 at 8:23 pm #1397138Shawn BasilMember
I've owned 14 packs in the last 8 years and the ULA Catalyst is the best pack of the lot. I've used in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau and Great Smoky Mountains, Nevada's Tahoe Rim Trail, and the northern section of the John Muir Trail. After 150 miles, it has proven to be an incredibly comfortable workhorse.
The dual tension points of the hip belt, combined with wide lightly padded belt itself, provides the most secure, comfortable ride of any pack I have ever owned. Loads up to about 31 pounds were almost unnoticeable.
The ability to stow a BearVault 400 horizontally was a joy which none of my other packs offer. It dramatically improved the balance of my pack.
The outer pockets, which I discounted because I despise anything on the outside of my pack, have turned out to be perfectly secure, and they have greatly improved the flexiblity of access that used to be handled with a lid. I have found I actually prefer the mesh pockets. The large hip belt pockets offer more room than any others I have used and I love them.
I have the extra stays and with them I am confident I could push up to 40 pounds if need be during a winter trip of multiple days with my girlfriend.
I can't say enough good things about this pack. Its only drawback is its volume, which is a bit much for short warm weather trips. But it is absolutely my Go-to pack.Sep 7, 2009 at 7:53 pm #1525850Joe ClementBPL Member
Replaced my Exos 58 with this, much more comfortable, with more weight. Got a deal on a 2008 model, and added the dual stays. A lot bigger pack than I'll use most of the time. Gained some weight over the Exos, but also got comfort. Worth it.Jun 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #1744998Stephen BarberBPL Member
I've spent the last two years trying to find a pack that is both light and comfortable, ie, transfers weight to the hip bones well. To date, i had found packs that were only one but not the other – and I've tried a lot.
With a nasty back history, I was about resigned to being limited to a heavy (6 lb) pack, when I decided to try the ULA Catalyst. I hoped the twin alu stays and "dense" foam meant something better than the other light packs I'd tried.
Today I loaded the Catalyst with the same load I'd carried last weekend in the heavy pack. Amazing! Every bit as much comfort, but a good three pounds lighter! I mean, I could feel the difference! I felt like I was just walking in my school backpack!
Words do not express how delighted I am with this pack! Thank you, ULA! My heart sings and my back smiles!Jun 28, 2014 at 1:23 am #2115386E PMember
I initially chose it because it holds a BV500 horizontally. Rides comfortably with loads up to 40 lbs (can't always be UL with camera gear!). Fabrics are robust. I'd buy it again.Apr 9, 2015 at 6:22 am #2190449Stanley StevensSpectator
@jostanLocale: east coast
Recently switched from Miltary style ILBE pack. I have seen the light and am starting to become lighter. The ULA Catylist is great. carries my Hammock gear with quilts without difficulty. very comfortable and Made in the USA.
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