May 4, 2012 at 4:10 am #1289527
I am into multi day hikes 2nights 3 days and have eyed off the Circuit for ages yet the Osprey pack just kept on hovering on the rim but now I can't make up my mind which one to get.
Both have frames (I really want this feature), both weigh about the same (although you can remove a few optional extras from the Circuit to lover it to mid 800grams).
Thoughts anyone? Experiences worth mentioning?
Thank you :)May 4, 2012 at 5:33 am #1874274
@mikefLocale: SE USA
For winter 3 day 2 night trips, I really like my circuit. I can comfortably carry 30 pounds, never carried more, but suspect it is fine even at 35. Well padded, with plenty of volume. Not familiar w/the Exos line, but have a Osprey Talon 33 I use for spring/summer 1 and 2 night trips,certain daytrips and recently bought the 2012 version of the Osprey Hornet 46. The Talon 33 is a great pack, very comfortable carries well. Havent used the Hornet yet.May 4, 2012 at 6:02 am #1874282
I own an exos, and a catalyst (not a circuit) so take my advice with a grain of salt.
I find the hipbelt on the exos extremely lacking, and feel that it's only built for loads around 25lbs. It's a lot less padded than even most frameless packs. Each hipbelt wing consists only of mesh netting (like the type seen on pack side pockets), with 2 fingers of foam sandwiched in-between. The two fingers of foam wrap above and below your illiac crest. In theory this cutout for your crest should feel great…but the hipbelt is just too floppy/unstructured being that it's made of mesh netting. Compare that with the well-padded and extremely supportive hipbelt found on circuits/catalysts, an you'll note a world of a difference.
Also, the exos doesn't fit a lot of people. People with wider hips complained about feeling the sides of the perimeter frame. I'm a skinny guy, so that's not an issue. However, I feel the bottom of the perimeter frame digging into the top of my butt often, which is a bit uncomfortable. Unfortunately there is zero adjustability in terms of torso length or frame fit on the exos.
I feel like the exos is marketed to carry 30-40lbs because the pack itself is durable enough to withstand those loads–not because someone could comfortably carry such weight in that pack.
In my catalyst, I feel fine carrying 35-40lb loads. I'd imagine the circuit would carry 30lbs just fine as a result. The main difference between the catalyst and the circuit being that the catalyst has 2 flat aluminum stays whereas the circuit only has 1 flat aluminum stay, and one thin carbon fiber/delrin perimeter loop.
Hope that helps.May 4, 2012 at 6:18 am #1874286
Thank you, very informative indeed!!May 4, 2012 at 9:38 am #1874362
I've had and carried both, and the ULA packs (Catalyst, Circuit, Ohm) blow the Exos line out of the water – IMHO!
The Exos is a decent UL pack from a major manufacturer. They've done some innovative things to bring the weight down, yet still have many of the extras that mainline backpackers like – lotsa pockets, cool graphics, and the nifty trekking pole carrier!
My biggest problem with the Exos was the shoulder straps and hip belt – they are stretchy! As you walk along, you can feel the pack bouncing. I had to repeatedly tighten the hipbelt as it kept stretching and sliding south.
Then there is the fiddliness of those tiny compression straps! They seemed to jam on my constantly, or refuse to release without significant care for preciseness in direction pulled.
Finally (and I hoped they've solved this by now), the mesh back on two of my Exos packs frayed or tore at or near the point where it stretched across the frame. Speaking of which, you should realize that the Exos pack bag sits well back from your won back – this allows significant air movement on your back, but also leverages the weight away from you – my back didn't like this.
The ULA packs, on the other hand, carry like a dream. I tried the Catalyst, Circuit and Ohm 2, and kept the Catalyst and Ohm – nothing wrong with the Circuit, just the other two covered all the bases. The Catalyst carries heavier loads when needed; the Ohm does lighter loads.
All three do an excellent job of transferring weight to the hips – the shoulder straps and load lifter basically keep the pack from falling backwards – my back smiles! (You can put the weight on your shoulders if you desire, but I don't!) I find it easy to reach water bottles in the side pockets while hiking. One strap on each side and the criss-crossed bungie on the front pocket handle compression easily, no jamming. The materials they use are sturdy, the workmanship excellent, and there is no wear issues with either my Ohm or Catalyst.
Finally, if there's something you'd like done a little differently on the pack you get, you can call ULA, talk to them, and they will likely find a way to do it – I found them very friendly to deal with on the phone (emails are not quite as good).
In short, I really like my ULA packs.
I have no connection to ULA, and paid for my packs with my own hard-earned money.May 4, 2012 at 11:40 am #1874400
@mikefLocale: SE USA
You cannot go wrong w/ULA, great packs customer service. I have owned and used the old Conduit, P1, and now use the Circuit for long trips, or even short winter trips.May 4, 2012 at 11:43 am #1874402
Sold my Exos 46 to pay for a Circuit. One of the best gear decisions I've ever made. And it's made in the USA.May 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm #1874750
@ken_bennettLocale: southeastern usa
"People with wider hips complained about feeling the sides of the perimeter frame"
Yeah, this. Make sure you can try on the Exos with 25 pounds and carry it around the store for a while. Try going up and down stairs. I really wanted to like the Exos 58 as a winter pack, but 20 minutes walking around REI and that %^&$ frame was digging into my hips most painfully.
But I'm a big guy at 6 feet+ and 200 pounds.May 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm #1874778
I would like to add that I agree with the posters above. Tried to make an Exos 58 work for me, but with the stretching shoulder straps, frame digging into my butt, and not very comfortable hipbelt at around 30lbs I gave up that idea. I own the Circuit and it carries like it is in a whole other realm of pack making. I would highly recommend the ULA line (or MLD Exodus FS which I hear good things about, but have only used the Exodus – which I also like a lot).May 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm #1874784
I have both a Exos 46 and ULA Circuit and would agree with the other posters. Although I have only used the Circuit on training day hikes, it seems to carry a moderate load much better than the Exos and transfers the weight better to my hips. The new optional "S" shaped shoulder straps are more comfortable than the Exos to me as well. When loaded properly, the Circuit seems to carry very similarly to my "heavier duty" Aether 70. The only reason I have kept the Exos around is for it's ventilated back panel in hot weather.May 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm #1875000
Thank you very much for the feedback!!
Mik.May 7, 2012 at 9:38 am #1875240
@paintballswimguyLocale: Kansas City
I have a ULA circuit. I wasn't completely sure about which pack to get. So I ended up calling ULA this time last year. They spent a ton of time with me on the phone answering all my questions about sizing and warranty. Those guys are awesome. I can't recommend there product or customer service enough.May 7, 2012 at 10:43 am #1875261
@ken_bennettLocale: southeastern usa
Yeah, I really like my Circuit, enough that I ordered a second one with some custom features. My hiking partner liked the Circuit so much that he purchased my original one (though now I am reminded that he never actually gave me a check….)
I've also owned an original Ohm, which I sold here to help pay for all those Circuits. That Ohm gave me the ideas for the custom mods to my Circuit (stretchy front pocket, drawstring top closure.) I suspect any issues I had with the hipbelt have been solved completely by the Ohm 2.0.Nov 27, 2013 at 10:45 am #2048635
It's about 18 months since this post, but it was very helpful to me in my decision between a Circuit and an Exos. Thank you for a very detailed and well-written review!Nov 27, 2013 at 11:23 am #2048650
It's worth mentioning that Osprey has an impressive lifetime warranty against anything at all.
"Osprey will repair for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect in our product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it."Nov 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm #2048967
@dmusasheLocale: Pacific Northwest
I'm not sure if you've already made your purchase or not, but I thought I'd chime in just in case you haven't…
Just to provide a different point of view from nearly everyone else posting above, I have to say that I haven't been able to get a ULA pack to work for me, but lots of Osprey packs seem to fit me really well.
This is going to be a really personal decision for you based largely on individual fit of the pack to your body.
What I will say is that the ULA packs are very well made and many, many people love them. Osprey packs are also generally well made, IMO, and Osprey's lifetime guarantee is legit (I've tested it, and the company is very easy to work with).
With that said, I've never liked the Exos line because I find that those packs place the pack's weight too far away from my back (due to the trampoline style mesh backpanel). The hipbelt also doesn't fit me well, and the lumber area doesn't hug my back well.
Still, many other people really like the Exos packs.
Again, packs are sort of like shoes. You're just going to have to try them on and see which one you like the best. Hope that helps!Nov 29, 2013 at 8:32 am #2049023
I have both the Exos and Circuit and agree with most of the posters here: I would take the Circuit every time. What I didn't' see mentioned was the two shoulder harness options with ULA. If you have broad shoulders or are a bigger guy, as I am, the S harness fits like a dream. I have tried Gossamer Gear, Gregory, Osprey, and a few other manufacturers, and the S-style harness from ULA is the first one to not cut into my neck or 'peel away' across my chest. Awesome design. For most folks that are thinner the J-style harness seems be a better fit.
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