REI Catalyst 55 Pack
Design: top loading with vertical main compartment zipper
Number of Pockets: 4 main, 2 belt
Max. Load Carried: 38 lbs
Height of Owner: 6 feet
Price Paid: $110
I've used the Catalyst 55 on one trip; three days in the Sandia Mountains, November '06. I was carrying 8L water as well as cold weather gear, bag and tarp/poles. Total pack weight was 38 lbs. We went up the steep west side of the Sandias, crested near south peak and then spent the next two days heading north along the easier east side of the mountains.
Despite the heavy load, the pack was very comfortable. The air channels on the back worked well. I didn't have any back or shoulder pain with the pack as it balanced well and carried the weight on my hips. The only downside is it's not the lightest pack out there anymore (4 lbs or so) but for an inexpensive pack, it's not bad.
Design: top and pannel loading
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: approx. 40lbs
Height of Owner: 5'9"
Price Paid: $130
When I bought this pack I was looking for a mid-sized pack that I could carry my snowboard on. I also wanted panel loading and gear loops on the waist belt, all at a reasonable price. The pack has served me well on two climbs up the East Buttress of the North Sister. I did put a small hole in the bottom of the pack, but only through one layer of fabric. It has fair head clearance when wearing a helmet and the pockets on the waist belt are handy.
Design: Top and Side loading Internal frame
Size: 4200-4400 cu
Number of Pockets: 4 plus a hydration pouch
Max. Load Carried: 36 pounds
Height of Owner: 6' 2"
Price Paid: $130
Durable size pack, fits like a glove on my back. As for adjustments, so easy on this pack and the add feature is you have side access to your gear. Hip belt has pockets on both side for keys and wallet. I have used this pack for three trips. This pack will hold most of my gear plus a Garcia bear canister inside! Side panel loading is the best feature. Plenty of tiedowns on the outside.
Where to Buy
The REI Catalyst 55 Pack is not available from the stores we monitor.
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Here's what other sites are saying:
Sleek and spacious, this new weekend adventure pack features a compression flap and strap system for carrying winter gear or climbing equipment. Unique fabric flaps and webbing straps hold a snowboard, crampons, shovel or other gear--or flip to the side for securing skis. Fixed top lid has two zippered pockets--one on top, one underneath--to keep essentials at the ready. Traditional top-loading main compartment; adjustable compression straps secure the load for jostle-free carrying. Internal sleeve accommodates the hydration reservoir of your choice; dual exit ports allow drinking tube to routed on either side of pack. Quick-drying waistbelt and shoulder straps feature suspension mesh that is cool and comfortable, plus sloughs off snow and dirt. Curved, padded shoulder straps with sternum strap, and padded hipbelt with stabilizer straps help distribute the weight evenly. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) framesheet curves to fit the shape of your back and protects it from bulky, pointy loads. Along with the HDPE sheet, an aluminum Y-split mono-stay provides frame support. Two adjustable ice axe loops, two side tool loops, gear loops and a daisy chain let you attach extra gear. Two mesh ''cockpit'' pockets on waistbelt provide a handy place for frequently accessed items such as sunscreen, lipbalm or snacks. Front zip pocket for even more organization.