ULA Equipment AirX
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $230 or so
A high-volume, stripped down backpack that can take a beating. Few features means low weight!
- Durable construction
- Flexible use
- Dual-purpose air frame
- No airflow between your back and the pack
This pack was made to be ultralight with comfort and high capacity. It has a monster main compartment, two side pouches, some big hip strap pockets, and a mesh panel. With all that, it can hold it all and keep what you need ready. The roll-top closure is a hassle at first and as time goes on it becomes easier to take the time to close it right.
I got the size large since I was on the cusp between M and L and I regret it. I'm 6' and 163 lbs with a small waist. The hip strap barely goes tight enough and sits too low on my hips. The shoulder straps also have a limited amount of adjustment that can be made on the attachment points of the pack stabilizing straps. It's done to increase durability I think. If I had a size smaller I would be much happier with the fit.
I used this pack guiding in the 2012 season all over northern California, as a carry-on about a half-dozen times, and as my travel pack while WOOFing in Hawaii. It has not let me down and shows very little wear. The intertia-X as an airframe makes the pack really comfortable and in a pinch it can be deflated to make more space.
The pack is a single huge pocket, so knowing how to pack everything is essential and makes it less convienent to get to stuff to the bottom. The mesh pocket near the top of the interior is a great idea. Mine split open shortly after I bought it, the only part of the pack that has broken. The water bladder pocket is also great but doesn't have a place to hang the bladder from, making the bladder slump and sometimes obstruct the drinking port until you reach in to fix it.
Overall, the pack is a great piece of equipment, and made in the USA no less! The suspension is very comfortable, if a little too 'back hugging', and the pack material is very durable. The only downsides are the less-than-perfect interior mesh pocket and the water bladder pouch without a hanging loop.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
ULA AirX is a joint project between ULA & Kymit using the XLite sleeping pad as a frame! Imagine a backpack & sleeping pad combination that will hold a large bear canister sideways, weights only 40 oz and will comfortably carry 40 lbs. The AirX uses ULA's proven pack designs with Kymit's innovative sleeping pads to create a pack unlike any other. We have had testers carrying this pack on the AT and the CDT over summer of 2011 and it has been universally hailed as the most comfortable pack any of us have every carried. And not tooting our own horns, but weve heard from some of you that you think the new 2011 Catalyst is one sexy piece of trail gear, too. Bottom Line? An updated-tougher, lighter, and sexier- tried and true veteran for lightweight and long distance hikers.