User Review: ULA Equipment Circuit
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $225
Very well-designed pack for lightweight backpacking.
- Large hip and side pockets
- Light weight (~2 lbs)
- Customer service
- Sizing options
- Not much organization
- Hydration bladder access and size limitation
I've used my Circuit on several 1-3 night trips as well as a 17-day thru hike on the John Muir Trail. Overall, I was very happy with the pack and it has held up well.
My favorite features were large, well-placed hip and side pockets, as well as the large mesh front pocket. I rarely had to dig into the inside of the pack during the day, except to remove the bear canister. A note on bear canisters: I rented a Bearikade "Weekender" bear canister for the JMT, and was able to carry it inside the pack horizontally as long as I put it at the top.
I also like the versatility of this pack. It makes quite a nice day pack—it weighs about the same as my Osprey Manta 25 and the stay is removable for lighter loads. The hydration bladder holder and hand loops are also removable. One limitation is that the hydration bladder holder will only hold up to a 2 liter bladder. The holder is on the inside of the pack and not easily accessible when the pack is full.
This pack is a "rucksack" style with a roll top closure, so it loads best by stuffing things in loosely (vs. compressing everything in stuff sacks). The ULA website has a nice instructional packing video. Although this method works well and keeps the pack's weight low, it can be inconvenient and will not suit folks who like more organization.
I found the pack to be quite comfortable and stable when carrying 15-25 pound loads. The only problem I had was sore collar bones, but that might be more due to my bony shoulders than the pack itself. I'm 5'2"/102 lbs. with a short torso and the size Small pack with size Small hip belt fit me perfectly. The folks at ULA were very helpful with any questions I had on pack selection and sizing.
I did meet one guy on the JMT who didn't like his Circuit, but he had it loaded down with 40+ pounds. You really have to lighten your load BEFORE using this type of pack.