ULA Circuit

Hiked It. Liked It.

The Circuit is a fully featured, lightweight backpack made by Ultralight Adventure Equipment (“ULA”), a medium-sized manufacturer of backpacks based in the US. ULA has a very good reputation among long distance hikers, and although I’m not one of them I have spent quite a bit of time on the trail with my Circuit. Here are my thoughts on it…

Specs at a Glance

All specsc as claimed unless *noted otherwise…

  • Volume: 65 L (~40 L in the main compartment)
  • Weight: 41 oz (Med)
  • Max Load: 35 lbs
  • Fits torso: 15-18″ (Sm); 18-21″ (Med); 21-24″ (Lrg), 24″+ (XL)
  • Pockets: (5) 2 side, 1 front, 2 hipbelt
  • Frame: Internal Semi-Rigid Frame
  • Closure: Roll-top
  • Primary Material: 210 Robic
The ULA Circuit
The ULA Circuit

Impressions

I have a petite frame and need to carry all my gear because my hiking cohort, Jacob, and I don’t share gear. Sometimes that means carrying as much as 25 lbs or more so I needed a pack that could support this kind of load comfortably. After trying a couple of more “ultralight” options I decided that it wouldn’t matter if my pack weighed and extra 16 ounces as long as it would be comfortable, specifically on my back and shoulders. ULA seemed to be a logical choice since we have seen many of them on the trail and they get a lot of praise. When I finally received my Circuit I was convinced it would be the best pack yet, and since then it has been my go-to pack.

Water Stop in Lassen National Park
Water Stop in Lassen National Park

The support system of this pack is far better than other lighter packs that I’ve owned (by GoLite and Granite Gear). The back panel is a fairly thick foam sheet with a rigid plastic support at the sides. There is also an aluminum support in the center. For carrying weight, this is the way to go for me. No more frameless packs, the difference in comfort is night and day.

The backpack has a simple look about it but I’m not walking the catwalk for an REI fashion show so function is what I am focused on. It has multiple large pockets and nice features such a removable hydration bladder sleeve and a removable ditty bag. It doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary things like a lid, or brain, or whatever those are called. There isn’t a ton of zippers that lead to nowhere or little useless pockets that are situated everywhere, and the padding is not overboard. Basically the pack has everything you’d want but ULA hasn’t gone crazy trying to keep up with the big commercial packs that have a ton of useless features and dead weight.

All Smiles in the Trinity Alps
All Smiles in the Trinity Alps

The pack can hold quite a bit between the main compartment and large front compartment. I was able to fit all my clothing and gear in it for a 4-night, 5-day hike with temperatures below freezing. Jacob is always searching through the front pocket looking to see what extra things I have stuffed in there at the last minute before leaving for a trip like cozy warm socks,fuzzy scarf, and my flip flops. That pocket can really hold a lot! Even with the pack fully loaded it doesn’t stick up way above my head or throw me off balance, so that’s a big plus especially for crossing precarious logs over streams. I went with the S-Straps which are probably better fitting for us girls than the standard straps if you know what I mean.

On Another Trinity Alps Trip
On Another Trinity Alps Trip

The construction of the pack is very good also. Some of the lighter backpacks I’ve owned used very lightweight materials that made me more conscious of scraping against bushes, trees, and rocks. With the Circuit, I feel like I don’t need to constantly worry about that; I can drop my pack just about anywhere with the exception of anywhere sneaky raccoons live.

Liked…

  • Good design with plenty of useful features
  • Comfortable with heavier loads
  • Durable materials

Not So Much…

  • Maybe the weight, but if that’s what it takes to be comfortable…

Famous Last Words

Hike It. Like It.
Jacob D Written by:

Jacob is the head honcho, wearer of many hats, and modern day berserker here at Hike It. Like It. When he’s not out hiking or running the trails you’ll find him operating in full capacity as a Super Dad and chipping away at a degree in Kinesiology. This guy likes to stay busy.
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One Comment

  1. kristen campbell
    January 25, 2015
    Reply

    it’s great to see the Circuit reviewed- i have been using mine for 2 seasons- so far only for 2-3 day trips in the rockies. so far it has performed great- i like that i can reach a water bottle in the side pockets while i am walking. i’m looking forward to putting it through its paces this summer on some longer trips. the customer service from ULA is fantastic as well- i needed to exchange for a smaller size and they were really easy to work with. also made in utah

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