Sunday, February 17, 2013


I will admit that I am rather opinionated when it comes to gear. Packs are no exception. So when it came time to start getting my gear together for a summers hike, I turned to ULA.

I had used a ULA pack on my 2nd Unsupported Record Hike on the PCT. The owner at the time, [Brian]  and I talked a bit at the Kickoff the year before, and I explained what I thought would be a great pack. He made me his version [CDT] with a few tweaks and graciously gifted me one for my endeavor. I then cut off a few bells and whistles, and added a internal pocket for my cash and cards.

After the hike, I showed him a minor spot that tore on the back strap/pocket connection. I also explained that because I use my pack as a pillow while sleeping, the material he used for external pockets was too stiff and abrasive. [I told you I am picky]

After saying that, the pack's function was outstanding! It distributed the weight well, and the shoulder straps were comfortable. I was able to carry large food and water loads, without the straps tearing into my shoulders. The integrity of the structure never showed signs of fatigue, and I still use the pack as a loaner.

As soon as I knew I would be hiking this summer, I contacted the new owner of ULA [Chris McMaster], with the hopes of another custom made CDT pack. I explained I do not use a  hip belt, and I would like the shoulder strap tensioners in reverse [pull up rather than down]. I expected that I would cut off what I did not want, and just sew in an internal pocket. He not only was happy to help with my needs, but offered it as a gift.

After receiving my pack, I went through it and can honestly say that I will not have to cut or add anything. It is definately the best pack on the market for my needs. The first improvement was the placement of the top tensioner strap that tore on my last model, and the new mesh is as soft as the rest of the pack. I will not have to sew a internal pocket for my valuables, for there is a nice mesh pocket with a zipper and clips for removal. I will use the bladder pouch for my maps. I am also excited with the H2O bottle attachments on the shoulder straps. But one of the best improvements, is how the bottom of the shoulder straps now attach to the back of the pack to pull the body of the pack closer to the back. The pack rides very well, and I am sure the larger loads that I will surely experience on the CDT, will not tear into the shoulders.

I am very pleased that ULA has not lost there roots, and are giving a premium product for a very fair price. I would like to thank Chris for a excellent pack, and a gracious gift-   RIGHT ON!