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ULA Circuit Backpack Review

ULA Circuit Backpack
ULA Circuit Backpack

ULA Circuit Backpack



The Circuit is an ultralight-style backpack made with durable fabrics for long life in tough conditions. Suitable for thru-hikes and four season use, the Circuit has plenty of storage to handle many missions, with the ability to switch between multiple hip belt sizes to get a near custom fit.

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The ULA Circuit Backpack is a streamlined lightweight backpack with a surprising amount of flexibility for many types of backcountry adventure. Made with bomber fabrics and feature-rich, the Circuit is tough enough for year-round use in 4 season conditions.

Internal Storage and Organization

With 68 liters of total capacity, the ULA Circuit can hold a lot of gear, not even counting what you can lash its exterior. Most of the pack’s storage is in a large main compartment that secures with a roll-top closure, making it easy to pack and access the gear stored inside. The advantage of a roll-top closure is that it provides excellent top compression for larger loads, without requiring any additional weight, such as a top lid, to contain the fabric in an extension collar.

The ULA Circuit Backpack has a large extension collar for stowing extra gear, but rolls up easily and out of the way, using a roll top closure.
The ULA Circuit Backpack has a large extension collar for stowing extra gear, but rolls up easily and out-of-the-way, using a roll top closure.

There are two accessory pockets in the interior of the pack, a hydration pocket, and a passport-sized pocket for storing valuables. Both pockets are optional and can be easily removed using tri-glide clips.

The Circuit is organized like many other lightweight and ultralight backpacks with two open side pockets, a large open rear mesh pocket, and a hip belt with two large zippered pockets. This design lets you stash all the gear and food you’re likely to need during the day on the outside of the pack, so you can avoid having to stop and dig around in your pack whenever you need something. External storage like this is the key to keeping your transition times (layer breaks, snacks, water purification, etc.) to a minimum, so you can maximize your hiking time, and mileage if you choose.

The ULA Circuit is organized like most lightweigh and ultralight backpacks with a rear mesh pocket and open side water bottle pockets.
The ULA Circuit is organized like most lightweight and ultralight backpacks with a rear mesh pocket and open side water bottle pockets.

The Circuit’s side pockets are large enough to store multiple bottles and deep enough so that even a 1.5 liter bottle won’t fall out. The pockets are made of solid fabric with reinforced bottoms providing excellent durability, along with drain holes so you can store wet items like water filters in them. The top of the pockets can be cinched tight with a heavy-duty elastic cord capped with a cord lock. Unfortunately, you can’t reach back and pull a bottle out of the side pockets or stow it while walking.

External Attachment Points

The ULA Circuit backpack has plenty of external attachment points on the outside of the backpack, suitable for storing bulky or sharp-pointed item that you can’t fit into your pack such as foam sleeping pads, crampons, rope, and ice axes.

Dual Ice Axe holders

The Circuit has two ice axe holders and shaft holders which can be used to stow a walking axe or two climbing axes. The bottom ice axe loops are made of elastic cord and can stretch long enough to secure a Therm-a-Rest Zlite foam pad to the bottom of the pack, as shown above.

The Circuit's flared shape - fatter top and narrow curved bottom resultsin excellent load transfer to the lumbar area of the waist.
The Circuit’s flared shape – square top and curved bottom results in excellent load transfer to the lumbar area of the waist.

Side Compression Straps

The Circuit has one tier of side compression straps made of webbing which can be used to secure longer items to the side of the pack, such as an umbrella or tent pole.

Rear Mesh Pocket

Like most UL-styled packs, the Circuit has an open rear mesh pocket which is convenient for storing items you want during the day or wet items such as rain gear that you’d like to dry. The mesh pocket is surrounded by 6 fabric loops which hold an elastic cord that zigzags back and forth on the outside of the mesh pocket and is handy for securing more gear to the outside of the pack.

The Circuit’s mesh pocket is made of a very tough fabric and can endure off-trail travel without ripping. While I still wouldn’t recommend it, I’ve done plenty without tearing a hole in the mesh.

The ULA Circuit has plenty of external attachment points making it ideal for 4 season use
The ULA Circuit has plenty of external attachment points making it ideal for 4 season use

Rope Strap

A webbing strap loops over the roll top closure and can be used to secure rope over the top of the pack or a rain shell.

Bottle Holsters

Many of ULA’s backpacks come with yellow elastic straps secured to the outside of the shoulder straps. These provide hikers with a way to secure smaller pint-sized water bottles to the pack, that can be released and replaced without stopping.

Yellow Bottle Holsters on ULA Circuit Backpack
Yellow Bottle Holsters on ULA Circuit Backpack

Backpack Frame and Suspension System

The ULA Circuit is an internal frame backpack that has three structural components:

  • An aluminum center stay anchored behind the lumbar region of the hipbelt
  • An open fiberglass loop that runs around the top and sides of the back panel but not across the bottom
  • A thin plastic frame sheet

While these three components provide enough stiffness for the Circuit to carry 30-35 pounds, they also are “soft” enough to give it a body-hugging feel that moves with you on scrambles and won’t throw you off-balance. At the same time, you have to be careful not to overstuff the Circuit (with a large sleeping winter bag, for instance) because the back frame will bow out uncomfortably and not remain flat.

The ULA Circuit hipbelt has two webbing straps which can be used to fine tune the fit based on your body shape.
The ULA Circuit hip belt has two webbing straps which can be used to fine-tune the fit based on your body shape.

The Circuit’s hip belt is attached to the back of the pack using velcro, right in front of the point where the aluminum center stay ties into the lumbar area. Velcro attached hip belts are a tried and true design element on lightweight packs and sufficient for up to 30-35 pound max loads. They also make it possible for you to try on different hip belt sizes with the same pack and dial in a custom fit.

The hip belt has two large zippered pockets and two straps that let you fine-tune the fit depending on the shape of your hips. The four straps adjust using a Scherer pull-forward cinch, first developed by Kelty, and connect at a single buckle. It can take some experimentation to get the right fit, and if you have problems, call ULA. They go above and beyond to make sure customers get an excellent fit.

Both the hip belt, back panel, and shoulder straps are covered in padded spacer mesh which is cushy without being too soft. The holes in the spacer mesh have a tendency to collect debris however if you wander off-trail.

The Circuit’s shoulder straps are available in two styles, J-shaped or S-shaped, to accommodate people with breast or barrel chests. The shoulder straps have lots of attachment points to hang gear and front-load lifter adjustments, which slide down the front of the shoulder pad to let you adjust the angle of your load lifters if they’re too flat (a 45-degree angle is ideal). Most of these shoulder pad options are usually only found on high-end expedition or custom packs, and worth noting.

The shape of the ULA Circuit (wide on top, narrow on bottom) helps direct heavier loads to waist for excellent load transfer.
The curved bottom of the ULA Circuit (right) – helps direct heavier loads to the lumbar area for better load-to-hip weight transfer.


The ULA Circuit is a high volume lightweight backpack (68L/41 ounces) that’s optimally sized for weekend backpacking trips, thru-hikes, and winter hiking. When used within its recommended load limits, the Circuit is a very comfortable backpack, with a body-hugging fit, that belies its capacity. Made with heavier, more durable fabrics (210 Robic, Cordura), this is a backpack that can take some serious punishment, which makes it a best buy in my opinion, if you’re looking for an ultralight-style where long-lasting durability is more important than uber lightweight.


  • Huge extension collar/roll-top closure provides extra volume when you need it, but rolls up and out-of-the-way when you don’t
  • Solid reinforced hip belt pockets provide excellent durability
  • Replaceable hip belt, with multiple sizes available for a custom fit
  • Multiple strap options available, enabling unisex wear


  • Spacer mesh on the back of the pack and hip belts pick up spruce needles if you hike off-trail (in New England)
  • Back panel can bulge into your back if you overstuff the bottom of the pack’s main compartment
  • Shoulder straps are anchored inside the side water bottle pockets and there’s an opening in the front of the pocket for the webbing to run through…don’t put small items in these pockets because they can fall out of this hole.

Manufacturer Specs

Volume Breakdown

  • Main Body: 2,400
  • Front Mesh Pocket: 400
  • Side Mesh Pocket: 350 ea
  • Ext. Collar: 500
  • Hipbelt Pockets: 100
  • Total Volume: 4,200 cu in or about 68 liters

General Guidelines

  • Rec’d Max Load: 35 lbs or less
  • Rec’d Base Weight: 15 lbs or less
  • Pack Weight (Torso-M, Hipbelt-M): 41 oz. Our weights are as shipped, and include all removable items, about 5 oz on a Circuit

ULA Equipment-Free Shipping on all US Orders

Disclosure: ULA loaned Philip Werner(SectionHiker.com) a Circuit Backpack for this review.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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  1. I use SmartWater bottles and take them out and replace them without stopping all the time. Perhaps my arms are different from yours (I do bend weird at my joints — slightly hyperextend)?

    • That’s good feedback. I can reach back other packs, but not this one, and I’m fairly flexible still.

      • At Philmont last summer the other scouter that had a Circuit could not remove and replace his water bottles either, so I’m probably the freak in the crowd ;)

      • I can also pull the bottles out of the circuit side pockets with no problem.

      • I had the same problem with my ULA Catalyst. It was tough to get water bottles into the pockets and small stuff would fall out if you weren’t careful.

      • I also have no problems reaching water bottles in the side pockets. I’m a bit tall, but never seemed like a stretch for me at all. I love the Circuit–great pack.

      • Yeah I’m really frustrated with the water bottles too. I usually use a bladder but I’m getting ready to do the JMT and the pack takes up too much space with my bear canister to use the bladder. I’m at a loss right now. I could reach back and get bottles in and out ok but not comfortable when there was less in my pack but for some reason with the pack full it seems impossible…no it is impossible.

    • Because the audience for those kinds of reviews is too small. The ultralight market really isn’t that big. Those pubs make their money with advertising so they review gear that millions of people use (like Osprey Packs and Big Agnes Tents) .

  2. Got one in the mail Friday and tried it out yesterday (together with an Exped Lightning and Six Moon’s Fusion 65). The Circuit was the best of the lot. I would be absolutely sold if it was not for how close to my back the pack sits. With the closed cell foam frame sheet flat on my back, my back was getting hot and there was snow on the ground with air temperatures barely above freezing. I think that it would be very hot indeed in warmer temperatures. Anyone have experience with this, or know whether it is possible to arch the aluminum stay to get a bit or air without screwing up the whole system?

    • If you were wearing a sweater or jacket while testing out the pack, that probably contributed to your sweating substantially. I think you need to run this test in normal temperatures with the layering system you expect to wear. I’m not saying that the pack wasn’t a contributing factor, but a backpack is part of your extended layering system and you may need to adjust your clothing to account for it.

      • Yes, I was wearing a jacket–the wind was blowing like crazy and no pack on my back could stop that windchill. I’ll rerun the test next weekend in Tennessee. I fear normal temperatures may not return to the northeast for awhile. But I’m also ordering a Zpacks Arc Haul.

    • JoJo, do you remember how the Circuit performed in comparison to the Exped Lightning (specific pros and cons)? I am trying to make up my mind between these two and just stumbled upon your comment. I would be happy to hear your thoughts!

      • This was all last spring, so details are a bit fuzzy.

        My basic recall is that I could adjust the Exped Lighting 37 different ways, none of which really got it to be comfortable. I seem to recall that I always felt like it was pulling me over backwards, and that the shoulder harness did not fit right.

        The Circuit I thought fit much better, and was much roomier. My only problem was how hot it felt against my back.

        BTW, I went with the Zpacks Haul–very happy except that I got too small of hipbelt, resulting in buckles on my hip bones. Not a real problem until the pack weight hit 35 lbs. coming from Muir Trail Ranch this fall. I just received a larger hipbelt in the mail. Better fit, lighter weight, and a mesh back panel to keep me cooler.

  3. How would you compare this to a GG Mariposa? I just got the Circuit but the jury is still out after a couple test loads/fittings. I have not taken it on the trail yet. I did not have problems removing water bottles, but I did not stuff those side pockets to their max. I wish the back pad was more removable like the GG Gorilla. I’ve used the Gorilla and like it for that size but always wanted to try the Ohm or another ULA pack and the Circuit came out on Massdrop at a discount so I grabbed it.

    • They’re really very different packs so take this as an apples to oranges comparison.

      The Circuit is much more durable and thus heavier than the Mariposa. I’m extremely rough on backpacks and I won’t take a Mariposa off-trail or winter backpacking because it’s not tough enough. The Circuit can survive unscathed in such conditions.

      The Circuit has better compression than the Mariposa, both top and sides.

      The Mariposa has a much stiffer frame with the aluminum stay and won’t deform when over stuffed. It can also carry more weight though it starts to get very unwieldy at 40 pounds.

      The mariposa tent pocket is unique for storing a tent/tarp, especially if it’s wet. This is a huge plus on the AT and wetter trails.

      The mariposa has a much better external pocket architecture organizationally although it takes a little getting use to. The top zippered map pocket is awesome. Side bottle pockets are easily reachable.

      I prefer the Mariposa hip belt over the ULA belt. Great fit and a lot less fussy. Both have zippered pockets. The ULA is probably better for curvey people or people who have a hard time fitting a hip belt. Both packs have hip belts that are replaceable depending on waist size.

      The removable back pad/sit pad on the Gossamer Packs is great. It’s hard to substitute.

      My advice – figure out what you need for your hike(s) based on the environment you expect to be in and the other gear you carry. For example, if you use a wood stove, you’d want to store that outside of your main pack to keep the smell of your other gear. The upper outside pocket on the Mariposa is perfect for that. Wet conditions? The Mariposa side tent pocket is the way to go. Extra water – Mariposa again because it can go heavier. Very dry or abrasive conditions – ULA. Big breasts or very wide neck, probably ULA. And so on.

      It’s like buying a suit. Pick the one that fits your body and the occasion.

      • Does either hipbelt slide down less ?
        Does either let the load bounce less ?

      • That really depends on your hips and how you load the packs. Not something I can really comment on. Both hip belts work for me and the loads don’t bounce.

      • Thanks. I’ve got a middle-aged non-indented waistline – so how much friction the belt provides seems to be key. Any idea which would work best in that situation ?

      • I’d give the Mariposa a try first. It’s very good with flat hips, including mine.

      • Any updates in your assessment of the Mariposa since your last review? It looks like from their website that the capacity is smaller than previous models (57L). I’m looking to move from a Jam to something that has internal stays but keeps a low base weight.

      • The “new” mariposa has the same volume as the old one. Gossamer Gear just changed the way they measure pack volume to confuse everyone (kind of a bonehead thing to do). They leave out the volume of the extension collar now. The new version of the pack has a different fabric which is more durable and tougher mesh to resist tearing. and they switched to webbing instead of string. No big changes – same pack basically.

      • I’m among the confused then. Thanks for the update.

  4. I really dislike and avoid those Elastic type side pockets. A former pack of mine had those and I had a problem with my Nalgene quart waters Bottles popping out of them on a regular basis which forced me to go to a Bladder instead of the Bottle.. I also have a Love Hate relationship with those Elastic Kriss Cross Elastic Cords on the Back of the Pack when going Cross Country, I was always having to backtrack to find lost items or disentangling the Cords from Bushes I passed through. I would like to seem some Military type attachment points sewn on so I can use my Hook and Loop type pouch attachments.. Other wise it is not much different than my 10 year old Z Pack which is somewhere up the wall retired for the time being.. Looks like a nice pack for an overnight Trail Hike.

    • How fiddly is it to remove and re-attach a 48″ CCF pad through the criss-crossed elastic cords on the back ?

      Would a couple of compression straps (like on the granite gear packs) be significantly easier ?

      • That would be a pain in the ass. You’d be better off carrying a Zlite like I do in the pictures or attaching a rolled up foam pad horizontally from the ice axe loops.

  5. I have the larger version of the Circuit called the Catalyst. Maybe the design is different enough, but I have not encountered any problems reaching for water bottles in the side pockets.

    One thing I would make an extra note of is how large the hip-belt pockets are on this pack. You can store a full days supply of food for the trail + camera + compass, and probably still have some room left over. Those pockets were a major selling point for me on this pack.

    • While similar, the Catalyst carries much differently than the Circuit. I used to own a Catalyst and my water bottles kept falling out of the side pockets all the time. I eventually sold the pack because it bugged me so much. You can bet I paid a lot of attention to the Circuit’s side pockets for this review, although the Catalyst’s design may have changed since I owned one, which was a few years ago now.

      See Chris’ comment below. The Catalyst side pockets have changed and are as good as the Circuits! Awesome.

  6. Phillip, Yes we have changed the Catalyst side pockets since your older one was made, they are exactly the same as the Circuit

  7. Curious. I thought I read once you felt uninspired by ULA Packs? I recently sold my circuit for a unaweep after reading your review along with quite a few other glowing reviews. I just took it on a 9 mile hike today with 37# and absolutely fell in love with the way it feels. For the extra pound or so heavier than my circuit I’ll take it. It’s versatile enough for an over nighter, weekender, or an unsupported longer trip where a lot of food and/or a bear can is needed. I’m going to try to hit either the NPT or hundred mile wilderness this year time permitting and this fits the bill perfectly!.
    if you only had the choice of owning one tent, backpack, and sleep pad for an entire year, which of each would you choose to get you through your 3 season adventures? You give us all such a dizzying array of reviews I want to buy everything.
    To answer my own question, for myself it’d be a Unaweep, Big Sky Chinook 2p, and an Xtherm pretty much cover most of it for me.

    • Uninspired by the Catalyst at least, but as Chris (the owner) has informed me, one of my chief complaints about the Catalyst has been changed. The pack companies are always fiddling with the designs….

      I like the Circuit. Feels great. I’m allowed to like multiple packs. There are many good ones out there.

      I’m glad you like the Unaweep! It has its uses. :-)

      Honestly, I haven’t found the one backpack, tent, and sleep system I’d want to use all year round. I like to optimize for the conditions I expect to encounter, and I’ve always done that even when I had to buy all my gear myself. Winter here is so much harsher than the rest of the year that I wouldn’t want to carry my winter gear all summer long!

      • I absolutely agree. I hope that wasn’t taken the wrong way, I’m just jealous. My wife limits my intake of gear so we don’t end up both living in it on the streets.
        This winter has been especially harsh. I’m ready to break out the warm weather stuff.

  8. Great review, very balanced and honest. I remember looking for your review of this backpack the first time I found your website, probably a year ago. Seems to be a really popular pack. It appears that in some lightweight backpacking groups, it seems like it’s always either the ULA Circuit, the Zpacks Arc Blast, or the Osprey Exos 48/58.

    Wanted to leave some feedback in case someone else finds it useful as they’re searching for a pack.

    I really like the pack. It fits me well (5’7″, 150lbs, slim build). The capacity is good if you use an inflatable like an xlite/xtherm, a UL 1p tent like a TT Notch, and have a 20-30* down quilt, a small pouch of sundries, and one or two sets of clothes. With this configuration, it still has room for a NPS standard issue Garcia Bear can, which fits vertically.

    I enjoy that waist belt can be adjusted to be tighter at the top and a little looser at the bottom. I find that this practically eliminates any sliding of the waist belt, and sits square on my hip bones. Makes a huge difference.

    The height of the pack is also good as it allows for the load lifter straps to actually be helpful.

    I tried a bunch of packs from REI or Backcountry before I finally landed on this pack about 1.5 years ago–
    a Granite Gear Crown VC 60 – not enough frame support. lacked hip belt pockets, which are immensely helpful as my hiking pants (Patagonia Houdini) has just one small back pocket.
    GG Blaze – the bottom edge of the rigid plastic frame dug into my lower back.
    Osprey Exos 58 – hipbelt pockets small and the rigid corners of the frame joining the backpack to the waistbelt wasn’t wide enough and dug into the left and right sides of my lower back.
    Gregory Z55 and Z65- the pack is a pound heavier than the ULA Circuit. The hipbelt doesn’t sit squarely on my hipbones, and slipped down. The hipbelt is made for much fatter wider-hipped people. The pack is too short for the load lifters to be of any use. On the Z65, they have a side compression strap that cinches over the water bottle pouches, making them totally useless.

    Lastly, I’m able to get water bottles from the Circuit w/out taking off the pack. It’s not as easy as the Baltoro’s water bottle pockets, but it’s definitely doable for me.

  9. Do you want a job? – excellent insights! Thanks for the comment!

  10. woah, such flattery. New job is needed, but not sure if I’m ready to let go of mine yet…

    However, I do hope to have the privilege to go on a Phil Werner-led hike if I’m ever in the Boston area!

  11. I just purchased this pack a couple of months ago and will be using it on my hike across New Jersey this coming May. Today I took the pack loaded with almost everything I will be taking including food for 3 days and 3# of water and hiked 6 miles to see how it feels. So far so good. Worked well. On the hike I will be taking a fairly heavy (3#) camera with me which is something I have never done before but I am a Photographer and decided to try and get some good images along the trail. Another recent purchase is the Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip and having tried it out I think I am going to like that a lot also. Happy Trails to all
    Gordon Ripley
    Rindge, NH

  12. Hi Phillip! And thanks for another great review! Im new to lightweight backpacking, and looking to buy my first lightweight backpack for loads up to 35 pounds. Im going to use it for trout fishing above the threeline. Wich og the Mariposa, circuit or other backpack Do u thing would carry that kind of load most comfortbly? Im a tall person, around 186cm. Thank you again for the review, and sorry for my bad english :)

    • If your loads are always going to be close to 35 pounds, I’d look at a pack from Granite Gear or Osprey that has a beefier frame. If your load, is more like 25 pounds most of the time then either the Mariposa or Circuit would be fine. 35 pounds isn’t really considered very lightweight….

  13. I am curious about two thing on the Circuit. First some background, which will make things clear about why I am asking questions about the Circuit. I am currently using an Osprey Talon 44, but it seems to be to small for me in the hip belt, and the shoulder straps are too short. I think I am just built too thick for the pack. In any case, I pack the Talon as follows: quilt in a compression sack on the bottom right, with Jetboil, and rolled-up Klymit Static V taking up the rest of the bottom on the left. On top of that, I stack my clothes bag, my everything bag, and then or Opsak food bag goes on top. I strap our Tarptent Stratospire 2 on the bottom of the pack, as it comes with some handy straps for that. I love packing the tent this way, especially when it’s wet. It’s also nice to be able to pack everything but the tent, and roll up the tent at the very end, right before we leave in the morning. The pack, even for a 5-6 day trip appears to have room for a bear can on top instead of a food bag, if need be, because it has a long expansion sleeve. My total weight, including a liter of water and all food, is usually 25-27lbs on long weekends, and 32 or so for 6 day trips.

    My two questions about the Circuit:

    How could I pack my tent on the outside of it? Could I put it in one of the side pockets, and use the compression strap to hold it in place?

    Two: Would a Bear Vault 450 fit in the top section of the interior in place of my food bag. (I carry food for my wife and I, so the bag is pretty large sometimes).

    Thanks for any tips you can provide. I would love to buy a more comfortable pack, but just needed some feedback before pulling the trigger. I am considering this pack and the Mariposa (it has a big side pocket for the tent on one side), but the Mariposa may be too big for my 3 day trips.

    • Sure you can strap it on the back, but it’s hard to say if all your stuff will fit. Why don’t you order one and test it out? Ula has a good return policy.

    • Before you buy call or email ULA and go over your body measurements.If you are barrel chested get the S straps and possibly extended straps. I have added a loop of shock cord to the haul loop in order to keep a REI chair mounted on top of the pack. I suspect that would work for your tent as well.
      The Circuit has a shove pocket as well as having shock cord on the outside and independent of the shove pocket, perfect for wet socks, shoes, awkward lighter weight items.

  14. If your having issues with getting the water bottle out, get the $12 dollar hydration tube replacement from platypus. Then attach this to your smart water bottle and place the bottle upside down in your side pouch. This will allow you to get water when you need it without having to take the bottle out from you pack.

  15. I purchased this pack for my through hike on the AT. I have had it for just about two months and these are my observations:
    1. It does bulge on the bottom if even slightly stuffed.
    2. I had to have a friend order it for me from his house and have it shipped to me because my cell reception was to poor where I was and he reported that the customer service was extremely poor.
    3. It gets very warm from laying against the back. It also picks up pine needles and other small sticks along the trail and it is very hard to remove them.
    4. The frame broke. It actually just snapped in half on me. I might as well have went to Walmart and bought a book bag.
    5. It was comfortable to wear and lightweight….ish…until you had to put your cold weather gear in it.
    Maybe I should have purchased the larger pack, but the person that my friend talked to on the phone was so unhelpful that there would have been no way for me to know this before hand.

  16. I ordered a ULA Circuit pack based primarily on a bloggers endorsement. I liked the look of the original green and was ready to love it. I never did. Although ULA is helpful with trying to get the right size to the customer, the pack never felt right due to the shoulder harness.  The hip belt was comfortable and fine. I did not like how the lower part of the pack was rubbing against my lower back. My wife looked at the set up of the pack and said “You are not going to like it.” She was correct. My son purchased an Osprey Exos for the same trip. When I compared the comfort, features and overall utility of the two packs side by side, there was no doubt he had the better option. When I had all the gear and food ready to go and began packing, the Exos had a lot more utility. I didn’t like the top closure on the Circuit. The Exos had so much capacity in the top flap. The mesh suspension on the back of the Exos seemed preferable. The side pockets of the Circuit seemed shallow and hard to use. I particularly disliked the hard mesh back pocket on the Circuit. The only thing I liked about the Circuit were the belt storage pockets. Two days before departure, I woke up and realized I had to find a different pack.  I went to REI, got fitted, compared all the packs they had and selected an Osprey Atmos. I returned the ULA pack and had to pay the return postage. They claimed I had not included the “hand loops”, delayed my refund and charged me $5 for what must be the most useless item imaginable. Trust me, I did not want their hand loops. When I disputed this, they gave me snark about returning the pack a few days outside their 30 day policy.  I found this statement on the ULA website. “We may provide Personal Information to third parties or marketers for their marketing purposes.” Gee, thanks?

  17. I bought my Circuit last March 2015, and have hiked over a 1,000 miles since with it.
    I have no problem removing my 2 liter water bottle from the right pocket and putting it back in place while I’m walking. Because of shoulder surgery I can’t reach back to the left pocket due to flexibility issues in my shoulder. Overall this is a good pack. Must admit I get a squeaking sound every day after walking a couple miles that drives me absolutely nuts. Can’t figure out where it’s coming from.

  18. Hello, I am planning to use this bag but i was wondering if it will fit me well. As i am 2 meters tall and broader than average. Is this bag adjustable enough for my length?

  19. I noticed on one of the photos that there is a sleeping pad attached to the bottom of the pack. Does the pack comes with strap attachments? Can I attached a small tent to the bottom?
    Also, it is recommended to load the backpack with heavy stuff at the bottom. The back pack seems to have a narrowing shape at the bottom and your comment states it can bulge if put heavy load at the bottom. If that’ an issue how comfortable is the pack with 25-30 pound?


  20. Biggest gear mistake I ever made was ordering a Circuit pack from ULA. I could not believe this was the same pack I had read such glowing reviews about. It never felt right and I could tell the features were not what I had expected. I bought an Exos 48 instead, and was perfectly happy with it. ULA gave me crap about returning it a few days late and charged me $5 for the hand loops they said were missing. Check the pockets ULA, thats where they were. I was never happier to pay $25 postage to get that thing out of my house.

  21. You answered my question perfectly…Thank you for the review. “Back panel can bulge into your back if you overstuff the bottom of the pack’s main compartment”

  22. I bought my ULA 2 years ago and hiked the AZT and PCT with it. I can’t reach my water bottle on my right side, and just barely am able to get it out on the left side. I carry 4 1 liter smart water bottles (2 in each pocket). I’m not as flexible as most people and had shoulder surgery 4 years ago on right shoulder. I love the volume of the pack. I never had any problems packing or unpacking. I have a system where I always put the same items in the same spot and remove them the same way every time. I love the large mesh pocket. I put all my go to items there for quick access during the day.
    The only big issue I have is, I can never seem to get my pack adjusted properly, which usually results in back pain after 5 or 6 days of hiking. This is more on me than the pack.

  23. Love my Circuit, but I wish they would ditch the hooped frame. Go with a full length hard foam framesheet borrowed from the Catalyst. Use a single stay but run it up to the very top of the framesheet. Keep the CF side tubes but make them longer and plug them into the top corners of the pack-bag or into the top corners of the framesheet. I modified my Circuit and stiffened the shoulder strap load lifters. Much improved IMHO anyway.

  24. All the comments are from men. What would you recommend for a lightweight backpack for women? I was considering the ULA Circuit, Gossamer Gear and ZPacks. Thanks.

  25. Got a circuit to lighten up from my osprey. Good pack but you definetly sacrifice comfort for the weight loss. At the end of the day I found I could handle the couple extra pounds with the comfort of my osprey and not have numb hips from the little padding the circuit gives to the back and waist belt.

  26. Just finished a week in the White Mountains with my Circuit and still find it a really nice pack. Believe me, when walking on wet scree with 50mph gusts, you really want your pack to stay tight with you–the Circuit does. It survived sharp rocks and driving rain, too.

    I drink from a bladder–very easy to access in this pack–so reaching water bottles isn’t an issue. Instead I use the side pockets for my alcohol stove and first aid kit, ,and I like that I can cinch them closed. The huge webbed pack pocket gets my hammock and tarp, cooking kit, and rain gear. The rolldown top makes the main compartment plenty roomy.

    My previous pack was a GoLite, which is no longer produced. This one’s working well for me.

  27. Hi there,

    I have a women’s Circuit (S) for at least 8 years – must be the older version). What is the size/liters of this pack? I can’t find that info anywhere. I love this pack!

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