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  1. #1

    WTB: ALTERNATIVE to ULA catalyst

    Okay I've not had any bites on my "want ad" for an ULA catalyst. Are there any cheaper (more available) alternatives?

    These Catalysts seem to be amazingly expensive....

    I'm starting from the ground up needing hammock (no more tents I hope), pack, and quilts.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SwinginIt's Avatar
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    Have you already got your other gear? It's best to get the pack after you upgrade everything else so you know what size pack you need. You may not need something as big as a Catalyst. For a cheaper alternative though, check out GoLite.
    "As a well spent day brings happy sleep, a well spent life brings happy death." -Da Vinci

  3. #3
    Senior Member 2Tall's Avatar
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    Have to agree with Swinginit. Get your potatos first and sack later. Weight, Volume and system really dictate pack needs.
    Lots of ground will be covered. Go lite is a cheaper light weight pack. But nowhere compareable to the Catalyst as far a function, design or features
    . DiY is a good place to start the transition if youre inclined. Hammocks are easy....synthetic underquilts arent too hard and an old down sleeping bag will get you started. Grab a second hand tarp for $100 +/-.

    The catalyst isnt that expensive in the grand scheme of things IMO, I own an oHM 2.0 and it justifys itself..... If you buy quilts theyll be a pretty penny too.


    Why a catalyst? Cheaper alternatives would be standard standard heavy packs. ULA are well engineered packs. Aluminum framed, lightweight, and adaptable bags. There are similar companies that cater to custom and well desinged needs too, but similar costs.
    Last edited by 2Tall; 11-06-2012 at 07:14.
    Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken!

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    The Golite jam is a 50l pack that often goes on sale for $65. It's a great pack comphy and light. While I add agree with the sentiments above, getting a smaller pack really helped me prioritize my gear and trim the fat.
    Golite.com will likely have a winter sale where prices drop well into the reasonable range.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    When compared to the alternatives, they aren't all that expensive. I think you'll have a hard time finding as much quality and features in a pack for less money anywhere. You can find workable packs for $100 or so, but for any given size they won't be nearly as light weight as the ULAs. I used a Catalyst during most of my AT (my original pack fell apart before making it to Hot Springs) thru hike in 2004 and it held together and put up with my abuse for about 1,900+ miles, plus about 1,000 other miles on other trails.

  6. #6
    Senior Member breyman's Avatar
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    Agreed on the GoLite suggestions if you want a half-decent lighter pack for significantly cheaper than the Catalyst. Other than that, you may want to consider used.

    The Catalyst is pretty competitive price-wise (if only $20-30 more expensive) with other packs from similar lightweight pack providers such as Granite Gear (like the Blaze), Gossamer Gear (like the Gorilla), several of Osprey's lighter options (Exos and Atmos), etc.

    In my experience, the sleeping gear (hammock, insulation) and pack are two areas I won't skimp on - I'll save as long as it takes to do it right. A choice made more for the cost than the comfort/features prove rough in the long run. I'll wait a while if it means a lighter, more comfortable pack that will fit all my gear. Or, if it means saving for that new Dangerbird & RidgeRunner I really, really want...
    Brian
    Denver, CO
    Father. Husband. Scoutmaster.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the feedback folks. I appreciate it and I understand completely. One of my limiting factors is that where I live, and where I am most likely to be hiking, I am likely to need a bear canister. The Catalyst is, apparently, one of the few light packs out there that can swallow a bear can.
    Breyman I completely agree. I will prefer to save and buy the best I can initially so I don't have to make new purchases along the way.
    Occasionally, in other activities, there are things that can do 99% of what the current hot ticket item can do for about 50% of the cost.
    I am very much okay going used as long as the used item is in really good condition. If not, I'll keep saving my pennies.
    This really is a daunting hobby once you get into all the potential variants.
    Thanks again folks for your thoughts on this, please keep them coming.
    BDG

  8. #8
    Senior Member breyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedivergary View Post
    Thanks for the feedback folks. I appreciate it and I understand completely. One of my limiting factors is that where I live, and where I am most likely to be hiking, I am likely to need a bear canister. The Catalyst is, apparently, one of the few light packs out there that can swallow a bear can.
    Breyman I completely agree. I will prefer to save and buy the best I can initially so I don't have to make new purchases along the way.
    Occasionally, in other activities, there are things that can do 99% of what the current hot ticket item can do for about 50% of the cost.
    I am very much okay going used as long as the used item is in really good condition. If not, I'll keep saving my pennies.
    This really is a daunting hobby once you get into all the potential variants.
    Thanks again folks for your thoughts on this, please keep them coming.
    BDG
    The Catalyst is a solid choice for using a Bear Canister. I have an Osprey Exos 58 and it fits my Bearikade Weekender (about the same size as a BearVault 500) just fine both vertically and horizontally. While the Exos (or Osprey's Atmos) aren't for everyone, the nice thing about them is that they are available in many outdoor retail stores so that you can go try them on, load your gear in, walk around and see if they work for you.

    As a note, while I've not tried it, I think most bear canisters also fit in the Gossamer Gear Gorilla, which gets very good reviews.

    Backpacking can be an expensive hobby but is SO great . If you're just getting into it, I would definitely do what you can do find local places that sell packs, check things out with friends, etc. to try them on. If it's one thing about packs (just like with hammocks), what one person loves may not fit another one quite as well.
    Brian
    Denver, CO
    Father. Husband. Scoutmaster.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    I wonder if the newer Go Lite Quest in the larger sizes can hold a bear can. I have a older Quest that is bigger and lighter than my Catalyst. The Catalyst is short and wide, the Quest is taller and slightly narrower. I don't have a bear can to try.
    Anyway those Go lites are on sale , but out of stock. I think they have a 50L for $89.

  10. #10
    many overlook this pack. i switched from the go-lite for 3 season

    good pack for 1 lb. 10 oz.
    "Tenting is equivalent to a bum crawling into a cardboard box, hammocking is an art" KK

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