The ULA Equipment Circuit is one of the best ultralight backpacks ever made. Comfortable, fully adjustable, easy access for bear spray — if you’re into ultralight backpacking & need a new backpack, you must give this guy a shot.
Below are video reviews of the ULA Circuit by people who have owned and used it–including me! See what I love about this backpack and decide for yourself if this is the best backpack for your needs.
Name: Perry Rosenbloom
Pros: Adjustable Hip Belt, Comfortable, Ultralight
Cons: Mesh Ripped Easily
Owned For: Tested for 1 Week
Typically, the Osprey Exos has been my go-to ultralight backpack for the last 2 years. However, I think I found a new love and that’s this Circuit backpack.
It is absolutely awesome.
We just finished up a 5.5 mile hike over here in Boulder. I packed it like I would pack for a backpacking trip and put it to the full test. We climbed up a lot, down a lot, and put it to the full test.
Let me walk you through the backpack!
Over here you have a typical side pocket. You can zip it closed with this draw string. That pocket is on both sides. You can fit a water bottle or whatever you’d like in there. Right now, I have a rain jacket and some camp stove.
In front is a mesh area for more storage space. I’ve got my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket in here right now, as well as a first aid kit.
The one thing I have to say that, unfortunately, is not so great about the backpack is that when I put my Nano Puff in the mesh area, it actually ripped the fabric (right where the mesh connects with the wired area). You can tell as my thumb goes right through it. It’s really unfortunate as that was the first time the backpack was being used. But, it’s so awesome in every other respect that I have to ignore.
Up top are some ice axe or trekking pole loops. Compared to the Exos, the Exos has a nice, quick lash system so you can easily stow your trekking poles on the go. This lacks that, but it’s still pretty handy.
It’s a top loading backpack with this buckle that unclips. Then this second buckle that unclips as well. And then you have all your gear inside.
There’s this zipper pocket fo ryour valuables. I have my cell phone and wallet in here. I also packed up my wife’s Patagonia jacket, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, our Big Agnes tent and more.
Oh, this is also really cool! This is where the hydration bladder goes. This sleeve is removable, if you’d like to cut down on weight. The hydration bladder just sits right in there. It’s really easy to get in. I thought it would be difficult, but it wasn’t a problem at all and I really like that feature. It’s really convenient.
Let me just pack the backpack back up real fast and I’ll show you what it looks like on.
So you have this loop here to help you pick it up and throw it over your back.
The hipbelt buckles in like this. There are two straps on both sides to loosen or tighten the hip belt as you’d like. Then you can take the extra straps and tuck them inside.
Also on your hips you have two stow and go pockets, as I like to call them. They are perfect for snacks so you can take a Powerbar out and eat it without stopping.
You have your chest strap up here.
What’s really interesting are these handrests. I thought they would be a little gimmicky when I first saw them on the pack, but you know, after hiking for 2-3 miles, just resting my hands in here was really comfortable and nice. Now, if you’re using trekking poles, you can’t use the holds, so you can remove them and cut some weight off of the 39 ounces that this backpack weighs.
Another thing that I think is really awesome about this backpack is this storage here on the shoulder straps. Right now I have some bear spray attached to it. Even though we’re not hiking through grizzly bear country, if you are hiking in bear country, you need to have your bear spray easily accessible. And with this backpack, you can just put your bear spray in right here to the shoulder straps, which makes for quick and easy access if you encounter a bear. And that’s essential for your safety if you’re hiking anywhere in Wyoming or Montana. Without these straps, you’d have to clip the bear spray to your backpack and then it’s swinging and hitting you. But this rests flush against your shoulder straps so it’s not swinging around or bothering you at all.
Let me show you what the backpack looks like from behind.
And finally, the one last thing I love about this backpack: My body shape is a little funny. I’m a lot of legs and not so much upper body, so backpacks don’t always fit me perfectly. I’m always in between a small and a medium. However this backpack has an adjustable hip belt, which is really, really convenient. Let me show you what I’m talking about.
Over here, on the inside of the hip belt, is a lot of velcro. It’s velcro’d to the top and to the bottom. You have to rip it really hard to release the hip belt. The tricky part is actually getting it to adjust once you remove the hip belt from the velcro, but it’s not that tricky.
Now it’s completely loose. See, I just moved it down. This is about as low as it goes. I think you have a total of about 3 inches that it can be adjusted. That’s about as high as it goes. I like it somewhere in the middle. That fits my body best. Oh, actually you can go up even higher than that.
And that’s it! There’s great padding on the hip belt, great padding on the back. We’ve hiked about 5 to 5.5 miles in it so far and I haven’t felt a thing. I absolutely love this backpack.
Even with it ripping here, even before hiking with it, I’d still have to give it 5 out of 5 stars. This is just an awesome backpack. Super adjustable, super comfortable and ultra lightweight. It’s rare to find ultralight gear that is as comfortable and functional as heavier gear. But the ULA Equipment Circuit backpack really does it. They do a great job with their gear at Ultralight Adventure Equipment. This baby rocks. I highly recommend it. I’ve used it for about 5.5 miles and I’ll probably use it for another 5.5 years.
This is Perry Rosenbloom signing off from OutdoorEquipment.com
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The Circuit is sold exclusively at ULA Equipment.