CATALYST

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 10 customer ratings
(10 customer reviews)

$260.00

WEIGHT: 48 OZ | 1,361 GM
VOLUME: 4,600 CU IN | 75 L
MAX LOAD: 40 LBS | 18 KG
SHIPS FREE TO U.S. ADDRESSES.

A full featured, full suspension internal framed pack, the Catalyst remains the tried and true workhorse of the ULA pack line.

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The Catalyst remains the tried and true workhorse of the ULA pack line. No matter where the adventure takes you, the Catalyst will be there – ready to carry loads of up to 40 pounds. If you are looking for a pack that will haul a bear canister, or carry your fishing, climbing or photo gear with ease, the Catalyst is an excellent choice. Not only will it carry a good sized load, but it can also be checked as baggage on a plane!

Internal frame with a twin stay framesheet, comfy padded hipbelt, and contoured shoulder straps make for all day comfort even when you’re loaded down. Front mesh pocket, dual hipbelt pockets, and 210 Ripstop adjustable side pockets make it easy to stay organized whether you’re on a thru, or just out for the weekend. Weighing only 48 oz – including all the extras! – this pack will lighten you up but still handle the toughest duties.

Original Green, Black, Red, Orange and Purple Blaze packs are sewn with our new ULA 210 Robic Fabric, the toughest stuff ounce for ounce we’ve ever seen. The Multicam Camo pack is sewn with 500 Cordura Fabric. The Cordura is not quite as tear resistant and a little heavier than the Robic, adding an extra 2 oz to the total pack weight. Either way, this is one tough pack that will give you years of hiking bliss, even if you are a bit tough on your gear.

Bottom Line? The Catalyst is a tough and light pack built for traditional backpackers. For more information, please see the short video under the video tab.

STANDARD FEATURES

Removable features are in bold.

  • Internal Frame
  • Twin Stay Framesheet
  • Contoured Shoulder Straps
  • Front Shock Cord
  • Front Mesh Pocket
  • Dual Hipbelt Pockets
  • 210 Ripstop Adjustable Side Pockets
  • Rolltop Closure
  • Side/Top Compression Straps

  • Ice Axe/Pole Retention Loops
  • Bear Canister Capable
  • ULA 210 Robic
  • Cordura Bottom Panel
  • Hydration Sleeve (1.4 oz)
  • Internal Stash Pocket (1.1 oz)
  • Water Bottle Holsters (0.8 oz)
  • Handloops (0.8 oz)

OPTIONAL FEATURES

TRAIL NAME EMBROIDERY (+ $15.00): Now you can have your trail name, or your real name, embroidered on your backpack! Not only is it a nice personal touch, but it’s a great way of identifying your pack no matter how or where you travel. Simply write your trail name, or your name, exactly as you want it to appear on your pack, in the text field above. Then, choose your thread color and font, and we’ll personalize your pack for you. Packs that have trail names embroidered on them are still returnable, minus a $35.00 fee. The cost of the trail name is not refundable.

PACK WEIGHT

TOTAL WEIGHT: 48 OZ – 50 OZ | 1,361 – 1,417.5 GM *
 
Listed weight is for a size medium torso with size medium hip belt. Our weights are as shipped including all the removable items. In the case of the Catalyst, removable items total about 4 OZ.

NOTE: MultiCam Camo packs are made with 500 Cordura Fabric Which adds about 2 OZ to the pack weight.

CAPACITY

REC’D MAX LOAD: 40 LBS OR LESS
REC’D BASE WEIGHT: 20 LBS OR LESS
 
“Base weight” refers to the total weight of all gear carried — including the weight of your ULA backpack. This weight also includes things like water bottles and food stuff sacks, but not the weight of water and food as this will vary during each trip. Knowing your base weight will help you determine which suspension system will best handle your load on the trail.

PACK VOLUME

TOTAL VOLUME: 4,600 CU IN | 75 L

Breakdown (Cu In):

Main Body: 2,600
Front Mesh Pocket: 600
Left Side Mesh Pocket: 350
Right Side Mesh Pocket: 350
Exterior Collar: 600
Left Hipbelt Pocket: 100
Right Hipbelt Pocket: 100

MATERIALS

ULA 210 ROBIC

With the exception of the MultiCam Camo Catalyst (See Below,) Catalyst packs are sewn with our new ULA 210 Robic fabric, the toughest stuff ounce for ounce we’ve ever seen.

Colors Available: Green (Original), Black, Orange, Red, Purple Blaze

CORDURA 500

**The Multicam Camo pack is sewn with 500 Cordura Fabric. The Cordura is not quite as tear resistant and a little heavier than the Robic, adding an extra 2 OZ to the total pack weight.

Colors Available: MultiCam Camo

 

** Please note that the front mesh pocket is now a stretch mesh, not the rigid mesh shown in the video.

HIPBELT SIZING MADE SIMPLE

 
MEN
For men, use the waist size of your pants and add 2 inches. The “HIPBELT SIZE” option above includes numbered measurements. The number you calculated (waist size + 2) will determine the size you need. If you are on the outer edge of a size, order the next size up! Example: If you wear a size 36 pant, add 2 to get 38. Since 38 is the last number of the Medium Hipbelt and the first number of the Large Hipbelt, you would want to order a Large.
 
WOMEN
For most women, measure the smallest part of your waist and add 5 inches. If you are straighter through the hips, add 3 inches instead of 5. The “HIPBELT SIZE” option above includes numbered measurements. The number you calculated (waist size + 5) will determine the size you need. If you are on the outer edge of a size, order the next size up! Example: If your waist size is 26, add 5 to get 31. You would need a Small hipbelt.
 

MEASURING YOUR TORSO LENGTH

 
Torso measurement is the best guide we have for proper pack fit, but it isn’t foolproof. Generally we find that if you are between sizes on the torso it’s best to go with the smaller size, if you are between sizes on the hipbelt it’s best to go with the larger size.

To accurately measure your torso length for a correct pack fit, grab a buddy and follow the steps below…

  • Standing upright, tilt your chin to your chest.
  • Locate the largest lump on the back of your neck. It should be located close to the base of your neck proper.
  • From this large bone, measure (with the flexible tape) down the length and natural curvature of your spine to the top of your waist band, the top of which is resting on the top your hipbone. This measurement in inches is your torso length.

 

PACK SIZE TORSO LENGTH HIKER’S HEIGHT
SMALL 15″ – 18″ UNDER 5’6″
MEDIUM 18″ – 21″ 5’6″ TO 6’0″
LARGE 21″ – 24″ 5’10’ TO 6’4″
X-LARGE 24″ + OVER 6’4″

Have any questions or don’t quite fall in the normal range? Give us a call or send us an email!

CHOOSING A SHOULDER STRAP STYLE

 
J STRAPS
The J straps are the traditional straps, and work best on most men with average builds. If you are very large in the upper body you might need XL shoulder straps, give us a call for that. Many men with athletic builds, i.e. strong, square shoulders will find the S straps work better. Swimmers, climbers, weight lifters, surfers, triathletes, XC skiers, etc usually prefer the S straps.
 
S STRAPS
The S straps work best on almost all women and men with square shoulders and good posture. If you are a short torso, but with a larger upper body, give us a call, we may want to give you a slightly longer strap, there’s no charge for it, so don’t be shy, pick up the phone or send us an email.
 

ULA PACK FITTING VIDEO

   

Q: WHAT DOES RECOMMENDED BASE WEIGHT MEAN?

A: “Base weight” refers to the total weight of all gear carried — including the weight of your ULA backpack. This weight also includes things like water bottles and food stuff sacks, but not the weight of water and food as this will vary during each trip. Knowing your base weight will help you determine which suspension system will best handle your load on the trail.

Q: DO I NEED THE S-STRAP OR THE J-STRAP? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

A: The J straps are the traditional straps, and work best on most men with average builds. If you are very large in the upper body you might need XL shoulder straps, give us a call for that. Many men with athletic builds, i.e. strong, square shoulders will find the S straps work better. Swimmers, climbers, weight lifters,surfers, triathletes, XC skiers, etc usually prefer the S straps.
 
The S straps work best on almost all women and men with square shoulders and good posture. If you are a short torso, but with a larger upper body, give us a call, we may want to give you a slightly longer strap, there’s no charge for it, so don’t be shy, pick up the phone or send us an email.

Q: CAN A WATER BOTTLE FIT IN THE SIDE POCKETS? IF SO, CAN I REACH IT? HOW DO THEY CLOSE?

A: Each side pocket can accommodate two 1-Liter ‘Big Slam’ style bottles. A Nalgene-style bottle will also fit, but in your quest to lighten up, that should have been replaced a long time ago! In general, most people can reach back and retrieve a bottle, drink, and return the bottle to the pocket without removing the pack. The top of the side pockets are angled for easier access and adjust single-handedly with a cord lock and internal bungee to open and close.

Q: CAN I FIT A BEAR CANISTER INTO THE CATALYST? CAN IT FIT HORIZONTALLY?

A: Yes. Every bear canister on the market other than the Bearikade Expedition will fit into the Catalyst horizontally. Keep in mind it is best to pack something between the hard sided canister and the bottom of the pack.

Q: WHERE DO I STRAP MY SLEEPING PAD?

A: If you are using an inflatable pad, I recommend storing it in the interior of the pack to avoid punctures. A foam pad can easily be secured either behind the front compression shock cord or beneath the top compression strap that goes over the top of the pack.

Q: WHAT IS THE ‘TWIN STAY’ FRAMESHEET?

A: The standard framesheet is comprised of a very dense piece of foam and two ½ aluminum stays which are positioned in a ‘V’ shape. The stays can be bent to give the framesheet a specific contour to your spinal curve. The standard, twin stay framesheet is ideal for loads between 32-40 lbs. It offers plenty of stability and load control within that load range and is well suited for on or off trail hiking.

Q: HOW DOES THE TOP OF THE PACK STAY CLOSED? IS IT EASY TO ACCESS THE MAIN BODY OF THE PACK BAG?

A: The top of the pack closes like a dry bag (also known as a rolltop) very similar to what river runners use to create a water resistant seal for their gear bags. The back of the collar is slightly taller than the front. Once you are packed, the collar can be rolled down upon itself to effectively create a barrier to water penetration. Once rolled, each side of the collar can be buckled to the sides of the pack or the two yellow buckles on the top can also be fastened to each other.

As for access, once the collar is rolled and fastened shut, you would need to unbuckle the compression straps and unroll the collar to access the inside of the pack. However, the rolltop only needs to be rolled shut when the weather dictates. If the sky is dry, the collar can simply be folded forward. Vertical compression can still be achieved by buckling the collar to the sides of the pack.

10 reviews for CATALYST

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    laure manheimer

    light, capacious, comfortable and easy to pack

    I am 120 lbs and 5 feet 5 going for a week backpacking trip at 10-12,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. to replace my old backpack, . i chose a Calayst, size small, S curve. . And it is all it promised to deliver and more. It is light,simple to pack. the main compartment is wide enough to accommodate a sleeping bag without spending 10 mns compressing it into a tiny roll (as in the Osprey). it is wide enough to easily insert a bear canister horizontally + all my clothing

    gear to stay dry and warm + everything else i would need during the day all fit on outside pockets easily reachable without opening the main compartment. Two capacious hipbelt pockets keep all the immediate stuff within easy reach without removing backpack. On an outside loop i put my tent and my sleeping pad. it was all so easy to pack. And it is COMFORTABLE.

    Everything – excluding water in my camel back and the canister full of food- weighed 19 lbs! it was just perfect. and the staff is VERY helpful.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Great pack, great service!

    As a owner of the excellent circuit pack, the catalyst is essentially the big brother of the two and is great if your going on longer outings or winter hiking. In addition to the pack, I also ordered the new shoulder strap pockets which I highly recommend! Just write which color you prefer in the comments and they can match your ULA pack color. The pocket is perfect for a smart phone and other items you need to gain quick access to. Also I’d like to note the excellent customer service I received. I originally received a smaller hydration sleeve with my pack that didn’t fit my hydration bladder. After contacting ULA they sent me a bigger, wider hydration sleeve free of charge!

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Stephen Stone

    Catalyst trial

    My old pack finally gave out and I needed a new one for a 6 day trip to Yosemite in September. The pack came on Friday and on Saturday I took it on a two day 20 mile trip. I carried my gear plus my 8 year old daughters gear. It put the load on my hips better than my old one, weighs half as much and withstood some bushwacking without any tears. I am very pleased with the pack.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Great Overall Pack

    I have had the opportunity to use this pack a handful of times in the past few months since I purchased it. I love it. I did my homework on several packs and settled on this one. The primary reason I purchased was for thru-hiking and other types of backpacking in outdoor areas. I was also looking for a pack that would translate well to other types of urban backpacking and international travel and it has done all I have wanted and more. It is very comfortable, versatile and has a great balance of lightweight and durability that I wanted. I know I will have this pack for a long time I highly recommend the catalyst.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Anonymous

    Still backpacking at 60 years old

    I was hesitant to buy this pack for two reasons. One I couldn’t try it and second it didn’t have all the pockets of other packs. After 7 days out- I can say I love this pack. The customer service was excellent. But most importantly it carried weight fantastically. The lack of pockets did not bother me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I could hike 12-14 miles with a 55 pound pack. In my 40’s and 50’s it became a 40-45 pound pack. Now at 60. I am comfortable hiking 14 miles a day with a 33 pound back . Looking forward to going lighter but for now- The Catalyst carries my load. I choose the catalyst over other styles because I do hike internationally and need to put my pack on a plane.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    David Marshall

    First trip, pack worked great

    I finally took the break in trip with my new Catalyst. The trip was not long, but gained 2400 ft in 4 miles with the end result being beautiful Maxwell lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
    The pack performed very well with a trail weight of 28 pounds. In the past, I’ve had to tinker with my packs to dial them in over multiple trips. After following the YouTube set up and fitting videos, the pack fit and worked like a charm.
    While I’ll keep chipping away my pack’s trail weight, the Catalyst is flexible enough to go both lighter and a bit heavier for early summer Cascade volcano climbs.

    The Catalyst is a great combination of light weight and versatility.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Axel W

    Versatile and Comfortable Pack

    I have used the pack for a number of different trips, but recently took the pack on a 7 mile hike with 2300 vertical feet with a full 40 lbs of gear (well, probably 45 lbs) with a 500 ft climb over 200 yards in the middle and a corresponding climb back down the next day. The Catalyst worked great even with a full load +! The hip belt kept the weight off of my shoulders, which allowed me to climb over and under logs, grab roots on the way up, and keep my balance on the way down. Thanks ULA for making a great pack that works with 40 pounds or 20 pounds of gear! PNW fan!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Mark Weidinger

    Excellent Pack!

    Excellent, high value pack at a good price. Coming from running 55+ lb loads in my faithful Dana Alpine, I was concerned about the suspension system and load comfort, but it worked fantastically on 7 day Sierra trip starting with 42 total lbs. and dropping as food and fuel (and bourbon) was depleted. Seems like this packs sweet spot is about 25-30lbs.

    Everything about this pack has been so well thought out, from how it packs and rides, the storage options, and accessing your gear. Its also a sweet looking pack with more volume than I will likely ever need. I got the large with large belt and regular straps, run a Zpacks Cuben dry bag as a liner (2oz), dropped the hand straps and bladder pocket. Fyi I’m 56yrs, 6ft, 215lbs with longer torso.

    After 40 years of backpacking I’m finally lightening up, and can’t endorse this pack and ULA gear enough. Thanks ULA!

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Todd from Longmont CO

    JMT Thru-Hike

    I was fortunate enough to snag one of these packs when it was offered in Cuben Fiber. What an awesome pack! It easily and comfortably handled my JMT thru-hike last summer, including carrying my Bearikade Weekender. Very comfortable, and tough. Highly recommend.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Barry Wohl

    My favorite pack of the last 60 years.

    I’ve been backpacking since 1957, and I’ve owned: Kelty A4 external frame, Gregory Wind River, Monolite, Ospray, Kelty Cloud 65, AND MANY MORE. For 15 to 35 lb, my Catalyst feels the best on my back. I’ve used it on about 20 trips from 2 to 8 nights over the last four hiking seasons. I’m no longer looking for anything better. Along the way, my other equipment has gotten lighter and smaller, so I have extra space in my Catalyst. AND I got to upgrade my waist belt to one size smaller as I shrunk too. Happy days

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