One of the most asked questions I get is: “How are you going to carry all your stuff?” I reply by pointing to my back with big grin. People sometimes react in an incredulous or horrified manner. I reassure them that it’s ‘ok’ with statements like: “it won’t weigh much” (ask me to say that again during the trip…) or “I’ll be stopping in town every few days to pick up more supplies” (no, I will not be carrying 70 days of food with me at the start). They often cock their heads and grimace, probably thinking, “ok buddy… I don’t think that’s going to work, but good luck to ya.”
The pack I’ve selected for this trip is the ‘CDT‘ made by Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA). ULA was a pioneer of lightweight pack design in the early 2000′s and their packs are a favorite among lightweight backpackers and thru-hikers. ULA was generous enough to donate this pack for my trip; best was the enthusiasm with which they did so! I want to say that I’m not using the pack simply because it was donated. I chose to use this pack, and without hesitation, ULA stepped up to the plate to help out – Thank you ULA!
I chose the CDT pack for several reasons, first being ULA’s great reputation, both with their products and service. Physically, the volume and load capacity of the pack matched what I anticipated needing. Volume of the main compartment is 1750 cu. in. (28.6L). With the extension collar and pockets, total volume comes to 3370 cu. in. (55.2L). Base weight (weight of contents not including consumables like food, water and fuel) is recommended to be 12 lbs or less with a maximum recommended load of 25 lbs. Except for the [hopefully] few times that I’ll need to load up on extra water or food, I shouldn’t have much problem staying within these recommended limits. I’m aiming to have a base weight of 9 or 10 lbs, not including all the electronic equipment and associated batteries and chargers that I’ll be carrying to document the trip and using to keep you updated from the trail. I also plan to mount a few items to the seat post and handlebars of the unicycle which will reduce the weight carried on my back.
A big reason I really like this pack (and other ULA packs) is that it does away with some of the more useless features and infinite pockets of more mainstream packs and instead offers some really simple yet useful “why didn’t I think of that” type features. My favorite are the water bottle holders on the shoulder straps. Each shoulder strap has two shock cord loops that hold my water bottles with surprising security – I love them! The hip belt pockets are another feature I really like and are the perfect size to hold my camera on one side and snacks on the other. Hip belt pockets have become very popular in recent years, but ULA was the first pack maker I remember ever seeing to offer them. Finally, the removable handloops are a really nice touch. These are webbing loops clipped to the shoulder straps. You can pull on them to give your hands something to do and change the weight distribution on your back. I’m not sure I’ll be able to use them while riding the unicycle, but for hiking they’d be welcome for sure. The cows like them too.
So, how much does it weigh? On my scales, it comes to 24.1 oz with everything. When all the optional items are removed, it weighs in at 19.1 oz. My actual weight will be somewhere in between the two. This is for the medium torso / medium hip belt sized pack. For a full list of features and complete weight breakdown, please visit the CDT’s page on ULA’s website: http://www.ula-equipment.com/cdt.asp
So I have the spring fever. Things have started to turn green here in Virginia and I can’t wait to get out to try the pack. I’ll be posting more about the pack after I’ve had a chance to actually use it a bit. In the meantime, wander over to ULA’s website and check out this great sponsor!