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ULA CDT 54L Backpack Assessment

ULA CDT Backpack Review

The ULA CDT is a 54L frameless backpack designed for ultralight backpacking, lengthy day hikes, or journey that has a most beneficial load of 25 kilos. Weighing 27.1 oz (768 g), the CDT is a streamlined backpack with 36 liters of closed storage in the principle pack bag and extension collar, with the rest distributed throughout its open pockets and hip belt storage. Whereas the CDT will not be the lightest frameless backpack accessible at present, it is likely one of the largest when it comes to general quantity, it’s accessible with J-shaped or female-friendly S-shaped shoulder straps, and is available in a really big selection of torso sizes and hip belt lengths. ULA additionally gives an enormous variety of customization choices on the CDT from colours and materials to border and hip belt parts, so you may personalize the CDT to your wants.

Specs at a Look

  • Whole Quantity: 3370 cu in /54 liters (36 liters in the principle bag+extension collar)
  • Weight: 27.1 oz (768 g) – dimension medium
  • Rec’d Max Load: 25 lbs
  • Rec’d Base Weight: 12 lbs or much less
  • Pockets: 5 plus important
  • Hydration suitable: Sure
  • Load lifters: No
  • Cloth: 400d Robic nylon (XPac, 420 Nylon, and Cordura accessible as customized choices)
  • Torso Lengths: 15-18″, 18-21″, 21-24″, 24″+
  • Hip Belt Sizing: <30″, 30-36″, 36″+
  • Gender: Males’s and Girls’s-specific shoulder straps accessible.
  • For full specs, go to Ultralight Gear’s CDT Product Web page

Backpack Group and Storage

The CDT is a roll top style pack with a long front mesh pocket
The CDT is a roll-top-style pack with a protracted entrance mesh pocket.

The ULA CDT is an ultralight model backpack with a big important compartment, a entrance stretch mesh pocket, roomy facet water bottle pockets, and zippered pockets on the hip belt. It has a roll-top closure that’s secured with facet webbing straps or might be buckled closed on prime. The roll prime itself doesn’t have a stiffener, snaps, or velcro to carry the perimeters closed when rolling it up however there’s a webbing strap that loops excessive to safe and compress the contents.

The CDT is hydration suitable with facet hydration ports and two webbing loops inside the place you may dangle a hydration pocket (bought individually). There aren’t hose keeper loops on the shoulder straps, nevertheless, so it may be just a little awkward to handle a hose.

The pack’s facet water bottle pockets are strong cloth to guard them from abrasion and tearing. They’re giant sufficient to suit a 1 liter Nalgene or soda bottle with room to spare; it’s additionally simple to tug out a bottle whereas strolling and substitute it with out stopping to take off the pack. Each water bottle pockets have drains at their base and an elastic wire on prime that may be cinched closed and secured with a wire lock to maintain objects from shifting or dropping out. The elastic wire can be useful when storing longer objects which are additionally lashed to the perimeters of the pack with a compression strap, like a fishing rod or trekking umbrella.

There is an elastic cord at the top of the side pockets.
There may be an elastic wire on the prime of the facet pockets.

The entrance of every facet pocket has a small gap you may stick your hand into though that’s not the intention; it’s a part of the shoulder strap suspension system which terminates on the base of every pocket. Whereas this attachment level helps pull the pack nearer to your again, small objects can fall out of the facet water bottle pockets and the facet pockets shouldn’t be used for that kind of storage.

Like many ultralight model packs, the CDT has a protracted entrance mesh pocket that’s best for storing moist gear or layers you need quick entry to throughout the day with out having to open up the pack’s important compartment. I usually retailer snacks, my rain gear, a water filter, and an empty moist reservoir within the mesh pocket to maintain them away from my dry clothes inside the principle compartment. The stretch mesh has a really tight weave and glorious sturdiness for on-trail use, however I wouldn’t suggest taking the CDT on rugged bushwhacking journeys if you wish to maintain the material intact.

Lastly, there are two zippered pockets on the outside of the hip belt, giant sufficient to retailer a smartphone, a point-and-shoot digital camera, snacks, AquaMira bottles, bug dope, and such. The fronts of each pockets are hard-faced to forestall tearing with heavy-duty zippers for sturdiness.

The hip belt pockets can hold a Smartphone, camera or snacks.
The hip belt pockets can maintain a Smartphone or digital camera and snacks.

Backpack Body and Suspension

The CDT is a frameless backpack that takes just a little observe to pack as a result of it has so little construction. There’s a foam pad held in place in the principle compartment by two elastic straps behind the shoulder straps. Whereas it protects your again from being poked by sharp objects, it’s very tender and doesn’t present any construction or load switch to your hips. Many individuals take away and substitute it with a number of sections of a folding foam pad, like a Therm-a-Relaxation Zlite or a NEMO Switchback that’s thicker, stiffer, and makes the pack simpler to load. You don’t wish to use your entire folding pad, as a result of it is going to eat up an excessive amount of house, simply 4 to six side-by-side sections.

I like to replace the foam pad (left) with 4 panels of a Therm-a-Rest Zlite foam pad (right.)
I like to exchange the froth pad (left) with 4 panels of a Therm-a-Relaxation Zlite foam pad (proper.) They match inside completely.

One of the simplest ways to pack the CDT after that’s to line the pack with a trash compactor bag and pack the remainder of your gear into it by stuffing it free, with out utilizing quite a lot of stuff sacks to prepare it. The rationale this takes some observe is that the CDT will barrel uncomfortably for those who stuff it too tightly, though you don’t need the contents to be too free as a result of the pack carries extra comfortably when the gear fills out all of the empty areas within the pack bag. It’s virtually like your gear “turns into the body.”

The hip belt is sewn directly onto the pack.
The hip belt is sewn instantly onto the pack.

Whereas it doesn’t have a direct connection to the hip belt, the downward power of the load is flush together with your again and does drive a number of the weight into the hip belt. The vast majority of the load will nonetheless experience in your shoulders, which is why you wish to maintain the entire weight of the contents under 25 lbs and ideally even much less.

The CDT hip belt can be adjusted to fit the shape of your hips.
The CDT hip belt might be adjusted to suit the form of your hips.

If you happen to’re accustomed to the huge hip belt that ULA makes use of on their Catalyst, Circuit, and Ohm backpacks, the CDT hip belt is narrower and as befits a pack that carries lighter most masses. It’s additionally sewn on to the again of the backpack as a substitute of being replaceable so it’s nearer to your again and hips.

The CDT hipbelt has two tiers of webbing straps that join with a middle buckle, so it may well mould across the angle of your hips to a sure diploma. I just like the pass-thru model hip belt on ULA’s bigger backpacks a lot better as a result of it’s wider and extra strong though that issues much less on the CDT as a result of it’s not supposed to hold heavy masses.

The CDT is available with S-shaped shoulder straps.
The CDT is on the market with S-shaped shoulder straps.

The CDT is on the market with J-shaped or female-friendly S-shaped shoulder straps which are higher for individuals with sloping shoulders and rounded chests. Males can use S-shaped straps too and I discover them to be much more comfy alongside the perimeters of my torso. One factor value noting in regards to the shoulder straps is that there are not any load lifters on them because you want actually need a body to anchor load lifters. They’re additionally much less essential on a pack designed for carrying lighter masses with a hip belt that’s set flush to your again.

Exterior Attachment and Compression System

The CDT solely has one tier of facet compression straps situated above the facet water bottle pockets. This makes it troublesome to connect cumbersome gear to the skin of the pack as a result of there’s just one strap to carry it on with. Yanking on that single compression strap additionally doesn’t compress the pack bag a lot as a result of the encircling cloth is just too tender to transmit the power very far. I solely use these straps to safe lengthy skinny objects to the facet of the pack like a Tenkara fishing rod case.

The CDT only has one tier of side compression straps above the side pockets.
The CDT solely has one tier of facet compression straps above the facet pockets.

The one different compression on the pack is offered by the highest strap and the roll prime, from the highest down. There aren’t another handy anchor factors or webbing loops alongside the pack seams to create your individual attachment factors utilizing wire and with some wire locks.

That stated, you may connect further gear to the skin of the pack in a number of locations.

  • There are pair of trekking pole straps and ice axe loops on the prime and backside of the entrance mesh pocket to safe poles or an axe.
  • As well as, there are plastic rings, webbing, and daisy chain slots on the entrance of the shoulder straps to hold a satellite tv for pc messenger, accent pockets, or water bottle sleeves.

Pack Customizations

ULA gives an unprecedented variety of customization choices on the ULA CDT past the myriad colour and cloth choices they provide. For instance, you may add a hoop body to the CDT with load lifters or a pass-thru hip belt, like those on ULA’s bigger packs. You may as well add backside straps to carry a sleeping pad or prime straps to hold giant objects on prime of the roll prime. These customizations add up fairly rapidly, however you may flip the CDT into extra of a “framed” backpack for those who like, though it could be cheaper simply to purchase a ULA Ohm which is the subsequent step up anyway.


The ULA CDT is a frameless ultralight backpack that’s designed for carrying 10-12 pound base masses with a most of 25 kilos, together with meals, gas, and water. Weighing 27.1 oz (768 g) it has a capability of 54 liters (36 liters of closed storage) making it best for backpacking journeys the place you could have very light-weight however “puffy” gear that you could pack free inside the principle compartment. The CDT additionally makes a superb day pack and can be good for journey because it’s frameless and straightforward to get by way of safety or stuff in overhead airplane bins.

Whereas the CDT will not be the lightest frameless backpack accessible, its excessive quantity is fairly engaging as a result of it makes it simpler to pack, particularly with “puffy” gear, along with the pliability of shrinking it down when much less capability is required. While you add within the possibility for S-shaped shoulder straps and all of the customized choices that ULA gives, the CDT turns into a beautiful possibility if gear weight is much less of a precedence than match, quantity, or colour and cloth customization.

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Disclosure: ULA loaned the writer a backpack for this evaluation. 



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