We both started carrying ULA packs back in 2002. Jim had been happily using the ULA Ohm 2.0 since 2009. This pack had suited him, but might be a little too minimalist for a hiker used to a full suspension backpack. He changed the inner thin closed cell foam back sheet to a thicker egg-crate type of foam to better damp out the sharp corners on various items he carries in the pack.
James is now using an REI Flash 55. His much loved Ohm 2 finally wore out and he needed a replacement. He happened to be in an REI, found this new pack, and decided to try it. As of this writing, he has now carried it for over 150 days and is quite pleased with its performance. Overall, the pack is just more comfortable to wear and it seems robust enough to last a reasonable amount of time. The pack’s most significant downside is that it is heavier than the Ohm; however, by removing a lot of extra straps and other stuff, the difference has been reduced to an acceptable level.
After a significant amount of use, the plastic chest strap clip partially failed during a walk. This kind of thing happens. However, REI was completely unhelpful in providing a replacement clip, which is a $0.10 piece of plastic, without which the pack is not really functional. This company used to have great customer service; given this recent experience and their refusal to provide any meaningful help, we can no longer recommend purchasing this pack or other gear from REI; our first purchase was made in 1968 and we are sorry that they no longer warrant our trust.
From 2010 to 2016 Amy used a ULA Circuit, which we think is a perfect pack for a hiker making the transition from traditional loads to lightweight backpacking.
Occasionally Amy tries out different models. Experiments with Osprey and Gossamer Gear packs lasted only one trip, after which she returned to the tried and true ULA Circuit. At the beginning of 2017 she took the Hyperlight Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 on a trip and found it to be even more comfortable than the ULA Circuit. It is significantly more expensive than the ULA Circuit, but for a hiker who is not price sensitive this is a dream pack.
We cut all extraneous straps off of our packs, so ours weigh slightly less than advertised.
We never check bags on flights; the Ohm, the Circuit, and the HMG 3400 can be carried on.