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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Backpack > Owner Review by Kurt Papke

ULA EQUIPMENT Ohm 2.0 Backpack

Owner Review by Kurt Papke
January 20, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have included a combination of Minnesota hikes where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona trails where I moved to take a new job about four years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  Since moving to Arizona, I am doing more weekend backpacks where I can use a smaller, lighter-weight pack.

Product Information

Ohm 2.0 manufacturers photo
Photo courtesy ULA EQUIPMENT

Manufacturer
Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA)
Model
Ohm 2.0
Year of manufacture
2013
MSRP
US $200
Manufacturer website
http://www.ula-equipment.com/
Color
Green (original)
Also available: Multicam camo, Purple Blaze, Woodland camo
Weights
Listed: 29 oz (822 g) for medium torso length and hipbelt
Measured weight:  31.5 oz (893 g) for XL torso and L hipbelt*
Size purchased
XL torso, L hipbelt
Also available: Small, Medium, Large torso
X-small, small, medium, X-large hipbelt
Fabric
1.9 oz ripstop nylon

*Note: measured weight is without the handloops, which are rated at 0.8 oz.  I don't use them, and so managed to store them in some spot where I could not find them.  Nonetheless, given the difference in torso and hipbelt size my measured weight is very comparable to that provided by ULA.

The Ohm 2.0 is the second generation of the manufacturer's Ohm series.  It uses the same hipbelt and shoulder straps as ULA's larger packs which gives it better comfort and load-bearing capacity.  Manufacturer's listed features include:
  • 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop
  • Near full body compression using non-stretch cordage
  • Internal pad holster plus lightweight removable back foam pad
  • Padded hipbelt with pockets
  • Contoured shoulder straps with hooks and elastic water bottle holders
  • Front mesh pocket
  • Ripstop side pockets with elastic top
  • Top compression straps
  • Ice axe or trekking pole retention loops including hook-and-loop top loops
  • Drawstring extension collar
  • Removable hydration sleeve - holds approximately 2L
  • Removable internal mesh pocket for wallet, keys, etc.
  • Removable hand loops

Checking It Out

I purchased the Ohm 2.0 backpack in July 2013 because I found I was doing more weekend backpacking and less long distance/time hikes since I moved to Arizona from Minnesota.  I wanted to lighten my load, and move some weight from my back to the front.  I have had a number of packs with hipbelt pockets, but most of them have been disappointing in size and carrying capability.  The shoulder strap bottle holsters also intrigued me.  Though I wanted a lighter pack, I also knew that I often had to carry large volumes of water in the Arizona desert, and I needed gear that would allow me to carry a minimum of a 24-hour water supply (about 5-6 L).

As soon as I strapped on the pack the quality and comfort of the hipbelt caught my attention:

Hipbelt

Note in the photo above the double buckles, wide hipbelt, and generous hipbelt pockets.  The hipbelt adjusted very nicely, and the webbing loop between the double buckles gives the user 2x mechanical leverage in cranking down the tension.  The padding is good enough that I could tighten it down considerably and still be comfortable.

Side pocketsI normally carry two 1L Gatorade bottles of water.  These bottles are short and squatty, and I've had difficulty fitting them into side pockets on a pack.  As can be seen in the photo at left, I can fit a bottle of water, map and a headlamp (that's the strap on the right side of the pocket) in one of the pockets and still have room to spare.  I quickly determined I could reach back and grab a water bottle from a pocket and return it with no hassles.

Hipbelt pocketsThe hipbelt pockets are pretty good-sized, though in truth I wish they were just a little bit bigger.  In the photo at right I have a protein bar, bag of nuts, and an orange in the pocket and it is only half-full.  I normally carry my camera and mini-tripod in the other pocket.  What I haven't figured out where to carry in this pack yet is my GPS - it doesn't quite fit into the hipbelt pockets with all the other stuff I need to carry, and it doesn't attach very well to the shoulder strap bottle holsters.

Front pocketThe front pocket doesn't look big at first, but it can stretch substantially to hold a lot of gear.  ULA does warn the user that the stretch fabric is not particularly tough, so some caution with a rip or tear is in order.  In the photo at left taken on an overnight it was holding my water filter, toiletry bag, potty trowel (in orange), and a large bag containing my Kindle and other items I access at night.  I often stuff a jacket or pullover in the front pocket after I get too warm to wear it.


Test Conditions

Date
Location
Trail
Distance

Terrain/ trail type
Weather
Altitude range
July 26-28, 2013
Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona Crest Trail
11.5 mi
(18.5 km)
Sky island canyons and ridgelines Sunny/rain mix, 55-80 F
(13-27 C)
6600-9000 ft
(2010-2740 m)
August 10-11, 2013 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon
12 mi
(19 km)
Sky island canyon Sunny, hot, 59-102 F
(15-39 C)
2600-5100 ft
(790-1550 m)
September 21-22, 2013 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon 10.5 mi
(17 km)
Sky island canyon Overnight showers, 60-85 F
(16-29 C)
2600-4770 ft
(790-1450 m)
November 16-17, 2013 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Samaniego Ridge
7.5 mi
(12 km)
Sky island ridgeline Sunny, cool, 33-46 F
(1-8 C), very windy
7400-9000 ft
(2260-2740 m)
Dec 28-29, 2013 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Sycamore Canyon
10 mi
(16 km)
Mountain canyons Sunny, 24-60 F
(-4-15 C)
3800-5000 ft
(1160-1520 m)
January 11-12, 2014 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon
11.2 mi
(18 km)
Mountain canyons Sunny, 30-70 F
(-1-21 C)
2600-5200 ft
(790-1580 m)
January 19-20, 2014 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Sutherland Trail
15 mi
(24 km)
Mountain foothills, Jeep trail, and steep mountain ascent Hazy, 40-65 F
(4-18 C)
2600-6600 ft
(790-2010 m)

My backpacking trends are obvious in the above list: six of the seven trips are in the Santa Catalina Mountains, with three trips to Romero Canyon alone.  The rationale is pretty simple: I can see the mountains from my backyard.  The trailhead for Romero and Sutherland is a ten-minute drive from my house.  I'd rather backpack than drive, and when I have such great hiking so close to home it can be difficult for me to rationalize spending hours in the car.

Romero Canyon

Romero Canyon in August

The photo at left was taken in August, a time when the weather can be pretty toasty in Tucson, so I like to gain some altitude.

Notable from this picture are the (empty) water bottles in the standard shoulder holster configuration.  These are 24 oz (700 mL) bottles, tall and slender as recommended by the manufacturer.  The elastic straps do not hold the bottles very well - every time I took my pack off or put it on, I invariably had a bottle fall out.  I continued to use this configuration for several months and tuning the connections, but to no avail.

This pack does not have any padding or ventilation channels on the outside back.  My back rubs right up against the nylon.  I was a bit concerned when I bought the pack that it may not breathe well, and my back would get sweaty, but these fears turned out to be unfounded.  There is enough curvature in the back that it never felt uncomfortable.


Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore CanyonBy December I was getting used to the Ohm pack.  This picture was taken along the Arizona National Scenic Trail.  The water bottles do not always hang evenly from the shoulder strap holsters, particularly if one is significantly fuller than the other.


Sutherland Trail

The first day of the trip was tough: a fair amount of mileage, lots of altitude gain/loss, and lugging way too much water.  It was my first backpack on this trail and I didn't know if I was going to be able to find water or not.  Day two was an easy walk out, and I stopped for a break to take some pictures of the backpack in the early dawn light:
Suterhland Trail

In the left picture, the profile, my tent stake bag is visible clipped to the compression strings.  This keeps them accessible and out of the way.  The back shot shows that the pack was nowhere near full, a good sign for an overnight hike.  The extension collar was completely rolled up and strapped down.

Given the difficulty of the hike, I was glad to have a light pack.  When I carry a pack up and down a mountain, I don't want to be carrying dead weight.

Water Bottle Holsters: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

From my first trip with the pack I had troubles with the water bottles falling out of the holsters.  No matter how tightly I cinched them down, every time I took off my pack or put it on I invariably had a bottle fall out.

The solution I have been using recently is shown in the following picture:
Holsters

The bottle at right shows the standard configuration, with the cable lock attempting to capture the bottle neck with the elastic cord.  The problem seems to be that the cord can always stretch a little bit farther if stressed.

At left is my solution which worked perfectly on my last trip.  I wrapped a sturdy rubber band three times around the bottle neck, and attached the outer wrap of the band to the D-ring on the shoulder strap with an S-hook carabiner.  Since the S-hook only stretches the outer wrap of the three, the inner two wraps hold the bottle securely.  This might not be an elegant solution, and the rubber bands might eventually give out, but it only cost me a few dollars.

I really wanted to make this work because I have come to really like carrying water on my shoulder straps: access is incredibly convenient, I can see how much water I have left at all times, and it helps distribute the weight between front and back giving me a more forward center of gravity when hiking.

Summary

Good Things

  • Lightweight - no frills
  • Holds a surprising amount of gear
  • Great pockets: side, front and hipbelt
  • Carries well, even when loaded with water bottles

Areas for potential improvement

  • Needs a more reliable water bottle holster - my bottles kept falling out



Read more reviews of Ultralight Adventure Equipment gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > ULA Equipment Ohm 2.0 Backpack > Owner Review by Kurt Papke



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