The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a high-capacity 63L ultralight style backpack that’s durable enough for rough and tough adventures. It’s also available with the same male and female shoulder straps and hip belt (available in multiple lengths) offered with ULA’s other lightweight backpacks, so you get a pack that fits you and your body type. Compared to ULA’s other packs, the Ohm 2.0 has a minimalist frame and suspension system that best used by hikers who’ve already made the transition to lightweight gear, not those starting down that road. It’s a great backpack, but it requires a more nuanced packing and gear strategy than backpacks with a beefier frame.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 32.5 ounces (total); removable components reduce weight up to 5 ounces
- Total volume: 63 Liters
- Covered volume (main compartment and extension collar):
- Rec’d Max Load: 25 lbs or less
- Rec’d Base Weight: 12 lbs or less
- Torso lengths: 15″-24″
- Hip belt lengths: 26″-42″
- Shoulder straps: J-curve for men, S-curve for all women and some men
- Bear canister compatibility: A large canister will fit in the main compartment
- Colors: green, black, multi-cam, red, orange, purple
- Fabric: 400 denier Robic
Storage and Internal Organization
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is laid out like most ultralight style backpacks with a large central storage compartment, side water bottle pockets, and a long rear mesh pocket. The hip belt has large pockets and there are two optional pockets that you can hang inside the main compartment using plastic clips, sized to hold a water reservoir and a wallet/phone or other personal items.
The main compartment on the Ohm 2.0 closes with a drawstring, not a roll-top as you might expect. There’s also a wide webbing strap the runs from the top of the mesh pocket to the hang loop between the shoulder straps, so you can roll up any extra fabric in the extension collar to block out rain. This can be good or bad, depending on the weather and how full your pack is. If you pull really the drawstring really tight, you can get it to almost completely close the aperture to the main compartment. So, if you pack the gear inside your pack in a plastic bag or pack liner, it should still stay pretty dry even if it’s chucking down rain all day. If the extension collar is not full you can roll up the extra fabric, just like you would a roll top, and block rain from entering that way. That would work fine, but it means you can carry a bit less gear and food inside the pack.
Personally, I would prefer having some kind of flap covering drawstring opening, so I can overstuff the pack and still have the top hole covered, but I used a pack from a different manufacturer for years that had this same kind of closure system in very wet weather and it was a non-issue because I lined my pack with a pack-liner. (Note: ULA offers a roll-top closure on request – it’s just not listed on the website.)
The main compartment also comes with two removable internal pockets, one for hanging a reservoir inside the pack and a second smaller pocket-sized for wallet and personal items. They don’t weigh much and can be good for organizing small stuff or maps that you want to keep track of, or, you can leave them at home to drop a few ounces.
Side water bottle pockets
The side water bottle pockets on the Ohm 2.0 are enormous and easily fit two Nalgene bottles. They’re also very easy to reach for pulling out bottles and replacing them while you’re walking.
Both pockets are entirely made with Cordura so they are bomber tough since the water bottle pockets on ultralight backpacks take a tremendous amount of abuse. The pockets have drain holes at their base and an elastic cord that runs over the top rim so you can scrunch them completely closed if you want. I would recommend that you use the elastic cord when placing items in the side pockets that you don’t want to lose since smaller items can pop out when you’re unaware.
Rear mesh pocket
The rear mesh pocket is great for stuffing thing you want fast access to during the day like extra layers or as a place to store wet gear that you want to keep separate from the dry gear in your pack. If you’ve hiked with a pack with a mesh pocket like this, it’s hard to move to a pack without it, since it is SO useful.
Compression and External Attachment System
The compression system on the Ohm 2.0 is very simple and streamlined. There’s a simple cord-based compression system that runs along the sides of the pack. I prefer webbing myself, but it’s surprisingly effective. The side compression cord can also be used to secure tent poles, packraft paddles, or other long skinny objects to the side of the pack. If you don’t like the zig-zag pattern, you can simply replace it with your own cord and cord locks.
The other primary component is the top strap which can help compress gear, from the top down. It’s nowhere near as effective as a roll top, but it’s useful for shrinking the contents of the extension collar. You can also secure extra gear to the strap or under it, although a three-part Y strap is a lot more fool-proof for carrying long wide objects like a foam sleeping pad.
The shoulder straps also have a number of very useful attachment points for carrying electronic accessories or attaching water bottles to the straps within easy reach. I’m not a big fan of shoulder strap water bottles and it’s easy to remove the yellow elastic cord for these on ULA packs in a non-destructive way. But I do like to attach accessory pockets to my shoulder straps and appreciate the plastic rings and daisy chains sewn onto the shoulder straps.
There are also trekking poles and ice ax shaft holders sewn to the sides of the rear mesh pocket, as well as a single ice ax loop at the pocket’s bottom.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Ohm 2.0 has a minimal frame and suspension system that’s just a step up from frameless backpack, which is why the manufacturer recommends that you keep your base weight (gear minus food and water) at 12 pounds or less if you intend to use the backpack. You shouldn’t take my description of the frame system as critical, but as cautionary. The Ohm 2.0 is really designed for people carrying very light loads. The manufacturer recommends a max load of 30 pounds, but I’d make that more like 25 pounds. If you’re looking for a pack that’s similar to the Ohm 2.0 but can handle heavier loads, I’d encourage you to look at the ULA Circuit or the ULA Catalyst, which are designed for that purpose. They’re both great packs that share many of the same features as the Ohm 2.0.
The Ohm 2.0 frame has two components: a carbon fiber rod which runs around the perimeter of the main pack bag behind your shoulders and back, and a thin removable pad inside the main compartment that protects your back from pointy things poking through.
The carbon fiber rod does not insert into the hip belt and therefore provides very little load transfer to the hips. Its primary purpose is to prevent the pack bag from collapsing on itself like an unstructured sack and to provide an anchor point for the pack’s load lifters above your shoulders. The carbon fiber rod is not very strong, so you should avoid sitting on the Ohm 2.0 to avoid breaking it.
The foam pad inside the pack is the equivalent to the bivy pad you’d find on a climber’s pack. It’s not big enough or thick enough to sleep on, but it is a good source secondary sleeping insulation under your torso or under your legs. It’d be a great sit pad, but it’s stored inside your pack and difficult to get out without unpacking your pack, so best used in camp for that purpose.
When packing the Ohm 2.0 you need to be careful not to overstuff it with bulky objects, like tightly compressed stuff sacks, because you’ll feel them poking through the foam back pad. The best way to pack your gear in the Ohm 2.0 is completely loose in a pack liner, so it conforms to the shape of the main compartment. Try to avoid stuffing too much gear in, because the pack has a tendency to barrel-roll into your back through the foam pad. Heavier items, like a food bag, are best placed toward the top of the main compartment near the load lifters since the back of the pack doesn’t touch your back there.
The fact that the Ohm has a frame makes it possible to give the pack load lifters. These are quite special on the Ohm 2.0 because you can adjust the strap angle depending on your personal dimensions. I’m not talking about pulling on the load lifter straps to tilt the pack forward and in line with your hips, but how to adjust the strap angle so it’s close to a 45-degree angle. To do this, you’d move the buckle anchoring the front of the load lifter to the shoulder strap up or down, depending on how “thick” your torso is. This is a high-end customization option normally found on expedition packs and very useful if you want to personalize a pack’s fit.
The Ohm 2.0 hip belt is the standard wide wrap belt that ULA offers on all of its backpacks. It is attached to the back of the pack using velcro. Velcro attached hip belts are a tried and true design element on lightweight packs and make it possible for you to try on different hip belt sizes with the same pack to dial in a custom fit. There’s also some vertical play in where you position the hip belt which gives you the ability to “tune” the pack’s torso length if you know how to feel the difference in load transfer.
The hip belt has two large zippered pockets and two straps that let you fine-tune the fit depending on the shape of your hips. The four straps adjust using a Scherer pull-forward cinch, first developed by Kelty, and connect at a center buckle. It can take some experimentation to get the right fit. If you have problems, call ULA. They go above and beyond to make sure customers know how to adjust their packs.
Both the hip belt, back panel, and shoulder straps are covered in padded spacer mesh which is cushy without being too soft. The holes in the spacer mesh have a tendency to collect debris however if you wander off-trail. The Ohm’s shoulder straps are also available in two styles, J-shaped or S-shaped: J straps work best on men with average builds, and S straps work best on almost all women and men with a more athletic build, square shoulders, and good posture.
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a high volume ultralight backpack (63L/27 to 32 ounces) that’s sized for weekend backpacking trips and thru-hikes. It is designed for ultralight backpackers who’ve gotten their base weight down and want a durable but streamlined backpack. Made with heavier, more durable fabrics (400 denier Robic or 500 denier Cordura), this is a backpack that can take some serious punishment, making it a standout for backpackers who want a pack that they can use for years, or several thru-hikes. Optional components make it easy to reconfigure the Ohm 2.0 for different styles of trips, and the choice of different style shoulder straps and hip belt lengths means that you can personalize the fit for optimal comfort. Highly recommended.
- 400 denier fabric is tough and durable
- Side water bottle pockets are easy to reach
- Male and female shoulder straps; one of the few UL cottage manufacturers that provide female compatible straps
- Drawstring closure on the main compartment (roll-top available on request)
Disclosure: ULA loaned the author a backpack for this review.