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ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack Review

The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a high capacity ultralight pack that's tough and durable
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a high-capacity ultralight pack that’s tough, lightweight and durable.

ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Excellent

The ULA Ohm is a streamlined ultralight backpack that has plenty of storage space for multi-day trips or thru-hikes. But it is really designed for minimalists and not suitable for trips that require heavier technical gear. Women's specific shoulder straps are also available.

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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 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 less bulking and 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.

Specifications:

  • 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: 210 denier Robic

Visit ULA Equipment for complete specs. 

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 Ohm 2.0 has a a typical ultralight pack layout - main compartment, side water bottle pockets, and rear mesh pocket
The Ohm 2.0 has a typical ultralight pack layout – main compartment, side water bottle pockets, and rear mesh pocket.

Main compartment

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 draw string 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.

Three views of the top closure: Draw string closes with strap across top (left); extension collar open with pack liner (top right); draw string pulled tight (bottom left)
Three views of the top closure: Draw string closes with strap across top (left); extension collar open with pack liner (top right); draw string pulled tight (bottom left)

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 210 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 unawares.

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.

The Ohm 2.0 has a very simple, but effective side compression system
The Ohm 2.0 has a very simple, but effective side compression system.

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-zig pattern, you can simple 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 Ohm 2.0 has lots of places to attach gear to the shoulder straps, including yellow elastic cords that you can wrap around water bottles to keep them handy
The Ohm 2.0 has lots of places to attach gear to the shoulder straps, including yellow elastic cords that you can wrap around water bottles to keep them handy

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 axe shaft holders sewn to the sides of the rear mesh pocket, as well as a single ice axe 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 Ohm 2.0 frame consists of a carbon fiber rod and a thin foam pad
The Ohm 2.0 frame consists of a carbon fiber rod and a thin foam pad.

The carbon fiber rod does not insert into the hip belt and therefore provides very little load transfer to the hips. It’s 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 you 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.

You can move the Ohm hip belt up or down where it connects to the back of the pack with velcro, in order to fine tune the pack's torso length.
You can move the Ohm hip belt up or down where it connects to the back of the pack with velcro, in order to fine tune the pack’s torso length.

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 too styles, J-shaped or S-shaped, to accommodate people with breasts or barrel chests.

Recommendation

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 (210 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.

Likes

  • 210 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 provides female compatible straps

Dislikes:

  • Draw string closure on main compartment (roll-top available on request)

Disclosure: ULA loaned the author a backpack for this review.

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27 comments

  1. Thanks for this review. I have been considering this pack for a while since my Golite is near the end of it’s service like. Sounds perfect for my use.

  2. I have owned an ohm for years, and everything you said is spot on ! It’s my favorite pack , nice review Philip

  3. I agree with almost everything after using this pack for over a year in all seasons. I think the Ohm works well with my base weight of 15 to 18 lbs…I have pushed it to full weight of 25 easily and 28 to 30 on occasion. Bombproof is the word that fits the Ohm…I scramble off trail a good bit and have put it through its paces without any damage.

    • There’s a way to pack a pack like this where the load takes on some of the duties of a frame. It’s a difficult concept to explain, but it’s one way that you could can increase the load that you can carry with what is nearly a frameless backpack.

    • The carbon/delrin stay of my new Ohm2.0 snapped in my hand (!) when I picked it up “incorrectly”
      by the side. I love the pack but the stay is like glass and I think I need to replace it with something
      more robust like an aluminum hoop instead.
      Anyone have suggestions?

  4. Bill "L Dog" Garlinghouse

    This has been my go to pack for over 2000 miles, and while I agree with most of your review, I have to say that top closure is awfully nice. Even loaded with 10lbs of food, once I pull it closed, I can always get a couple of rolls before I cinch it down with the top strap. As I eat through that food bag, I can cinch up the sides, roll the top down, and pull the load right up against my back. As you said at the outset, this is a pack for those who have reduced gear weight and volume. If one can’t roll that top down when fully loaded, they ought to consider the higher volume Circuit.

  5. Personal question time! Philip, in order to have an impression of scale, may I ask how tall you are?

    Further, is it possible to have a brief rundown of what you have in the pack in the last profile view photo?

    I am one of those folks in the process of lightening up. It looks like you have a fairly full pack there, and it’d be great to see a list of what’s inside to compare what I’m carrying now with what you’ve fit in the Ohm 2.0.

    Thank you for your time.

    • My height doesn’t matter. My torso length is 18.5″. What you see is a normal (or what I consider normal) three season load with about a day and a half of food, although I was carrying a two person tent. When hiking alone with this style of pack, I’d probably opt for a more compact shelter like a tarp. Really, if you’re just lightening up, I’d steer you to the ULA Circuit. It’s much easier to pack and can carry more. The weight difference is minor.

  6. I’ve been using an Ohm 2.0 for the last two years. This is an awesome pack that can easily carry the kinds of loads we Arizona people need to hump around (mostly water). My hammock base weight is 13 lbs, and carrying 3L of water plus 2- 4 lbs of food is made wonderfully easy with this pack. Even when loaded to the max, it is comfortable and solid.

    I cannot recommend this pack highly enough. It’s awesome and I’m very happy to own it.

  7. I dont know when you ordered, but the roll top closure is now an option on their website.

  8. I think it’s important to note that the main compartment in the Ohm is about 33L. Yes, the outside pockets and the extension collar all add volume but it’s hard to pack those “full” and have a comfortable pack. My typical 2 season base weight is 12#. I like my ULA packs but something funky is going on with their sizing.
    I have the Ohm, and it seems a fair bit smaller than my Circuit (68L); and seems to fit about the same as my Gossamer Gear Gorilla (40L). And the Circuit (68L) seems smaller than my Mariposa (60L).
    Have you found this to be true or am I out in left field?

  9. Thank you very much for your detailed review.
    Which size of the pack are you wearing in your last picture?
    At what height the belt is attached?

    Thank you in advance, much appreciated.

  10. I have this pack and like it generally. Can be awful if you don’t organize your load carefully, as you noted in your review. I I saw a review somewhere that suggested replacing the thin back pad with a thicker piece of closed cell foam, such as from a sleeping pad. Do you think that would help with creating more structure?

    BTW, I broke the carbon fiber stay early on, and Chris was great about sending me a free replacement (cost of shipping only, as I recall). Then he patiently talked me through the process of getting the hoop back together and back into the pack. Lessons? 1) Some caution needed with the carbon fiber – it’s light but has little tensile strength. 2) ULA has stellar customer support!

  11. I’ve used this pack since 2012. It is amazing. I have even pushed it to 35 pounds two summers in a row on 9-day trips in Norway. With proper packing it can even handle such a load. After eating a day or two worth of food, the weight drops significantly anyway. Highly recommended.

  12. I just ordered this pack. Now I’m wondering if it will work well for day hikes (6-12 miles) in PNW. Or should I get the CDT?

  13. Unfortunately, it looks like the adjustable elastic cord that lined the water bottle pockets in the version of the pack in this review is no longer being used. The tops of the pockets are now lined with simple elastic that can’t be adjusted and cinched down. This is a disappointment; possibly a cost cutting move by ULA. I am worried about single water bottles now being too loose in the pockets. It also looks like they are using plain black robic fabric on the side panels now instead of the various color fabric with a check pattern that used to be utilized in these areas of the pack. Perhaps another way to it costs.

    • Why don’t you just call them and ask instead of supposing.

      • I have communicated with Chris McMaster from ULA. He advised new Ohms do have the chinch cord water bottle pockets and the side panels are the color grid pattern of the customer’s choosing. ULA is launching a new website in about one week and photos of the new packs will be on the new site. I also asked Chris to confirm for me the configuration of the $15 roll top option. The roll top has the single center top compression strap and also one on each side like the Circuit and the Catalyst; you can close it like a drybag, or use the compression straps on the sides. They can swap out the single top strap for a Y strap for $10. Placing my order.

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