The saga of the Ohm

It all seemed so simple. I’d already ordered a couple of items from the US (the Scarp and some waders). I wanted a more robust rucksack than my Mariposa but a similar design. Instead of ordering a GG Gorilla, I was attracted by the ULA Ohm (featured by Hendrik a while ago).

It looked perfect. It is a similar size and weight but in tougher Dyneema ripstop. I was also attracted by ULA’s reputation for quality. At £117.48, it certainly wasn’t cheap but not outrageous. I sized myself up. I’m a medium back length. The website suggested a “large” hip belt as my waist is over 33” (I’m a 34” waist). I also ordered a packcover at £13.42. The postage came to a hefty £40.11, but, hey, it’s from the US.

My first inkling of trouble was an email exchange with Jeff who had bought a ULA CDT rucksack. He is also a 34” waist and had ordered the “large” hip belt. Unfortunately, the hip belt was too large. The Ohm was on its way, so there was nothing I could do but wait. Just over a week later, I went to collect it from the Parcel Force depot (an hour’s round trip!). I had to pay £34.07 (£26.07 VAT and £8 handling charge) for the pleasure. With P&P, the cost of the Ohm was now up to £191.66.

On arriving home, I eagerly unpacked the Ohm and tried it on. The hip belt, indeed, did seem too large. I filled the sack up with a couple of sleeping bags. It was cinched right up to the stops. Zut alors! Too large.

Jeff had arranged with Chris (owner of ULA) to mail him (Jeff) a smaller CDT. Rather than incur the return cost Jeff had arranged to sell the surplus CDT and remit the money to Chris. A quick email exchange set up a similar arrangement for me. Another wait of just over a week and the replacement Ohm appeared. This time there was no customs and handling charges and it could be collected from my local Post Office.

Off I duly trooped. When I got home, I opened the parcel I put the sack on. Yes the hip belt was the small, but the pack didn’t feel quite right. I fiddled about with it, convincing myself that is was OK. Then I had a closer look and it was a “small” back length. I looked at the invoice and it was meant from someone else.

Another email exchange ensued. This time, I was to send the packs back to the US. My postage costs were refunded. Another agonising wait ensued. Would they get it right a third time? To my horror, a Parcel Force letter arrived requesting me to pick it up from their depot and pay some more duty and handling, this time £23.23.

I couldn’t be bothered to argue at the depot. My Ohm had now cost me £214.84! I drove round the corner and opened the parcel. It seemed this time it was the correct sack. At home I unpacked it and it was the right size. Phew!

Chris at ULA has been pretty good about this, although the second lot of duty is frustrating and I’ve not heard back from him yet. It has given me the opportunity to inspect three ULA packs and they have all been of a very high standard of finish. The only blemish being some Velcro sewn slightly off centre on the second pack.

If you look at the ULA website, they have now changed the guidance on hip belt sizing. This would have saved a lot of angst if it had been correct in the first place. It has taught me to be a bit more cautious about ordering from the US, especially where sizing is crucial. The other lesson is be careful with the sticker price. Once you add P&P and VAT & handling, the costs soon balloon. Nearly £215 is a lot of money for a rucksack.

If you need to return stuff, the costs mount even more. Once you go international, it gets very costly. Recently I have had to return my home network server with a fault. The parcel was 4.2kg. With insurance cover of £850, it cost me £22.50 to send (in the UK). The rucksacks I returned to the US weighed just over 2kg and cost £40.69 (with insurance).

My advice is to think carefully and do the sums before committing yourself. I was a bit impetuous and had I totted up the charges, it would have been a much finer judgement whether to purchase.

The big question is: what’s the Ohm like and was it worth the cost and hassle. Tomorrow I’ll give you a first view.

 

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11 thoughts on “The saga of the Ohm”

  1. Hey hard luck on this one. Things have a way to conspire against you, particularly when you are keen to get your hands on a decent bit of kit. What with the problems that backpackingbongos had with his Scarp – it makes you think twice about buying stuff from the USA. Seems to me that there is a bit of a gap in the market for a UK importer for some of these companies. The USA make some really good kit and to start with I thought I would not buy from the USA – but fortunately my company buys a lot of supplies from the USA – so If I had a problem – I would just get one of my contacts to help if it went wrong. Not so easy if you don’t have contacts over the pond. Still sounds like it will get sorted out. Look forward to your review.

    Mark

    1. Being charitable, it’s been a series of cock-ups by ULA. I’m more tolerant when I have a high quality product (which the Ohm seems to be) than when quality control fails. Nonetheless, it’s as well to be aware of the issues with ordering from the US. It’s not as cheap as it appears.

  2. That wasn’t easy was it Robin, thankfully you’ve found the pack to your liking in the end.

    I bought the Conduit (now known as CDT) and once you take all the costs into account it certainly is expensive, fortunately I’m very pleased with mine too.

    Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten (hopefully :-))

  3. Well,it’s been a long drawn out saga but hopefully the wait was worth it and at the end of the day we’ve both now got the correct size rucksacks. Looking forward to reading your next write up on the OHM and hope that you will be pleased with the new pack .Can’t believe that no one wanted to purchase my spare ULA CDT-when you look at all of the problems that we’ve both encountered with our purchases from the USA and the horrendous shipping and Import charges,I thought that someone would have snapped it up straight away.Have also E mailed Chris recently but not yet received a reply.Unusual for him not to reply straight away and I am wondering if he has gone away on another trip.Anyway,good to see your blog up and running again.

  4. The import costs from the US really frustrate me. the handling costs, the extra tax (when sales tax has already been added to the item costs on the US) – it’s all ridiculously annoying. There are so few opportunities to buy US stuff in the UK as so few suppliers do them. I got my Gorilla from Wynwood and my Summerlite from ULOG but if you want MLD for example, ridiculous costs ensue.

    1. Sales tax tends to be low in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales_taxes_in_the_United_States . I’m not even sure whether it is included in the prices quoted on the internet. Our 17.5% VAT (soon to be 20%) is much higher. I guess the handling charge is fair enough in that there is some admin, but £8 sounds a lot.

      I bought my Mariposa from Winwood. It’s a lot easier dealing with a UK based retailer/distributor. I suggested to ULA they should think about one, but they seem to be going gangbusters in the US and not very interested in overseas distribution.

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of money for a rucksack…I’ve thouight about buying stuff from the US before but the additional charges has always put me off (although I am probably going to buy a tent end of this year).

  6. I know the saga of buying goods from the USA and returning stuff very well after my problems with the Scarp! I have a 34 inch waist and ordered the medium waist belt on the Catalyst which fitted well, this was recommended by the website. Was there some sort of error on their site which resulted in you ordering the large?

    I have to say that the quality of my Catalyst is excellent, one of the best packs that I have owned!

    1. The sizing for the hipbelts for the Ohm and CDT were different to the other packs. It suggested that a large hipbelt was necessary for waist sizes above 33″. This has now been altered on the website.

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