ULA Ohm first impressions

Notwithstanding the trials and tribulations of obtaining my pack, not to mention the astronomical cost, I like it! The weight is around 750g (difficult to weigh accurately on a small post room scales). The quality of workmanship and finish is first class.

 

The suspension system reminds me of my Osprey Aether 60. It has a carbon fibre/delrin hoop as a frame. Unlike the Mariposa, it is attached to the outer edges of the pack. Although it is not very flexible, the pack cloth between the uprights moulds to the shape of your back. I’ve only loaded it with a couple of sleeping bags, but it seems very comfortable. It retains some flexibility (like the Mariposa) rather than feeling like a solid lump attached to you back (like the Osprey Exos).

The volume of the main sack seems very close to that of the Mariposa. The Mariposa has larger mesh pockets, but the side pockets of the Ohm are very substantial. Fitting a packed Scarp is easy. The mesh pocket on the front of the pack is stretchy but quite small. Inside the pack body there is a removable hydration sleeve and a mesh pocket for valuables. The hip belt pockets are quite small, but useful for bit and pieces.

 

The shoulder straps are contoured with a mesh underside. They feel comfortable but only trail testing will confirm this. The hip belt has some modest padding and fits well over my hips. To tighten the hip belt, the webbing is pulled inwards like the hip belts on Osprey packs. This is a much better system than most packs. There are load lifter straps to pull the top of the pack closer to your back.

Also supplied are some hand loops which attach to some D rings on the pack shoulder straps. I’m not sure I’ll be using these, but they are detachable. There are some useful yellow bungee loops on each shoulder strap for water bottles, which can be detached as well. This suits me as I like to carry a water bottle in this way.

 

The Ohm has side compression cords. These are attached by thin loops to the frame. I would be cautious about pulling too hard on these. The pack material is green dyneema rip stop mixed with normal black rip stop nylon. All in all, it feels quite substantial for such a light pack.

Naturally, any piece of gear needs a bit of modification! There is a thin piece of foam which is held between the frame uprights on the inside of the pack by two pieces of elastic. I replaced the foam with a slightly more substantial piece cut from a Multimat sleeping pad. This added a whole 2g to the weight, but should give my back better protection from lumpy objects and a useful sleeping mat extension.

Next I added a couple of loops of cord with a cord grip below the ice axe loop retainers. These give an extra lashing point to secure a tent in the side pocket. I’ve used an elasticated and Velcro strap looped through the carbon fibre rod of the pack frame and through this piece of cord. I stole the cord and cord grip from my late lamented Marmot Thor tent which has gone to the great camp site in the sky.  I’m also going to add a loop of shock cord to the hip belt so I can stow my walking poles like the Osprey system, using the bottle shock cords on the shoulder straps.

Lastly, the webbing for the load lifters is quite long. To stop them whipping into my face in strong winds, I’ve added a loop of shock cord to act as a keeper.

What would I change? Well, I would have some “D” rings on the side of the pack and the top to give options for lashing a tent. The single strap across the top of the pack is not very secure for a tent. I would replace the cord compression system with one or two straps. This would be more robust and also help with lashing options. I prefer the “Y” strap on the top of the Mariposa to a single strap. I would continue the spacer mesh on the hip belt to the main body of the pack. I think the Ohm is probably quite a sweaty pack as it hugs the back. I wouldn’t bother with spacer mesh on the rest of the back but some on the waist area might help.

Overall, I like this pack very much. I suspect it will carry better than the Mariposa (which would be high praise indeed), but I’ll only be able to confirm this in a couple of week’s time. It certainly feels more robust and looks well made. Hopefully it will last long enough to justify its cost.

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11 thoughts on “ULA Ohm first impressions”

  1. Interesting looking pack, I like the references to the Osprey Aether pack on suspension and tightening the belt. I have the Aether and like those features but it is too heavy – I think you may have found a suitable lightweight alternative. By my calculations looking at the spec of the pack on the ULA website this is roughly a 65 litre pack (3,960 cubic inches) – so could be good for extended backpacking or for winter trips.

    Look forward to hearing more about this in due course
    Mark

    1. It’s smaller than the Aether 60. The main body is more like 40l. I think they are a bit optimistic on the stretch pocket as well. I think the Aether is likley to be a better winter pack, although the Lightwave Ultrahike might be even better 😉

  2. Robin – funny you should say the Lightwave. I have been looking for lighter winter packs than the Aether. I have been drawn to the Lightwave and the larger brother of the Jirishanca (my current summer pack). – Name escapes me for the moment.

    I thought maybe you had found a 3rd for me – but I think this would be a bit small for what I am looking for.
    Regards

    1. I like the look of the Ultrahike and the fact that it’s virtually waterproof. Perhaps you could get one and let us know what it’s like 🙂

  3. Robin,
    That looks a really nice sack. Lets hope the straps last especially for the price. Well out of my range.
    I have stopped using bungie cord now. I am converted to 10mm velcro.

    Mark, I have the OMM Villain 45 + 10, and i like it a lot, i have nothing bad to say about it. Not the lightest sack if thats your biggest priority but it will strip down if you want to do that.
    Sorry Robin, hijacking your comments.

  4. This was a great review, and I want you to know it still comes up and is helpful now in 2013. I have an Ohm 1.0, and the review came up when I googled “hitting head” Ohm. lol My fiberglass structural “hoop”, like yours, would hit the back of my head when I look up. Awful enough that I removed it to hike, but I still wished for a little more structure. Well, a year later, I just put it back in (with plenty of elbow grease), and it hits head. So, I took it out and took off the metal safety ends with pliers, snipped off about 1.5 inches on each end, put the metal ends back on, and in 5 minutes, it no longer hits my head! I can wear it nicely, and the hoop still seems to stay in the belt pockets well, not issues. Hope this helps someone in the future (or you, if you still have and use Ohm 1.0).

    Thanks for a great review.

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