ULA Equipment: Do They Seam Seal Their Backpacks?

Are you looking for a backpack that will keep all of your gear dry and protected against the elements? Look ... Read more

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Josh Koop

I live with my wife and daughter in Katy, Texas and my local trail is the Lone Star Hiking Trail which is an amazing way to experience the Sam Houston National Park!

Man hiking on the beach with a Robic green ULA Photon backpack
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Are you looking for a backpack that will keep all of your gear dry and protected against the elements?

Look no further than ULA Equipment and their backpacks! ULA backpacks are known for their quality, durability, and comfort in general – but are they really water-resistant as they claim to be?

Specifically, do these packs come with seam sealing to ensure that no water can enter through any openings or seams on the bag?

To answer this question, it’s important to know what seam sealing is and how it ensures your stuff won’t get wet. Read on to learn about ULA packs and if they are indeed seam sealed!

Today we’ll be discussing the features of ULA Equipment packs and why they are seam sealed. Read on to learn more!

Man hiking on the beach with a Robic green ULA Photon backpack

So, Who is ULA Equipment?

ULA Equipment is a top-rated backpack manufacturer that has been designing, testing, and sewing packs in the USA since 2001.

Their backpacks are lightweight, durable, and comfortable, making them perfect for thru-hiking and multi-day adventures.

They use many materials for packs from Robic to Ultra fabrics to construct their packs, which are both lightweight and highly tear and abrasion resistant.

With a roll-top closure, ULA packs are super water-resistant, though many hikers opt for pack liners for an extra layer of protection.

Robic Material – Can Be Water Resistant but not Waterproof

Robic material is known for its durability and less for its water-resistant qualities, but it should be noted that with PU and other treatments, it can have a level of water resistance.

Although this material is able to shed water well in rain, the seams of the backpack are not sealed, making it vulnerable to leakage.

Overview of Robic Material

ULA Equipment is a company that specializes in lightweight backpacks and other outdoor gear. Their most popular fabric is Robic, a high tear and abrasion-resistant material that is reinforced with a ripstop weave.

The ULA 400 Robic is water-resistant, but not waterproof, so to achieve full waterproof capabilities, pack liners or pack covers are highly recommended.

While ULA’s Ultra material offers even greater durability at a cost, it is also not completely waterproof but does have a three-pass Teflon DWR and a three-pass PU Coating.

Characteristics of Robic Material

Robic Material is highly tear and abrasion-resistant, reinforced with a ripstop weave and is ULA’s fabric of choice due to its toughness per ounce.

It’s about as durable as can be in this weight class and decently water-resistant, but not waterproof. The softness of the material increases stitch-holding capabilities and provides added flexibility for many types of backcountry adventures.

However, it should be noted that Robic fabric is not completely waterproof and may leak at the seams or through the fabric itself with enough water.

Benefits of Robic Material

Robic material is highly beneficial for its durability, tear resistance, and low stretch properties. Additionally, it features a ripstop weave to increase stitch-holding capabilities and tear strength.

These characteristics make it perfect for thru-hiking backpacks that need to withstand regular wear and tear, while still being lightweight and comfortable.

Furthermore, its ability to be treated and become highly water-resistant means it is suitable for use in wet conditions such as rain or snow.

However, due to the lack of seam taping, the Robic material is not completely waterproof and can leak at the seams if not sealed.

Ultra Material – Water Resistant & Durability At a Cost

Robic Material may be water resistant, but for those looking for a more durable and water-resistant solution, ULA offers its Ultra Material packs.

It is important to note if you are a water bladder user to check your pack as ULTRA packs tend to eschew the extra opening in the pack to maintain water resistance.

What is Ultra Material?

Ultra material is a revolutionary fabric designed for ultralight backpacking that ULA Equipment and most other backpack manufacturers are switching to from Dyneema.

The 200D Ultra PE is woven and laminated to recycled, waterproof RUV™ film, providing incredible strength, lightweight, and waterproof features that make it the perfect choice for outdoor adventurers.

The tougher bottom material is constructed of a 400d Ultra PE (similar to Dyneema®) with 0.5 mil RUV™ film backing making it tremendously abrasion resistant, perfect for harsh thru-hikes in forest or desert.

Characteristics of Ultra Material

The characteristics of Ultra Material make it highly tear and abrasion resistant, reinforced with a ripstop weave to increase tear strength and stitch-holding capabilities.

It has a higher weight-to-strength ratio than Dyneema, making it an ideal fabric for ultralight backpacking.

Ultra Material is also highly water resistant, but not completely waterproof. While it does not require seam taping to make it waterproof, ULA Equipment doesn’t offer this extra layer of protection against the elements.

With these features, the fabric is slightly heavier than other fabrics but still holds its shape when empty while providing maximum durability.

Benefits of Ultra Material

The benefits of Ultra material are numerous. It offers superior abrasion resistance to Dyneema, making it the ideal choice for a lightweight and durable pack.

Additionally, as it is made from 100% recycled polyester, every yard saves over one pound of material and contains more than 20 plastic bottles.

As a result, it is an eco-friendly option that can do a lot of good for the environment. Moreover, it is very water-resistant meaning it will keep your backpack contents dry in light rain or mist, though it is not fully waterproof.

ULA Packs Are Not Seam-Sealed

After examining the different materials used for ULA packs and their benefits you have to think about the water resistance of your pack.

Your backpack will have to endure hard days and maybe weeks of rain on a six-month thru-hike while keeping at least your vital gear dry and protected from those same elements.

While other manufacturers like Zpacks will seam-seal ULA Equipment doesn’t provide this, not even as an additional service when making custom backpacks.

The reason isn’t clear but it may be the fact that most packs will come with a pack liner and this is meant to protect those specific important gear items so it’s seen as excess.

Additionally, even if you have sewn seams it doesn’t always make sure that your gear itself is truly safe from water which means you would tend to have a pack liner anyway.

Pack Liners – Adding an Extra Layer of Protection

So this may leave you wondering, are ULA packs waterproof? At their core the ULA backpacks are not going to be waterproof, this is why most will suggest a pack liner.

For many, this can be trash compactor bags but I actually prefer Nylafume bags as I like the better fit to the pack and I have not ever had a failure.

A pack liner is an essential tool to ensure your vital backpack gear is as waterproof as plausible and provides an extra layer of protection.

It is important to remember that while ULA’s Ultra packs are water-resistant by fabric design, they are not waterproof.

A pack liner will provide the extra security needed for long-distance hikes or hikes in wet conditions, liners won over pack covers as a pack cover will have a huge gap where your body sits right against the backpack material.

What is a Pack Liner?

A pack liner is a waterproof bag designed to fit inside the main compartment of a backpack.

It is usually made from a lightweight, waterproof material such as nylon, polyester, or vinyl and helps provide an extra layer of protection against water seeping inside.

The pack liner also helps to keep your items organized and accessible. The ULA packs feature an extra-wide opening roll-top closure which folds in three before being rolled and sealed with a low-profile buckle.

This helps to keep the liner securely in place and provides a water-resistant seal to your vital warmth gear like a backpacking quilt, sleep clothing, and puffy jacket.

Even a consistent persistent light rain absolutely can and will soak the inside of a pack, so having a liner like a trash compactor bag can provide added valuable protection.

Why Use a Pack Liner?

A pack liner, like the ones offered by ULA Equipment, can be a great addition to any packer’s arsenal but it can be heavy if you choose a SilNylon as they offer.

It provides an extra layer of protection from the wet weather and ensures that your gear stays dry and intact.

Not only does it provide an extra layer of waterproofing, but it also helps improve the overall durability of your pack’s material.

The roll-top closure and low-profile buckles on ULA packs provide a good level of water resistance, but adding a pack liner takes this to the next level and helps you get the most out of your gear.

Why Rolltop Backpacks Help Water Resistance

Rolltop backpacks help to provide extra water resistance, as the roll-top closure compresses the contents of the backpack and helps prevent water from entering.

Having to roll over the fold three times makes it very difficult for water to get in through the tightly sealed roll of material.

Conclusion – Is a ULA Pack Seam Sealed?

The answer is unfortunately no! ULA backpacks feature Robic and Ultra fabrics, both of which are water-resistant, and although many other manufacturers do seam seal ULA doesn’t.

If you want to further increase the waterproofness of your pack, you can add a pack liner or use a pack cover for extra protection.

With these elements in place, you can feel confident that your ULA backpack will keep your gear safe no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

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