Gearing Up with Outdoor Vitals KotaUL Ultralight Backpack

Summer adventures have come to a close, but there is still plenty of fun to be found be both locally and with a bit of travel. I found myself both running and crewing at some big events that required a flight and some overnights and left my favorite travel backpack at home to give the Outdoor Vitals KotaUL a try.


I hadn’t heard of this brand, or this bag, but from their marketing video on their Kickstarter campaign, it looked like a great door-to-trail type of pack. We’ve all seen backpacking packs in line at the airport or slotted in an overhead bin with straps dangling and swaying every direction. The KotaUL, while an adventure backpack, has the streamlined and simple look of a travel backpack. It has straps all over for securing items or resizing for all body shapes and sizes, but has the balance between function and fashion dialed in.

It comes in either black or a forest green: classy, not flashy. The outer material is a special Spectra ripstop fabric, which cuts down the weight while maintaining durability. Although the seams aren’t taped for full waterproofing, it has a 1500mm HH rating.

Outdoor Vitals

The bag has storage and features everywhere. The overall capacity of the bag is 45L and the main compartment holds 37L. It has a padded laptop sleeve (that is raised 4″ from the bottom of the bag so your computer never hits the ground), a padded bottom panel, an additional stretchy mesh pocket, and an internal compression system (i.e. three small buckles down each side internally to expand or compress the pack).

The front compartment also has a stretch mesh zippered pocket, a mesh tablet sleeve, two nylon sleeves, and a hidden mesh pocket. The top compartment has two inner zippered pockets, a key clip, and security loops. The side pockets are zippered with stretch mesh, so the pack expands outward rather than cutting into the pack volume inward.

There is a removable inner aluminum frame, a removable hip belt, and removable straps all over for a really customizable fit and content security. The back panel is padded with a mesh overlay for comfort, yet breathability and there are 4 grab handles (top, bottom, and one on each side) for easy maneuvering.

Outdoor Vitals

My favorite feature of the pack is that the main compartment zipper is full-length. I can lay the pack down and open it fully – there’s no digging to the bottom of the bag and no pulling out all the stuff because I packed things backwards. It was also thoughtfully designed to be a contrasting color internally so things are easier to find.

Outdoor Vitals

My least favorite feature of the pack is that there are no pockets on the shoulder straps. That’s where my phone goes, my headphones, my wallet, my chapstick. If I don’t have the waistbelt on, these things are stuffed somewhere I can’t remember, so I wish they were a little wider like a running pack to have my phone right up front.

Outdoor Vitals

Overall, this is a great new travel backpack on the market that fits a weekend of adventure into a very well-organized bag. It’s not trying to be an overnight mountain backpacking bag, but for wandering a city or an airport or day trips on the trails, it has the versatility, comfort, and durability for both.

Outdoor Vitals

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Products & Price:
  • KotaUL Ultralight Travel & Adventure Backpack ($250)
    • Base weight: 2 lbs 13 oz
    • 45L capacity / 37L in main compartment
    • 210D Nylon and 400D Spectra Ripstop Grid fabric
    • Removable hip belt
    • Removable internal frame
    • Internal compression system

Thank you to Outdoor Vitals for providing us with a sample pack. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Author

Bobi Jo has lived all over the midwest but moved to Portland in 2007 and now calls it home. She started casually running in 2012 and trained up for the "Run Like A Mother" 5k as her first proper event. She got a taste of the runner's high and is now a veteran ultrarunner. While running is her favorite sport, she is a "Jill of all trades, master of none" - her other hobbies include rock climbing, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and traveling the world. On her elusive rest days, she is an avid bookworm and a Green Bay Packers fan.