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ULA Ultra Dragonfly Review


ULA Ultra Dragonfly Review

by , January 19, 2023
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What if an ultralight thru-hiking backpack company decided to make something for the rest of us? The ULA Equipment Ultra Dragonfly is a crossover pack with ultralight roots that is just as at home on the trail as it is on the tarmac or walking around your favorite theme park. The newest release of this pack comes adorned with Challenge Sailcloth’s flagship Ultra 800; a woven UHMWPE laminate that is equally strong and lightweight. The typical nylon-stretch pockets and panels are also upgraded with Challenge’s UltraStretch; a four-way stretch material with a UHMWPE ripstop for extra durability. This bag has served me as everything from a camera bag and a weekender to a parent bag. It’s a truly versatile backpack that could be an answer to the “if you could only own one” question.

ULA Ultra Dragonfly


  • Name: Ultra Dragonfly
  • Brand: ULA Equipment
  • Format: Backpack
  • Measurement: 19.5" x 11" x 7"
  • Capacity: 30L (1,857 CU IN)
  • Weight: 30 oz | 851 grams
  • Zippers: YKK AquaGuard
  • Material: Challenge ULTRA™, UltraStretch™
  • PriceUS$249.99


Who It Suits

Those looking for a lightweight do-all backpack with a focus on one-bag-travel or larger EDC loadouts. This bag performs best when you’re packing light, and not carrying too much extra weight. You’re also someone who likes to bring their own organization via pouches or packing cubes. You may even be UL-curious, and this is a good entry point.

Who It Doesn’t

You’re a heavier packer looking for something a bit more substantial. Lots of tech or heavy equipment won’t serve you well in the Dragonfly. You also might like a lot of built-in or micro organization, which this bag doesn’t offer. On the other hand, if you don’t pack much at all, this bag might be a bit large at 30L.


While ULA Equipment works with a number of fabrics from companies like Robic and Dimension Polyant, this new variant is their first foray with Challenge Sailcloth and their Ultra line of offerings, which you can read more about here, so we won’t go into too much detail. We can sum it up as a woven UHMWPE face with a recycled, waterproof PET backing, that is both ultra-strong and ultra-light. Needless to say, we really like this fabric along with its UltraStretch counterpart. While being hyper-functional, we also think they look pretty cool.

ULA Ultra Dragonfly

If you’ve never had an ultralight pack in your hands, you may be surprised at just how lightweight these packs can get. When it showed up, I thought the box was empty. The ULA Dragonfly comes in under 1.9 lbs, and that’s on the heavier side of this realm. In some cases, you may find UL bags “lacking” if you’re used to more typical EDC and travel bags. In almost all cases, UL bags forego lining of any sort, and in some cases, you’ll even see brands forego seam binding which cuts down on overall longevity in the name of shaving grams. Thankfully, the Dragonfly is a pack for The Rest of Us, and while it stays true to its UL roots, we have most of the trimmings we like to see for everyday use; binding, a somewhat-lined internal back panel and pockets, and even sufficient padding where needed.


The first thing most people will notice is that U-shaped front panel. ULA takes a slightly different approach to panel-loader packs here, and what we end up with is something more akin to accessing a duffel. In practice, this makes packing in and out really simple, especially if you’re just using packing cubes or large pouches. The only downside is that due to the positioning of the panel, it does make quickly accessing individual items a bit of a bother, as they can drift to the bottom or back of the compartment. So we’d recommend using the individual pouches for items you plan on accessing more regularly, especially if they’re smaller. For those utilizing this as more of a travel pack, there are two interior compression straps to keep your gear or cubes in place.

ULA Ultra Dragonfly

Thankfully, the Dragonfly comes with a number of externally (and internally) accessible pockets and quick-access points. On the outside, you have five pockets, or six if you count the lashing on the front. One top quick-access pocket, one front stretch pocket, one rear dedicated laptop sleeve, and two generously sized bottle pockets. The bottle pockets easily fit a full-size Nalgene and then some, but are just as handy for storing a shell or insulation layer, or a tripod. Thanks to the top compression straps, longer items are easily stabilized. Internally, ULA adds two mesh zip pockets on the backside of the front panel, plenty large enough for gear such as wallets, a Kindle, or other items you want secure yet accessible.

ULA Dragonfly

One thing of note is that this bag does come fully equipped with YKK AquaGuard zippers; a love-it-or-hate-it approach. While this adds to the overall weather resistance, it does impede some access, as they are known to be relatively stiff and more difficult to operate with one hand. My personal preference is to opt for DWR-coated YKK RC zippers for everywhere but tech sleeves, but your mileage may vary.

ULA Dragonfly

Speaking of which, if you’ve got a laptop, the ULA Dragonfly will swallow it whole, including 16″ MBPs and similarly sized devices. It’s well padded and accessible on the upper back side of the bag, which you can see below.


While most UL harnesses may leave you wanting for anything other than UL backpacking, ULA has thankfully given us something a bit more substantial here. The padded air mesh with an upward-facing channel works brilliantly (heat rises, right?). And while the straps are padded, they’re generously wide and shaped, creating a nice “hug”. 

Ultra Dragonfly

While ULA states that the max load is somewhere around 30 lbs, I’d probably try and keep it closer to 20 lbs. At the same time, this bag could certainly carry more than 30 lbs if you needed to for brief periods of time. The lack of stays, a frame sheet, and a few other adornments just don’t allow the Dragonfly to be a heavy hauler, and that’s perfectly fine, as it wasn’t designed for that.

ULA Equipment

The Good

  • Duffel-style access makes packing a breeze
  • Bottle pockets are generous yet understated
  • Comfortable harness for such a lightweight bag
  • Incredibly lightweight

The Not So Good

  • Counter-intuitive to UL, but we’d prefer a fully lined bag
  • Straps could use ever so slightly more padding
  • AquaGuard zippers are stiff, but expectedly so


The ULA Equipment Dragonfly is a wonderful addition to the world of crossover bags; bags that can do it all. It’s less than half of the weight of many other bags in its class, though that does mean slightly less load-bearing capability. Despite its UL origins, it still has many of the bells and whistles most of us expect when looking for an EDC or travel pack, like tech sleeves, bottle pockets, and quick-access pockets. Add in Challenge Sailcloth’s exciting new Ultra line of fabrics and the Dragonfly just gets that much better.

ULA Equipment Ultra Dragonfly

The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
Brand experience
X Factor

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