INITIAL REPORT for OR Stuff Sack - Roger Caffin
- Over to you guys.
Html version in Test/test.
Pity about the sewing.
Initial Report - OR HydroLite Stuff Sack
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Manufacturer URL: <a
Year of manufacture: assumed 2003
Country of manufacture: USA, using imported material
Colour: Red outside, white inside
Listed weight (dry): not given
Actual weight (dry): 46 g (1.6 oz)
Listed Dimensions: 9" x 17" (230 mm x 430 mm)
Actual Dimensions: 9"dia x 19.5" (230 x 495 mm)
Review Date: 6-Jan-2004
These are basic round-bottomed stuff sacks for gear, made from
HydroLite fabric, and closed with a draw cord and toggle at the top.
The swing tag which came with the sack claims the following features
for the HydroLite fabric and the sacks. These claims are pretty much
the same as found on the web site.
Superior or truly waterproof
Laboratory tests of
Generous dust flap
A drawcord which cinches down very smoothly
A tenacious cordlock
A webbing handle at the bottom end
The Stuff Sack arrived just as we were about to leave on a week-long
trip. Our packs were already packed and the initial impressions about
the sack were a little mixed, so testing the Sack in the field was
deferred until after this trip. However, the following impressions
Certainly, the fabric 'feels' very nice. It is a light nylon with a
fine ripstop pattern and a thick opaque white urethane coating on the
inside. One could confidently expect the fabric to be strong and
The 9" (230 mm) dimension is as quoted, but the 19.5" (495 mm) length
is significantly longer than indicated on the swing tag (which quotes
dimensions for all 5 sizes). Incidentally, while the smaller
measurement is a diameter, the manufacturer does not explain this: it
could have been the width of the bag when laid out flat. The length
was measured from the lower hem to the top of the bag; there was no
way I could get the quoted 17" (430 mm). However, it seems churlish
to complain that the bag is slightly longer.
Actual testing of the rest of the claims made above will be made in
the Field Report. I suspect some of the claims will have to be
severely discounted for reasons given below.
The packaging was minimal, which is good.
I am sure I have seen this (stated to be) imported fabric and this
coating elsewhere, so I doubt it is unique to OR. The urethane
coating is visibly quite thick: enough to resist a high water
pressure. However, I doubt the coating is much different ('superior')
to other coatings of a similar weight which I have seen, but I have
not tested this. Equally, I expect the DWR, fabric tear strength and
abrasion resistance will be fairly standard relative to other fabrics
I have tested recently. (I design and make ultra-lightweight tents
and packs myself, and have some familiarity with the fabrics in the
Three main concerns were noted right at the start when the bag was
first inspected. They all involve the stitching on the seam down the
side and around the circular base.
The fabric may be strong, but the stitching has been done with an
overlocker set to about 9 stitches/inch (9 stitches per 25 mm). For
such a light fabric this is a very long stitch length. When the seam
is placed under tension the stitches become very visible, and I would
worry about several possible failure mechanisms.
* There may not be enough thread to hold the seam together
* The long stitch length means there is high tension on the stitch
holes, which opens them up
* Under tension a lot of thread becomes visible and open to abrasion
In short, the stitching should have been done with at least 15
stitches per inch (or 15 stitches per 25 mm) to justify the claim of
The hems on the sack are very wide, while the overlock stitching has
been done with single strand thread and a very wide sideways
movement. This is not a strong hem; in fact I would describe it as
almost temporary. It looks as though the hem design was focused
entirely on sewing speed.
Closely allied to the stitch length problem is the vexed question of
the 'waterproof' claim. The swing tag with the Sack does
claim "Superior waterproofness", but does not explain that it is only
the material which is waterproof. The coarse stitch length and high
tension at the stitch holes means the Sack might be expected to leak
badly at the seams; the absence of any obvious seam-proofing almost
guarantees this. It seems a great pity to use such a fine waterproof
material only to have leaky seams. It seems foolish to
claim "Superior waterproofness" when it is so obvious that the seams
may leak badly. This will of course have to be tested to confirm this
On the other hand, the 'dust flap' is generous. It is a well-secured
circle of material, larger than the bag diameter, sewn just inside
the drawcord tube. It is quite sufficient to allow the bag to be over-
filled such that the drawcord at the top cannot be drawn shut. In
this case the flap can be tucked in to create a dust-proof top
surface, much like the bottom surface.
The drawcord tube at the top of the sack is stitched straight through
the fabric and does not appear to be seam-sealed. Combined with the
simple design of the dust flap the top of the bag should keep out
dust well, but not water. This is not a criticism, just a comment, as
the bag is not meant to be used for full immersion.
The drawcord at the top comes out through a well-reinforced button
hole. The button hole looks very strong. However, the drawcord itself
is extremely heavy: it looks very similar to the cord used on the OR
gaiters also under trial at the same time. Much lighter cord would
have been sufficient. There is also a cordlock on the drawcord, and
this could have easily been replaced by a slip-knot if 'light weight'
was a focus.
There is a loop of light webbing across the bottom of the bag, bar-
tacked (heavy zigzag stitching) to a single layer of fabric at each
end. This is a nice idea, but the bar-tacking looks much stronger
than the fabric through which it is sewn. I fear that lifting a sack
full of gear by this handle could rip the fabric at the attachment
There is an OR product tag sewn into the side seam halfway down. It
is essentially a loop of tape. Perhaps it could be used for
something, but none of my other stuff sacks have such a loop and I
have never needed anything like that. I guess marketing had its way.
It is not normal to include a summary in the Initial Report, but in
this case one seems relevant. The Stuff Sack seems to have a good
initial concept which is worthy of the OR company, but the execution
seems to have been rather poor in comparison. It is almost as though
the fabric and shape were created by an experienced walker, the fine
details of construction were left to someone relatively ignorant of
the harsh realities of the outdoors world, and the
labelling/marketing was handled by a bunch of hype-driven spin-
doctors. As a result, the product does not seem to meet live up to
the advertising hype and the price might be judged a little high.
The first test will have to be for waterproofness. If the sack does
prove to be leaky down the seams there will be no point in even
trying to use the sack in situations which demand reliability under
wet conditions. If the seams do leak the bag will only be tested as a
general purpose stuff sack, in comparison with many other stuff sacks
which I already have. It will have to be lined with a plastic bag for
safety, which puts it on a par with $5 and home-made stuff sacks.
The strength of the seams will be tested by 'stuffing' the sack with
gear on a few trips. The strength of the handle at the bottom of the
bag will probably be tested at the same almost by mistake, when the
full bag is grabbed.
Doubtless the quality of the drawcord and cordlock will be tested
during use, but these do not seem as important as the above items.
Reviewer: Roger Caffin
Email address: r dot caffin at acm dot org
City, State, Country: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I started bushwalking (the Australian term) when I was about 14 yrs
old, took up rock climbing and remote exploration walking at
University with the girl who became my wife, and later on we took up
ski touring and canyoning. These days my wife and I do all our trips
together, very often by ourselves. Our preferred walking trips in
Australia are long ones: up to about a week in the general Blue Mts
(east coast of Australia) and Snowy Mts (alpine region), and up to
two months long in Europe and the UK. Ski touring trips would also
typically last up to a week. We favour fairly hard trips of some
length and prefer to travel fast and light. Many of our trips are
explorations in wild country which sees few other walkers. In between
these long trips we do some day walks, often exploring the start of
longer trips. On average, we would spend at least two days per week
walking or ski touring. Over the last year or two we have become
converted to the concept of ultra-lightweight walking, and have been
cutting our combined pack weight down from 36 kg (80 lb) total to
about 25 kg (55 lb) for week-long trips. We have also been designing
and making our own ultralightweight gear for our own use.
- Hi Roger,
Here's my edit. As usual, EDITs are required, Edits are suggested,
and Comments are nits I'm picking. Once you've made the appropriate
changes upload it to http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Stuff%
20Sacks/ (there isn't a separate folder underneath the Stuff Sack
header for normal stuff sacks vs compression sacks, etc.).
All spelling edits are from 'The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, Fourth Edition'.
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rcaffin" <r.caffin@t...>
> Actual Dimensions: 9"dia x 19.5" (230 x 495 mm)####EDIT: space before "dia" which suggests that 19.5" be followed
> MSRP: US$15####EDIT: space between US and $15
> Review Date: 6-Jan-2004####Comment: Change this if you upload before Tues just to be
consistent with the internal date.
> Product Claims
> The swing tag which came with the sack claims the following
####Comment: Would that be a "hang tag" in our English? ;)
>####EDIT: "One could" treads the boards of projection. Should be
> Initial Impressions
> inside. One could confidently expect the fabric to be strong and
first person instead--e.g. "I expect the fabric..."
> Initial Concerns
> In short, the stitching should have been done with at least 15
> stitches per inch (or 15 stitches per 25 mm) to justify the claim
> durability.####Edit: I was with you on this until the "should have" statement.
Until you know that it's not durable, you're guessing; albeit with
an educated potentially expert viewpoint. It may well be that this
stitching is sufficient for the purpose at hand...or may not. In
either case, only the FR/LTR will tell. A simple change of "the
stitching should have" to "I would have expected the stitching to
have" would eliminate the editorial flavor.
> The drawcord at the top comes out through a well-reinforced button
> hole. The button hole looks very strong. However, the drawcord
####EDIT: "buttonhole" is a single word
> this could have easily been replaced by a slip-knot if 'lightweight'
>####EDIT: "seem to me to live up" or "seem to live up to"
> Initial Summary
> the harsh realities of the outdoors world, and the
> labelling/marketing was handled by a bunch of hype-driven spin-
> doctors. As a result, the product does not seem to meet live up to
> Planned Testing
> safety, which puts it on a par with $5 and home-made stuff sacks.
> The strength of the seams will be tested by 'stuffing' the sackwith
> gear on a few trips. The strength of the handle at the bottom ofthe
> bag will probably be tested at the same almost by mistake, whenthe
####EDIT: "same time almost"
> full bag is grabbed.
> Doubtless the quality of the drawcord and cordlock will be tested
> during use, but these do not seem as important as the above items.
- Hi Jim
> All spelling edits are from 'The American Heritage DictionaryVery suspect compared with the Oxford English Dictionary ;-)
> of the English Language, Fourth Edition'.
Most edits and EDITS done. For your efforts here much thanks.
####Comment: Would that be a "hang tag" in our English? ;)
Yes, but I added a note to this effect to clarify.
> > inside. One could confidently expect the fabric to be strong andThis has been discussed before by the powers-that-be, and the
> > waterproof.
> ####EDIT: "One could" treads the boards of projection. Should be
> first person instead--e.g. "I expect the fabric..."
following distinction has been drawn.
"You should do this" IS 2nd person imperative, and IS projection.
"One might think X" is a 3rd person version of "I might think" and
has been deemed acceptible. Barring further instructions, I will
leave this one as is.
> A simple change of "the stitching should have" to "I would havePoint taken.
> expected the stitching to have" would eliminate the editorial
I eventually decided to admit to having done a basic test, which the
bag failed dismally. You may remember Shane's list of things one
could do with a simple towel? Well, I have found a new use for a
stuff sack: field shower. I wrote that up in the 1st person.
I know one should not put test results in the IR, but in this case
the problem is so blatant that I would not even 'test' the bag in the
field for waterproofness.
I will put the IR in the correct folder, but if there is a problem I
can withdraw it.
Frankly, I think OR has a problem with this bag, on a par with a
certain watch (I dare not mention other items of recent note!).
- At 04:52 PM 03/01/2004, you wrote:
>Hi JimAP:> I would accept "one could" as being personal. It can be read both
> > > inside. One could confidently expect the fabric to be strong and
> > > waterproof.
> > ####EDIT: "One could" treads the boards of projection. Should be
> > first person instead--e.g. "I expect the fabric..."
>This has been discussed before by the powers-that-be, and the
>following distinction has been drawn.
>"You should do this" IS 2nd person imperative, and IS projection.
>"One might think X" is a 3rd person version of "I might think" and
>has been deemed acceptible. Barring further instructions, I will
>leave this one as is.
ways, but is often used in English as being singular, i.e., applying to the
>I eventually decided to admit to having done a basic test, which theAP:> Some basic prelim testing is generally ok in the IR. What you have
>bag failed dismally. You may remember Shane's list of things one
>could do with a simple towel? Well, I have found a new use for a
>stuff sack: field shower. I wrote that up in the 1st person.
>I know one should not put test results in the IR, but in this case
>the problem is so blatant that I would not even 'test' the bag in the
>field for waterproofness.
>I will put the IR in the correct folder, but if there is a problem I
>can withdraw it.
done should be ok in the IR.
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