REVISION: IR - OR Drycomp AirX Sack - Dave T.
- Think I jumped the gun on the first one. I was rushing to get it done
before I leave for my trip, and it turns out I was premature in some
of my evaluations. Damn noobs. Don't think I'll get to any edits
before I am OOP, but this IR is much better than the first one I
The HTML version is here:
Sorry for clogging the board.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH HYDROSEAL DRYCOMP AIRX
TEST SERIES BY DAVID TAGNANI
September 06, 2007
NAME: David Tagnani
LOCATION: Spokane, Washington
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 160 lb (72.60 kg)
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking for as long as
I can remember, but I've really only been backpacking for eight years
or so. I started off in the hills of northeastern and central
Pennsylvania, have hiked trails from Maine to Georgia, and now I am
exploring the incredible terrain of the inland northwest. I seldom do
trips longer than three days, with most trips being overnighters. I do
not own crampons, an ice axe, or a climbing harness, so if the route
is technical enough to require them, you won't find me there. I simply
like to walk in the woods.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 3" IMAGE CAPTION = "fully
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE -
"http://www.outdoorresearch.com" LINK TEXT = "www.outdoorresearch.com">>
MSRP: US$ 38.00
Listed Weight: 9.2 oz (259 g)
Measured Weight: 10.2 oz ( 289 g)
Listed Dimensions: 32.5 x 9 inches (83 x 23 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 32.5 x 9 inches (83 x 23 cm)
Other details: I was a bit disappointed that the listed weight on the
website - 9.2 oz (259 g) - differed from the listed weight on the
packaging -10.2 oz ( 289 g). The weight on the packaging accurately
reflects the measured weight, but for those ordering online, like
myself, it is an issue.
Two things struck me as soon as I took it out of the box it was
shipped in. One, it's small. It comes in a small stuff sack of its own
and measures only 6 x 6 x 3 inches (15 x 15 x 8 cm). This sack is
black nylon with a gray OR (Outdoor Research) logo on one side and a
small grey loop of webbing as an attachment point. Two, it's heavy. It
is definitely not your typical stuff sack. The AirX sack has some heft
to it. Even comparing it to just OR's product line, this is the
heavier than any of their other dry bags or compression sacks. It will
have to really perform to be worth this extra weight on my back.
Opening the bag revealed an interesting surprise. The stuff sack that
the AirX sack comes in is not really a separate bag; it is attached to
the inside of the AirX sack. This is displayed in the picture to the
right. The stuff sack is attached about halfway down the inside of the
AirX sack This is a perplexing design choice. Perhaps my testing will
reveal the logic behind this decision.
As the name suggests, the idea is to combine the functions of a
compression sack and a dry bag into one product. The opening of the
sack rolls up and buckles closed exactly like a typical dry sack
would, and there are four compression straps running the legth of the
sack The daisy chain on the side and the webbing on the bottom are
nice details that should allow for easy attachment to the outside of a
pack or kayak. The color option I chose was black with a gray OR logo
and an orange stripe near the bottom. All of the webbing is gray as
well. All of the seams are taped and all of the measurements aside
from the weight match what was specified on the website for the size I
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 2" IMAGE CAPTION = "with its own
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are concise and printed on the packaging. They sound
simple enough, but wait, this doesn't seem to make sense. The
directions state: "Loosen straps and stuff gear in sack. Use straps to
compress load." Don't I need to close the bag before I compress it?
Reading the rest of the directions does not clear this up: "Purge air
by pressing down on top closure. Ripstop nylon fabric band purges
remaining air. Find the dark grey coated fabric at the opening. Match
the edges and fold them over the light grey nylon webbing. Roll top
three times and fasten buckle." Reading these instruction and then
looking at the sack makes me think that this is not going to be easy
to figure out. Where is that "fabric band"? It must be the orange
stripe near the bottom of the sack. But I still don't understand how
the first two statements of the instructions can possibly be correct,
but I get out my sleeping bag and give it a go.
TRYING IT OUT
I stuff my sleeping bag in the AirX sack and pull on the compression
straps as the instructions say. Lo and behold, my sleeping bag pops
out of the top because it is not closed. You can see my blue sleeping
bag peeking out of the top in the picture to the right. Am I crazy, or
is actually closing the bag the very last thing the instructions say
to do? <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 4" IMAGE CAPTION =
"something is not right">>
So I struggled with this thing for quite some time before I figured it
out. I even went so far as to email OR's customer service. They were
prompt to respond, replying first thing Monday morning to a message
sent after business hours on Friday. But the customer service rep
merely confirmed what I had already figured out by then: ignore the
instructions. Here's what to do. Stuff your gear in. Roll up the top
and buckle it. Then, holding the roll so it doesn't come undone, apply
gentle but even pressure to compress the contents and force all of the
air out of the "fabric band," which is an air-permeable waterproof
band that will allow air to escape as one compresses the sack. A few
caveats: don't push down too hard or quickly, and keep hold of the
roll. This is why I struggled figure out the AirX sack. The fabric
band does indeed do what it claims, but if I tried to compress my
stuff too quickly, it felt like the AirX sack would burst like a
bubble. I would point out here that this bag has not failed in any way
and the seams and fabric never ruptured or split. But air pressure
does build up in there if it is compressed too quickly, to the point
where I was worried about a possible rupture. Also, if I did not keep
a hand on the rolled-and-buckled opening, the air pressure would cause
it to unroll, compromising the water -tight seal.
The best I am able to do is compress my sleeping bag down to 12 x 9
inches (30 x 23 cm), down from the 17 x 9 inches (43 x 23 cm) of the
stuff sack it came with. The sleeping bag is a Sierra Designs Wild
Bill +20 F (-7 C) synthetic bag. The big difference here is that the
stuff sack weighs 2.1 oz (60 g) compared to the AirX sack's 10.2 oz (
289 g). This is a big tradeoff in my opinion. I'm not sure it's a
tradeoff that I'm happy to make, but further experimentation is in
order before that judgment is made.
I will test this sack more at home before taking it into the field.
First, I will further explore its ability as a compression sack. I
have a few sleeping bags . . . will each one fit into the sack? How
significant is the space saved by using the AirX sack over the stuff
sack that the bag came with? My tent (REI Half-Dome) came with a very
inconveniently shaped stuff sack (like a fat cigar), so I am curious
as to how this sack will handle it. Will it save space? Will it
compress the tent into a more manageable shape? I will also see how
well it handles clothes. Is the size of the sack appropriate for the
clothes I take on a typical backpacking trip? Does the sack compress
them well enough to justify the extra weight? Some other issues
related to its functionality as a compression sack that will be
evaluated will be: are the buckles, straps, and fabrics strong enough
to handle being stressed, stuffed, and over-stuffed? Is the fabric
going to handle brushing up against sticks, stones, and random objects
inside my pack? Does my fully loaded backpack have extra space and
feel stable when the AirX sacks are used in packing?
Next, and perhaps most importantly, is testing the waterproof
capabilities of the AirX sack. My bathtub will be the setting for some
of these tests. I will float it in a full bathtub to simulate being
dropped in a stream or lake. Does it float? I'll take it out
immediately and examine the inside. Did it keep the water out when
quickly dunked and then pulled out? Back in the water. Let it soak.
Examine it again. Back in the water to soak longer. Examine it again.
I will let it soak and examine it periodically while keeping notes on
time and conditions so I can see if there is a certain time limit that
it remains dry for. Next the shower. I'll turn on the shower and let
the AirX sack get pelted from above with water, simulating a downpour
to see how it handles moving/falling water. Again, I'll time it and
frequently examine the contents to see if the length of exposure to
water makes a difference.
Finally, I'll be taking this into the field with me into the temperate
rainforests of Olympic National Park. This will be a great opportunity
to test the waterproofing on the AirX sacks. The rain, mist, and fog
in the rainforest is infamous for penetrating everything, regardless
of the fancy man-made fabric or "water-repellant" coating. If it
holds up here, I'll know it will hold up anywhere.
There is certainly a discouraging learning curve on this thing. Its
not a good sign when I have to contact customer service to figure out
how to use a bag. The poor instructions exasperated the situation.
That was frustrating and not something I bargained for in a sack. I
have some homework to do before I feel comfortable including this
thing in my pack when I'm heading into the backcountry.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to
this report in approximately two months from the date of this report .
Please check back then for further information. Thanks to Backpack
Gear Test and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to participate in
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
- Yea yea yea..this is nothing more than torture to those of us who don't live
right next door to the company headquarters. Maybe I'll get mine tomorrow.
Blogging about BackpackGearTest.org, Firefighting, Linux, Hiking and more!
> Sorry for clogging the board.
> Dave Tagnani