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REVISION: IR - OR Drycomp AirX Sack - Dave T.

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  • tagnanidavid
    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.
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 10, 2007
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      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
      posted, anyway.

      The HTML version is here:

      Sorry for clogging the board.

      Dave Tagnani

      September 06, 2007


      NAME: David Tagnani
      EMAIL: dtagnani@...
      AGE: 31
      LOCATION: Spokane, Washington
      GENDER: m
      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.



      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
      stuff sack">>


      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.


      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
      "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 test.

      This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
    • Andrew Buskov
      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. AB
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 10, 2007
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        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.


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        > Sorry for clogging the board.
        > Dave Tagnani
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