IR: OR DryComp Ridge Sack (Curt)
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Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack Backpack
Report Series by Curt Peterson
Initial Report - August 2010
Field Report - October 2010
Long Term Report - December 2010
Below you will find:
Initial Report Contents
Tester Background and Contact Information
Initial Report Summary
Field Report Contents
Long Term Report Contents
Tester Background and Contact Information
Name: Curt Peterson
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>backpackgeartest<dot>org
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA
I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5-9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.
OR DryComp Ridge Sack Specifications
Back Sack Weight: 17.2 oz (490 gm) measured on my scale | 16.4 oz (465 gm) manufacturer claim
Dimensions - Rolled: 24" x 11" x 8" (61cm x 28cm x 20cm) - manufacturer specs
Volume: 2075 cu. in (34 L) - manufacturer specs
Sizes: One size
Manufacturer Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
Warranty: Outdoor Research's Infinite Guarantee - Guaranteed Forever
MSRP: $119.00 US
OR DryComp Ridge Sack Initial Impressions
The Outdoor Research (OR) DryComp Ridge Sack arrived to my home safe and sound in the retail packaging. It looks pretty much identical to the depictions on the OR website. OR has two short videos as well as a zoomable picture on the page dedicated to the DryComp Ridge Sack. There is definitely enough information and detail provided that I felt like I'd actually seen the product before it arrived. The product is categorized as a "Back Sack" under OR's Storage Systems product category. Deciding whether this is more of a drybag type product or a waterproof daypack is something I'll explore later in the review. It's definitely not a pack I'll be likely to lose - the orange color is very bright and the material is pretty shiny. Search and Rescue squads should have no trouble spotting me from the air if the occasion arises. The only nitpick on the retail experience is that it seems awfully over packaged. The pack comes in a cardboard box that's as big as the pack. It is 100% recycled cardboard, but it would seem adequate to just hang the pack on a rack like most other small packs or find a way to only use a hang tag of cardboard instead of an entire box. The box is printed in English on one side and French on the other. Besides pictures, specs, and a features list, the packaging notes OR's Infinite Guarantee, brief instructions on how to properly seal the roll-top closure, and warns that the pack is not intended for prolonged submersion or electronics storage.
From Outdoor Research:
This ultralight and waterproof day sack has all the features needed for a fast and light summit push. Radio frequency welded seams and reinforced fabric on the bottom and pocket area provide maximum strength and waterproofness. A mesh pocket accommodates a hydration bladder and stretch cording and gear loops secure crampons and ice tools. Compression straps cinch your load down and breathable mesh shoulder straps combine to offer a comfortable fit for alpine climbing and peak bagging.
+ Ultralight, waterproof 70D nylon fabric
+ 420D nylon fabric for durable, reinforcement on bottom and around pocket
+ Radio frequency welded seams for highly durable waterproof seals
+ Roll-top waterproof closure; durable buckle secures roll top
+ Mesh back pocket with elastic stretch cording secures loose items and doubles as hydration sleeve
+ Two compression straps
+ Spacermesh shoulder straps are supportive and breathable
+ Dual ice axe loops with shockcord ice axe keepers
The pack's construction is certainly one of the most unique aspects of the pack. It appears as though the sewn points are attached to the grey fabric separately. Those pieces are then welded onto the orange sack. Turning the pack inside out does not reveal a maze of seam tape and covered stitching holes. There are just a few main seams that are welded together into what appears to be an incredibly tight bond. It definitely seems more solid than any sewn and taped seam I've seen in a pack or stuff sack. The only place on the entire pack where thread touches the orange waterproof fabric is at the very top where the roll-top closure is attached to the pack. As that part of the pack gets rolled over on itself several times, I'm not worried at all about water getting into the pack this way. The fabric is much beefier than I expected. At this weight I thought it would be closer to the feel and weight of silnylon. Instead, it's much closer to a traditional stiff drybag material. I can't ball the whole thing up like a stuff sack - it's much too stiff.
The shoulder straps are surprisingly long. One of the main gripes I have with almost all backpacks is that the shoulder straps are too short for me. The most uncomfortable aspect of this is that the buckles that attach the shoulder strap to the webbing that then attaches to the pack ends up on the front of my shoulder or in my armpit. With even light loads this can get uncomfortable. The DryComp Ridge Sack certainly wasn't made specifically for someone my size, but the shoulder straps are much more comfortable than most regular packs in my experience and way better than most small day packs which tend to be even shorter than mid-size packs.
The DryComp Ridge Sack has a big mesh pouch on the back for wet stuff. There's a bungee on top of that for even more external attachment options. There are side compression straps to cinch down the load. The hardware is pretty beefy. I imagine the pack could easily be lightened up even further with smaller/lighter buckles and toggles. Durability appears to be a strength at this point. As someone used to silnylon and featherweight fabrics in packs, this seems like it can take some abuse. I'm pretty gentle with my gear so I don't plan on throwing it down a ravine or anything like that, but it definitely doesn't appear to need to be babied. One curious addition to the feature set is the inclusion of dual ice axe loops with retention cords. Maybe waterfall climbers could make use of these and this would actually make a decent pack for that, but it's odd to see mountaineering features like this on a pack of this type. Maybe OR envisions it getting use as a summit pack?
Overall this is a pretty nice piece of gear looking for an application. I'll be using it primarily as my rainy weather daypack and my lakeside and streamside fishing pack. I may add it to my multi-day trip pack (perhaps as a double-duty stuff sack with my sleeping bag inside?) if I'm planning on basecamping and doing day trips. A small daypack would be very useful in that scenario. I'm sure extreme ultralight backpackers could push this into service as their main pack, but my loads aren't that small or light, so I don't see myself using it that way. During the Field Testing over the next couple months I'll be mainly focusing on answering two questions I have at the outset of this test: 1) Is this a drybag with shoulder straps or a waterproof backpack? and 2) How comfortable is it to use? These questions are probably closely related, and getting out there on the trail and finding out how useful it is, how sweaty the slick waterproof fabric gets, and how functional it is will hopefully begin to answer these questions.
Initial Report Summary
The Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack appears to be a very tough drybag/daypack hybrid. With most of the features of a well-equipped daypack but the ruggedness and waterproofing of a drybag, it seems to be bridging two different product categories. Whether it's the best of both worlds or a compromise of both only testing will tell.
My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test this unique pack/sack combination!
Please check back in early October for a report summarizing 2 months of field usage of the OR DryComp Ridge Sack in summer conditions.
Long Term Report
Please check back in early December for a report summarizing 4 months of field usage in fall conditions and final thoughts on the OR DryComp Ridge Sack.