LTR - Outdoor Research Graphic Dry Sack
Below is the text of my LTR on the Graphic Dry Sack. Tests folder copy is at http://tinyurl.com/35j8hdz
I look forward to your edits.
LONG TERM REPORT - November 28, 2010
I've used the Outdoor Research Graphic Dry Sack on three backpacking trips and numerous day hikes, and also on a business trip.
I took two overnighters in the Texas Hill Country, at relatively low elevation (about 1500 ft/460 m maximum), during typical fall weather daytime highs from 70-80 F (21-27 C) and early morning lows down to 40 F (4 C), with no precipitation but plenty of morning dew. A three-day, two-night trip was colder, near freezing at night and not above 60 F (16 C) at any time. On these trips I used the Sack to stash my sleeping quilt (Nunatak Ghost, reviewed on this site) and midlayer down sweater, with a spare pair of socks added on the longer trip.
My day hikes near Dallas were mostly in the early morning, with temperatures from 35-55 F (2-13 C). Our autumn rain has been concentrated into a few heavy storms, conveniently occurring on weekdays and thus not coinciding with any of my hiking. I used the Sack for a merino sweater and spare pair of socks. The Sack was thus less than half full, yet worked as easily and comfortably as when stuffed to its brim. I simply rolled the Sack's mated lips down to the contents, squeezed out excess air, and clipped it up. At this size the Sack fit nicely at the bottom of a lightweight daypack that I've been using.
Last week I did another day hike along the Wheeler Peak trail near Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, climbing about 2400 feet (730 m) from a trailhead elevation of 10020 ft (3054 m) until our route to the summit was blocked by snow, on a clam, sunny day at temperatures from 22-40 F (-6 to 4 C). I used the Sack for a heavy down sweater and a set of merino underwear (long-sleeved top and long johns).
The business trip was a one-week journey to two European cities. I started the trip with the Sack empty, but added dirty laundry as the trip progressed.
Not much new to report beyond my commentary in the Field Report above. The Sack is easy to use, has kept its contents completely dry, and remains intact. I've found that the fabric resists soiling, as I haven't found it necessary even to spot-wash it. After the business trip I consciously left the Sack to air out in the sun, turned inside out, just in case it had accumulated any odors (I hadn't detected any) from soiled clothes. Note that I have not used the Sack for any food, partly to keep from having to clean it and partly because I like to use it, properly stuffed, as my backcountry pillow. If it smelled of food I'd have to suffer retained odors through the night, even if I wasn't in bear country where I'd have to hang anything smelling of food.
Pillow use, and use as a down-filled base at the bottom of my pack (and therefore the small of my back) when hiking are two bonus features of the 15L Sack. Though on occasion it's taken some extra cramming, once in awhile moving some of the contents elsewhere, I've always been able to fit the stuffed Sack across the bottom of my pack (in fact, four different packs, all different sizes).
Durability has been excellent; the Sack looks as good as new. The top closure and buckle have performed as they should without fail, though it remains important to expel any excess air before closing. As noted, no cleaning has been required beyond a couple of hours in the sun.
The eye-catching graphics are not a marketing gimmick. They make the Sack easy to spot anywhere, particularly in the dark inside a tent.
Lightweight, works as advertised, cheery, durable, and capable of a very practical second job as a pillow - all in all, a first-rate product, in my never-humble opinion. As before my only criticism is lack of a grab loop on the bottom. C'mon, add a few grams and make this thing well-nigh perfect!
I've set my next summer's backcountry objectives on increased packrafting. This Sack, and maybe a couple of its differently sized cousins, will be in my pack for sure if this comes to pass.
My test report ends here, with sincere thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.