FR - Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Daypack - Alex Legg
- HI, here is my FR for the Sea to SUmmit day pack. The text is below and the HTML is at:
Thank you for your time and edits!
I have carried the day pack on many different occasions. There has been lots of day hikes, a few backpacking trips, and a number of times when the pack was used as a makeshift shopping bag at my local supermarket.
I have taken the pack on 5 day hikes in the Tucson Mountains. Each trip was between 5 mi and 12 mi (8 km and 19 km) and the conditions were mostly sunny and dry. The elevation ranged from 2,500 ft to over 4,500 ft (762 m to over 1,370 m) and temperatures ranged from 35 F to 85 F (2 C to 29 C).
I took the pack on 3 trips to the Mt. Baldy Wilderness Area, south of Tucson, Arizona. On each trip I covered fro 9 mi to 15 mi (14 km to 24 km) in varying conditions of sunny and dry to light and down pouring rain. Temperatures have ranged from 25 F to 65 F (-4 C to 18 C) and elevation has ranged from 4,500 ft to over 9,000 ft (1,370 m to 2,743 m).
I also took the pack on an overnight trip to serve as my summit pack in the Santa Rita mountains in southern Arizona. The daypack was only on my back for a 6 mi (10 km) stretch, and was otherwise filled with clothes and use as a dry bag before being stuffed into my larger pack. The Temperature ranged from 7 F to 40 F (-14 C to 4 C)
and the conditions left me in the fog and rain the entire time.
Performance in the Field:
This pack has been fun so far. I like how nonexistent it feels on my back. I haven't been carrying much water since the weather cooled down, so I have had some very light loads. Most days I don't even get close to filling up the bag. After stuffing all the things I think I need for a trek I find that there is still a good amount of room to spare. The roll-top closure allows the pack to be cinched down tight even when there is plenty of empty space inside. I often load it with a base layer (1pair pants and 1shirt), a lightweight synthetic down jacket (used primarily to add shape to the pack), food and water (trail mix, protein bars, 2 L water), and survival essentials (waterproof matches, fire starter, petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls and para cord all stuffed into a freezer bag and then into a warm beanie). This pack fits all I need and more for most day trips.
I haven't had any trouble with moisture getting into the pack as long as the roll-top closure was properly closed. The only times I had issues with outside moisture entering the pack was a day when I was forced to take a hydration bladder and stuff it into the pack because my dogs had their way with my water bottles. As a last minute fix, it wasn't all bad. The mouth piece tube had to stick out the main opening while I rolled the top closed around it which left an opening to the inside. Even with the opening compromised by the tube, what got into my pack was more of condensation from the warm air melting snow all around me rather than actual water getting in. My base layer inside got a little damp but that was it. There was no actual water to dump out and the inside of the pack air dried on the passenger seat during the drive home.
This pack is very good at keeping outside moisture outside where it belongs. The issue seems to be that it has the same weather stopping abilities on the inside. The Ultra-Sil material shows noticeable difficulty in allowing inside moisture to escape. Moisture from food, water bottles and sweaty clothes gets stuck inside and condensation forms on the inside of the pack much like on the inside of certain tent walls. I can't say that this has caused me any problems, but it is an observation worth mentioning. I wonder if left out a few days during the warmer months, I could end up with an entirely unique little ecosystem thriving inside the pack. Time will tell I suppose.
I was a little bummed when my collapsable water bottle didn't fit securely in the small compression straps on the front of the pack. No matter how tight I cinched them they wouldn't hold the bottle in any secure way unless I used excess slack to tie the bottle up. I didn't like fighting to get the bottle removed, so I carried my water inside the pack. At this point I figure if my biggest complaint is not being able to stow a water bottle on the outside of the pack, then it must be a cool little pack. So many of my other small day packs have too many compartments and zippers that don't do much more than add bulk and weight. I tend to find all sorts of random things I have stowed and forgotten about inside the many little pockets. Most of which are things I don't really need to have with me. I have been able to use the compression straps for other things such as holding hiking poles and a wet shirt, so they haven't turned out to be useless at all.
I think that the conservative design of this daypack is a good approach to my style of hiking. Having only one compartment causes me to look at everything I have inside every time I open it up. It forces me to think about what I have brought and to keep me from giving myself a hard time, I only bring the things I need when I use this pack. I really judge what does and doesn't need to go along with serious scrutiny. I have found that I carry far less items using this pack than I do with my other day packs.
The lightweight material that constructs this pack is a lot more comfortable than I had suspected. The shoulder straps are thick enough where they rest on my shoulders to be able to handle a lot of the weight. They don't dig into my body like I had wondered in my Initial Report, and they are quite comfortable. They seem to adjust easily and effectively with one hand while I'm on the trail.
I have carried the pack on a bunch of day hikes both long and short. It has been in rain and snow showers lasting hours at a time. I have even left it outside while at my house test the water resistance and I am pleased to say that after an entire night of steady rain, all the contents of the bag were dry.
So far this is just the type of basic, low maintenance minimalist day pack that I was looking for. I love how confident I am during a storm that my belongings are dry. I also love how much I forget that I am carrying a pack at all. I am now interested in finding a similar designed pack that also has some wicking abilities so that I don't grow a swamp inside during the warm months. Overall I am having a blast testing this pack and I look forward to the Long Term Report phase.
Things I like:
1. Tiny pack that holds all I need
2. Water does not penetrate
3. Comfortable enough to forget about
Things I don't like:
1. No luck wicking moisture from the inside out
2. Can't carry my water bottle on the outside of the pack