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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > OR Drycomp Ridge Sack > Test Report by Mike Wilkie

OUTDOOR RESEARCH DRYCOMP RIDGE SACK
TEST SERIES BY MIKE WILKIE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 23, 2010
FIELD REPORT - November 02, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - April 13, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Wilkie
EMAIL: foreverwild76 at yahoo dot com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Davenport, New York (USA)
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

Hiking for me started at an early age, as I was always an avid camper and as a Scout my backpacking obsession began. Now living in the Catskill Region backpacking has become serious for me over the years. I hike, snowshoe, canoe, snowboard or multi-day backpack through the Catskills or Adirondacks almost every weekend. I use and practice safe lightweight techniques and have greatly reduced my pack weight, adding both comfort and miles to my adventures. As an aspirant of the Catskill-3500 Club and Adirondack-46ers, peak-bagging is my main outdoor activity. My long-term goals are to complete long distance thru-hikes.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.outdoorreseach.com
MSRP: US$119.00

MANUFACTURER DETAILS

+ Ultralight, waterproof 70D nylon fabric
+ 420D nylon fabric for durable, reinforcement on bottom and around pocket
+ Dimensions - Rolled: 24 x 11 x 8 in (61 x 28 x 20 cm)
+ Volume: 2075 cu. in / 34 L


TESTER'S MEASURED DETAILS

Color: Alpenglow/Grey
Weight: 16.5 oz (468 g)
Dimensions - Rolled: 24 x 11 x 8 in (61 x 28 x 20 cm)

IMAGE 1
Image courtesy of outdoorresearch.com



ABOUT THE PRODUCT

The Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack is advertised as "an ultralight and waterproof day sack". OR states that this pack offers, "all the features for a fast and light summit push". They also call the DryComp Ridge Sack a comfortable fit for alpine climbing and peak bagging.

At first glance, the OR Ridge Sack resembles a large dry bag, but with the added pack features to the design and constuction offers a multi-use pack. Personally, I look forward to using the sack as a paddle bag when canoeing down river or canoe camping.

The sack's main compartment seals with a roll-top waterproof closure and is secured closed with a buckle. Next to this buckle is a small D-ring for attaching gear. A deep mesh pocket is on the front that has an elastic shock-cord for securing items or this pocket can double as a hydration sleeve.

There are two nylon side compression straps and a third nylon strap on the upper part of the mesh pocket for attaching gear. The sack even offers dual ice axe loops with shock-cord ice axe keepers.

The shoulder straps are OR's Spacermesh, which so far has proven both breathable and comfortable. Radio frequency welded seams offer a durable waterproof seal. A thick reinforcement on the bottom of the sack and around the mesh pocket also offers durability. To stabilize the load while worn, the Ridge Sack has a ¾ in (1.91 cm) webbing waistbelt and sternum strap.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Initially I was impressed with how the sack was designed typically from a dry bag style and stayed true to a dry bag structure. The ultralight weight of the Ridge Sack was also quite impressive.

The 34 L (8.98 US Gallons) volume offers plenty of pack space in one large compartment and can easily accommodate gear for a day trip. There is even some space leftover for extra layers when needed on those chillier excursions or when day tripping in early spring or late fall,

The front mesh pocket is perfect for stashing smaller necessities and snacks. My two-liter hydration reservoir fit perfectly in this mesh sleeve as well.

TRYING IT OUT

I had the opportunity to use the OR DryComp Ridge Sack on a weekend hiking trip. From base camp, the Ridge Sack was used on day hike throughout a state park over three days. I have several initial positive and negative comments from the use given thus far.

First the good; the Ridge Sacks ultralight design helped me to reduce my pack weight drastically from my other daypacks. The sack offered plenty of space to carry my gear needed for day hiking, including food, water, fleece pull-over and rain gear. Actually, there was more than enough space for my kit and a bit of room leftover.

The second positive aspect of the sack is its performance to keep my gear dry and resist water. During a few thunderstorms, the pack's material proved to be highly water-resistant. The dry bag type roll-top closure prevented any water from entering the sack.

For breathability and comfort, the mesh shoulder straps are the only other feature next to the pack's ultralight weight that adds any comfort when on the trail. During warm temperatures, the mesh shoulder strap wicked moisture quickly, reducing trapped moisture. The soft spongy material is comfortable to have on the shoulders.

My only real complaint thus far is about the Ridge Sack's form. It was difficult for me to keep the sack and heavier gear stored internally from sagging. This sagging in return caused some extra weight to hang on the shoulders. I think going forward, I will add a small piece of stiff closed-cell foam pad that can triple as a back-panel, sit pad and add form to the pack. I would like to see if this would also help to keep gear secure and reduce any shifting of items.

SUMMARY

The Outdoor Research Ridge Sack thus far has offered me an ultralight and ultra-dry backpack/dry bag. There is plenty of space to store my day trip necessities and hiking gear with some room to spare. Although I had some issues with my gear shifting and the sack sagging, I feel I can overcome this issue with the use of a small lightweight foam pad, which will offer multiple uses.

I feel the unique design of the Ridge Sack creates a multi-use pack, which can be used both on and off the water. The dry bag design will allow me to use the sack as just that on river trips and various paddle excursions. The backpack design will allow me to wear the sack during canoe portages or when bagging a peak from base camp.

PROS

Ultralight
Dry bag/backpack design with a roll-top closure
Comfortable/breathable shoulder straps

CONS

No form of the sack to keep gear and the pack from sagging



Additional information will be available in two months time from this report date.





FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

For my field use and evaluations, I tested the Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack on several day paddle trips and a canoe camping trip. The sack was also used on a base camping trip and for limited day hiking. And for extended use, the sack was used in the front country (day-use areas/parks and siteseeing) during wet conditions.

Cedarlands-Rock Pond Area - Adirondack State Park
2 day/1 night canoe camping
Camp elevation: 1750 ft (533 m)
The weather averaged 80 F (26.67 C) and 65 F (18.33 C) at night.
Light rain at night and mostly cloudy during the days.

Saratoga Springs State Park – 2 days/1 night Base Camping
Conditions were hot around 80 F (26.67 C), high humidity and a quick sprinkle of rain over night. The sack was used for some light hiking from base camp.

Utsayantha North Lake (unofficial name) – 2 days/1 night canoe camping
This camping spot is situated on a small island toward the center of the lake. The conditions were warm with light rain in the evening and temperatures around 80 F (26.67 C). The ground condition was sandy, few rocks and pine needles. There were some light wind gusts in early morning. The lake’s elevation is at 2000 ft (610 m).

Other paddling trips taken to evaluate the Ridge Sack were day trips on mostly flat water. Most of my trips were at a local pond, where the only other occupants were a family of beaver. Weather conditions were usually warm and dry. Another trip was down a segment of the Susquehanna River, with some quick water due to previous rains, but it was relatively flat which emptied me out into the Goodyear Lake. Weather conditions for this were warm, with high humidity.

Balsam Lake Mountain - Catskill Mountains
This is a short easy hike up an old logging road to an elevation of 3723 ft (1135 m). The weather was cool and damp with some light rain on the way up. I spent a few hours on top celebrating my friends wedding ceremony.

In addition to backcountry and on water use, I also used the DryComp in the front-country for some light walking during inclement weather.

For my field use I have logged eight days of use in addition to the front country use. Six of these days were on water and the other two, besides the front-country use, were on land.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

As I evaluated and tested the Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack in the field, I learned the pack's limitations and what activities it is best suited for in my personal opinion. The sack has shown to be quite durable and has proven to be very water-resistant.

There are a few negative views I have about this dry sack, but I do want to express that the sack has become an important piece of my gear list and I am very pleased with what the DryComp Ridge Sack has to offer. I did find the sack is best suited for canoeing or water activities compared to trail or mountain hiking.

For hiking, I did find the sack to be a bit uncomfortable as most of the gear stowed sinks to the bottom (especially the heavy stuff) causing the weight to pull down on the shoulders. In addition, without this gear being completely stabilized it did create a bounce like effect, causing more discomfort to the shoulders. I found that gear cannot be securely stabilized due to the lack of form; however I do know it's not suppose to have form being a sack, but this did allow gear to shift while hiking and was awkward when climbing steep sections or scrambles. At times finding gear was a cumbersome task, because it was not where it was initially stowed.

And my last negative complaint about the Ridge Sack is about the backpanel. Boy, did my back get hot on the warm days in the sun. The backpanel has no means of breathability; just the water-resistant nylon material is against the back, causing much trapped heat and moisture.

Again, let me make this clear, for select activities the positives of the DryComp Ridge Sack far out weigh the negatives listed above.

I absolutely loved using the DryComp Sack on day paddling or canoe camping trips. It consistently provided highly water-resistant protection to my gear and essentials. The sack helped to reduce weight in the canoe when portaging by wearing it as a pack. My hydration reservoir was easy accommodated in the front mesh pocket and the size of the sack provided ample space to stow gear.

The sack was also used on several front country trips when inclement weather was expected. Again, it continued to protect my gear from the elements.


Pros

Highly water-resistant
Multifunctional
Excellent as a dry-bag/portage backpack


Cons

Not comfortable for long day hikes
Heavy gear shifts and causes uncomfortable weight on the shoulders
Backpanel is not breathable and traps lots of heat.




LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

For my final field use and evaluations, I tested the Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack on my last paddle trip of the season.

Charlotte Creek /Charlotte Valley - Davenport, NY
This canoe trip was a full day paddle on mostly flat water, but offered some swift moving water at narrow bends. The temperature was about 35 F (1.67 C), clear skies and sunny. Plenty of wildlife viewing was available for most of the trip.

For this entire test series, I have logged nine days of use in addition to some front-country use. Seven of these days were on water and the other two, besides the front-country use, were on land.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Over these several months of testing, the Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack offered a highly water-resistant, durable and versatile dry bag/backpack. I learned that the sack for me was best suited for as a dry bag when on paddle trips. However, having the option to use the sack as a backpack proved to be more than valuable while exploring on land during paddle trips or during portages. As a backpack for longer trip on the trail, the Ridge Sack did not perform as initially expected. This is due to the same reason as stated in "Field Report" section of this report.

As a backpack, I found the comfort level just was not there for longer hiking trips. Heavier items stowed in the sack would often creep to the bottom and items would shift causing the sack to be very unstable. In addition, having no breathable back panel greatly adds to the discomfort.

Going forward the Outdoor Research Ridge Sack will remain on my paddle gear list as it performed better than expected for this type of excursion. The sack is highly water resistant and seals closed easily. Moreover, having the shoulder straps there for use as a backpack has proven to be very valuable during portages and launching/loading the boat.

SUMMARY

The Outdoor Research Ridge Sack has offered me an ultralight and ultra-dry backpack/dry bag. However, I preferred it as a dry bag rather than a backpack. There is plenty of space to store my day trip necessities, although I had some issues with my gear shifting and the sacks sagging weight on my shoulders.

I feel the unique design of the Ridge Sack creates a multi-use pack, which can be used both on and off the water. The dry bag design will allow me to use the sack as just that, on river trips and various paddle excursions. The backpack design will allow me to wear the sack during canoe portages or some on land exploring.

Pros

Versatile
Highly water-resistant
Excellent as a dry-bag/portage backpack

Cons

Not comfortable for long day hikes
Heavy gear shifts and causes uncomfortable weight on the shoulders
Back panel is not breathable and traps lots of heat/moisture

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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