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Reviews > Stuff Sacks > Dry Bags > Outdoor Research Graphic Storage Bag > Test Report by Chad G Poindexter

OUTDOOR RESEARCH GRAPHIC DRY SACK
TEST SERIES BY CHAD POINDEXTER
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - July 14, 2010
FIELD REPORT - September 30, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - November 22, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Poindexter
EMAIL: stick1377 (AT) gmail (DOT) com
AGE: 33
LOCATION: Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I love backpacking! However, with only 1 ½ years under my belt so far, I would still consider myself a little green to it all, so to say… Initially, I started out with heavy gear but since then I have gone lighter, although I still use a little of it all. I have gone from tent to tarp, canister stove to alcohol stove, sleeping bag to quilt and quite happily from synthetic to down. All of my hiking so far has been in the Southeast United States, and up to this point has been with friends or family.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECS

IMAGE 1
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
Size / Capacity: 15 L (915 cu in)
Color / Design Tested: Bluejay / Clouds
MSRP: (US) $16.00
Listed Weight: 2.5 oz (69 g)
Measured Weight: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Listed Measurements (Rolled): 16 5/8 x 8 in (42 x 20 cm)
Actual Measurements (Laying Flat): 23 x 13 in (33 x 58 cm)
Other Sizes Available:
5 L (305 cu in)
10 L (610 cu in)
25 L (1526 cu in)
Warranty: All Outdoor Research products come with their Infinite Guarantee.

The Outdoor Research (OR) Graphic Dry Sack (hereafter referred to as the "dry sack" or the "bag") is a lightweight dry sack that has been designed with a unique graphic design printed on the bag which enables the user to organize and find gear easily. The dry sack is made of Outdoor Research's non-breathable Barrier fabric, which is durable, highly packable and extremely waterproof. The dry sack is fully seam taped and features a roll-top closure for keeping water out. The dry sack is offered in 4 different sizes from 5 to 25 L (305 to 1529 cu in) and about eight different graphic designs in which to choose from.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

When I arrived home from work today, I found a tiny package laying beside my front door. I have been anticipating the dry sack's arrival, but was expecting a bigger package, so I opened the package with some wonder. Inside the shipping package I found a small box with "Outdoor Research Lightweight Dry Sack - 15 Liters" printed on it. Standing there and looking at this tiny box I wondered, "How big is 15 liters?"

Of course the next thing I did was open the box to check out the real prize. I opened the two flaps on the side of the box and pulled the folded stuff sack out. After unfolding the dry sack, I was astonished at how large 15 liters is! At 23 x 13 in (33 x 58 cm) laying flat, this dry sack is huge. After this I folded the dry sack back up and set it on my scales and got a reading of 2.6 oz (74 g). According to the box, this dry sack is lightweight, and I must say that for this size, I will agree. The coated nylon dry sack is actually very light weight, with most of the weight being found in the roll-top closure.

The dry sack is a dark blue-color and has the cloud graphics printed on the outer material of the dry sack. About 3 in (8 cm) from the bottom of the dry sack is an "OR" emblem printed in orange. The inside of the dry sack is a solid gray-color. There is one seam that runs from the bottom to the top of the dry sack as well as one seam that makes a circle in the bottom, giving the dry sack a tube-shape. All of these seams are seam taped on the inside of the dry sack. The only other seams in the dry sack are the ones which attach the roll-top closure and these are not seam taped. All seams (stitching) appear to be of good quality with no loose or frayed ends. Also, the taping seems to be lined up evenly with the seams, as well as applied without wrinkles and adhesed securely to the dry sack.

Found on each end of the nylon strap that forms the roll-top is a buckle (male and female). These buckles connect into each other enabling the dry sack to stay sealed shut when rolled down. There is also a D-ring attached to one side of the roll top near the buckle which can serve as a hanging loop. (This can be seen in the picture below.)

IMAGE 2

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The box that the dry sack came packaged in has instructions in both English and (I believe) French. There are instructions for using the dry sack, as well as other random pieces of good-to-know information about the dry sack printed on the box. The literature is very easy to read as well as to understand. The instructions on using the dry sack are found on the bottom of the box and are as follows:

1. Stuff gear in sack.
2. Purge air from sack by pressing down on top of bag.
3. Place top edges together and fold flat.
4. Roll fold at least three times.
5. Fasten buckle.

The box also lists other bits of information that I have already touched on in my report, such as: The dry sack is waterproof, lightweight and tear resistant. The dry sack is fully seam taped and features a secure roll-top closure on the top of the dry sack which creates a waterproof seal. The average weight and measurements are also listed on the front of the box.

On one of the side flaps is a picture diagram of a dry sack with lines drawn at different levels which represents the different size dry sacks available and gives examples of items that fit well in each size bag. There is also a statement stating that this dry sack is PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) free. One other statement that I find very important to know about this dry sack is also found on this side flap, and it states that this dry sack is "not intended for prolonged submersion or electronic submersion."

TRYING IT OUT

I was a little concerned about the capacity after I chose this dry sack. I was afraid that it would be a 15 L (915 cu in) bag before rolling the top closed, however, I quickly realized that this was not the case once I opened the package and saw the size of the dry sack. I plan on using my down sleeping bag in this dry sack over the next few months (and hopefully longer). The stuff sack that came with the sleeping bag is 8.8 L (537 cu in), so the Outdoor Research Graphic Dry Sack will be more than enough. I should even be able to fit some of my clothes in with my bag if needed.

IMAGE 3
The OR Dry Sack and my sleeping bags original stuff sack


Shortly after I opened the dry sack up and weighed it, I grabbed my sleeping bag and began to stuff it into the dry sack. I had assumed that it would be a snap since the dry sack was so large (especially as compared to the sleeping bag's original stuff sack). What I found is that the dry sack's material almost grabs at the sleeping bag while trying to stuff the sleeping bag into the dry sack. (The dry sacks texture is similar to that of a piece of rubber.) So, I actually worked harder at getting the sleeping bag into the dry sack than I have at getting it into the stuff sack that came with the sleeping bag, even though the original stuff sack is half the size. Also, after finally getting the sleeping bag into the dry sack, there was an empty space at the bottom of the dry sack and I had to slide my hand along the inside of the dry sack and try to work the sleeping bag into the bottom of the dry sack.

After a little work I did get the sleeping bag settled into the dry sack (the results can be seen in the first picture of my report). After this I simply rolled the top down as directed and clipped the ends together securing the roll in place. Once the buckles are clipped together a nice little handle is formed that fits great in my hand and can be used to carry the bag around if needed. The dry sack can be hung from this handle if needed. However, there is also a D-ring that can also be used as a hang tab which would probably be more secure since it would not put pressure directly on the buckles while hanging.

I have not submerged the dry sack in any water as of yet, but I plan to do so soon, however, when I do so I will be sure to report on this in my field report. (I am interested in the statement found on the side of the box about prolonged submersion and looking forward to testing it out!) After taking a few pictures of the dry sack stuffed, I decided to take my sleeping bag back out of the dry sack. Here again, I ran into another problem. The dry sack does not have a handle on the bottom, so unloading the dry sack was somewhat difficult. The Barrier material is not breathable, so there was a good deal of suction while pulling my bag out of the dry sack, and without the handle I was left to pull on my expensive down bag.

I am hoping that with use, the material on the inside of the dry sack will become somewhat more slick, so that my bag can slide in easier, and be removed easier as well. Only time will tell.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

LIKES:
1. The dry sack is large enough to hold my sleeping bag, plus some.
2. The dry sack is lightweight considering its large size.
3. The dry sack appears to be well made and of good quality materials.
4. The D-ring is a nice addition to hang the dry sack from.
5. Due to the cloud design, it will definitely be easy to identify.

CONCERNS:
1. The inside of the bag grabs the sleeping bag making stuffing difficult.
2. There is no handle at the bottom, making unpacking difficult.

This concludes my initial report on the Outdoor Research Graphic Dry Sack. I would like to thank Outdoor Research as well as Backpackgeartest.org for giving me the opportunity to test this dry sack. Please check back in about 2 months for my field report which will be appended to this report.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Hanging at GSMNP

I haven't been able to get much use with the dry sack for the field report, but this is what I do have. In August I carried the dry sack with me on a two-day hike to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). My buddies and I hiked up the Alum Cave Trail to the top of Mt. LeConte and then back down the next day. We started hiking at an elevation of 3,830 ft (1,170 m) and ending up at 6,593 ft (2,010 m). The temperatures started out around 88 F (31.1 C) at the beginning of our hike and dropped down to around 65 F (18.3 C) at night. (The temperatures felt considerably higher during the middle of the day, but I did not have a thermometer with me to verify this.) On this hike we did experience some rain but we were lucky and ended up reaching the shelter before the rain came. (However, at times I did feel a drop or two of rain here and there on the hike up.) The overall conditions on this trip were actually quite humid. On this trip I carried a 14 lb (6.4 kg) pack.

For this trip, I used the dry sack to carry a midweight fleece, a quilt, 2 extra pairs of socks and a silk liner inside my pack for the duration of the hike. Once I got to the shelter and emptied out the dry sack I then used the dry sack as my food bag. After dinner at the shelter I loaded up all of my food and smellables inside the dry sack and then hung the bag on the provided bear cables for the night. (As seen in the picture to the right.) The next morning I emptied the food out of the dry sack and then loaded up my items listed above for the hike back down.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The dry sack carried all of the items that I needed for this past trip easily inside, while leaving plenty of material at the top that I could roll down to create a secure closure. Also, there was plenty enough room left inside in which I could have easily fit more. This is a good thing considering I will soon be carrying a slightly larger sleeping bag (rather than the smaller quilt) stuffed inside the dry sack since the weather is getting much cooler now.

After my initial impression, I was left with concern with the way things stuck to the material which lines the inside of the dry sack. The problem with this is that it makes it somewhat difficult to stuff items into the dry sack. Due to the small size of the quilt I carried, I did not experience too much trouble with stuffing the quilt inside the dry sack. (The sticking is experienced with larger items which tend to fill up the dry sack more.) Of course the other items were small enough to easily slide right in without any troubles. With this in mind, I do still have concerns about this when using the dry sack with my larger sleeping bag.

Another concern I was left with is that without a pull-strap on the back, the items inside the dry sack can be difficult to remove. When the dry sack is filled out (stuffed) there is not any place to grab onto the dry sack from behind in which to help apply counter-traction. This in combination with the sticky inside liner makes it somewhat difficult to remove larger items. Again, since my quilt I used is small, the dry sack was not too overly-stuffed and I was able to wrinkle up a section at the back of the dry sack in which I could hold onto and pull the quilt out more easily. Here again, I still have some concerns with this when I use my larger sleeping bag.

I also used the dry sack to hang all of my smellables overnight on the bear cables. Concerning size, the 15 L (915 cu in) dry sack provided plenty enough space to hold my food and other smellables that I carried on my hike. I did line the inside of the dry sack with a large Ziploc bag before placing my smellables inside to try to keep smells from absorbing into the dry sack as much as possible as well as to keep it clean on the inside. To hang the dry sack, I looped a carabiner through the D-ring and then to the bear cable to secure it. The D-ring held up all night and showed no signs of weakness or cracking the next morning when I took the dry sack down. Despite the short light rain and the heavy dew which we had throughout the night, I am happy to report that the inside of the dry sack and everything inside it remained dry the next morning. After wiping the outside dry I decided to turn the dry sack inside out and let the dry sack air out a little while before packing up my quilt and other stuff inside.

Of course, the clouds which are printed on the outside of the dry sack made the dry sack very easy to spot, whether hanging on a bear cable or laying inside the shelter somewhere. Also, due to the cloud design printed on the dry sack, it drew quite a few comments while hanging on the bear cables, mostly along the lines of "being camouflage while hanging in the sky." All-in-all, it made for at least a brief conversation piece!

SUMMARY

Even though I have not gotten much field use out of the dry sack at this point, concerning the use I do have, I am still left with the two main concerns I mentioned in my initial report. The material which lines the inside of the dry sack is quite sticky, and there is no handle at the back of the dry sack in which to use to apply counter-traction. And an even larger concern is that with larger items, these two concerns work together to cause a third concern, which is getting the items out of the dry sack. I am about to leave on two trips in which I will be using my larger sleeping bag inside the dry sack, so I will be able to report more on this in my long term report.

Other than this, I am happy with the dry sack. The D-ring holds up well, and the dry sack has withstood a fair amount of rain and dew while successfully keeping the treasures inside dry. As well, the design is an advantage which helps me to identify my stuff and initiates conversations.

At this time, I would again like to thank Outdoor Research as well as Backpackgeartest.org for giving me the opportunity to test this dry sack. Please come back in about 2 months to view my long term report which will be appended to this report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Hiking to Chimney Tops
I have used the dry sack inside a day pack on three different occasions. Each time I filled the dry sack with my kitchen set-up, food for the day and my first-aid kit along with a headlamp and a flashlight and some other smaller various items. Skies were sunny and clear on each of these trips so there was no rain to speak of, although this is not to say that it was not humid.

The first day hike was a hike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP). The temperatures during this trip were 75 F (24 C). We climbed 1,400 ft (427 m) during the 2 mi (3.2 km) hike to the top of Chimney Tops.

The next two trips were closer to my home at Big Hill Pond State Park. Each of these trips were short hikes around the lake at the park, and averaged about 3 mi (4.8 km) each. Temperatures during this hike were near 80 F (26.7 C). The general elevation at this park is 500 ft (152 m), and while the park is called "Big Hill Pond" there is really only one big hill on the trail, so while there are some ups and downs, there is not a great deal of elevation change.

I also used the dry sack in the same manner as above on a single over night trip to Max Patch in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. This was only a 1 mi (1.6 km) hike to the summit, which is where we set up camp for the night. Temperatures during this trip were between 34 to 60 F (1 to 16 C) and very windy. On this trip we did not receive any rain, so again it was a dry condition. Elevation on top of the summit is 4,629 ft (1,411 m).

The last trip I used the dry sack on was during a four-day backpacking trip in the GSMNP. My wife and I hiked 36 mi (58 km) and at an elevation between 2,200 to 6,300 ft (671 to 1,920 m). Temperatures were between 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C). During the third day of this trip we got an afternoon shower that turned into an all night storm. The rest of this trip was sunny and dry.

Other than this I did a simple test in the bathtub at home. I filled the dry sack with towels and folded the top of the dry sack down three times as Outdoor Research recommends. I filled the tub with water and then I dunked the dry sack in. Next, I pushed the dry sack to the bottom of the tub so that it was completely submerged. To take it one step farther I even massaged the dry sack while under water to see if water would seep in. All told, I held the dry sack under water for 1 minute. After this, I took the dry sack out of the tub and then opened it up. My findings were completely dry towels.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I was able to take this dry sack out with me on quite a few trips during this testing phase. The trips I have carried it on have ranged from day hikes to overnight trips to multiple-day trips. Depending on the trip, I have used the dry sack to carry various pieces of clothing, electronics, my down sleeping bag, and even food and/or cooking supplies. (Obviously not at the same time.) Most of the time I simply used it inside my backpack to keep my precious items dry, but on one occasion I used the dry sack to hang some of my smellables in during a rain storm.

I still find the absence of a handle at the bottom a little annoying. This did not present a problem for the times that I stored smaller items (kitchen set-up, food, electronics, etc...) inside the dry sack. However, trying to unpack my down sleeping bag was a different story. After my use with this dry sack, I would very much like to see a handle sewn to the bottom to make unpacking the dry sack easier. (This would also give me peace of mind when pulling so hard on my expensive down sleeping bag.)

The only other real issue I had with the dry sack was how the inside sticks to things. Especially items that cause the dry sack to really expand (or fill), such as my down sleeping bag. I was hoping that over time the tacky feeling inside the dry sack would wear off but up to this point it has not. I am not sure how Outdoor Research could change this, other than by changing the material they use to construct the dry sack, but I don't think that this is too realistic.

My solution to storing my down sleeping bag inside the dry sack is to first stuff my sleeping bag in its own stuff sack (which is shown in the picture near the top in the initial report) and then to stuff this inside the dry sack. When my sleeping bag is in its own stuff sack, it is actually a little smaller than the inside of the dry sack, so there is not a problem removing the sleeping bag this way. Also, by doing this I can still benefit from the safe storage of the dry sack.

IMAGE 2
On top of Max Patch


I did use the dry sack one other time to hang smellables on the bear cables. It was during our four-day backpacking trip on the day/night it rained. The dry sack kept the items inside dry and the handle/D-ring held up fine. Also, it was not hard to dry the dry sack off the next morning before I stuffed my clothes and sleeping bag back in. I simply gave the dry sack a few good hard shakes and then wiped it down with a microfiber towel. Done.

SUMMARY

So, in summary, my likes and dislikes have remained the same throughout the entire testing phase. The only thing that has really changed is my faith in this dry sack to actually keep the items inside dry. Not that I doubted it at first, but now that I have actually put it to the test, it has proven true.

IMAGE 4
At Tricorner Knob Shelter in the GSMNP


LIKES:
1. Large capacity.
2. Light-weight.
3. Quality materials and craftsmanship.
4. Easily identifiable.
5.Keeps items dry (safe).

CONCERNS:
1. The inside of the bag grabs the sleeping bag making stuffing difficult.
2. There is no handle at the bottom, making unpacking difficult.

At this time I would like to extend my thanks to both Backpackgeartest.org as well as Outdoor Research for giving me the opportunity to test this product.

SIGNATURE

IMAGE 3
Chad Poindexter
"Stick"

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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