I went to my local discount store to see what kinds of products they sell there for backpacking and to see whether one could assemble a lightweight backpacking kit for a beginner backpacker or boy scout with what they sell. The selection wasn’t that great and is oriented more for car camping, but I did manage to pick up a few interesting items, including a $1 folding knife, a 1 pound plastic tarp (from the hardware area) for $15, and a set of three “weather-resistant” roll-top stuff sacks from Outdoor Products for $12 (MSRP $16), sized as shown:
- 2 Liter Sack: 7.75 by 13 inches
- 4 Liter Sack: 9.5 by 15.5 inches
- 8 Liter Sack: 10.75 by 22 inches
These dry sacks are a pretty good bargain when compared to what you’d have to pay for the same combination of Sea-to-Summit roll-top Ultralight Sil waterproof stuff sacks ($43). That’s pretty outrageous when you consider that all of these products are virtually identical, none of them are technically waterproof, and they’re all probably made in the same factory in China. On that basis alone, I decided it would be good to try these dry sacks from Outdoor Products to see if they were really a bargain or not.
Material and Sewing
Outdoor Products Dry sacks are made out of polyurethane ripstop nylon with double-stitched and taped seams. If you examine the seams closely, there are two rows of stitching inside the seam and one outside that look identical to the seams on stuff sacks made by Sea-to-Summit. I’m no expert on seams, but I couldn’t detect any visible difference.
The rest of the hardware on the two sacks and the stitching on the roll top closure are very similar although the stitching on the OP Dry Sack is a little heavier than on the Sea-to-Summit, probably because the latter is Cordura which is a thinner nylon fabric. Weight wise though, there’s no difference between the 8 liter stuff sacks from the two companies and both weigh 1.1 ounces.
I normally use an 8 L Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sil sack as a stuff sack for my 3 season down bag. So, I swapped it out for the OP 8 L Dry sack on a recent two-night trip and it worked fine without splitting a seam. Time will tell – I usually split a seam on the Sea-to-Summit sack once a year because I use it a lot and I really cram my bag into one, but I can’t see any downside to using the Outdoor Products Dry Sack instead. Even if I do have to replace it after a year, it will still cost a lot less.
Update: 7 years later these Outdoor Products stuff sacks are still functioning perfectly.
Sink Submersion Test
For this test, I filled the 8 Liter Outdoor Products Dry Sack with dry paper towels and submerged it in the sink to see if any of the seams would leak. This dry sack is not guaranteed to be waterproof, but I wanted to see what would happen anyway.
After 10 minutes, I pulled the dry sack out of the water and the seams hadn’t leaked. Good news. Again not a long term test, but unless you plan on swimming underwater for an extended period of time while you’re wearing a backpack, the Outdoor Product Dry Sack should keep your sleeping bag dry if it rains or if your hydration bladder leaks.
I’ll be using these Outdoor Products dry sacks from now on and I’ll replace the remaining “waterproof” Sea-to-Summit stuff sacks I currently use with them as they break down.
These 3 stuff sacks are a good deal at $12 – and a good way for more people to save a little money on new backpacking gear.
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