Upgrading your stuff sacks to ultralight cuben fiber stuff sacks is often overlooked as a way to reduce your pack weight, but it can have a huge impact if you use heavier waterproof stuff sacks or compression sacks today.
I switched to cuben fiber stuff sacks this spring because a lot of my older silnylon stuff sacks had bitten the dust. I upgraded to the cuben fiber stuff sacks made by Zpacks.com because they’re super lightweight, and they come in lots of different sizes and colors which helps me keep my gear organized, and Zpack’s prices are very competitive for cuben fiber gear.
How much lighter are Zpack’s stuff sacks? They’re often 50%-75% lighter weight by volume for a comparable silnylon stuff sack with a roll top closure like the Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Nano, and even more if you use compression sacks.
For example, here are the weights of the bags I purchased and the gear that I store in them:
1. Large, (Rectangular shape) with 12.3 liters of capacity – weight: .4 oz. / 11 grams
- Used to store my sleeping quilt or down sleeping bag
2. Medium, with 5.6 liters of capacity – weight: .3 oz. / 8.5 grams
- Used to store extra socks, fleece sleeping hat, long underwear top of bottom
3. Slim, with 4.0 liter of capacity – weight: .2 oz. / 5.7 grams
- Used to store shelter
4, Small-Plus, with 3.3 liters of capacity – weight: .2 oz. / 5.7 grams
- Used to store my first aid and gear repair kits
5. Mini, with 0.9 liters of capacity – weight: .13 oz. / 3.5 grams
- Used to store personal items
When you have to measure gear weights in grams, you know it’s ultralight!
Unlike many of my old silnylon stuff sacks, these cuben fiber stuff sacks are not waterproof and don’t have roll top closures. I’ve actually found that stuff sacks stuff much smaller if they have drawstring closures that let air escape, especially for packing my puffy items like clothing and my down quilt. I also line my pack with a trash compactor bag which provides all of the waterproofing I need for backpacks and hikes, even for knee-high stream fords. Much higher than that, I’m prepared to find an alternate route or wait for the water level to drop.
Zpack’s stuff sacks are made out of very thin 0.51 oz per square yard cuben fiber which is more prone to wear than the thicker, heavier grades of used cuben fiber used by other manufacturers. They’ll still last a long time, but cuben stuff sacks do get “holey” from abrasion if you use them frequently, like me.
As a point of comparison, I usually get 2 years of hard use out of a silnylon (8 Liter) Sea-to-Summit Ultra- Sil Nano Dry Sack before the seams on the roll top fail or I need to patch holes in the fabric. With cuben fiber stuff sacks, I usually get one good season out of smaller volume stuff sacks because they hold items I access very frequently, and two years or more out of larger volume sacks. That’s not a bad return on investment, especially at Zpack’s prices which are comparable to regular silnylon stuff sacks.
One thing worth noting is that Zpacks sews the seams of its regular stuff sacks, instead of taping them exclusively, which is the current fashion amongst cuben fiber literati. I asked Zpack’s owner Joe Valesko about this and he said “we sew the seams and then tape over the side seam with a 1″ tape strip for strength.The main reason is because it is quicker. There is not necessarily anything wrong with bonded seams, it just takes a little longer and requires more precision.” Faster means less expensive as well, which is a good enough reason for me.
If you require waterproof stuff sacks, Zpacks.com also sells waterproof roll top style stuff sacks made with thicker 1.0 oz per sq yard cuben fiber, but they are heavier, more expensive and only available in black cuben fiber, negating their organizational value. Alternatively, you can seam seal their regular. less expensive stuff sacks, which may also help improve seam durability.
Have you considered switching to cuben fiber stuff sacks?
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