cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


809 Outdoor Research's
Ultralight Dry Sack

Ultralight Dry Sack having from a limb in the backyard

So how do you keep the things in your pack dry during a rainstorm? No regular backpacks or day packs are waterproof. One of my regular packs (Osprey) doesn't even pretend that the bag is waterproof, it has drainage holes in the bottom of the pack's main bag. (There are a few dry bags with pack straps attached that are probably dry - but I am not sure how well they carry.)

My first attempt (many years ago) to keep my pack dry was to use the extended poncho. At times it would keep the rain off (if it was not too windy) but in an all day rain, the pack's contents would be wet.

For years then, I didn't even bother trying to keep my pack dry. I kept important gear in stuff sacks that helped some, but I also carried gear that I could use when wet.

Then in more recent years, I have used pack covers. I think I have four, three for different sized packs and one ultralight cover. The ultralight is my favorite, but to be honest, it is only marginally more successful at keeping my pack dry than the extended poncho. The cover flaps in the wind and many times my pack has gotten wet because I would not stop to take the time to put the cover on my pack!

I have read about using a large garbage bag or trash compactor bag as a waterproof bag, but I was never too excited about using a throwaway bag. Finally I saw the Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack. Would it be the answer to dryness? I started using it over the winter ... and have a few notes ...

The bag is big, 55 liters or 15 gallon with a rolled closing. The bag weighs 2.9 ounces. The seams are taped.

I use a 45 liter pack and the 55 liter bag easily fits inside and fills the pack.

Using two or three smaller bags would also work and would probably help in organization as long as you could remember what each bag contained.

For four days this winter/spring I walked in (really) wet weather using the dry sack. Everything in the sack remained dry.

Ultralight Dry Sack hanging out in the rain

To further experiment, I put a couple of large towels in the bag and hung it from a limb in the backyard. The towels were damp after a two inch, all day rain. I was a little confused why the towels were damp. I emptied the bag and dried it. Then checking for leaks, I inflated and re-sealed the bag. Three days later, the bag was still filled with air. The bag was not leaking, but i had found the problem. Water was running down the strap as it hung from the limb and into the bag, ah ha!

I might modify the bag and put a strap on the bottom so that it can be hung upside down.

In camp, the bag could be used as a bear bag - to hang from a tree limb, but I prefer the BearVault - bear proof container.

Even if using a BearVault for food storage, it would still be a good idea to suspend gear that would attract animals. Any salty gear could be packed in the sack and hoisted high above the heads of goats, marmots, porcupines, etc.

If you fell in the stream during a creek crossing (worse case scenario), the contents of the bag would stay dry. A pack cover or poncho would not protect the pack, if it went underwater.

The bag can be inflated and used as a pillow.

You could even use the bag to haul water from the stream to the cooking or washing locations.

Any holes in the bag should be easy to patch with the appropriate glue.

Amy and I both have an Ultralight Dry Sack. We really like them and will be using them on our summer trip.

Happy Ultralight Dry Sack trails


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: