Archive | December 2012

Sea to Summit eVac Dry Sack Review

Sea to Summit eVac Dry Sack Review:

Here’s a review of Sea to Summit’s eVac Dry Sack, a waterproof dry bag that features eVENT fabric on the base to allow excess air to be purged from the sack.

First off be under no illusions. If you are desperately seeking to shave every single last potential gram off of your pack weight, this is not the dry sack for you. For that matter the concept of a dry sack itself may seem like a ridiculous concept. This blog, and my personal focus and interest, is with lightweight gear, not ultra or super-ultra light gear. I think in the near future I’ll write a more substantial piece on just this point, and explain my own position and reasoning. Back to the dry sack though, until now I’ve used a Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Sac (8 litre) to stow my down bag in. It keeps it dry and fairly compact and weighs a total of 30 grams. Although seeming like an ideal solution, it can be really difficult to compact down to a small size once my sleeping bag has been squeezed in, and so it seems to occupy an unnecessary amount of space in my pack.

I have been looking for a solution for a little while, specifically at Podsacs air stream range (the ‘lite‘ model in particular). Although seeming like a good option I wanted to have a look at one in person and hadn’t seen them in any outdoor shops near me. Online they have been selling for around £15 and for that price I just couldn’t justify buying one. Then, as luck would have it, my local outdoor shop got some of the Sea to Summit equivalents in on sale for only £6… SOLD!

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This is the 8 Litre version. 3, 5, 13, 20, 35 and 65 Litre variants are also available.

I bought a couple, but specifically for my sleeping bag I bought the 8 Litre size. It doesn’t feature the strap on the base of the sack to help hold onto the bag as you pull out the contents (the podsac model does), but my old Ultra Sil model didn’t either, and it never seemed a problem. I did chop off the D-Loop at the top of the bag to save a couple of grams and to stop it catching on things as I pull it out of my rucksack and after that one modification it comes through at 58 grams on my scales. The build quality seems great and the main body fabric seems really hard wearing.

eVent Base: Note how there is no strap to hold onto when removing items from the dry sack.

eVent Base: Note how there is no strap to hold onto when removing items from the dry sack.

The eVent membrane at the base of the pack is a genius idea. My down bag can be messily stuffed into the dry sac, and after only a few rolls at the top of the sack, a moderate squeeze of the sides allows the trapped air to escape from the air permeable eVent membrane, allowing the size of the sleeping bag to be compressed mightily. The fabric still remains completely waterproof, but eVent’s unique construction allows air to escape. If you want the science, you can find it here. The fabric itself is still comparatively light and non-bulky, which is probably why (as far as I am aware) Polartec NeoShell hasn’t been used in this way.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to use my sleeping bag’s dry sack in conjunction with a buff as a pillow. I stuff it with a fleece and then pull the buff over the dry sac to make it more comfortable. This dry sack is much better as a pillow, as it allows some air out meaning the pillow isn’t too rigid to rest on.

Although this non-essential item is almost twice the weight of the dry sac it has replaced, I really feel the time, stress and effort saved in the morning when trying to pack away my sleeping bag is well worth the few extra grams.  I’m sure the Podsac equivalent is just as good, but I’m really glad I managed to pick this one up, especially when on sale!

Light Outdoor Gear Blogger

Blog Update and Lifeventure Travel Mirror Review

First off, apologies for the drought in blog posts, work and time constraints have limited me somewhat, but I do check for comments/ feedback on a regular basis, so feel free to ask questions, suggestions or provide your own tips or advice, I will endeavour to respond to them all. I have a few more posts lined up for the near future including an ultralight sleeping bag review, down mid-layer comparison and waterproof over-trouser write up. Thanks for checking out this blog, please favourite/bookmark and feel free to comment or ask questions.

Thanks once again,

Light Outdoor Gear Blogger

Now it’s time for a no doubt enthralling mirror review?!:

Lifeventure Travel Mirror Review:

I recently picked up a new lightweight  mirror to add to my kit bag. OK, so this doesn’t necessarily sound like the most exciting of purchases, however this mirror completes a long search for a lightweight field mirror solution.

No, I am not incredibly vain whilst on the hill, rather the mirror serves two main purposes. Firstly, I find a mirror to be exceptionally useful to inspect injuries, cuts, splinters and stings. Secondly, should any tech devices malfunction,  it can be used as a signalling device in potential emergency situations. Oh, and it is also a useful tool to help shave and clean yourself up with… *Cough* Vain *Cough* ! For these reasons though, I really think it’s worth carrying a mirror in my pack, but like most kit carrying decisions it’s subjective to your own personal preference.

Finding a decent quality mirror for trekking / hiking use is surprisingly difficult.  I originally used to use a piece of acrylic mirror that had come out of a military camouflage paint pack. It fulfilled the criteria of being lightweight (weighing approx. 16 grams) but provided a really poor, blurred reflection. It was also really fragile and the painted mirror surface flaked and scratched in no time at all. Following this, I switched to a compact glass mirror which was a vast improvement in image quality, but the weight penalty shot up to 46 grams. This has bugged me for a while and has been an item on my kit list  that has been flagged as excessively high for a long while.

The Lifeventure Travel Mirror weighs in at 17 grams on my scales, features a 3 gram scratch pouch and a neck/carry cord. I ditched the cord straight away, and so the combined weight penalty for my pack is 20 grams. Being made out of stainless steel, it feels really sturdy and has so far proved very durable. It’s an ideal size and for £5 is relatively well priced. All in all, this has been a great pick-up and has finally reduced the weight of an item on my kit list that has bugged me for a while.