Posts Tagged Sea-to-Summit
When it comes to protecting your important gear from the water, dry sacks have long been go-to tools. But traditional dry sacks can be bulky and not very fun to tote around. The slimmed-down Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack is my recent favorite way to safeguard my gear.
The sack’s breathable base is constructed of waterproof laminate fabric, allowing air to get pushed out when you compress the sack, but still not allow water in. Just roll the sack down and air is pushed out of the base. The Hypalon roll-top closure locks in place with a buckle. No compression straps are needed.
The polyurethane-coasted nylon body has double-stitched, sealed seams, as well as reinforced stitching at stress points. That said, you still want to keep it away from sharp objects and avid subjecting the sack to excessive abrasion, because that could compromise the waterproof fabric.
I’ve used the eVAC Dry Sack on kayak and SUP trips, boating excursions when things might get splashy, and even just trips to the beach. Dry sacks are never intended to be completely submerged under water, and if you have your expensive electronics inside a sack, you still should consider double-bagging them—just in case.
One of the things I like best about this dry sack is that it has an oval base, so when I plunk it down on the dock, I don’t have to worry about it falling over and rolling into the water.
The Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack comes in a variety of sizes, from 3 liter to 65 liter. They are available on Amazon and vary in price from $12.23 to $84.68, depending on size. They’re also at REI at similar price ranges, again depending on size.
I’m always happy to take something that can pack away into its own little pouch, but this Ultra-Sil Dry Daypack from Sea to Summit really takes things up a notch. It’s ultralight, strong, and packable, yes, but the thing also keeps everything inside dry when you get caught in the rain!
This daypack is configured like a dry bag you would take out on a boat or kayak, with a top closure that folds or rolls over a few times and then snaps shut. It’s made of siliconized Cordura fabric and is seam sealed, so once you lock down that flap, no water is getting in to mess up your things.
This is no wimpy little toy bag, however. It’s got compression straps on the outside to hold more of your gear and the capacity is 22 liters. I’ve jammed 25 pounds of weight in it from a grocery store trip on foot and could have put in more if my shoulders could handle it. You’ve got a lot of room and it’s very strong.
When you’re ready to pack up and head home, this Sea to Summit Dry Daypack goes into a little pouch that’s unbelievably small, to the point where you could lose it in your larger pack or suitcase pretty easily. Thankfully it’s got a little snap tab so you can hook it onto something to keep track of it.
I’ve taken this out into a few drizzles and have not even gotten a drop in my belongings. Water just beads right off it, even if I stick it under a faucet to simulate a white water rafting ride. My real last whitewater rafting ride, in Veracruz, would not have been a good test though. We hit a wall of water and I went flying overboard. The label on this clearly says, “Do not submerge.”
This is a great little daypack to take along if you need something for around town and you’ve brought another bag with your laptop or tablet in it that’s too hefty. Plus if the weather is iffy, no worries about your contents getting wet.
Let’s say you’re interested in ultra lightweight backpacking, but aren’t quite ready to sleep in a cocoon of a bivy shelter. Or let’s say you’re not an extremist, but want to allocate your pack pounds to other comforts besides your shelter. For the sake of argument, let’s also say you’re willing to budget big for this experience.
Enter the Sea to Summit Duo Specialist. This little wonder looks and feels like a tent–you can actually sit up in it, imagine!–but carries like a bivy. In fact, it’s lighter than most extreme lightweight tents out there, weighing in at only 22 ounces. Yes, really. And did I mention you can sit up in it?
Here’s the nitty gritty: The Duo weighs in at 846 grams (there’s also a Solo weighing 625 grams…more on that later), making it the lightest fully-enclosable shelter in its class. (Now I sound like a car commercial, but no matter.) The Specialist comes with a set of two poles and six pegs made out of 7075 alloy, but can also be erected with a pair of trekking poles and natural anchors if you want to achieve low-weight nirvana (633 grams for the Duo).
The shell is made of Pertex Endurance, which is basically an ultra lightweight waterproof breathable nylon fabric. It’s seam sealed throughout, which means it’s waterproof enough to act as its own rain fly. The mesh doors (there are two) offer much-needed ventilation (I’ve found moisture to be an issue with most lightweight shelters) and keep the mosquitos and other little critters outside where they belong. I slept in the Duo during an all-night rain storm in May, and stayed very snug and dry. With the outer zipper on one door unzipped partway (leaving the inner mesh door zipped entirely), I had no condensation problems. Gear has a space tucked beside either door, protected by the outer flaps.
Setting up the Specialist is as easy as you’d guess, considering it’s a very simple design. It does not stand on its own: the guy lines need to be staked. Spread out the shelter and stake it first, using the pre-measured loops to ensure they’re taut. Then enter the tent and attach the two poles. The pads where the poles rest are reinforced so you don’t have to fear a tear; if you’d rather use trekking poles to set up the tent, this comes in handy, as the tip of your pole rests on the reinforced material. This instructional video shows the trekking pole process very well.
There is are no less than six internal pocket compartments to store valuables inside the shelter. The guy lines which attach the stakes are advertised as reflective, so you won’t trip over them headed to nature’s bathroom at night, but I didn’t find this to be true. I tripped over them repeatedly!
Now for the size: in my experience, the Duo does not comfortably fit two people. You knew there had to be a sacrifice for that low weight somewhere, didn’t you? This fact comes as no surprise to me, as I’ve always reduced the capacity number by one for every tent ever made. Here’s how the math breaks down for the Duo: one regular-sized adult will take up 2/3 of the footprint space inside. Add a pad and sleeping bag, and maybe a pair of hiking boots protected from the elements, and you have a roomy shelter for one. If you leave gear outside and want to be very cozy, it will sleep two (somewhat overlapped). We tried it out with two adults (myself at 5’4″ and my husband at 6′ 2″, and while the Duo was long enough for him, it was too cramped in width. My eight-year-old and I fit fine, however, so one adult and one child will fit more comfortably. If you’re looking for a Solo shelter, I’d upgrade to the Duo and have lots of space for your stuff.
Overall, I was very pleased with this shelter. I didn’t experience any condensation problems, I had enough space for myself, I was never cold or wet on a cold and wet spring night, and it was easy to set up. The only downside: the Duo relies on staking and guy lines to erect. If you’re backpacking in very hard or rocky soil, you won’t be able erect the shelter unless you’re skilled in using natural anchors like rocks and roots, and even then, the lines have to be quite taut. If I knew I’d be camping out in rocky soil, I wouldn’t bring it.
The weight of the Specialist does not include the groundsheet, which is sold separately (or use one from your gear supply). The Duo comes in one color, a nice gray and yellow, and sells for just under $500 in most gear stores. Find it at Backcountry for $498 or Amazon for the same price.
When you’re traveling, things rarely break when you’re conveniently near a shop where you can repair or replace the necessary gear. They break when you’re far from help, and you have to give up or jury-rig a solution.
If any of your trusty gear (like backpacks and dry bags) uses plastic buckles, considering making a minor investment in a couple Sea to Summit Field Repair Buckles. When one of your buckles breaks while you’re on the road, just pull out a field repair buckle and replace the broken one with the aid of a screwdriver. Yes, that means you need to have a multi-tool or screwdriver handy, but sometimes that’s much easier to find than the right buckle.
As an added benefit—there is no need to have replacement buckles sewn on when back from the field. The Field Repair Buckles are a permanent solution. The two-pin side release buckles measure 3/4 in. (20 mm.), and are a replacement for nonadjustable buckles, like the ones often found on dry bag closures and V-pull style waist belts.
I’ve tucked a couple into my small repair kit when I travel, and while I haven’t had the misfortune of having any of my buckles break to date, I have experimented with replacing one with a Field Repair Buckle. It was a pretty quick and easy process—much better than having to search around in an unfamiliar city for a solution.
Sea to Summit Field Repair Buckles list for $4.95 each at Paragon Sports.
Here’s something I can say I’ve been using for years, items that perfectly fit the credo of “practical travel gear.” These dry tabs in a waterproof packet from Sea to Summit are lightweight, inexpensive, and useful. You can use them on a weekend getaway or a round-the-world trip and they’re great for getting around the liquids issue with your carry-on.
Of course they’re great for camping too, especially if you need to schlep all your stuff in a backpack over miles of trails before you set up camp.
Sea to Summit is known for putting out a great variety of gear that’s well-made, but well-priced. These pocket soaps retail for just $4.99 and are often on sale for a dollar less. Each has 50 of the tabs inside: little pieces of what feel like thin paper. When they come in contact with water, however, they turn into what they’re labeled: soap, shampoo, shaving cream, laundry detergent, or body wash. Like magic! See a demo of the soap in action below.
As shown in that video, the plastic packs themselves are watertight, so if your pack gets wet or you drop one (closed) in the sink, none of the tabs inside get wet. With 50 of them to work with, they’ll last quite a while, especially the shaving soap.
They’re biodegradable, so no worries in the backcountry, plus they’re phosphate and paraben free. How much would you pay for even trial sized liquids making that same claim?
All have a pleasant “light green tea” fragrance.