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We have spent countless hours testing backpacks and canoe packs this summer. Some were laden with features and gadgets, others were simple and utilitarian. The one things that remained true for nearly every test was how we packed them. As important as how the pack is made, how it is packed determines just how comfortable a pack is when in use.
In order to be consistent and max out comfort, I pack nearly everything into a stuff or compression sack before it goes in my pack. This does several things; my gear stays organized, it all stays dry and I can get more gear in less space.
Granite Gear has a wealth of Packing Systems with their newest addition to the line-up as my personal favorite. The eVent Uberlight Drysacks are a backpacker or paddler's dream. They are light on a level unmatched in the incredibly competitive world of outdoor gear.
I have four of these in a variety of sizes, each with a specific purpose. I replaced my factory sleeping bag stuff sack with one, saving me about 50% in pack size. The eVent fabric base makes compression easy. Even under my whole body weight the bag didn't distort or tear as I squeezed every last molecule of air out. All of my spare clothing in another one, so even if my pack is soaked, it all stays bone dry. All of my food, snacks and drink mixes get one. And, because I am a little OCD about it, my shelter (usually a hammock set-up) has one too.
For similarly sized 10 liter dry bags:
Compared to the old PVC coated Nylon dry sacks I have been using for years, these bags shaved nearly 94% of the weight. That is simply ridiculous. With that weight loss, you have to give up some of the ruggedness of these bags, but you'd be surprised. They are tougher than you would expect, but you you don't want to lash these to the outside of a pack. A stray stick could poke a hole. Where these shine is in your pack, where 9 times out of 10 all my gear is stowed. It is your pack's job to keep your gear secured and protected from abrasion, once inside the pack the last remaining enemy is water.
Paddling deep into the BWCA poses many challenges, keeping my stuff dry is not one. Having your pack go for a swim because your overzealous buddy stands up to land their first fish of the trip, no longer ruins anything. The bag may be wet, but everything in an eVent Uberlight Drysack will be in pristine condition.
Distributing weight and organizing gear so you can get to what you need is made easier too. I pack the heavier gear near the bottom with essentials at the top, but I can gut my bag in 30 seconds to get to anything I need without having a million little things all over the trail. Compared to the dry sacks I used to use, these keep me better organized, just as dry and I have spared my back over a pound and a half in unnecessary weight. (MSRP $38.95 - $48.95)
Ryan Weber is the Founder of The Paddle Junkie. A site dedicated to providing gear, outfitter, destination and activity reviews, as well as other stuff they deem enteretaining.
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