Sea to Summit Dry Sacks Review

Sea to Summit recently sent us a range of drybags. From an ultralight model to an ultra-tough one, via a bag with a window for keeping an eye on its contents, I've been using a selection for the past few months.

Dank weather on Skye, and I'm keen to keep my warm jacket dry  © Nick Brown
Dank weather on Skye, and I'm keen to keep my warm jacket dry
© Nick Brown

Since they're well made and competitively priced, and all pass the kitchen sink test, there's really not much I can criticise here - except for the excessive plastic packaging that each comes in. That aside, it's worth noting the differences between the models here, since each is suited to a slightly different use. For all-round outdoor fun I'd single out the View Dry Sack:

View Dry Sack - from £9

  • Available in: 1L - 35L

This is a conventional roll-top dry bag, but with the addition of two nice touches that give it that bit extra.

Immediately obvious is the big clear 'window' panel. If you're rummaging around in search of something small but vital then being able to see in is an advantage; and to make that easier still, the inside of the bag is coated white. The transparent TPU patch has been welded into the rest of the fabric, so I should think the chances of it developing a leak are effectively nil.

The View Dry sack 13L in the Black Mountain  © Dan Bailey
The View Dry sack 13L in the Black Mountain
© Dan Bailey

Secondly, it's worth pointing out that the plastic buckles are easily removed and replaced to make it possible to repair the sack in the field (if you have a tiny cross thread screwdriver and a replacement buckle to hand).

Tough enough to stand up to plenty of hill use (and abuse) but still light enough for climbing or backpacking, the 70 denier waterproof nylon fabric is fully seam taped, and has a nice soft feel. Its 10,000mm hydrostatic head is going to be quite waterproof enough for most occasions - even watersports such as sea kayaking. For watersports you'd want to double-bag any electronics for total peace of mind, but on the hill one sack is going to be more than adequate - even, I suspect, if you fall in a river (I've not tried this).

The window is handy when you're looking for something specific  © Nick Brown
The window is handy when you're looking for something specific
© Nick Brown

The View Dry Sack comes in a good range of sizes: I've mostly been using thr 13 litre bag, which is an ideal capacity for keeping all your spare/warm clothing dry on mountain days, and weighs just 76g - a similar weight to lightweight dry bags from other brands (but with the added advantage of the window). Sea to Summit also sent me a larger 20 litre sack, which would come into its own for overnight trips.

I'm not sure the window would be much of an advantage for the very smallest sizes, but it's definitely useful in the medium sizes and upwards. Overall this is my pick of the bunch for its balance of weight, durable feel and usability.

Sea to Summit say:

We've taken our versatile and durable Lightweight Dry Sack, upgraded it to oval shape and added a clear TPU window to easily view the contents inside. Our new View Dry Sack allows quick identification of the contents. Particularly useful for groups sharing common gear. Producing a bond as strong as the materials being joined, the TPU window is RF welded into the side panel.

  • Assists with organisation and identification
  • Flexible PU coated 70D Nylon with a 10,000mm hydrostatic waterhead
  • Fully taped seams
  • White interior for greater visibility of contents
  • Includes Field Repair Buckle
  • Available in 1, 2, 4, 8 ,13, 20 and 35 litres

For more info see seatosummit.co.uk

View Dry Sack prod shot


Ultrasil Dry Sack - from £8

  • Available in: 1L - 35L

A thinner dry bag that's particularly suited to weight conscious uses, the Ultrasil Dry Sack also comes in a good range of sizes from a tiny 1 litre to a pretty spacious 35 litres.

It's a good size for a phone and other small gadgets you can't afford to get wet  © Dan Bailey
It's a good size for a phone and other small gadgets you can't afford to get wet
© Dan Bailey

Its 30 denier ripstop nylon is so thin it's translucent, but still seems pretty tough for the minimal weight. The 13 litre bag weighs just 40g - just over half as much as the equivalent-sized View Dry Sack, and also a lot lighter than some rivals. I suspect that most of this weight is in the buckles.

If there's one slight concern, it's that the fabric only has a hydrostatic head of 2000mm; this is likely to be waterproof enough for keeping things dry inside your rucksack - I've no complaints yet after a couple of rainy walks - but I might not leave it sloshing about in the bottom of a boat.

Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 1L in the Welsh hills - not known for their dry climate  © Dan Bailey
Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 1L in the Welsh hills - not known for their dry climate
© Dan Bailey

The seams are fully taped, and the rolltop closure feels robust; again, the buckles are replaceable should you manage to snap one.

I've mostly been using the 1 litre bag for my phone and other small bits and bobs. I also have a 35 litre version, which would work well as a light and fully seal-able rucksack liner. Overall the UltraSil Dry sack is impressively light, but doesn't seem likely to offer quite as much protection or durability as the View Dry Sack. I'd save it for the more weight-critical trips.

Sea to Summit say:

The Ultra-Sil® Dry Sack is the ideal dry sack for backpackers who need to protect their belongings from wet weather.

  • Ultra-Sil® 30D siliconised high-tenacity CORDURA® nylon fabric for exceptional strength
  • 2000mm waterhead
  • Non-wicking Hypalon roll-top closure with stiffener at the top for an improved seal
  • Fully seam sealed
  • Translucent for easy visibility of contents
  • Slippery finish for easy packing
  • Round base in all sizes
  • Available in 1, 2, 4, 8 ,13, 20 and 35 litres

For more info see seatosummit.co.uk

UltraSil Dry Sack prod shot


Big River Dry Bag - from £18

  • Available in: 3L - 65L

As the name implies, this is aimed squarely at kayaking, canoeing and rafting rather than climbing or walking. As such it needs to be tough first and foremost, while saving weight is of little concern since the water will be bearing the load.

The buckles are big and tough  © Dan Bailey
The buckles are big and tough
© Dan Bailey

If you need a durable dry bag, it's a good one  © Dan Bailey
If you need a durable dry bag, it's a good one
© Dan Bailey

With a hefty 420 denier ripstop nylon fabric, it's certainly durable - indeed I think you'd struggle to damage it, even throwing it around outside of a rucksack (into a boat, on the beach etc). The seams are taped and double stitched for extra toughness; the rolltop closure is very chunky; and the buckles are larger and clearly built stronger than those on the more general purpose dry bags (again, they are replaceable). Its 10,000mm hydrostatic head seems guaranteed to do the business, while the comparative stiffness of the fabric adds a measure of protection to the contents. You also get two tough-looking lash loops, a feature kayakers etc may appreciate.

Of course that extra strength comes with a weight penalty; the 13 litre sack weighs a hefty 128g, or three times as much as the UltraSil alternative. It's expensive too, starting at £18 for the 3L bag. Overall it's a bit specialist and over-spec for general outdoor use; but in the appropriate setting this is a superb bombproof dry bag and a worthy alternative to rivals from brands like Ortlieb. I probably won't be taking mine on the hills, but it'll be great on those very occasional sea kayaking days.

Sea to Summit say:

Super strong and abrasion resistant, this non-PVC mid-weight dry bag has space saving low profile Hypalon lash loops on the sides for secure stacking. Features a roll-resistant oval shape. A great choice for rugged water sports like kayaking, canoeing, and rafting.

  • Super strong and abrasion resistant 420D nylon fabric
  • TPU laminated fabric with 10,000mm waterhead
  • Waterproof, double stitched, reinforced, tape sealed seams
  • Hypalon lash loops for attachment/stacking
  • Waterproof Hypalon roll top closure does not wick moisture
  • White interior for greater visibility of contents
  • Includes Field Repair Buckle
  • Available in: 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 35, 65 litres

For more info see seatosummit.co.uk

Big River Dry Bag prod shot

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