I consider myself a hobbyist hiker. That means I fall somewhere between hardcore and occasional day tripper on the hiking spectrum. While I don’t live it 24/7, I enjoy the hobby and consider it one of my favorite past times.
As part of the hobby, I am always looking for quality equipment. This includes everything from trekking backpacks down to the flashlight I keep on my belt. Good equipment will make the trips more enjoyable. Experience has taught me that having a piece of equipment fail while out in the middle of the woods is not the path to enlightenment. It is the pathway to lots of swearing, yelling and throwing a water bottle at a tree (and having said water bottle bounce back and hit one in the face).
One of my key pieces of equipment, and undoubtedly for most hikers, is the backpack. And why shouldn’t it be? This is where all your gear goes for when you are out on the hike, climb or whatever. I have several backpacks and dry bags in my collection in various sizes and quality. One of the better dry packs I have is the Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack Backpack.
• Waterproof construction made from 70-denier nylon fabric and stronger 420D nylon fabric on the bottom and around pocket.
• Waterproof roll-top closure – The roll-top closing is such a simple concept that ensures everything stays nice and dry.
• Radio frequency welded seams – Sounds cool right? After doing some research this welding technique ensures a strong bond between the connected materials
• Internal hydration pocket – If you have a hydration bladder, then you’re good to go because the Drycomp Ridge has a built in sleeve.
• Dual adjustable ice axe loops – Nice to have this option if you have an ice axe (or two). I’ve used the loops to hook other items to the Drycomp bag. (find more backpacks like this)
The Drycomp is a pretty sleek looking backpack. It has a pretty minimal profile when empty. Since this is more bag than anything else, it can be rolled up for easy storage. In addition to the shoulder straps, there is an adjustable chest and waist strap that when used provides a nice level of stability. There is stretch cording on the pack for holding equipment. I’ve used this to hold some wet weather gear as a way to save interior space. The bag is not overly large, but if you pack well you can get a good amount of gear in the bag.
The model I bought comes in a shade of garish orange. This saves me the trouble of having to slap safety orange tape on the backpack. High visibility is a preferred trait for me when hiking. I have no desire to be stealthy, especially during hunting season. I believe the bag also comes in blue and black colors if your tastes run a little darker.
Fully loaded and with the straps properly adjusted, the Drycomp is pretty comfortable. The sternum strap can sometimes sit a bit high. I thought this might pose a comfort issue, but so far there haven’t been any problems. With this being basically just a fancy bag with shoulder straps, there is no internal frame adding weight, or support for that matter. Keep that in mind when considering this backpack as a purchase option.
I’ve learned that proper packing of gear and supplies is going to play an important role in providing long term comfort when you are hiking through the wilds. Having something sticking you in the back when hiking up a trail because it was misplaced in the backpack is going to make for a miserable experience.
Ok, here’s the true heart of the review. How does the Drycomp waterproof dry sack hold up? I’ve been utilizing the pack for several months and have used it pretty heavily. So far the pack has held up remarkably well. The waterproofing quality came in very handy as I seemed to get hit with a bunch of weekend hikes that came with torrential rain. I am not a fan of hiking in the rain, but when you are in the middle of the woods, what can you do? The contents of the bag stayed dry, while I did not.
The bag itself has been through a few spills in the snow and semi-dunks in the creek, and I can report there have been no adverse effects to the bag or its contents. A friend convinced me to go hiking in the snow during the final weeks of winter. It was a fun experience, but took some getting used to. This is where the Drycomp bag ended up in the snow as I flailed around in the snow drifts.
I try not to over pack, so I’ve never pushed the Drycomp to the point where I was really stressing the welded seams. I’m not going to put any loose razor sharp objects in the bag to test the nylon material, but I can say the bag held up to having a bent tire spoke from a busted mountain bike poking it in the side over a three hour car trip. No holes or leaks so far.
The Outdoor Research Drycomp Ridge Sack Backpack has proven to be one of my best dry bag backpack purchases. Once you get used to the fact that it is just a bag with straps, then all should be good. This might seem like a knock on the product, but I’ve discovered that a lot of people have preconceived notions when they hear the term backpack. They imagine a large framed pack that can hold a whole campsite. Once I show them the Drycomp, they seem pretty impressed.
The bag has held up remarkably well under my ownership. I see no point in babying one’s gear. The equipment is meant to be used. However, I try to treat my gear well because that usually assures that you’ll have the gear for a long time. Why spend the money if you’re just going to trash your gear?
The Drycomp backpack has gotten me through some annoyingly wet hikes and has protected the gear I stowed in it. Since that is why I bought the bag, I can safely say that I am extremely happy with my purchase.