Chris Townsend is a world-leading authority on outdoor gear. In his weekly column, he assesses new innovations and tests exclusive early samples of new kit. This week he looks at Lifeventure Ultralight Dry Bags
Waterproof bags in different sizes to keep your gear dry
One of the unsung advances in outdoor gear in the last decade has been the spread of lightweight waterproof dry bags. Before these arrived there were stuffsacks made from waterproof material but without sealed seams and with drawcord-closed tops. Whilst these would keep out some water they were nowhere near waterproof so pack liners or covers were needed too. Dry bags changed all that. Starting out as heavy bags for canoeing and sailing where completely waterproof containers are essential dry bags have sealed seams and rollover tops. Then someone realised that they could be useful for walking and backpacking if made from lighter material and dry bags started appearing in outdoor shops. As soon as they appeared I tried them. Since then I’ve never bothered with liners or covers. Dry bags are so much more versatile. It’s easier to organise gear and wet and dry items can be kept separate. Soft gear like sleeping bags can be compressed more too, with the air squeezed out. And only gear that needs to be kept dry – warm clothing, electronics, paper maps – need be stored in them.
The first dry bags I tried were made from silicone nylon. They were very light but didn’t last long and pressure could force water through the seams. Using one for a sleeping bag at the bottom of the pack wasn’t a good idea! Tougher bags soon appeared, with a slight weight penalty. I’ve had some of these for over five years and they’re still waterproof.
Recently I’ve been trying Lifeventure’s new Ultralight Dry Bags. These are made from Cordura ripstop nylon with a siliconized outer and a polyurethane coating on the inside. All the seams are taped. The fabric feels quite tough and whilst I wouldn’t strap them outside a pack as I doubt they’ll take much abrasion I expect them to last well inside. There are eight sizes, with capacities from 2 litres to 70 litres. The larger ones are effectively pack liners. I think the most useful are the smaller ones, up to 25 litres. These dry bags are unusual in having an elliptical shape with an oval rather than round base, which makes them easier to pack.
All the bags are available individually. However the 5, 10 and 25 litre ones are available as a set costing £33.99, a saving of £5.98 over buying them separately. These are the ones I’ve been trying. The weights are 30, 35 and 63 grams so I think ultralight is a fair description. The bags are waterproof when the top is rolled over three or more times. I like the elliptical shape, especially when packing one in the bottom of the pack as it fills out the corners better than a round bag.
The Ultralight Dry Bags are comparable in price and weight to similar dry bags. I like the shape and they feel tough so I reckon they’re a good buy. I’ll be using them frequently to see just how durable they are.
£9.99 – £25.99