View Full Version : Define "dry".

The Counselor
03-28-2011, 12:20
I see posts about keeping down bags dry in both a dry-sack and trash bag. I spent 27 bucks on a Sea to Summit dry-sack for my new WM bag. I also have a wal-mart cheapie pack cover.

You telling me I also need a trashbag over the bag? What's the point of the dry-sack, if so? Do they not actually keep the contents dry?

Yes, I know the cost and wt of a trashbag is negligible but still.....

Pedaling Fool
03-28-2011, 12:25
To me dry means it's not dripping.

03-28-2011, 12:27
Honestly, you ask me, the dry bag is more than enough. In fact, I've never used anything but the stuff sack the bag comes with. That includes an AT thru, half the PCT, and a few thousand miles of other hiking in all types of weather.

The bag doesn't need to be so dry that it's like it's been baked. It just can't get soaked. And it's really difficult to soak a down bag... I once woke up in a shelter to realize that it was A: raining, and B: coming through a hole in the shelter roof to pool onto my sleeping bag. I had a good 1.5 inches of water pooled on my bag. I brushed it off, moved my pad 2 feet to the side, rolled over, and went back to sleep. It was fine. The down may have got a little damp, but it still kept me plenty warm. And a couple days later when it was sunny, I laid out the bag during lunch and it dried out fully.

So, to make a short story long... don't worry about it. If you use a pack cover (or a poncho over the pack), and keep the bag in at least it's stuff sack, it'll be fine.

Old Hiker
03-28-2011, 12:35
I just want to chime in and say "Thanks" for the responses. Bought my first down bag, trying to get my weight "down" *snicker, snicker* and was getting wrapped around the axle with all the gloom and doom predictions about wet down.

Thanks again!

Many Walks
03-28-2011, 12:35
Dry sack and pack cover works for me. We've hiked in lots of rain and never had a problem with my WM bags being wet.

The Snowman
03-28-2011, 12:38
most people pick one or the other to use based on your budget and weight preference

Raul Perez
03-28-2011, 12:41
I switched to dry bags and I gave up the pack liner. I have a pack cover to shed most of the water and if any get in my dry bags will handle the rest.

03-28-2011, 12:52
I just use a trash/compactor bag as a liner most of the time. If the weather is going to be bad I put things in dry bags. If it is going to be nice I stuff my quilts or sleeping bag in there loose. To me they take up less room that putting them in stuff sacks.

03-28-2011, 12:53
I'm a lot more careful in the winter than in the summer.

03-28-2011, 13:00
I have my down bag in a dry bag but I use a pack liner for clothes and jacket that are not in a dry bag.

03-28-2011, 13:18
I'm with those who say your dry bag is enough. That said, there is a trick to using one on down things. The idea is that if you pack your bag tightly and then compress all the air out and roll down the edge tight, you are creating a vacuum that will try to suck air into the bag-or water if that is present. So, stuff your down things lightly and roll the dry bag down the three required folds squeezing out only enough air to get the package to fit into your pack. If it rides in the bottom of your pack the pressure of the gear on top will keep the dry bag from sucking in water that gets inside. Tighten up the bottom pack compression straps to keep stuff from compressing your down too much on a day after day trip.

My method for waterproofing my down bag on canoe trips where immersion is not impossible is this. First I put the bag and my night socks and hat into a compression bag that is quite a bit larger than the down would compress to if it were the smallest it could get. It is easy to stuff the down bag into this larger bag and to slightly compress the bag until it is the size that fits neatly into the bottom of my pack. The compression bag is not waterproof so next it goes into a light plastic bag that is twisted and tucked in so that the whole is now waterproof. But the plastic is fragile and can tear as it is packed or unpacked so I put the plastic wraped bag into a light weight stuff sack with a draw string closure. I know this sounds like overkill, but it is very easy and non-frustrating to pack and I have never had a wet sleeping bag with this method which I learned from Cliff Jacobson.

03-28-2011, 13:23
Everything comes to equilibrium with the environment anyway. If it's humid out and raining for a few days, your bag, clothing, and everything else will tend to be as damp / moist as the ambient air. Just physics at work. You can't keep stuff bone dry on the trail. Air your bag out when you wake up before stuffing it, as that will allow some of the additional body moisture / vapor to escape and keep it from condensing in the bag. If it's nice out, it's good to air out a bag as much as possible - open it up when you first make camp (hang it if possible), and don't stuff it or pack up the rest of your gear that goes on top until you're ready to hike in the morning. Nothing makes a bag feel or smell nicer than hanging it to air out when a dry cold front passes through (except washing it perhaps). Any plastic bag or dry bag will work for packing. My pack has a full waterproof liner with roll top closure, and I don't carry my water inside the pack, so I don't use anything else. I just stuff it in the bottom of the pack with no stuff sack.

03-28-2011, 13:42
A simple trash bag has always worked fine to keep all my insulation dry, without a stuff sack or pack cover. Adding a second layer with additional cost and weight is fine, but with some care and experience, not absolutely necessary for most backpacking. If I knew I had to swim and float my pack with me, or expected immersion sometime, I'd for sure bring a second layer. I can't imagine needing three layers of protection.

Everything comes to equilibrium with the environment anyway....

This is exactly my experience. The only time my down has gotten damp is during use, not in the pack. After several days and nights of 100% condensing humidity, you're going to need to add heat somehow--solar or mechanical. An hour of midday sunshine does wonders.

03-28-2011, 14:35
Your WM has good waterproof fabric doesn't it? Sales guy poured a puddle of water on one to show me why I needed it. Dry bag on a WM should keep the down dry shouldn't it?

03-28-2011, 14:36
btw where you and I are from, dry means you can't sell liquor

03-28-2011, 17:32
one or two drops of vermouth. For extra dry, just skip the vermouth altogether.

03-28-2011, 17:37
in my experience, nothing is dry. everything gets wet, eventually. your tent never weighs what it says on the box, after the day you first set it up, your dry clothes are always a little damp, and your down bag feels damp and smelly all the time and weighs 30% more than it did when you started the hike

Rain Man
03-29-2011, 10:45
What's the point of the dry-sack, if so? Do they not actually keep the contents dry?

I use the stuff sack that comes with the sleeping bag, but I do put a Reynold's "oven roaster" bag as a liner in the stuff sack before stuffing the sleeping bag into it.

Thus, I have a waterproof liner and an abrasion-resistant stuff sack. Plus, the "oven roaster" bag is multi-purpose. I also can use it to put my hiking shoes into the bottom of my sleeping bag at night, to keep them from freezing over-night.

For what it's worth, I find that so-called "dry-sacks" do not stay water-proof for long, if they ever were. I have learned to make my own silicone mixture and re-treat the sil-nylon periodically.



03-29-2011, 13:22
I use a dry bag for my down bag. It's probably the only non-ultralight thing I carry. It works. Can you turn it inside out and fill it with water without a leak? Then it should keep your stuff dry.

Old Hiker
03-29-2011, 13:36
in my experience, nothing is dry. everything gets wet, eventually. your tent never weighs what it says on the box, after the day you first set it up, your dry clothes are always a little damp, and your down bag feels damp and smelly all the time and weighs 30% more than it did when you started the hike

So, what's the bad news?

03-29-2011, 23:33
Dry? Very, very little Vermouth....We are talking Martini's.....

03-29-2011, 23:39
I use 2 large "dry-bags" one for a WM down bag and dry clothing to sleep in, the other has all the other gear/clothing/food that I don't care to get wet. I sometimes use a large trash bag or spare poncho as a pack cover just to keep from soaking (and making heavier) my pack.