Osprey Ultralight Drysack Review
Cons: Not abrasion resistant, must be part of a system
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Osprey Ultralight Drysack
$23.50 at Amazon
|$34.95 at REI||$22.46 at Backcountry|
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$31.95 at Amazon
$10.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight, rectangular shape, simplicity is a feature||Easy to pack, translucent material, welded seams||Good water protection, easy to use, replaceable clip||Lightweight, welded seams||Three bag set, weather-resistant, small handy sizes, simple design, inexpensive|
|Cons||Not abrasion resistant, must be part of a system||Not 100% watertight under pressure, can tear on sharp objects||Single stitching, not tall enough to roll properly||Buckle feels flimsy, no attachment points||Durability concerns, 10L bag is very narrow|
|Bottom Line||For backpackers and day hikers, this model is a packing cube dry bag hybrid||Easy to compress and simple to close, this is a great choice for your day trip essentials and more||An inexpensive windowed dry bag with solid water resistance and some easy to use features||A lightweight no-frills option for keeping small essentials dry, or for keeping dirty and wet gear from spoiling the rest of your pack||These bags offer reasonable weather resistance at a great price but are not the most durable option|
|Rating Categories||Osprey Ultralight D...||SealLine Discovery...||Sea to Summit View...||Outdoor Research Ca...||Outdoor Products 3-...|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Quality of Construction (15%)|
|Specs||Osprey Ultralight D...||SealLine Discovery...||Sea to Summit View...||Outdoor Research Ca...||Outdoor Products 3-...|
|Weight||2.0 oz||6.8 oz||1.7 oz||2.7 oz||0.7 oz (2L), 1.0 oz (4L), 1.3oz (10L)|
|Tested Size (liters)||20L||10L||4L||10L||2L, 4L, 10L|
|Closure Type||Roll-top||Dual strip roll-top||Roll-top||Roll-top||Roll-top|
|Attachment Points||1 fabric loop||1 plastic D-ring||1 plastic D-ring||0||0|
|Style||Roll-top||Dual-strip fold down w/ purge valve||Roll-top||Roll-top||Roll-top, 3-pack|
|Material||40D ripstop nylon||PVC free 12 oz polyurethane film body; 300D 18oz polyurethane-coated polyester bottom||70D nylon, TPU window||100% Nylon, 70D Ripstop With TPU Lamination||Polyurethane coated ripstop 60% cotton, 40% rayon|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the Osprey Ultralight in the 20-liter size. It’s made of 40D ripstop nylon with a traditional roll-top design, double-stitched seams, and waterproof coated fabric. Though it lacks any D-rings or loops, this flat-bottomed bag packs more easily with its rectangular shape, and the whole thing weighs just 2.0 ounces.
Like most dry bags, the Ultralight isn’t rated for full submersion. The thicker-bodied models we tested are made of thick waterproof materials, but this one is crafted with very thin ripstop nylon treated with a waterproof coating. Still, despite these obvious handicaps, the Ultralight performs astonishingly well in this category. The top will leak a little when under duress — after being dragged through the lake, the towel we placed inside wasn’t completely dry, but it was far from soaked.
This lightweight bag performs very well when used as it’s intended (as an extra layer against rain). We’ve tested this bag twice now, with similar results each time. When tested on its own as a standalone piece of protective gear, the 40D ripstop nylon quickly acquired a small hole in the bottom, reducing its waterproofness in subsequent testing. When used as part of an internal packing system (thereby protected from serious abrasion, nestled safely inside a backpack), the Ultralight provided our testing team with years of protection for the wilderness first aid kit it housed. If you want great protection for sensitive items within your bag, the Ultralight has got you covered. But if you’re in the market for standalone protection, this super-thin model can only offer so much abrasion resistance.
Ease of Use
The Osprey Ultralight is a straightforward dry bag to use with a typical roll-top closure system. With a stiffened top strip that’s narrower than average, rolling it over three times before clipping it shut is a cinch. Its simple clasp is also easy to use, though the smaller size makes it more susceptible to catching grains of wet sand. This no-frills bag has no extra attachment points or carry options for hooking it on the outside of your pack or lashing it to the top of your boat — because that’s not what this packing cube-style bag is made for.
Instead, the base of the Ultralight is rectangular. This makes it easier to pack things into, find things within, and integrate this stuffed dry sack into a larger organizational scheme. If you’re really determined to lash this bag onto the outside of your watercraft (and have a separate lashing system ready to go), the rectangular shape once again comes in handy, helping to hold the bag steady. The thin sides allow light to penetrate the interior, helping you more easily locate your belongings. And the Ultralight isn’t nearly as tall and narrow as so many others; instead, it utilizes a wider opening and shorter stature to further aid your search for that one specific item hiding inside.
Quality of Construction
There are a lot of thick, hefty dry bags out there, made to rage down the rapids or survive a trip through customs without a scratch. The Osprey Ultralight is not one of those bags. We’ve already mentioned that it’s made of ultralight fabric, prioritizing weight over standalone functionality. When we tried to use it on its own for prolonged periods of time — even just for day trips to the beach for some light paddling, a small hole easily poked right through the bottom of the bag. The ripstop nature of the fabric prevented this hole from getting larger, but the damage was already done.
When we tested this bag as part of a packing system, it lasted much longer. Our main tester used this bag as a wilderness first aid kit for large groups for several years without any noticeable wear and tear. After several years, the fabric did lose some of its waterproofness and gained minuscule holes in various spots, but we only discovered this damage by submerging the bag in a lake (which you’re not supposed to do anyway). It still provided more than adequate protection from rain and other water-based backpacking hazards. Despite having a thin-feeling clip, we never had any issues with its durability over several years of testing.
Rather than the many bells and whistles of some other models, the Osprey Ultralight relies on what it doesn’t have. Because this bag is meant to be carried inside another bag, it has no D-rings or extra loops of fabric or webbing that are unnecessary for this single component of your packing system. By eliminating these superfluous features and using ultrathin 40D ripstop nylon to make up the body of the bag, the Ultralight is exactly what its name suggests — ultralight. The 20-liter dry bag tips the scales at just 1.6 ounces. The only other bags we tested that come anywhere close to this weight are less than a quarter of this volume.
The very few features that stand out from this ultralight dry sack are the proprietary Osprey clip and a single tiny loop on one side of the bottom seam. The clip isn’t replaceable, unlike some others we tested, but its minimalist design and lightweight plastic further add to — or rather take away from — the already impressively low weight of this ultralight dry bag. The single small loop is made of the same super-light 40D nylon as the body of the bag, merely providing a pull point to remove it from the bottom of your backpack or a hanging loop should you need to dry it upside down.
With a fairly modest price tag, a high internal capacity, and an elevated ease of use, the Osprey Ultralight is a solid value purchase — if you’re looking for a dry bag that works as an internal component of your packing protection and organization. If you want something rugged and tough, the Ultralight isn’t built to withstand that kind of use. But if you’re searching for something to stash your extra clothes in during a rainy backpacking trip, this bag is a great buy.
The Osprey Ultralight Drysack is a very usable option that sets the bar for lightweight protection. It might not have the abrasion resistance of many of the beefier models, but it still provides well above average protection against the elements without adding significant weight to your pack or burden to your budget. We’ve been using this bag for years, and it remains a favorite part of our travel organization system.
— Maggie Nichols
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