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Osprey Ultralight Drysack Review

For backpackers and day hikers, this model is a packing cube dry bag hybrid
Osprey Ultralight Drysack
Photo: Osprey
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $23 List | $12.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, rectangular shape, simplicity is a feature
Cons:  Not abrasion resistant, must be part of a system
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 2, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Waterproofness - 50% 7
  • Ease of Use - 30% 8
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

Planning a hiking trip somewhere notoriously wet and rainy like Olympic National Park? The Osprey Ultralight Drysack is a great way to stash your clothes inside your backpack without adding significant weight or expense to your trip. Water-repelling fabric and a tight roll-top closure system will give your gear the added "just-in-case" protection that might be the difference between happy feet and soggy socks. Weighing in at only 1.6 ounces, this bag is perfect for backpacking trips. The only downside to this thin, delicate fabric is that it can't match the durability of beefier models. But for quick day trips or internal organization on your next trip, it's hard to beat this super handy lightweight dry sack.

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Price $12.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Lightweight, rectangular shape, simplicity is a featureVery waterproof, clear window, easy to locate things, sturdy buildGood water protection, easy to use, replaceable clipLightweight, good protection, simple to useThree bag set, weather-resistant, small handy sizes, simple design, inexpensive
Cons Not abrasion resistant, must be part of a systemFlat shape is odd, extra access stepSingle stitching, not tall enough to roll properlyLimited size options, less impressive constructionDurability concerns, clumsy construction, 10L bag is very narrow
Bottom Line For backpackers and day hikers, this model is a packing cube dry bag hybridA seriously waterproof bag we trust with our most sensitive items at a very nice priceAn inexpensive windowed dry bag with solid water resistance and some easy to use featuresA simple, lightweight dry bag that lets light in and is easy to useThese bags offer reasonable weather resistance at a great price but are not the most durable option
Rating Categories Osprey Ultralight D... NRS Ether HydroLock Sea to Summit View... Outdoor Research Be... 3-Pack All Purpose
Waterproofness (50%)
7.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Features (10%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Specs Osprey Ultralight D... NRS Ether HydroLock Sea to Summit View... Outdoor Research Be... 3-Pack All Purpose
Weight 1.6 oz 2.3 oz 1.7 oz 1.0 oz 0.7 oz (2L), 1.0 oz (4L), 1.5 oz (10L)
Tested Size (liters) 20 L 5 L 4 L 3 L 2 L, 4 L,10 L
Closure Type Roll-top HydroLock and roll-top Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top
Included D-Rings? No Yes Yes No No
Style Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top, 3-pack
Material 40D ripstop nylon 30D silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon, urethane window 70D nylon, TPU window 40D siliconized ripstop nylon, PU coating 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 1.6 ounces.

Performance Comparison


This super lightweight model provides bonus protection for your...
This super lightweight model provides bonus protection for your clothes inside your backpacking pack.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Waterproofness


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.

Even with a puncture in the bottom, only a few small spots on our...
Even with a puncture in the bottom, only a few small spots on our testing towel were wet after full submersion.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

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.

The flat bottom and rectangular shape make it easy to pack full of...
The flat bottom and rectangular shape make it easy to pack full of layers.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Features


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. This 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.

The small loop of webbing at the bottom creates a pull tab for...
The small loop of webbing at the bottom creates a pull tab for fishing it out of your backpack.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Durability


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.

A small puncture tear formed early on in testing.
A small puncture tear formed early on in testing.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Value


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 was by far our favorite ultralight competitor.
The Osprey Ultralight was by far our favorite ultralight competitor.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Conclusion


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 Brandenburg