Outdoor Research Airpurge Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Waterproof for short submersions, lightweight, easy to close appropriately
Cons: Very tall and skinny shape, compression is awkward, fabric eventually soaks
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the 15-liter AirPurge (20 and 35-liter options are also available), a roll-top compression dry bag. It's made of 70D nylon with thermoplastic urethane lamination, a hydro seal coating, and fully taped seams. It features a daisy chain down one side, a bottom carry strap, and four compression straps.
The AirPurge does an impressive job keeping contents dry, considering its thin, lightweight material. It sailed through our dunking and spraying tests with flying colors. After being dragged behind a kayak for 30 minutes, the material did have spots of wetness, though the contents were still dry. A colored band around the bottom lets air escape without letting water in, helping to truly compress your contents. The top section of the bag that gets rolled to close is fairly long, making it easy to get a minimum of three rolls in. Though this dry bag doesn't boast the intensely thick fabric and construction of some of the burlier bags we tested, it still manages to be impressively waterproof under all but the most extenuating circumstances.
Ease of Use
Unfortunately, we are much less impressed by the usability of this compression sack. It's an exceptionally tall, skinny bag that precludes it from being a good choice for anything you may need to root around for. It's best for items that you'll only need when you get to camp — like a sleeping bag. This awkward shape, along with skinny, stiff straps and buckles make it rather odd to compress. The tighter you pull the compression straps, the more the contents are forced to bend to be able to compress, making it a weird shape and process. Unlike some other compression dry bags we tested, with a lid to cover the roll-top and bear the pressure of compression, the AirPurge puts all that pressure directly on the rolled top, contributing even more to the overall awkwardness. And the smaller you compress it, the more of the daisy chain you end up covering, losing your lashing points in the depths of your load.
A loop on the bottom of the AirPurge makes carrying this small bag a bit easier and provides a lash point if your compression has managed to cover all five loops of the daisy chain. Though it does have a single D-ring next to the top buckle, it's inconveniently located on the backside of the clip, making it a bit awkward to use. Though we find the compression mechanism a bit ungainly to use, the attachment locations of the compression straps do provide a good gauge of how full to fill your bag and how far down to roll the top.
Like most lightweight gear, this compression dry bag sacrifices a bit of durability to keep small. The 70D nylon body isn't ripstop and is therefore best used for keeping contents compressed and dry inside another, more protective bag. While it worked well for all the contents we compressed, we read a LOT of user complaints of the compression straps breaking from the pressure. Ours never broke, though there were several cringe-worthy moments during our testing where we worried they might. And rather than thick, waterproof material, this bag is coated with a hydroseal treatment, and we're unclear how long that will hold up to heavy use.
While the AirPurge isn't a particularly expensive option, we tested others that perform better and are roughly the same cost or even less expensive. We frequently found ourselves getting annoyed with the compression function of this bag, and think that other options are much better and more worth the money. That said, if you find this on sale it's a solid option as part of a burlier system or fine for easy and light day use.
The Outdoor Research AirPurge is an oddly shaped compression dry sack that we think is a bit awkward to use. It certainly kept everything we put in it dry and is impressively lightweight; we just wish the shape and features were a bit more user-friendly. While it does what it claims it will do, it's not our favorite option.
— Maggie Brandenburg