Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Packable Review
Cons: No additional storage pockets, only one carrying option
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Packable Duffel is an impressively light and packable bag that makes a convenient companion for any travel. While it doesn't score as well as heavier-duty models in some of our performance metrics, it does a great job at filling its intended niche as a convenient carry option to stash in the car, your purse, or your full-sized luggage. It makes an excellent choice for trips to the gym, grocery store, beach, or laundry mat, and easily stashes away in the attached stuff sack when it's not in use.
Ease of Transport
The Ultra-Sil Duffel falls within a unique subcategory of our duffel days lineup with its ultralight/packable design. As such, it only includes one carry option. The nylon carry handles are permanently attached to the bag with reinforced stitching, and contoured panels extend from the main body to help strengthen the connection and distribute forces from the handles more evenly throughout the pack. The handles feel well-balanced and are reasonably comfortable even though they don't include any padding. This duffel is one of the only in our lineup that doesn't include adjustable handles or any shoulder straps, even among the ultralight/packable models.
Once you're done using this duffel, it stashes away into the attached stuff sack and packs down to the size of a tennis ball. The included carabiner clip makes it easy to lash the small stuff sack onto a backpack, purse, or larger duffel bag until it's ready to be deployed again.
Storage and Ease of Packing
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil's 40-liter storage volume is impressive considering its featherweight design, and is among the largest volumes of the ultralight/packable models that we tested. The primary storage compartment is accessed with a single straight-shot zipper that completely reveals the inside of the pack. While we typically prefer D-shaped zippers on duffel bags, the combination of this zipper design and the shape of the pack is quite effective.
The cavernous main storage compartment is handy and accessible, but we always would appreciate an additional storage pocket to help organize smaller pieces of gear. The other ultralight/packable styles that we tested include an external zippered pocket. As such, the Ultra-Sil Duffel still works great for hauling groceries, shoes, or dirty laundry.
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil has one primary material throughout its body. The 30-denier Cordura nylon is silky smooth and is one of the thinnest and lightest materials of any duffel in our lineup. As would be expected, this bag's durability is undoubtedly much lower than heavy-duty 1000-denier expedition duffels. However, weighing in at less than three ounces and packing down to the size of a tennis ball, this bag's durability is very impressive when considering its tiny footprint and lack of heft. For its intended use as a carry-on bag, gym bag, or secondary travel bag for laundry or souvenirs, the durability is certainly appropriate. It gave us no durability issues during our testing period, and we would expect no problems with regular use. Further, Sea to Summit guarantees their gear against defects in materials or workmanship for the lifetime of the product.
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Duffel weighs in at just 2.8 ounces (0.2 pounds) for its 40-liter size, making it one of the lightest duffels that we've ever tested. With such a lightweight and packable design, you're sacrificing the durability, carrying options, and storage features found on more robust duffels, but for its intended purpose, this bag sure impresses.
While this bag's 30-denier nylon material is waterproof, the seams are not fully sealed and provide a potentially vulnerable spot through which water can enter. The zipper has a water-resistant protective flap but also isn't fully waterproof. While the Ultra-Sil won't be fully submersible underwater and might not withstand extended downpours, it's plenty protective to keep its contents dry from splashes and short trips out in the rain.
With one of the more affordable price tags in our lineup, even among the smaller ultralight/packable options, the Ultra-Sil has a very reasonable price. Even though you're sacrificing durability and certain features with such a light-duty bag, its size, weight, and lightweight price tag make it an excellent value for its intended purpose.
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Packable Duffel is a convenient ultralight model that works great for a variety of everyday uses. The thin and light material is surprisingly durable and weather-resistant, storage capacity is impressive for its size and weight. While we ultimately preferred other ultralight models with additional pockets or carrying methods, the Sea to Summit is one of the lightest and smallest we've ever seen and would make a great choice to pack along on your next trip.
— Nick Bruckbauer