By Phil Brown
Outdoor Research makes its DryComp Ridge Sack for mountaineers who want to travel light on summit day. The waterproof backpack is roomy enough to carry your essentials and comes with ice-ax loops and a large mesh pocket that can hold a hydration bladder, a shell jacket, or other gear.
I tested the Ridge Sack a few dozen times this summer. I know what you’re thinking: a summit pack in the Adirondacks? In summer?
Well, the Ridge Sack is also ideal for paddlers on day trips. I brought it on nearly all of my canoe excursions this year. The nylon pack, with its watertight seams, always kept my stuff dry. Like traditional dry bags used by paddlers, the Ridge Sack is closed by rolling and buckling the top. When you need to portage, you wear it like a backpack. It has both waist and chest straps.
The Ridge Sack isn’t overloaded with bells and whistles. (Actually, there is a whistle on the sternum strap.) Its features include the ice-ax loops with associated shock cords, the mesh pocket, shoulder straps, and two compression straps. Otherwise, it’s just a big sack (34 liters) that you can wear on your back. For days trips on the water or up an alpine slope, that’s all you need.
Priced at $119, the Ridge Sack is the most expensive of three waterproof summit backpacks made by OR. The DryComp Summit Sack is as big (36 liters) but costs only $65. Compression straps convert to padded shoulder straps. It has two side pockets in place of the mesh pocket on the back. This pack also has daisy chains and ice-ax loops. The Dry Peak Bagger is the smallest (29 liters) of the packs and costs the least ($55). It includes separate shoulder straps and a large exterior pouch and an ice-ax sleeve.
Though designed for mountaineering, any of these packs should serve paddlers well.