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Thread: Dry bags

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    Dry bags

    Hi all,

    Some questions as we prepare for a cross country trip this summer. The tent and sleeping bags just arrived. I'm working on some homemade alcohol stoves. We already have Ortlieb bags front and back for my bike. I'm not so sure what to do for my wife's bike.

    Some questions:
    I'm wondering what kinds of bags to get for my wife? She's not thrilled about front bags. Maybe she could have just back bags to hold her clothes and sleeping bag. I would carry most of the rest (food, cookware, tent). It would probably be good for me to have a bit of a handicap to slow me down. Is this reasonable?

    Should we have dry bags for our sleeping bags? Or compression bags and keep them in the panniers? Or are these not mutually exclusive? Do we need dry bags for anything else? Tent? How big should the dry bags be?

    Thanks all,
    Eappleton

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We put everything that we carry that's made of fabric in compression sacks. They are waterproof. Most of these then go into our waterproof panniers. The sack with both our tent and sleeping bag in it goes on the rack top. Inside it, the sleeping bag is in a separate plastic bag, so the tent can't contaminate it. We use a 3 person tent and a double down bag.

    It is hard to tell what size to buy. We had to experiment. We started by buying one each of each size. We use Sea to Summit bags. In their sizing, my wife has a small for her clothing. I use an extra small for mine. We have an extra small for dirty clothes, and another extra small for "take-offs," stuff we started out wearing but took off, which stuff could be wet. The sack that goes on the rack top is a medium.

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    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    A tent often needs to dry out, mesh sack good for this rather than original stuff sack or dry bag.

    Almost all sleeping bags would benefit from a compressions sack, since all but the lightest 3 season down bags are quite bulky by design.

    Electronics, clothing, maps and food should be protected from water. Lightweight sil-nylon bags work, so do the newfangled zipper-style freezer bags.

    You may also need a sack suitable for hanging food up in a tree, out of reach of nocturnal varmints.

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    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eappleton View Post
    Hi all,
    Some questions:
    I'm wondering what kinds of bags to get for my wife? She's not thrilled about front bags. Maybe she could have just back bags to hold her clothes and sleeping bag. I would carry most of the rest (food, cookware, tent). It would probably be good for me to have a bit of a handicap to slow me down. Is this reasonable?

    Should we have dry bags for our sleeping bags? Or compression bags and keep them in the panniers? Or are these not mutually exclusive? Do we need dry bags for anything else? Tent? How big should the dry bags be?
    Absolutely, a dry/compression/breathable bag combination no matter if you have down or synthetic sleeping bag. I use Sea to Summit bag for my down bag which is stored in a waterproof pannier. Having a dry sleeping bag is very important, so some waterproof redundancy make sense to me. The size depends on where it is going to be stored. You my need a relatively tall/skinny bag or a short/fat bag to fit properly inside your particular pannier and around its other contents. There are several knockoffs of the Sea to Summit eVent compression bags on the market that are worth looking at.

    My down jacket goes into a small dry bag, as do my meds and supplements. I have a solar charger and the vulnerable electronics go into a pillow style dry bag underneath the solar array when charging. My handlebar bag is water proof and perhaps my most important dry bag in that it contains my passport, camera, money, chocolate bar, notebook and all the things that have to be kept dry and in my possession at all times on and off the bike no matter the weather.

    I keep my tent in a DWR breathable bag I made just for my rear rack. I want my tent, which is often packed in some state of dampness to dry out as much as possible during the day. Whatever bag you use for your tent if it is exposed to the Sun all day long it needs to provide excellent UV protection to the vulnerable nylon tent fabric. If you are going to pack your tent inside a pannier, especially a waterproof one then I strongly recommend a waterproof dry bag with a roll down seal to keep everything else in the pannier from getting damp.

    When my wife tours with me see uses Ortlieb Front Roller Classic panniers on the rear rack and her eVent Sleeping bag stuff sack is more tall and skinny than what I use for my only slightly larger sleeping bag.
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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    This is the setup my wife used to ride across the U.S., and for a couple of other trips. She used a pair of Ortlieb Packer Plus front panniers on the rear rack and an Ortlieb Rackpack. Sleeping bag , Thermarest and some misc. things were in the Rackpack, which is essentially a dry bag. Probably 25 pounds total weight.



    When she wants more capacity she switches to the full sized Packer Plus rear panniers.



    I generally use front and rear panniers with a Rackpack. This is the contents of my Rackpack, all in compression sacks: Sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, compressible pillow, and ground cloth. Everything including the Rackpack weighs less than 10 pounds. Any dry bag can be used as a rackpack.

    Last edited by Doug64; 01-12-13 at 11:26 PM.

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    Top grade drybags are heavy and your baggage can start to add to to a considerable weight.
    I use lightweight ripstop nylon drybags which are fine for rain and occasional splashes but maybe not up to canoe style extended dunkings. I line my worn out Carradice pannier with a drybag and all my clothes and electricals go in one side.
    When I can't put my sleeping bag in the pannier, it goes in a compression sac, inside a drybag with the small sleeping mat, on my racktop. If you can find a compression drybag that may be better.
    Tents get wet and should not be inside dry bags. My tent came in an oversized sylnylon bag so it goes in wet. The bag is highly water resistant but not immersion proof.
    Many tourists use 2 panniers and a large ortleib drybag on the racktop. personally, I think this weights the bike rearward and it forces you to put wet tents inside drybags.

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    I use compression sacks that are not dry bags, put them in the Ortliebs. Instead of sizing the compression sack to the volume of a packed sleeping bag, I sized it to the space that each compression sack fills in the Ortliebs. I put one in each Backroller, oriented horizontally on top of everything else. The diameter of the compression sack is the same as the thickness of a packed Ortlieb Backroller. Sleeping bag and some clothing go in one, rest of clothing in the other. (Rain clothing packed where handy, not in compression sacks.)

    If it will be a cold weather trip, some clothing won't go into those two compression sacks, on such trips I bring a bigger sleeping bag and more clothing. On those trips, put excess clothing in plain stuff sack. Nothing else really benefits as much from a compression sack as much as clothing and sleeping bag.

    Also use one small drybag for electronics, medicine, spare batteries, charger, etc. Have another small drybag for camera, camera is normally not in the drybag but drybag is handy for sudden rain. Nothing else really needs to stay dry so nothing else goes into a drybag.

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    When I tour with my GF, I carry the tent (a 6.25 lb. 3P), all the cookware, except for the large pot, and the stove and fuel bottle. So it's doable if you can tolerate the load. We each carry our own bowls, cups and eating utensils. If we have to ride with food from the store to the campground, we generally split it. The tent and my sleeping go on my racks. If I am worried abut wet weather, I simply wrap them in tall, white kitchen garbage bags before putting them in their stuff sacks. Don't bother with dry bags. Everything she has goes in her B.O.B dry bag.

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    I have a fairly complete selection of SeaLine dry bags. As primary bags they're extremely tough, durable and waterproof. As secondary bags, I find large heavy duty gargage bags (orange, blue or black) are a lot lighter and easier to pack if just a waterproof membrane in needed inside a pannier. ZipLocks are another indispensable - particular for food suppies. I tend to use rain covers and garbage bags over anything I'm concerned about fading due to UV exposure too. They're easier to replace.
    Last edited by Burton; 01-13-13 at 02:30 PM.

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    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Don't forget that synthetic insulation, and to a lesser extent down as well can be injured by repeated compression cycles. If you use a compression sack for your sleeping bag, you will reduce it's ability to loft, and subsequently it's warmth over time.

    You can also have too many compression sacks, clothing is somewhat deformable, but a full compression sack isn't. If you try to pack too many compression sacks, you can get awkward voids in your packing, making your load much larger than it needs to be.

    Plus, the weight of lots of little sacks can add up surprisingly quickly.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Tents get wet and should not be inside dry bags.
    Wet tent goes into a plastic grocery bag , and then into my rackpack. Never had a problem with "cross contamination". The most it stays in in the bag is for the day or two days at most before it is either used or dried out.

    Don't forget that synthetic insulation, and to a lesser extent down as well can be injured by repeated compression cycles. If you use a compression sack for your sleeping bag, you will reduce it's ability to loft, and subsequently it's warmth over time.
    That imay be true, if you stored your bag compressed all the time. I've used compression bags on my synthetic and down sleeping bags for years, While I can't scientifically prove that they did not lose any loft, empirically they are just fine. They are removed from the compression sack almost every day when in use. I have been on 3 month tours when my bag and tent have been carried in compression sacks. They are NOT stored that way when not in use. It is probably harder on the tent than the sleeping bag. However my tents have also been carried compressed a lot without any apparent damage. A couple of our tents are 10-15 years old with a lot of hard use, and are still fully functional.

    This is the size of my tent and rainfly in a compression sack. The sleeping bag goes into the same type of compression sack, only smaller. It is made out of waterproof sil-nylon and when a wet tent is place inside of it and then placed inside of a plastic grocery bag, it rides well inside a dry bag without getting anything else wet. BTW- mold has never been a problem, even in damp humid areas.

    Last edited by Doug64; 01-13-13 at 02:05 PM.

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    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    There are plenty on this forum who eschew the need for any more than 2 panniers for just about anyone. So if your wife wants only rear panniers, it should be quite manageable, especially if you are willing to carry the bulkier shared items like the tent and cookware. I have found that my standard touring gear can fit into two, large panniers and a bag on top of the rear rack. I don't do that because:
    • I prefer to carry more weight in the front than in the rear.
    • It's easier to divide up my gear by function.
    • It leaves the tops of my racks open for stowing temporary items.
    • I can pack more crap (maybe more of a con than a pro).


    But like I said, two bags and a rack pack are the preferred kit of many, so it shouldn't be a problem. A decently-sized handlebar bag, and there should be plenty of room. Heck, if someone else would carry my tent and my cooking gear, I expect two panniers, no rack bag, and no front bag could be easily managed.

    As for dry bags/compression sacks, it largely depends on how your carrying your gear and whether or not your panniers are waterproof. You definitely want to keep the sleeping bag dry. You probably want to keep it compressed, especially if you're trying to keep your wife's load volume down. I am also a fan of the Sea-to-Summit, water-proof, compression sack. I have a fairly large one into which I put my hammock tent, sleeping bag, pillow, and sleeping bag liner. The whole thing gets squished down and squeezed into a fairly large pannier. Another dry bag holds my clothes. If my panniers were waterproof, I would probably worry more about compression (for my tent/sleeping gear, at least) than waterproof, but even then, I doubt a little redundancy would hurt, especially since I don't find my Sea-to-Summit bag to have much of a weight penalty compared to a non-waterproof compression sack.

    The size of your dry bags/compression sacks depends on what they need to hold and what needs to hold them. My bag, uncompressed, has a larger volume than my pannier, and compressed, it can just squeeze in. But for my clothing, I have a smaller bag because the clothes take up less volume and share pannier space with other items. They also aren't really compressed. Their bag is waterproof and has the Sea-to-Summit, air-venting fabric, so I can get it pretty compact, but my clothes don't take so much room that I'm worried about compressing them. If I needed to worry about cold weather travel, that might change the equation. Still, I like not compressing the clothes simply because it makes getting into and out of the bag less hassle. The sleeping gear is only pulled out/packed, once a day, so I don't mind, but if I don't need to, I'd rather not deal with compression straps every time I need to shed or add another layer.

    My suggestion: First get your packing list. Then figure out your packing strategy--what goes where. Then figure out your bag needs based on whether the gear needs to be compressed, kept dry, or both. Dry bags should be have just enough volume to cover the space where they'll be carried, but not bigger than they need to be. Compression sacks you can over shoot that mark with the idea that they will compress down to fill the space, but still don't go crazy. A large compression sack won't shrink down tiny just because you didn't put much in it.

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    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post

    I have never seen anyone put a tent in a waterproof compression sack before. I assume you just loosely stuff the tent into the sack without the poles or stakes.

    I roll my tent up tightly around the poles and stakes, which are inside their own bag, and slip the works into a breathable 4x18 inch cylinder. There is really very little possibility of further compression. The bag rests neatly between my rear panniers.
    DSCN0387.jpg
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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have never seen anyone put a tent in a waterproof compression sack before. I assume you just loosely stuff the tent into the sack without the poles or stakes.
    This is a 2-person, 3 season light weight tent that is relatively roomy. We started using compression sacks for tents when they first appeared on the market for mountaineering and winter camping where bulk is important. However, until sil-nylon came out the compression bags were only water resistant. It is a pretty common practice. Yes, the tent and rainfly are just stuffed into the compression bag. I never fold my tents, even when storing them at home in a larger sack. There is some controversy about stuffing tents; but the consensus seems to be that stuffing a tent does not do any significant damage. The stakes and poles are under the bungee cords that secure my rack pack or stored inside the rack pack.

    Your setup looks like a nice compact unit.




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    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Western Flyer View Post
    I have never seen anyone put a tent in a waterproof compression sack before. I assume you just loosely stuff the tent into the sack without the poles or stakes.
    I use a hammock tent and also keep it in a compression sack when traveling. It goes in with sleeping bag, liner, a small pillow, and the under-insulation for the hammock tent. Stakes are left out, as is the rainfly. If I've done my job right, the rain fly is the only thing that might be wet. Since the tent is 100% fabric and cord, and should be as dry as the sleeping bag, this method allows for one, large, waterproof compression sack which holds almost my entire sleep system and compresses it to fit into one pannier (although it's still a tight fit depending on which bag I'm using). I'm guessing with standard tents with poles, it may not be as practical, but I get the impression that many hammock campers use compression sacks for their hammocks when trying to keep volume down. If I had water-proof panniers, I might try a smaller compression sack for just the sleeping bag, liner, and pillow, with the hammock thrown in on top, if it would all fit, but as it is now, the system works. I don't spend enough days of the year touring to say how it holds up over time, but I don't think it's that uncommon a practice for hammock campers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eappleton View Post
    Hi all,

    Some questions as we prepare for a cross country trip this summer. The tent and sleeping bags just arrived. I'm working on some homemade alcohol stoves. We already have Ortlieb bags front and back for my bike. I'm not so sure what to do for my wife's bike.

    Some questions:
    I'm wondering what kinds of bags to get for my wife? She's not thrilled about front bags. Maybe she could have just back bags to hold her clothes and sleeping bag. I would carry most of the rest (food, cookware, tent). It would probably be good for me to have a bit of a handicap to slow me down. Is this reasonable?

    Should we have dry bags for our sleeping bags? Or compression bags and keep them in the panniers? Or are these not mutually exclusive? Do we need dry bags for anything else? Tent? How big should the dry bags be?

    Thanks all,
    Eappleton
    Yes, you should have dry bags for the sleeping bags but not for the tent. Tents aren't hurt by a bit of water and most tent bags are reasonably waterproof anyway. Even if they aren't others have pointed out that you may want to let the tent dry while on the bike.

    As for the front bag vs rear bag, I'd suggest that you have your wife test both before your trip. Load your bags with beans and rice to equal the expected load and have her try riding both ways...not just around the block but do some distance. She might find that the front bags are actually easier to deal with the rear only. My wife certainly did.
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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Western Flyer View Post
    I have never seen anyone put a tent in a waterproof compression sack before. I assume you just loosely stuff the tent into the sack without the poles or stakes.

    I roll my tent up tightly around the poles and stakes, which are inside their own bag, and slip the works into a breathable 4x18 inch cylinder. There is really very little possibility of further compression. The bag rests neatly between my rear panniers.
    Why wouldn't one stuff a tent? We do with no problem. No, not the stakes and poles. The stakes go in a pannier, the poles go on the rack, under the bag with sleeping bag and tent in it. We have not experienced any damage to the tent or fly. As far as drying goes, no, it doesn't dry in a compression sack. But it doesn't get wet, either. Works for us. Thus our 3 person tent and 2 person down bag are in a cylinder about 8" in diameter and 15" long, weighing about 9 lbs.

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    Check the handlebar bag there. If just carrying a small amount of things like clothes, you can put those all into a dry bag (like this Sea to Summit one, like 13 bucks at REI) and then strap your tent in there along with it. Everything is attached to the handlebar using the Sling from Revelate Designs. Great product - 30 bucks, and for light touring, you should be able to fit your entire sleep system up there.
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    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Why wouldn't one stuff a tent? We do with no problem. No, not the stakes and poles. The stakes go in a pannier, the poles go on the rack, under the bag with sleeping bag and tent in it. We have not experienced any damage to the tent or fly. As far as drying goes, no, it doesn't dry in a compression sack. But it doesn't get wet, either. Works for us. Thus our 3 person tent and 2 person down bag are in a cylinder about 8" in diameter and 15" long, weighing about 9 lbs.
    No particular reason, I have just never seen it done before. The only possible down side would be zipper damage. I would think you would want to separate all your zippers before stuffing and compressing. I do that with my sleeping bag and down jacket before putting them in their compression bags. I do it with my tent also.
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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    No particular reason, I have just never seen it done before. The only possible down side would be zipper damage.
    That could be an issue, but I don't worry about it too much. At least so far it has not been an issue. Maybe if one of the zipper pulls happened to get in a wrong position it might damage the fabric. However, I had a tent that had rings with about an inch and a half long pin on all 4 corners. I was really concerned about these and made sure they were all at the top of the bag (even hanging out side the bag between the bag and the compression flap), and hopefully not puncturing any fabric.

    The tent does not necessarily have to go into a waterproof bag. It just happens that sil-nylon is pretty waterproof, and makes a nice, light compression sack. I believe that being waterproof is just a bonus. It keeps a wet tent from getting other things wet. A rolled up wet tent and rainfly are not going to dry on the back of the bike. There are too many coated surfaces to let water out. Sometimes when my tent is relatively dry, but my rainfly is wet, either through rain or condensation or both, I'll put it and the sil-nylon ground cloth in a plastic grocery bag and put the tent in the compression sack. All the items go in my rackpack with my sleeping bag and pad. I've not had a problem with my sleeping bag getting wet. We had 35 days of rain on a 3-month tour in 2011. In that situation it was a challenge keeping things from getting damp.

    Sometimes we just got a motel room and dried things out. It was still raining

    Last edited by Doug64; 01-14-13 at 05:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Western Flyer View Post
    I have never seen anyone put a tent in a waterproof compression sack before. I assume you just loosely stuff the tent into the sack without the poles or stakes.

    I roll my tent up tightly around the poles and stakes, which are inside their own bag, and slip the works into a breathable 4x18 inch cylinder. There is really very little possibility of further compression. The bag rests neatly between my rear panniers.
    DSCN0387.jpg
    I use a compression bag for my tent when I am backpacking. Do this allows me to securely attach the bag to the outside bottom of my pack. I wouldn't be able to this with the original tent bag.

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