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Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW

This multi-purpose bag serves as a waterproof day pack, compression stuff sack, dry bag, and pillow.

Overall Rating: Above Average

I really like the versatility of the DryComp Summit Sack, but its heavier weight (13 oz) makes me reluctant to carry it in my backpack on trips where I count ounces. A lighter version of this pack would be really exciting, and I could find a lot of use for it in my gear kit. The pack's weight is less of a problem when using it on day trips from home, especially in colder weather and for snow sports, where its volume and waterproofness are needed. For hikers looking for a waterproof ultralight backpack, the DryComp Summit Sack is a candidate, but it would be a stronger contender if it had a large waterproof front pocket, sternum strap, and a better waist belt.

About This Rating

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by Will Rietveld |


Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW Review - 1
The Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack, appropriately atop a 12,500 foot summit, March 2008.

The Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack can serve as a lightweight frameless day pack, compression stuff sack, and dry bag. The pack is basically a dry bag with shoulder straps and mesh side pockets. It's not ultralight, but it is very versatile and has a lot of potential applications for winter camping, base camping, and water sports, to name a few.

At 13.1 ounces (measured weight) and 1885 cubic inches, the DryComp Summit Sack is lightweight, but not ultralight. It's constructed of durable Antron nylon that has a protective Hydroseal polyurethane coating on the inside with taped seams. The top access seals with a dry bag-type roll down closure and side release buckle. It has two mesh side pockets and two daisy chains, plus two ice axe loops for storing or attaching gear on the outside of the pack.

Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW Review - 2
The front of the pack (left) is adorned with two daisy chains and two ice axe loops for attaching gear. The shoulder straps on the back panel (center) double as compression straps. Two other straps double as a waist strap or compression straps on the front side. There is one mesh pocket on each side (right) with a drawcord closure.

I used the DryComp Summit Sack as part of my gear kit on an extended eleven-day winter camping trip in Yellowstone National Park in February 2008. On that trip, I used the Summit Sack as a day pack while pulling a pulk or daily ski trips, as well as a dry bag for storing gear in the igloos we built. Back home, I also used it as a day pack on numerous snowshoe and backcountry ski trips. Although I did not have an opportunity to test it for canoe camping, I believe that would also be a good application.

My testing of the DryComp Summit Sack left me with a lot of varied impressions. The pros and cons:

  • It's indeed versatile. For me, the most important uses are as a day pack in cold and wet weather, and as a dry bag in camp to keep critical gear dry.
  • The Summit Sack's waist strap did not interfere with another hip belt I wore for pulling a pulk.
  • In my opinion, it's too heavy to carry in a backpack to use for summit hikes or day hikes from camp (my max weight for this is eight ounces or less).
  • For some people, the pack's heavier fabrics make it better suited for winter and canoe camping, where extra durability is appropriate. Personally, I would prefer a lighter version of this pack.
  • Its 1885 cubic inch (31 L) volume is appropriate for cold weather outings, like winter day trips and winter camping, but it's too large for warmer weather day trips.
  • For convenience, I would like to have a large waterproof pocket on the front of the pack. On cool and cold weather outings, I frequently need to add or remove clothing, and it would be very handy to have a large, easy-access pocket on the front of the pack.
  • Some readers have asked for a waterproof ultralight backpack. The DryComp Summit Sack meets that criterion, but it would be better if it had a large waterproof front pocket and a better waist belt.
  • The side release buckle on the top closure is difficult to open with cold hands or gloves. I struggled on many occasions to get the buckle released.
  • I carried the Summit Sack on snowy and rainy days on several occasions, and found that it is indeed waterproof. My gear inside the pack did not get wet.
  • The outside nylon fabric has a DWR treatment to repel water, but it eventually wets out and absorbs water. A hybrid silicone/polyurethane coated fabric would seem to be a better choice, as it would make the outside completely waterproof, accept seam tape on the inside, and lighten the pack.
  • When loaded, the pack slides off my shoulders, especially when I am wearing a smooth hardshell jacket. My wife added a sternum strap to the pack I tested, which solved the problem.
  • The pack's waist strap is useful to stabilize the pack, but does not transfer any weight to the hips.
  • As with most frameless packs, the maximum comfortable carrying capacity is fifteen to twenty pounds.
  • Because of the pack's depth, I often found it difficult and frustrating to find a specific item inside the pack, but that is an issue with any deep rucksack.

Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW Review - 3
The DryComp Summit Sack in compression stuff sack mode, used to compress a bulky -10 °F down sleeping bag.

Overall, I really like the utility of the DryComp Summit Sack, but it left me wishing for a lighter weight version and a few hiker-friendly modifications, like a large waterproof front pocket, easy-to-open top closure, and a sternum strap.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Outdoor Research (
  • Year/Model: 2008 DryComp Summit Sack
  • Fabrics: Hydroseal coated Antron nylon
  • Volume: 1885 cu in (31 L)
  • Sizes: One size
  • Dimensions: 24 x 11 x 9 in (61 x 28 x 23 cm)
  • Features: Roll top dry bag closure, padded shoulder straps, two mesh side pockets with elastic drawcord closure, two front daisy chains, two ice axe loops, fully seam taped, four compression straps convert to shoulder straps and waist belt
  • Weight: measured weight 13.1 oz (371 g), manufacturer specification 12.2 oz (346 g)
  • MSRP: $59 US


"Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-06-24 00:00:00-06.


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Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW on 06/24/2008 17:09:48 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW

René Enguehard
(ahugenerd) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland
Good review, but... on 06/24/2008 19:24:47 MDT Print View

Some of the qualms expressed in this review are a bit contradictory. While overall I agree with the review and think that this pack has potential but isn't quite there yet, wishing for it to be lighter yet having a larger front pocket and more accessories is a bit odd. I mean, sure, we all would love that, but the fact is you can't really have both.

Further, I agree with the issue about the main opening being less than easy to use, but it should be noted that this pack's primary function is as a compression sack. If looked at in this particular light, the one the designers intended, it works pretty well. It just so happens it also makes a passable ultralight pack. :)

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW on 06/24/2008 20:37:10 MDT Print View

It seems to be that for the price this is a great pack. Though, I still wish Golite made the Breeze. That had the outside mesh pocket. I only got a medium and my 9 year old loves it. Especially since he can see the loose stuff. I even carry it for day hikes...

Good review.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Re"Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack"I own it on 06/25/2008 03:18:16 MDT Print View

I bought this pack for light weight canyoneering last summer. called sawanobori here in Japan. At about 87 liters per kg empty weight, this pack has one of the highest ratios of volume to weight of any in my collection. However, its durability matches its light weight. On the first day of use, rough rocks tore small holes in the bottom of the pack when I placed the pack down. I patched the tears with duct-tape on both sides.

If OR made the bottom of the pack out of a more durable material, I could recommend it. But, as is; it's really just a waterproof stuff sack with shoulder straps.

I will probably not use this pack again on my next sawanobori trip. Instead I will use a pack-sized dry-bag inside a more durable pack.

Gary Thorne
(dogman) - F

Locale: Midwest
Great pack on 06/25/2008 04:40:09 MDT Print View

I bought one for Packrafting, where it is the perfect size for me, for a weekender. I had to buy another for my wife, who fell in love with it. It' just enough. If you want a lot of bells and whistles, carry a full blown pack, but remember the weight factor. I own a lot of packs, I believe the quality is excellant for 60 bucks!

Sab .
(sabme) - F - M

Locale: SW UK
Owned & regularly used for over a year on 06/25/2008 08:38:46 MDT Print View

I've been continually using this pack for well over 1 year.

It's great for the price, weight & waterproofing. I use it on it's own for bike packing.

My only complaint is that the shoulder strap yoke at the top cut into my neck a bit, so I cut through a seam and it was better. Also the padding on the straps could be thicker and longer, sometimes the shoulder webbing cuts in under my armpits. No had any problems with durability, I'm fairly careful with my gear but no overly so. I'd go for a roll top closure that clipped down the sides of the pack rather than in a loop but it's not major.

Don't see how the reviewer can complain about the weight when you consider the price and quality.

For those complaining about the weight there is a lighter one:
OR Dry Peak Bagger
$49 261 grams 27 litres 40D Sil Nylon

I'd get the Peak Bagger if I could find somewhere the shipped to the UK for less than ridiculous money.

Edited by sabme on 06/25/2008 08:42:53 MDT.

Brett Balmer
(backcountry) - F

Locale: Northeast US
Primary pack for overnight trips on 06/26/2008 09:56:45 MDT Print View

I saw this pack last summer in one of the outdoor shops in Jackson Hole, WY and picked it up on a whim. My thought was that I would use it primarily as a day pack, but I started to have thoughts about using it as an overnight pack. I pulled out my gear and started to fool around with different ways of loading it to see if it had sufficient capacity. As it turns out for me the answer was a resounding yes for 1-2 night trips. Ultimately food bulk overwhelmes the interior volume, and weight begins to become a factor as you near 20 lbs.

The pack seems to be really happy around 15-16 lbs, which the weight of my 1-night winter kit with food/water and beverages. Summer is obviously much more do-able without the bulky winter down jacket. (also saves a lot of volume since I swap my WM Alpinlite for a WM Caribou)

Relatively speaking I have found it to be very durable, and totally waterproof which is a first for me in a backpack. It lets me save a little weight with less stuff sacks needed inside the pack. Plus - there is something very liberating about being able to roll up the top and know all that your stuff inside is protected from the elements.

A couple of techniques with the pack are:
1. I have a Thermarest accordion style sit pad that is my luxury item on trips (also serves to insulate my lower half since I use an Exped Downmat 7short for my upper). I use this like a mini backpad/frame inside the pack to cushion things like my stove and pot from my back. Also adds some rigidity to the pack.
2. i carry this pack a little higher on my back so that bottom of the pack nestles into the small of my back. This removes a lot of weight from the skinny little shoulder straps making higher weights more comfortable.
3. I plan on taking this on a four nighter in Glacier this summer. I think I will be able to achieve this with a large volume fanny pack to get me some extra capacity. I am hoping to find one that I can carry facing backwards that will serve as a ledge for the OR sack to rest upon similar to what I described in #2

Anyone have any candidates for the fanny pack?

Edited by backcountry on 06/26/2008 09:57:41 MDT.

Nathanial Eady
(DaGreekPacker) - F

Locale: California's Central Coast
I recommend the OR's DryComp Vertex Sack Instead on 07/01/2008 19:35:20 MDT Print View

Great review. I looked into OR's DryComp series as a dual use solution for keeping my down bag dry. Ultimately I settled on the Vertex instead of the Summit.

Includes a sternum strap w/emergency whistle buckle
Has a Zip-up front pocket thats pretty close to water proof
Has additional padding for back and shoulder straps
Has velcro straps for hiking poles

Weighs 4 oz more than the Summit with comparable capacity

While I do agree that at 17 oz for 1700 cu. in. of capacity the Vertex is too heavy for an extra Dry Bag, it makes a great ultralight backpack for up to a 4 day trip.

Edited by DaGreekPacker on 07/01/2008 19:38:59 MDT.

Steve Gaioni
(sgaioni) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
OR DryComp Summit Sack on 07/04/2008 16:53:45 MDT Print View

I just returned from 11 days on the trail at the Philmont Scout Ranch in NM and took the OR summit sack along. I found it entirely useful for carrying rain gear and water during non-hiking activities. Placing my inflated sit pad inside for support made the summit sack both stable and comfortable. I also found the sack useful for stowing the clothes and other items I'd need first thing in the morning, especially since our crew practice was to keep packs away from the tents at nights (because of bears). Some fairly reasonable use during the 11 days and preceding trips resulted in little to no wear. Overall I found the sack to be a good value.

Micheal Wallace
(michealalan1962) - F
Re: Outdoor Research DryComp Summit Sack SPOTLITE REVIEW on 09/07/2008 13:23:29 MDT Print View

I was curious if the volume listed was accurate after it is rolled down. I'm fairly new to all this technical data but, as I gain knowledge about these things and figure out how much room I need the accuracy becomes important. Thanks!