I do a fair bit of travelling with my job and I consider myself lucky that I can look on every trip as a mini adventure. During the past few months I’ve been to France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. I use no more than a 30 litre rucksack and find that this holds everything I may need. Travelling light is a skill that takes time to learn, not to mention a good deal of practice to perfect. I stick to the same stuff on every trip, making only small changes for the expected weather. The rucksack capacity however, never changes, as I only ever fly with hand luggage.
The Problems of an Adventurer
The whole idea of an adventure is to do anything and everything; however, this freedom brings its own problems, mainly in the form of security. How many times have you needed to do a river crossing but are worried that your passport and other stuff will get wet? How many times have you fancied a swim in a lake or river on a hot day but are worried about leaving your stuff on the shoreline. Heavy rains and very muddy conditions can also make life difficult when you’re travelling light. We all have our own ways of dealing with these problems, a dry bag inside the rucksack, a zip-lock bag for all your paperwork and passport; the list goes on. Yes, all these things work but can be a pain under many conditions.
What’s the Answer?
Well, I was looking for a 12 litre heavy-duty dry bag on the internet for a different adventure and found myself on the LOMO website. I’ve not used any of their stuff before but the price seemed very competitive for the dry bag and I decided to go for it. While browsing the site I noticed that LOMO did a 30 litre dry day sack. It’s a 30 litre shaped dry bag with the traditional fold over top but it clips on either side rather than curled around and then clipped together. It has a separate zipped compartment that is not totally dry on the back along with two elastic cord fasteners and a carrying handle. The whole thing is fastened to a rucksack harness complete with chest and waist straps, all adjustable.
Oh No, A Single Compartment!
A rucksack with just a main cavity is referred to as a ‘single compartment’ rucksack; the small, zipped pocket in the lid being disregarded. This one has no ‘lid’ as such but has a small zipped pocket in the rear instead. I am used to ‘single compartment’ rucksacks and given the choice would always go for one over a ‘multi compartment’ one. Loading a single compartment rucksack properly is far easier and generally turns out much more comfortable to carry. Many will argue that you have to empty everything out to get at what you want; other than on the odd occasion, this rarely happens if you’ve thought about what goes where!
Taking a Risk
I normally only buy my gear after inspecting the item personally and only buy from the internet if I’m replacing ‘like for like’ items. On this occasion however, I took a chance as the prices seemed very good, normally a bad sign as you only get what you pay for (and sometimes, not even that!). I phoned the company at around 12:30pm and asked if I could pay by Mastercard. ‘No problem, that’s fine’ they replied. They said that both items were in stock and that they would be despatched that afternoon and that they would be with me the following day. The price for the 12 litre heavy-duty dry bag, the 30 litre dry day sack along with the carriage was £37.56 including all taxes. I really didn’t know what to expect from it all.
The Next Day
The next day came and just after lunch there was a knock at the door, I opened the door and it was a carrier delivering my parcel. So far, so good! I opened the package and as promised, one 12 litre heavy-duty dry bag and a 30 litre dry day sack. I inspected both items and they both exceeded my expectations by a long way.
The 12 Litre Dry Bag
Let’s not get into thigh-rubbing here and a heavy-duty dry bag is a heavy-duty dry bag. It’s red, torpedo bottom, fold over clip top and comes complete with an adjustable clip on shoulder strap. I rolled the top over three times and clipped it, trapping a good deal of air inside the bag. I then stood on it for a a minute or so! No air loss at all and no other problems. I’m now starting to get impressed. O.K., O.K., I know. It’s a dry bag!
The 30 Litre Dry Day Sack
What can I say? It’s a 30 litre dry day sack! As I’ve described it above I won’t bore you further with an elaboration. It’s not uncommon for a good 30 litre day sack to cost upwards of £70 but this was only £23.99! O.K., we are talking about two different beasts here and it’s unfair to compare the two on a ‘like for like’ basis. That said, for the intended purpose this is an excellent piece of kit. The back system is basic comfortable when packed properly. I packed it with some clothes and made sure that there was plenty of air inside when I fastened it up. I then did exactly the same ‘stand-on’ test as with the dry bag and got exactly the same result!
How Does All This Help Us?
We now have a 30 litre rucksack that we can put all our stuff in, the same as before but now we are able to throw it in the river or lake as we cross it or go for a swim (don’t forget to make sure that you put plenty of air in it first and check that it floats before you throw it in). We can fasten a line to the carrying handle if we wish as well as using it as a floatation aid and/or shock absorber if in rough, rocky water. It can go as hand luggage on all airlines and is incredibly resilient to abuse. If you want to be ‘bullet proof’ you can use a conventional dry bag inside if you wish! These things are always a compromise and this is no different, but all things considered it’s a very useful piece of kit and an excellent addition to your outdoor equipment. Sure, a normal 30 litre rucksack in conjunction with a dry bag will do the same. The difference with this is that other than the small pads on the harness it will be bone dry 10 seconds after you get out of the water; the other one wont!
The Bottom Line
I am somewhat of a ‘kit monster’ and although I take time in choosing the best equipment for the job; I clean, maintain and check my equipment on return from every adventure. That said I expect it to perform flawlessly whenever I use it and to take whatever I throw at it. These have been out for quite a while and are by no means a ‘new’ concept. After saying that, on my travels I’ve never seen anyone else using it for this particular purpose. Your back will sweat due to the material but there isn’t a rucksack on the market that prevents this no matter what the manufacturers say! It’s just a bit worse with this one. Don’t prejudge it, just take it for what it is and use it; if you end-up replacing it every year it’s only £23.99!
It’s early days with this yet but the initial tests have been very impressive indeed. I will, of course do an update after I’ve used it in anger for a month or two.
Is That the End of the Story?
Well, no not really. I should also mention that the service from LOMO Watersports was professional, friendly and completely hassle free. Everything that they said would happen, happened and it happened in the time they said it would. Now that’s worth shouting about on its own! If the two products turn out to be of the same high standard after a few excursions, I, along with undoubtedly many others will be exceptionally impressed.
Take a look for yourself on their website. http://www.ewetsuits.com