Iceland: Kit Waterproofing And Packing

Iceland-2008-117-small

I’ve a few more entries on particular aspects of the Iceland trip. They’ll appear as other projects in my life allow!

Waterproofing your kit on this route is not a matter of popping your sleeping bag in a bin liner. The rain can come from all directions at once and the river crossings mean you run the risk of dropping the whole pack in the water.

We decided to go for tough plastic bags for the main pack liner (thanks again Lighthiker for encouraging my experiments there). We then double bagged critical things like the sleeping bags, duvet jackets and camera memory cards. We just candy cane twist the top (twist and then fold the twist back on itself) and put a rubber band on it.

I can’t say that I will use this system forever, the simplicity of one large Exped pack liner does appeal. Plus you can’t put your finger through an Exped liner (though there’s always gaffer tape – assuming you notice the hole in time). However since the BPL plastic bags only weigh 37gms each they’re very hard to beat on weight.

But the cunning part of this set-up is the second bag that holds the sleeping bag and the duvet jacket.

We’re using 35L Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Drybags (65gms). They double up as stuff-sacks of course, replacing two PHD stuff-sacks of 18gms each. Meaning for only 29gms extra they’ve got that critical “double bagged” waterproofing.

Large Silnylon bag used for both PHD Minimus bag and PHD Minimus jacket - flattened sideways to fit across width of bag

However I should say that I certainly wouldn’t rely on a sil-nylon waterproof bag alone for down items since they can fail and “weep” water.

That being said, I’ve used one as a stuff-sack for the sleeping bag alone for nearly a year and it only started to have tiny, tiny pin-prick leaks at stress points along the taped seam after a lot of bashing about in the pack.

Which is quite comparable to the Exped waterproof bags that I have often had to repair as well (am I just hard on kit? I can’t be the only one to have Exped bags start to leak surely? Or does no one test them?).

Anyhow, the cunning bit: A 35L bag is much, much larger and wider than the individual stuff-sacks and can therefore have the air squeezed from it, before being squashed into a fat disk shape that fits nicely across the whole diameter of the pack.

You can see the size of it compared with the 230ml gas canister in the picture. You can also see the flat disk shape that it forms.

The fat disk shape is far, far easier to pack than the two intransigent cylinders formed by the original stuff-sacks for sleeping bag and duvet jacket on their own.

In fact we’ll be using this packing method for the sleeping bags in future regardless of what we use for the main waterproofing.

We’ve since found that it works very well indeed for full winter bags and duvet jackets as well.

2 Replies to “Iceland: Kit Waterproofing And Packing”

  1. Heh, that trick with the Sea To Summit bag is exactly what I do as well. I’ve had mine for a couple of years, and it’s still 100% air/watertight. You’re dead right on the cunning part – it just sits, pancake flat (OK, almost), in the bottom of the rucksack, nice and dry.

    I’ve also been using the Arc’teryx Naos 70 rucksack – it’s a little heavy, but sits beautifully and is 100% watertight itself.

  2. You have? Excellent! It’s always nice to find out that a technique is being used successfully by others :)

    It’s also good to know that it still works even in something that narrows so much like the Naos. It’s a fair heft when compared to the ultralight packs that one but I can see the appeal of 100% watertight pack. At least the weight stays almost constant.

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