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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack

This LNT-inspired Dry Sack helps you keep it clean in large groups.

by: Will Rochfort

Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack (Courtesy Photo)
Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack (Courtesy Photo)

The Specs:
Sizes: 10L and 20L
Weight: 4.7 oz (20L on BP scales)
Cost: $30, $35
Do you get nervous when stuffing your food waste into the same stuff sack that’s holding tomorrow’s gourmet feast? If so, you can hike a little more easily if you pack the Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack. Essentially, it’s everything you’ve come to expect in a lightweight dry sack, with a couple of extra features that make it earn its moniker.

The taped seams, double stitching, roll-top closure, and waterproof fabric ensure that even the nastiest leftovers won’t leak their way into the rest of your pack. More impressively, the roll-top has series of tabs and flaps that will secure a disposable garbage bag liner in place. It’s a bit complex to figure out the system at first, but once I read the directions that were conveniently printed on the side of the bag, I was able to get it working without a hitch.

If, for some reason, you still don’t feel confident stuffing last night’s half-eaten sardines, goat cheese, and crackers in with your sleeping bag, the Trash Sack has plenty of clips available for lashing to the outside of your pack. These are also handy if you have mixed medium adventures planned, such as kayaking or canoeing trips, so you can easily strap the trash to the outside of your craft.

Since I didn’t have any backcountry culinary disasters to test the leak-proofness of the sack, I simulated one in my kitchen. The nether regions of my refrigerator yielded a putrid concoction of week-old chicken parm, month-old lettuce, and a jar of something so far past its due date that I couldn’t readily identify what it was (I think it was an attempt at homemade mayo that failed miserably). The consistency and smell of the three ingredients combined was perfectly horrifying, and exactly what I was hoping for. I poured everything into the liner, rolled up the top, hung the bag upside-down, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, I’m happy to report that the smell was minimal, and only a small amount of the food leaked out of the internal liner (none leaked out of the sack itself).

Now some of you might be saying to yourself, “Self, I really don’t generate that much trash, and I’ve never had a problem packing out everything I bring in.” If this is you and you normally hike in small, experienced groups, I can see why this might not seem like a useful piece of gear. But for those of us who lead groups with various levels of backcountry etiquette into the wilderness, something as simple as a dependable trash bag can be priceless. This Leave No Trace-inspired sack was designed to make it easier to pack it out, and I’ve found that just having something that is readily identified as a waste bin makes folks more likely to be sure their food scraps end up in the right place. It also works well if you’re set up for basecamp-style camping in bear country, as this helps ensure everyone in the group is stuffing their leftovers in a bag that you can easily hang or drop in a bear canister. Additionally, if you only keep the wet trash in the Dry Sack, it’s a lot easier to sort recyclables, compost, and waste when you get back home.

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Reader Rating: -


Adrianne Ross
Sep 01, 2010

I've got several of these - both small and large - and I've used them as food bags on canoe trips and backpacking trips. I pack a seperate bag for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - I tie a piece of ribbon through the rubber ring next to the buckle so I know which bag is which. They're lightweight but durable and roll down as the food gets eaten. They're easy to put in the portage pack/backpack and a cinch to hang on a bear pole - even in a pretty bad storm, the insides were dry the next morning. Of course, they wouldn't work where a bear can is required. I like them as food bags so much, I used them on a car-camping trip this summer. I've also used these bags as a garbage bag - I always bring one when I go hiking so I can pick up trail garbage and they work great, although I would recommend a regular kitchen garbage bag liner.

Aug 29, 2010

I have had this thing for a little over a year. I bought it on clearance at my local Cabela's for $6. When I take my kids and I pack out their garbage, it is somewhat handy. But we truly stopped carrying it after only about 3 trips. Just not worth it with the way we cook. It works better as a dry sack now.

Will Rochfort
Aug 27, 2010

This is the point I was trying to get at in the review. If you do careful food planning with experienced hikers, it might seem unnecessary. However, if you've ever had to do food planning for large group (especially younger groups), you know that two things can easily happen: 1) You have leftover food because folks lost their appetites, or 2) your participants have real trouble finding a trash bag and the scraps end up all over the place. For these situations, this bag will be pretty useful. I hope that helps clear it up! - WMR

Craig Rowe
Aug 26, 2010

I don't know. I'm a fan of most STS products but when/where is the applicable? I suppose if you have a little left over on a backpacking trip, it could come in handy. However, backpacking usually mandates careful food planning so you don't have much waste beyond some wrappers, etc. But hey, it certainly works in line with Packing it Out. Kind of mixed on the value of this.


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