- Buyer's Guide
Arc’teryx LEAF DryPack 25: Road Test
I’m a pack junkie, can’t deny that. So when I unbox a new pack I’m always excited. But with this one, my excitement went through the roof - meet the legendary Arc’teryx LEAF DryPack 25!
Note: this pack is only available via authorized LEAF sellers (like US Elite Gear, Tactical Distributors, Edgar Brothers etc.) and not on Arcteryx.com.
- Name: DryPack 25
- Brand: Arc'teryx LEAF
- Format: Waterproof backpack
- Capacity: 25L
- Weight: 1.2 kg / 2 lb 10 oz
- Zippers: TIZIP MasterSeal 10 Waterproof Zip – 500mbar Zipper
- Material: URETEK 725d HT Cordura® Plain Weave
- PriceUS$ 629.99
Who It Suits
Everyone looking for a heavy-duty water-sealed pack, which is not just waterproof but straightforward submersible, tough as nails and will survive almost anything you put it through. So if you're a member of a search and rescue team, special forces or the like, it’s your dream maritime operations pack. But it'll also suit sailors, kayakers and pack aficionados who are looking for something truly unique.
Who It Doesn't
It’s not intended to be used as a mountaineering or climbing pack and I’d not take it into such terrain. It’s also not the best EDC, and the price and availability makes it not an easy purchase. So if you don’t have a good reason for buying the DryPack, well, it’s probably not on the top of your short list.
This pack is the epitome of the Arc'teryx philosophy of design, which blends functionality with simplicity and clean lines. But don't get me wrong - that smooth matte-look, multicam pattern with laser cut PALS and bold zipper handle won’t go unnoticed. I’ve been asked quite a number of times about what pack it was. Yeah, it’s not a pack which you can see every day on the streets. And last but not least – the logo is big, but actually quite concealed and not easy to recognize from a distance, which again complies with the Arc'teryx LEAF philosophy. Simply speaking, it looks like a serious carry tool.
It may look like a simple pack but you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a sophisticated multilayer construction, stitched and laminated, fully sealed, made with the best materials available in the industry. The laminated back panel is semi-rigid and the pack keeps its shape even if empty. Dual-density shoulder straps are sewn between the back panel and laminated foam-filled shoulder pad (on top), and between the back and lumbar pad (at the bottom). You'll find also an adjustable sternum strap and webbing waist strap, which is more for stabilization than for load bearing purposes. The front panel features full PALS (laser cut) for easy attachment of pouches and other MOLLE compliant stuff. The DryPack 25 is not equipped with a Velcro patch panel by default, but with a couple of double-sided Velcro straps I quickly improvised one on PALS so I was able to attach any patch.
Materials and Hardware
Okay, a bit of tech now. The DryPack 25 is made with URETEK 725d HT Cordura® fabric, and that means it’s one tough pack. And in some crucial areas it is even doubled. The most critical component is of course the zipper, and as you can guess it’s THE best zipper available for this application - a TIZIP MasterSeal 10 waterproof zip. I googled a bit and that means it can withstand a pulling force of almost 100 lbs per inch (200N/cm)! Plus it’s not just watertight, but also airtight. In a nutshell, it’s the best-in-class and toughest zipper I've ever seen on a daypack. By the way, when you purchase the DryPack you'll find a complimentary TIZIP silicon grease, and you should apply this first on the zipper to get the most out of your bag. The other materials (webbings, tapes, and polymer hardware) are top-notch too. And, as you can guess, it’s made in Canada - Arc'teryx’s homeland.
"It may look like a simple pack but you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a sophisticated multilayer construction, stitched and laminated, fully sealed, made with the best materials available in the industry."
The first and absolutely most important feature of the DryPack is absolute waterproofness. Whatever you put inside it will stay dry - as simple as that. But that’s not all, as the pack comes with a valve on top which allows you to regulate the pack’s buoyancy. This is a huge feature which makes the DryPack such a unique pack (especially for professional use). Let’s assume you need to transport some equipment (it could also be a weapon in tactical use) in a discreet way underwater. Even if you put some really heavy stuff in there (ammo, etc.) the pack will have a tendency to float on the surface due to air trapped inside. But simply by sucking air from the pack you can adjust the buoyancy to a neutral level, so that you can swim underwater like you’d do without the pack at all. And it's a crucial feature for 'pro' use, any diver knows that.
And vice versa - as I said the pack is also airtight and you can actually inflate it via the air valve and use it as a floating device. So in an emergency (and as a certified sea sailor I know anything can happen on a boat) it can be used as a last-ditch life saving device.
"The first and absolutely most important feature of the DryPack is absolute waterproofness. Whatever you put inside it will stay dry - as simple as that. But that’s not all, as the pack comes with a valve on top which allows you to regulate the pack’s buoyancy."
Of course both cases are quite extreme and I doubt most of ‘us mortals’ would ever need to use the DryPack that way but it just gives you an idea of how tough and how good it actually is. For me just the fact that the bag protects the contents from the elements in the best possible way is the reason why you want the DryPack 25.
Space and Access
As the name suggests it’s a 25-liter pack. The opening is quite generous (about two thirds of the pack) and unrestricted. It’s in fact one big cavity, just what you’d expect from Arc'teryx. The interior is white, which helps to navigate through the pack’s contents. The TIZIP opens with a bit more resistance than classic small zippers do, but that is fully understandable given the size and function of the zipper. The bold rubber T-shaped handle helps a lot when operating the zipper, and it can be stowed and secured with Velcro for double safety of the contents.
Pockets and Organizing
It’s a minimalistic pack also inside. There is just one small flat pocket on the front panel (inside) which in my case works best for wallet and ID storage. But the back is covered with a wide Velcro panel top to bottom, followed with two webbing daisy-chains, which gives you all the modularity you can ask for in a daypack. In my case I just secured a mid-size mesh Velcro-backed pocket by LBX. That way I had the bottom part clear and easily accessible (usually for my photography equipment) and still was able to store smaller stuff in the LBX. A simple setup, works great, and that camo pocket looks like it's tailor-made for my DryPack.
But of course you can also organize the pack on the outside. A full PALS panel on the pack’s body plus PALS-compatible webbing on the straps lets the user attach any pouch, organizer, or MOLLE compliant accessory (like a flashlight, knife or radio). In my case I use it usually to attach an ITS Tactical TourniQuick pouch for quick tourniquet deployment if needed. And since I enjoy wildlife adventures, where edged tools are common and emergency medical care is usually long miles away… well, I prefer to have it right there on my pack. Actually it's even possible to attach an external hydration pocket to the PALS and easily fix the water tube to the shoulder strap – so yeah, the DryPack would fully work with an external hydration system.
There are also webbing loops on the top and on the sides, so it's easy to attach any kind of carabiners, line loops, etc. The side loops can also be used to store the waist belt in ‘reverse mode’. All in all it’s a surprisingly configurable pack with a lot of options inside and out.
Actually it’s not bad at all… if not just good! Sure, it’s not a pack optimized with comfort in mind as it’s a bit heavy and stiff, and doesn’t follow body movement as well as pure mountaineering packs (like the Alpha FL 30). But with the cushioned pads in the shoulder and lumbar areas, and soft dual-density foam-filled straps, it was way more comfortable than I expected. Totally wearable with 15-16 lbs of stuff inside, both wet and dry. It would surely carry more than that, but I didn’t have a chance (or need) to pack such heavy stuff inside. What is cool, when worn just with a t-shirt, the pack is supported on the padded panels, so the central part of the pack is actually not pressed hard to your back, which means some serious back ventilation.
"It’s not a pack optimized with comfort in mind as it’s a bit heavy and stiff, and doesn’t follow body movement as well as pure mountaineering packs."
As you can see I’ve used it both on land and sea. But I've also used it as a forest daypack as we used to wharf on the wild banks of the lakes during my sailing trip to Grand Masurian Lakes (North of Poland) and explore nature a bit more. And since the weather was quite rainy (luckily for the test actually!) a waterproof pack like this was a godsend. Of course, I’d not recommend this pack as a hiking pack, but when in need it can definitely play the role of a daypack. And even if 2 lbs for a 25-liter pack is not lightweight, it is fully justified considering the tank-like fully sealed waterproof construction. It was also good for an evening stroll in a yacht marina... just be prepared for occasional covetous glances. ;) Oh, and it wears nicely on one shoulder too.
Alternatives to Consider
The Patagonia Stormfront® Pack 30 – it’s a very nice pack, also fully waterproof, but it’s not nearly as strong and it’s hard to adapt to specific missions due to lack of PALS and no way to adjust buoyancy. Also Arc’teryx's carry comfort is considerably better due to generously padded strategic areas. But all that comes with a much higher price tag than Patagonia.
"All in all it’s a surprisingly configurable pack with a lot of options inside and out."
- Fully waterproof
- Great TIZIP zipper
- Built like a TANK
- Generous padding
- Adjustable buoyancy
- PALS outside, Velcro and daisy-chains inside, easy adaptation to any mission
- Looks like nothing else!
Not So Good
- Price tag!
If you’re looking for a state-of-the-art waterproof daypack, with good carry comfort and which you can easily adapt to any adventure or mission, there is nothing better available today on the market, period! I thought it’d be a good pack to protect my photo equipment on the sea and lakes, and it did a great job indeed. So if you're in the market for a ‘grab and go’ daypack for your next kayaking trip, or canoe adventure, or anything which involves protecting your valuable gear on or under the water, the DryPack 25 is the way to go. The biggest downside is clearly the asking price, which you need to splash out on, but sometimes you can find a good deal online. And if you need to protect stuff which is valued considerably more, the DryPack 25 could be an option worth considering.
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Space & Access
Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware
Warranty & Support