FAQ From Sea to Summit
Can you put StS kitchenware in the microwave and/or dishwasher?
Our X products are made of food-grade nylon and food-grade silicone rubber. They are BPA-free. They will stand up to boiling water without any negative effects. They can be washed in a dishwasher and used in a microwave without damage. If the silicone rubber should sustain a small cut, it can be repaired with McNett SilNett or Sea to Summit’s UltraSeam Sil (clean the cut with isopropyl alcohol, drop a blob of the silicone repair compound over the damaged area, allow to dry).
Delta products are made of Nylon 66, which is strong, light and BPA-free. They will stand up to boiling water without any negative effects. They can be washed in a dishwasher, but should not be used in a microwave.
Alpha Set / AlphaLight Cutlery
Alpha cutlery is made of high-grade aircraft aluminum alloy, which is hard-anodized. It is strong, light and durable. Alpha cutlery should not be used in a dishwasher – the caustic chemicals in dishwasher detergent will damage the anodized finish irreparably. As with all metal cutlery, it is not recommended to use Alpha utensils with non-stick finishes.
Titanium cutlery can be washed in a dishwasher without any negative effects. As with all metal cutlery, it is not recommended to use Titanium utensils with non-stick finishes.
Do any of your liners have side zippers?
Our liners don’t have zippers* – you slide into them through the opening at the top (in the case of the Adaptor and Reactor series, the drawcord channel is a contrasting color which makes this even easier).
There are several reasons for not adding a zipper to a liner:
- Most end-users buy a Sea toSummit liner specifically because of its light weight and small packed size. A zipper would considerably increase the weight and the packed volume.
- A zipper in a sleeping bag is there to ‘vent’, to help control temperature. If your concern is your sleeping ‘environment’, you should know that the Silk, Silk/Cotton, Reactor and Adaptor series all wick extremely well, and allow enough air to pass through to keep you really comfortable.
- If your concern is feeling constricted in a liner, you should choose the Coolmax Adaptor. The fabric is extremely stretchy and very soft – you will hardly notice you are sleeping in a liner at all.
* There is one ‘exception’ – the Toaster Fleece Liner. This does have a full-length zipper; but because of its packed volume, it’s often thought of as a lightweight sleeping bag rather than a liner. (A Toaster is great for hut tours, or river/desert trips where easy care is important). The Toaster has a packed volume similar to a gallon milk jug, the Reactor packs down to the size of a large coffee mug.
How do I remove mildew from a dry sack?
Depending on where the mold is and how deeply it has penetrated the fabric, it should be possible to remove the mold/mildew without damaging the dry bags.
- Don’t use very hot water. Water above 60°C / 140°F can damage the seam tape. – Don’t use bleach. This can damage the polyurethane seam tape and the coating. – Don’t use solvents (including dry cleaning); they can cause the coating to delaminate.
Start by hand washing the dry bag in moderately hot water (around 45°C / 115°F) and a non-detergent soap such as Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash. A sponge should work well for this; if you use a scouring sponge, be very gentle with the abrasive side.
If the mold is too deeply ingrained to be removed by the washing process described above, you will need to use a product from McNett called MiraZyme (an enzyme based cleanser – details at http://www.mcnett.com/MiraZyme-Enzyme-Based-Odor-Eliminator-P191.aspx). Apply a diluted solution of MiraZyme directly to the dry bag using a sponge – this should kill the mold, although it will not remove the discoloration.
Alternately, you might try salt (1 cup / 250ml) and lemon juice concentrate (1 cup / 250ml) in hot water (1 gallon / 4 liters); again, use a sponge to apply the solution and avoid scrubbing too hard. Rinse very thoroughly after applying this solution.
After any of the washing/rinsing procedures described above, dry the bags in the sun until you are confident that they are completely dry. Do not put the dry bags in a dryer; the heat can damage the seam tape.
If the dry bags have actually been damaged by mold (ie the mold has degraded the coating or caused the seam tape to delaminate), there is no way to restore the bag to its full waterproof performance.
How do you wash a down sleeping bag?
- Don’t dry-clean a down sleeping bag. The dry-cleaning chemicals strip the oils from the down and prevent it from lofting properly.
- Use soap specifically formulated for down. There are a number of such products from leading available; a good outdoor store will have them in stock. Regular laundry detergents will also strip oils from down.
- Do not use a top loading washing machine. The mechanical action of the impeller (the plastic spiral in the drum) is far too rough for a sleeping bag.
- Either use a front loading washing machine on a gentle cycle or hand-wash your sleeping bag.
Hand wash: it’s best to use a bathtub – turn the sleeping bag inside out, place it in the tub and add warm water (enough to cover the bag) and the recommended amount of down soap. Gently knead the sleeping bag to force water/soap through it. DO NOT PICK UP THE BAG DURING THIS PROCESS. When the sleeping bag seems clean, drain the bathtub and then carefully roll up the bag to squeeze the water out. Turn bag right-side out. Refill the tub with clean water and knead the bag to force clean water through it – continue until there are no more suds. Carefully roll up the sleeping bag again to squeeze the water out of it.
Machine Wash: select a delicate wash cycle with a temperature setting of no higher than 40°C / 100°F with an extra rinse cycle. Select a faster/longer spin cycle – it is important that as much water is spun out of the bag as possible before you attempt to remove it from the drum. Whether you hand wash or machine wash, DO NOT pick up the sleeping bag when it is full of water – the weight of the water in the down may tear out the internal baffles.
- Tumble dry. Put the sleeping bag in the cotton laundry sack before putting it in a tumble dryer. Set the dryer to low heat or ‘delicates’ and run a complete cycle. Remove the sleeping bag in the laundry sack and turn the sleeping bag inside out. Return the bag to the laundry sack and put it back in the dryer. This time, put one or two clean tennis balls into the drum with the sleeping bag – they will help to break up clumps of down. Repeat these drying cycles until you are absolutely certain that the down is dry through and through – if the bag is put away even slightly damp, mold or mildew can form. If you can feel clumps of down, the down is not dry yet.
- Air the bag before storage. Hang the bag up in a dry place where it can air out before being returned to its zippered storage cube.
If you follow the above instructions, it’s relatively simple to get really good results. Bear in mind that you won’t need to wash your sleeping bag as often if you use a sleep bag liner (click here to find out more about liners).
Getting the best from the Kitchen Sink
- Never pour boiling or very hot water straight into the sink; this can damage the seam taping. Always start with cool water in the sink and add hot water to achieve the temperature you want
- Kitchen Sinks can be safely used with detergents without damage to the polyurethane coating. When you’re in the backcountry, make sure the soap you use is biodegradable (such as Wilderness Wash), and always dispose of used water at least 300 feet from a water source
- Don’t use bleach in the sink: bleach will cause the coating to delaminate and the fabric to become hard and crinkly
- When you return home, make sure the sink is completely dry before it is packed away for storage to prevent mold or mildew contamination
- In the extremely unlikely event that you should get a hole in your Kitchen Sink, it can be repaired using the same techniques as apply to repairing Lightweight Dry Sacks – see
The amazing strength of our compact Ultra-Sil “lifestyle” bags
The Ultra-Sil® Shopping Bag packs down into a tiny stuff sack (approximately 3” x 2”), small enough to fit on a key ring. Yet it is strong enough to carry well over 250 lbs (115kg). So – how is this possible?
The Ultra-Sil® Shopping Bag is made of a featherweight, high tech fabric. CORDURA® brand yarns are used for strength, and they are woven together very tightly – 240 threads per inch – for resilience. The fabric is then siliconized on both sides.
The silicone elastomer makes the fabric water resistant – but it also allows the individual fibers to stretch. In comparison, polyurethane coatings used on some ‘similar’ products do not stretch to the same degree: under load, they are more likely to break, which is how a tear starts.
Sea to Summit capitalizes on the unique properties of this fabric by reinforcing stress points using a zig-zag seam called a bartack. In addition, the handles of the Shopping Bag run through two seams at each attachment point.
The result is a bag (larger than conventional grocery bags) which will reliably carry your purchases year after year.
So – the answer to the question ‘paper or plastic’? is therefore ‘neither – I have an Ultra-Sil® Shopping Bag, thanks’.
What exactly is the Pack Converter and how can it be used?
Recently we’ve been talking about the advantages of multi-use gear. Our Pack Converter is one of the most versatile pieces of gear we sell.
The Pack Converter is basically a rectangular duffle bag with a large horseshoe-shaped zippered opening. It is made from tough 210 denier ripstop nylon with fully taped seams. It has two handles and a stowaway shoulder strap.
You can use the Pack Converter …
1) When checking your backpack for airline travel –The Pack Converter is much more secure than using a plastic bag. When confronted with a plastic bag-wrapped backpack, baggage handlers often rip a hole in the plastic and grab the first strap they can, which may not be a load-bearing strap. This may cause significant damage to your backpack.
2) When traveling by bus or train—A backpack packed in a Pack Converter is much easier to slide into a luggage rack or under a seat (without the harness or other straps snagging).
3) On its own as a lightweight duffle bag. You might need extra luggage capacity or your trip home.
4) As a rain cover for your backpack when you are hiking
5) For added security—A backpack packed in a Pack Converter looks more like a nondescript black bag than an expensive backpack.
We have a Medium and Large size.
The Medium size holds 50-75 Liters. It measures 34” L x 13” W x 11” H and weighs 20 oz
The Large size holds 75-100 Liters. It measures 36” L x 14” W x 12” H and weighs 22 oz
Which Microfiber towel should I choose?
We have three types of Microfiber towels: Pocket Towel, Drylite Towel, and Tek Towel.
The Pocket Towel is our lightest option that also drys most quickly. It comes in small (16 inches x 32 inches) and large (24 inches x 48 inches). The Pocket Towel has a “silky soft” finish.
If you are looking for the smallest-possible packed volume, the Pocket Towel is the one to choose.
Our Dryite Towel has a super soft suede finish. It is compact and drys quickly. It is available in five sizes from hand-towel-size to beach-towel-size. For 2014, we’ve added a silver anti-microbial finish to the DryLite Towel (it’s our only towel with this finish) to help keep the towels fresh and odor-free.
DryLite Towels are a great balance between weight/packed volume and absorbency – for backpacking and other pursuits where weight and packed size are an issue, the DryLite may be the perfect towel.
The Tek Towel feels the most like a traditional terry cloth towel. Because it is made of Microfiber is it still super absorbent and quick drying.
The greater surface area provided by the ‘terry cloth’ loops means greater absorbency – the Tek Towel is our most absorbent towel. Tek Towels are the most luxurious-feeling travel towels out there – but they are heavier and bulkier than DryLite Towels.
So if weight is your most important concern, the Pocket Towel is the one you need. If you prefer the feel of a traditional towel, then go for the Tek Towel. And if you are somewhere in between, then the Drylite is your choice. Regardless of which towel you choose, all of our Microfiber towels are compact yet thirsty.
(Just remember when washing the towels that fabric softeners should not be used. Fabric softeners prevent the microfibers from absorbing moisture and may also lengthen drying time significantly.)
Choosing a Compression Sack
Which size compression sack do I need for my sleeping bag?
Because sleeping bags vary in their packed volume (depending on whether they are down or synthetic, and as a result of different shell/liner fabrics), it’s not possible to simply equate a bag temperature rating with a compression sack size.
The best way to determine if your bag will fit in a specific compression sack is to measure its moderately compressed volume. Here’s how:
- Put your bag in a cardboard box (one which is larger than the bag)
- Measure the length and width of the box in inches
- Press the sleeping bag down firmly until the upper surface is roughly level in the box
- Measure the average depth that the bag occupies in inches
- Now multiply length x width x depth = volume in cubic inches
- Divide the total by 61 = volume in liters
Which compression sack should I choose?
If you need compression and waterproof protection and weight is not critical, we’d suggest the eVent Compression Dry Sack. The eVent Compression Sack – Size M compresses from 14 down to 4.5 liters; weight is 5.2 ounces.
If you need compression and waterproof protection, and weight is critical, we’d suggest the UltraSil Compression Dry Sack with eVent. UltraSil Compression Dry Sack with eVent – Size M compresses from 14 down to 4.5 liters; weight is 3.2 ounces.
If you need compression but not waterproof protection and weight is critical, we’d suggest the Ultra-Sil Compression Sack. Ultra-Sil Compression Sack – Size M compresses from 15 down to 5 liters; weight is 3 ounces.
One other thought about storage for sleeping bags and insulated jackets:
If you need waterproof protection but do not need maximum compression, we’d suggest the eVac Dry Sack. The eVac Dry Sack – Size 13 Liter weighs 2.4 ounces. Note: When you pack your soft goods in the eVac sack, roll and click the roll-top closure then sit on the bag to squeeze out air through the eVent fabric base. Roll the roll-top closure down tighter and you’ve achieved a reasonable degree of compression. You’ll need to pack the bag into your backpack and pack other gear on top to prevent it drawing air back into the eVac sack.
Just how waterproof is waterproof?
Just how waterproof is waterproof?
Certain Sea to Summit products are made of waterproof materials, and those designed for exposure to really wet environments are made of waterproof fabrics with the seams either seam-taped* or welded.
In the case of our dry sack range, we use different fabrics depending on the expected use: A backpacker will want the lowest weight whereas a white-water river rafter will need the highest possible abrasion resistance. These fabrics will have varying levels of waterproofness. But – just how waterproof are they?
Occasionally, you’ll hear someone make a comment that they assume a thing will be absolutely waterproof. But clearly there’s a difference between “garden hose” and “fire hose” waterproof. Fortunately, there’s a simple way of quantifying this: How much pressure will a fabric sustain before water forces its way through the weave/waterproofing layer?
The most common way of expressing this ability to resist pressure is called hydrostatic head. Here’s what it means:
Imagine stretching a piece of fabric across the base of a tube (so tightly that water cannot leak out around the seal). Now fill the tube with water. If the water forces its way through the fabric when the tube is filled to 1 meter, the hydrostatic head for that fabric is 1,000mm. 5 meters of water in the tube and the hydrostatic head would be expressed as 5,000mm. And so on.
Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted standard for the hydrostatic head which constitutes ‘waterproof’. How waterproof a piece of gear needs to be is often a case of the conditions under which it will be used: a tent rain-fly used in the Californian Sierras will not be exposed to the same level of wet weather as a rain-fly used in British Columbia. (Wind-driven moderately heavy rain has a hydrostatic pressure of about 2000mm).
Sea to Summit has selected fabrics for its range of dry sacks based on their hydrostatic head performance as well as on how rugged and lightweight the finished product needs to be for its intended use.
The fabric used in Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks, Stopper Dry Bags and Big River Dry Bags will support a column of water 10,000mm high – approximately 33 feet. They vary in ruggedness from moderate to very tough.
The fabric used in Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil® Dry Sacks will support over 2,000mm. These products are very light weight and are designed for use inside a backpack – the fabric is not suitable for abrasion/puncture risk environments such as boating.
However, when we say a dry sack uses 10,000mm hydrostatic head fabric, we’re not suggesting that it can be taken down to 30 feet or so under water – the roll-top closure will not support anything like this water pressure. This is the reason why Sea to Summit Dry Sacks carry an advisory stating that they are not intended for submersion use. It is not because the fabric is in some way inferior to other products on the market; quite the opposite. It is because a roll-top closure will only support a modest amount of hydrostatic pressure, even if it is carefully closed. This is true for all brands of dry sacks, not just those from Sea to Summit. A wave washing over your boat? No problem for a Lightweight, Stopper, Big River or Hydraulic Dry Bag. The same dry sacks under several feet of moving water for minutes at a time after capsizing? Probably more water pressure than the roll-top closure can keep out.
If you’re going to be using any piece of ‘waterproof’ gear in very wet conditions, you should inform yourself of the hydrostatic head of its fabrics prior to making a purchase – this includes dry sacks, rain jackets, and (most particularly) tent floors. Balance this against how much weight you’re prepared to carry, and how rugged you need the item to be.
Bear in mind that a product can be made of waterproof fabric (Ultra-Sil® Compression Sacks, for instance), but not have tape-sealed seams – and therefore will only be water resistant, not waterproof.
If you’d like any more information about the hydrostatic head of any Sea to Summit products, or more explanation of any of the above points, send me an email via this blog.
* Sea to Summit uses seam tape from the industry leader, Beamis – its part of the superior construction that makes our gear perform the way it does
Choosing and Caring for Liners
How do I care for my Sea to Summit Reactor, Adaptor, or Silk Liner?
Care of Sea to Summit liners is very simple: unlike some synthetic waterproof / soft shell fabrics which have to be washed in special non-detergent soaps, the liners can be washed in a home washing machine using normal detergent (referred to as laundry ‘soap’). If you are using a top-loader washing machine, we would strongly suggest putting the liner inside a pillow case to prevent the impeller (the spiral plastic rotating column in the drum of the machine) possibly snagging the draw cord. A front-loader is much gentler on your gear, and this step is unnecessary. In either case, use the delicates or gentle cycle. Fabric softener will decrease the wicking performance of the fabric, and should be avoided. Do not dry the liner in a dryer; excessive heat can damage the fabric – air-drying is the way to go.
Can I use the Reactor/Reactor Compact Plus/Reactor Extreme as a stand-alone sleeping bag?
If you are using the Reactor/Reactor Compact Plus/Reactor Extreme Liner as a stand-alone bag outdoors (rather than, say, in a hostel), the principal factor to be aware of is moving air. The knit fabric of the Reactors allows air to pass through quite easily, which in their normal use – inside a sleeping bag – helps ensure a comfortable sleeping environment. However, when used as a stand alone bag, cooler air passing through from the outside will rob you of the warm layer of air you have generated inside the bag.
If you are inside a tent, this is less of a factor; if not, you may need something to cover the bag (perhaps a poncho, or a lightweight bag cover). As far as temperature is concerned, a rough ‘rule of thumb’ would still put the minimum air temperature at which you would remain comfortable at around 60F / 15C. If you use a lightweight bag cover over the liner (which prevents heat loss due to moving air) a reasonable comfortable temperature rating would be 50F / 10C. The Reactor Extreme would probably be your best bet for this kind of use.
How much additional temperature performance will a thermal liner add to a sleeping bag?
Sea to Summit has conducted extensive real-world testing on its thermal liners which have resulted in the temperature ‘ratings’ given for each product.
However, the thermal performance of a liner is affected by a number of factors, including the technical design of the sleeping bag it is being used with (remember, sleeping bag ‘ratings’ are not subject to regulation and are often unrealistic), your own metabolism, external air temperature and humidity, and the type of sleeping pad you’re sleeping on.
All liners add some additional thermal performance, simply because they provide an additional layer which traps air; plus they may wick away sweat which will cool you down. As stated above, there are a lot of factors which affect how much extra performance you can expect. Broadly speaking, a silk liner will add up to 6°F / 4°C, a Coolmax Adaptor up to 8°F / 5°C, a Thermolite Reactor up to 14°F / 8°C and a Reactor Extreme up to 25°F / 15°C
Here are some grains of wisdom collected from consumer emails we’ve received:
How does Sea to Summit’s mesh differ from other bug netting? Is it no-see-um proof?
Sea to Summit uses a proprietary mesh: ours is polyester (which is softer than nylon), it is black (which gives better visibility than grey or white) and it has a hexagonal pattern (which means more holes per square inch than a square pattern – so you get better airflow through it)
The mesh has 500 holes / sq. in. (80 holes / cm²). The holes aren’t small enough to stop immature no-see-ums, for which reason we don’t describe it as no-see-um proof.
How do I pitch a Pyramid Shelter? Is there a floor / an entrance?
The shelters are not designed to be free-standing; their primary use is for travelers who are staying in hostels/backpacker lodges where the shelter will be suspended from the ceiling above a bed. The overlapping flap at the bottom creates a bugproof seal against the mattress or the floor (illustration shows the Double Pyramid Shelter):
The shelters can be used outdoors; in order to pitch one you would need a tree or some other overhanging object to suspend the shelter from (in the case of the Double shelter, the 22” folding pole is used as a spreader bar to provide more interior space/headroom, not to support the shelter).
Conventionally, free-standing outdoor bug shelters will have a floor and a zippered entrance (Sea to Summit shelters do not have a floor or an entrance) – outdoor shelters are therefore heavier and bulkier
How long does the Insect Shield treatment last?
Insect Shield Repellent Gear is tested and proven to last through 25 washings OR 6 months of constant (meaning daily) exposure to weathering (including rain/sun etc.)
There is no degradation in repellency when an Insect Shield treated shelter is stored. In fact, there have been a number of studies on treated items and shelf-life that resulted in no loss in repellency even after numerous years
Insect Shield has also been conducting a shelf life test since EPA registration was achieved in 2003. To date there has been no degradation in repellency.