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Eagle Creek Specter Half Cube

The Eagle Creek Specter Half Cube easily holds all of the items in my comfort pack with room to spare. Most of the weight comes from the zipper!

I recently upgraded my travel comfort pack from an Eagle Creek Pack-It Sack to an Eagle Creek Specter Half Cube. The main reason was weight savings – the newer silnylon bag was less than half the weight of the old poly bag. While this weight savings may not seem like a huge deal, it actually is. A few ounces here, a few there – they all add up to pounds (or kilograms) in the bag. That is important – first for your back, and second if your airline has a strict weight limit for carry-on bags. I would prefer taking my clothes instead of packaging if my bag is at limit. Unfortunately, light weight packaging comes at a cost. There is a universal rule that when you buy a lighter version of something – anything – it also lightens your wallet. In this case the cost of the silnylon bag is approximately 1-1/3 times the cost of the older poly bag. The cost is significantly more than a simple plastic zip-top bag. So is a silnylon bag worth it? The answer is… it depends.

Three types of packing cubes compared

Left to right – Eagle Creek Medium Pack-It Sack, Eagle Creek Specter Half Cube, and a one gallon Zip-Lock baggie.

I have to admit that my bag of preference is actually the plastic zip-top. It is inexpensive, comes in a variety of sizes, and is relatively waterproof. The zip-top is the lightest option going. Unfortunately, it is easily punctured. That makes it ill-suited for applications where abrasion is normal – such as my travel comfort pack. It also performs poorly when the bag is in constant use, such as a toilet kit. Some people just accept this as part of the weight savings game and frequently replace their zip-top bags. I think it is a hassle to constantly repack my toilet kit and comfort pack. That is why I looked at silnylon as an alternative.

A silnylon toiletry kit

This hanging "ultra-sil" toiletry kit from Sea-to-Summit is a very light weight 2.8 oz (80g). It is semi-permeable, which means that wet soaps and other items have a chance to dry out.

Silnylon is short for Silicone Impregnated Nylon. The impregnation makes the nylon strong for its weight, and improves its tear strength. This allows the manufacturer to use a lighter version of nylon and have a fabric as strong as the older, heavier polyurethane coated fabric. The finished silnylon product is significantly lighter than the poly version of the same product. Silnylon does have some strange characteristics. It feels stiffer than other types of nylon. It is not waterproof, but is water resistant. I actually consider this to be an advantage. if something is wet inside my silnylon bag, it will eventually dry out. I especially like this for my toilet kit which holds wet soaps, toothbrushes, and face scrubs. For the most part it performs the same as a heavier nylon bag. I have listed the differences in the table below.

*All prices are listed in US dollars
Weight Absolute Price* Number of Uses Cost per use*
Freezer weight 1 gallon Zip Lock 0.3 oz
8.5 g
$0.20 10 $0.02
Eagle Creek Specter Half Cube 0.6 oz
$14.00 >100 $0.14
Eagle Creek Pack-it Sack – Medium 2 oz
$10.50 >100 $0.11
Eagle Creek Half Cube 3 oz
$10.50 >100 $0.11

The outdoors/ultra-light backpacking community was the first to use silnylon. It was later adopted by adventure travel vendors such as Eagle Creek and Sea-to-Summit. The prices for silnylon products have dropped as the market has expanded, but are still high. Is the silnylon worth it? In the end it comes down to personal choice. I’m happy that I upgraded my toilet kit and comfort pack to this new material.