The Truth About Dry Bags

There is a wide variety of dry bags, sacks & cases - used to protect all sorts of gear. Come along to our Show and Tell sessions to learn more about dry bags and packing your kayak

SealLine Baja™ Dry Bag

“hmmm...Semi Dry…Bag”

These are extremely durable bags, lasting in a commercial setting 10+ years. I am still using a 5L and 20L  dry bag I was given on my 15th birthday! In my sea kayaking kit I commonly use 2x 5L dry bags, 1x 10L and 1x20L bags.
As with the lightweight dry bags, this much heavier weight bag relies on folding over the opening and clipping it closed so it is not a perfect seal.

Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack

“hmmm...Semi Dry…Bag”

These dry bags are of a lighter weight fabric so they weigh less but are not as durable as the Baja bags. In a commercial setting (ie. frequent use) they last 2 years.

Lightweight dry sacks are available in a range of sizes: 1, 2, 4, 8, 13 and 20 litre. I commonly use an 8L for my Thermarest ProLite Plus sleeping mat.They are useful for a range of soft items such as clothes and food - nothing with sharp edges to poke through the bag.

When sealing them up, squeeze as much air out as possible and fold the top over at least three times before clipping the buckle. The watertightness of these bags is not perfect as they rely on merely being folded  and clipped - there is no watertight seal so if the bag is likely to be immersed (in a canoe, open kayak or stowed in cockpit) you should use additional waterproofing methods such as lining with a tied-off heavy duty garbage bag.

To prolong the life of your lightweight dry bags ensure that your fore and aft compartments are clean of sand and there are no exposed sharp points (such as the deck fittings screws) to tear or abrade the bags.

Sea to Summit Compression Dry Sack

“I am Very impressed…Can’t get enough of them. I have not yet had a wet sleeping bag."

I can’t get enough of these - I use them for sleeping bags, puffy jackets,  clothing, wet weather clothing,  fly sheets and tents. They have never leaked!  Even in wet plastic sea kayaks! In extremely wet kayaks/canoes or an environment such as the Alaskan rainforest, I do however use a heavy-duty trash bag to make sure they are completely 100% waterproof.

Sea to Summit Stuff Sack

“A Great way to make a Dry Bag”

Stuff sacks close with a drawstring so they are not actually a dry bag in themselves. They can, however, be converted to a dry bag using a heavy duty garbage bag - squeeze the air out, then twirl and knot the end of the garbage bag for a firm seal.

Our Youtube shows how this is done:
How to Make a DRY Bag - Sea to Summit Stuff Sack

Aquapacs

“Use you mobile/cell phone anytime, anywhere...Provided there is reception!”

These small bags are best suited to electronics that you might want to access on the water: phones, VHF radios and GPS units as they have a clear plastic window and allow use of a touchscreen through the plastic. They come in a variety of sizes - 108 (mini electronics / earlier iPhones), 348 (iPhone 5 & 6) and the 358 (iPhone 6+ & larger phones).

The bag works on a clamp system and is rated at IPX8 - submersible to 5 metres. It comes with a lanyard - as with anything that is not stowed away you should attach it to something, such as your PFD.

Aquapac 358

Aquapac 358

 The seal deteriorates over time with frequent use so best to retire after a period of use & they can then be used as storage for small items. I personally downgrade my Aquapacs every 6 months, and use them for less important items such as passports, head phones, USB devices which will also be stored in turn inside my Watershed Ocoee duffel bag.

Aquapac offer a 5 year warranty that covers the bag only, not the contents, so inspect your Aquapac regularly and replace when it shows signs of wear.


Pelican Cases and Microcases

“Impact protectors”

Pelican Microcase -They work as great impact protectors, but they can start to leak over time,  especially when sand and grit gets stuck around the seams/o-rings. I use them for items that are already water resistant such as my camera and HandiCam.

Pelican Case - These cases are almost indestructible, water- and impact-proof. I utilise the 1120 case for communications equipment - satellite phone and flares.  These cases are rigid and can be difficult to pack in tight places so I limit them to essential items that must be protected from crushing.

Watershed Bags

“Bomber - it is the true Dry bag”

Watershed - I am so impressed with these bags - they are quite expensive but well worth it: soft and easy to load, extremely watertight. To maintain this seal, use 303 Aerospace Protectant (or in a jam, Olive Oil).

I do not leave home without my Ocoee duffel bag. It carries wallets,  phones, batteries, passport and a variety of small electronic devices that must be kept dry. The duffel has four clips to compress down so it can be easily stowed.

 

The Aleutian Deck Bag is amazing in field/commercial situations. It is carried on the front deck of the kayak - visible to all, carrying the first aid kit, medical summaries, float plan and rescue equipment such as flares (Marine Safety Pack).

 

 

Big Creek Backpack is only really used on my Trak Adventures, for Fishing Kit and Cooking Kit and bits & bobs, as it can be loaded on the back deck of a kayak and remains very water tight.

 

 

 

Grid Tablet Bag:  Carrying your iPad is an amazing tool for trip planning and this is the only way I would carry it.  The iPad does not work so well if the clear panel is wet - it makes it difficult to navigate the iPad, but it does protect it from the wet environment extremely well.

Waterproofing Tips and Tricks

  • Dry bags are not designed for prolonged immersion - anything vital should be contained within at least two (preferably 3) layers of water-proofing or in Pelican case/ Watershed bag
  • The degree of waterproofing of a bag can be improved using a strong garbage bag - twist the ends and tie off.
    See our Youtubes:
    How to Make a DRY Bag - Sea to Summit Stuff Sack
    How to Waterproof your Sleeping Bag
  • Make sure the inside of your kayak’s hatches are clean of sand and sharp points that can abrade you dry bags
  • After 6 months of heavy use, Aquapacs should be retired from their primary use protecting your phone or GPS unit, to use as a second line of defence holding small items such as keys, leads, USB drives inside another dry bag

YouTube Reviews

AquaPac Phone Cases
Watershed Grid Tablet Bag

Summary

Weight
 

Heavy

 

Light


 

Light







 

Light



 

Light




 

Heavy







 

Heavy
 

Heavy

 

Heavy

 

Heavy

 

Heavy

Durability
 

Excellent

 

Good


 

Light







 

Good



 

Moderate




 

Excellent







 

Excellent
 

Excellent

 

Excellent

 

Excellent

 

Excellent

Water-tightness

Good

 

Good


 

V Good







 

Good



 

V Good




 

Moderate







 

Excellent
 

Excellent

 

Excellent

 

Excellent

 

Excellent

Use
 

Large heavy duty bag to store a variety of items

Sized from 1-20 litres these bags are very versatile for storing softer gear such as clothing, sleeping mats, food.

Bulky items: sleeping bags and puffer jackets clothing, tents & fly sheets compress.
Add an extra layer of waterproofing with a garbage bag if you plan to submerge or are in a very wet environment

Not waterproof in itself, but add a strong garbage bag & tie off and it creates a very effective seal for holding items such as clothing, sleeping bags, food

Phones and small electronics such as GPS units - clear bag enables use while staying dry. Comes with lanyard to attach to PFD. Finite lifespan.

Impacts - great for protecting delicate items. O-ring sealed hard plastic cases in various sizes. Store valuable items: video cameras, small electronics or personal 1st aid kit - crushproof. Beware getting sand in the o-ring!

Impact- and Waterproof. Great for Satellite phones.

On back deck of kayak

 

First Aid Kit,  Medical Summaries, 2x orange smoke & 2x red night flares

Wallet, passport, phone, spare batteries, medication.
 

iPad