A thorough dry bag comparison
by Meloy Ady
On the surface, all dry bags seem fairly similar. But in actuality, they are not all cut from the same waterproof cloth. With so many intents and purposes, it can be tough to tell what will work best for you, and more importantly, what will keep your gear safe.
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack
Lightweight Dry Sack
Kayak camping requires some optimization of your gear, and the space available to store it. The Lightweight Dry Sack is made of 70D nylon, which is extremely malleable for easy storage in the small crevasses of your sea kayak or backpack. While there are lighter weight options out there, we find that the Lightweight Dry Sack is plenty compact, with moderate durability and abrasion resistance as well. Keep in mind that no roll top dry bag is truly submersible, so it’s advisable to stow the Lightweight Dry Sack below deck.
Sea to Summit Stopper Dry Bag
Stopper Dry Bag
The Stopper Dry Bag is quickly becoming a favorite with whitewater paddlers in the Pacific Northwest. The 210D Nylon material is coated with TPU to quickly shed water, provide solid abrasion resistance, and prevent damage from extreme cold. The oval design helps prevent the bag from rolling around, making a great choice for canoe’s, rafts or any other open boat. For those of us who tend to abuse gear, the Stopper features a buckle that can be easily replaced in the field. While not entirely submersible, the Stopper does feature a dual seal which greatly improves its performance in whitewater and surf.
SealLine Baja Bag
Baja Dry Bag
The tried and true Baja Bag sets the industry standard for durability. The world class toughness is achieved with the use of heavy duty vinyl, reinforced with scrim (a natural textile that prevents stretching, puncturing and bolsters overall strength). The Baja Bag is perfect for whitewater camping trips where your gear might get tossed around on rocky terrain. The dual strip seal has generous vinyl flap that forms a much better seal than your average roll top dry bag. The SealLine Baja Bag can withstand shallow submersions, and will easily float high and dry if you leave some air trapped inside. The one and only downside is the negative environmental impact of producing vinyl. That being said, if you only need to buy one dry bag every 10 years, the carbon footprint is minimal.
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag
Big River Dry Bag
The Big River Dry Bag shines as an example of how to make a high quality, ethical product. 420D rip stop material is extremely abrasion resistant, and prevents tearing if punctured. The Hypalon roll top closure forms a good seal, thoroughly protecting against splashes and waves. However, it is not intended to be submerged. For best results, it’s advisable to stow the bag below deck, especially if you’re carrying valuable equipment. The cost of the BigRiver is only slightly higher than a run of the mill dry bag, but it’s made without the use of PVC, with a long life span to boot. PVC production accounts for 40% of the United States chlorine consumption, causing serious adverse effects to our ozone layer. While buying one BigRiver dry bag won’t stop global warming, it’s certainly a step towards the right consumer mindset.
Watershed has a lasting reputation for serious over engineering, and the results are spectacular! The Ocoee features the ZipDry Seal, (think super industrial zip lock) and rolls down for added waterproofing, and compact storage. Unlike any other dry bag on this list, the Ocoee is totally and completely submersible! If you are carrying cameras or other expensive electronics, there is absolutely no substitute for a Watershed bag. The highly durable, abrasion resistant and tear resistant material is designed for years of use in demanding environments. You might be wondering, why would I buy anything else? well…the Ocoee is four times the cost of most 15 liter dry bags. However, I cannot emphasis enough the immense build quality and waterproof properties of any Watershed product. They are indefeasibly the best of the best!