Drew Pennington // December 18, 2019
No matter your experience level, wet gear is always a concern while on the water. Whether taking a quick afternoon paddle or a month long expedition, you need the right protection to keep all your stuff dry.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Activity: Are you going out for a quick jaunt, an longer day paddle, or a multi-day trip?
Contents: What do you need to keep dry? Do you need access while on the water or just at camp?
Level of protection: Splash-proof (Waves & Rain), Watertight (IPX7 - Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter), Waterproof (IPX8 - Suitable for continual submersion)
Dry Cases are perfect for smaller items such as your phone, keys, and your wallet which you may need quick access to without having to dig through your gear. You have a few options here depending on your needs.
Hard Cases: Hard cases like the Micro Case Series™ from Pelican provide watertight and crushproof protection. These are great for items which you will not need to access frequently but want on hand just in case.
Soft Cases: Soft cases are perfect for electronics like your phone or VHF. They provide waterproof protection while allowing for use of controls, without needing to remove the device from the case, even touch screens! Some soft cases also include added features such as arm bands and water-proof headphone jacks.
Chart Cases: These cases are specialized to carry charts, maps and other paper documents. You will also find hybrid cases which can protect your charts and electronics all in one package.
When you need to pack larger amounts of gear, particularly equipment which does not need to be accessed regularly, dry bags are the ticket. Dry bags come in a variety of materials, construction, and sizing to fit your needs.
Nylon: Nylon dry bags are lightweight and packable. Nylon has a much lower coefficient of friction than vinyl, so they are easier to slide into tight spaces, such as kayak compartments.
Vinyl: Vinyl-coated polyester dry bags are inexpensive and resistant to punctures, tears, and mildew. They withstand cracking and remain pliable at low temperatures. This will be your most economical option.
Polyurethane: Polyurethane-coated polyester dry bags provide superior puncture and abrasion resistance over vinyl, while also saving weight. It is should be noted, PVC-free polyurethane coatings are less harmful to the environment than vinyl coatings.
Dry bags come in all shapes and sizes, as well as a variety of colors, so that you can pack efficiently and keep track of all of your gear. Some things to keep in mind while choosing dry bags is the contents, and how accessible they will need to be, as well as the room you have to pack.
Obviously the larger a dry bag is the more gear it can hold, so bigger is better right? Not so fast; the more gear packed into a single bag means the more gear you need to dig through to get what you need. Furthermore, several smaller bags can better fit into the odd shape of your boat as well as being easier to get in and out of the hatches. Color coding your bags can make it easier to keep track of what gear is where. You will probably find that a mix of larger and smaller bags will best suit your needs.