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Tested: Drybags for Boaters

A dry bag can be a lifesaver for a boater—whether it’s a weekend on the water, a day fishing the flats, or a jaunt to the beach in the dinghy, keeping your gear dry is a must. We gathered up several bags, from duffels to backpacks to dry sacks, and put them to the test. Here’s what we found.  

Drybags for boaters

Items listed clockwise from top.

Sea to Summit Hydraulic dry bag
$34.95 (for 8-liter);

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic dry bag was the simplest of the bags we tested, but it also may be the one that we would end up using most in day-to-day life on the water. The 8-liter stowage capacity is a good fit for wallet, keys, cell phone, a towel, and maybe a dry change of clothes. Heading to the beach for some time ashore? Throw your gear in this, toss it in the dinghy, and you’re ready to go. Constructed with welded, permanently sealed seams and UV-resistant, waterproof, high-performance abrasion-resistant fabric, the Hydraulic dry bag will hold up well against the elements and the wear and tear of everyday use. This should be a staple on any boat.

Gage by Grundéns Rum Runner backpack
$96 (for 30-liter);

Gage’s Rum Runner Backpack (available in camo, shown, and black) is made from polyurethane fabric and has a carrying capacity of 30 liters. The roll top opens wide for easy stowing and quick access to your gear, and there is an internal water-resistant pocket for anything that might need some extra protection—like a smartphone. The bag is 100-percent waterproof and features padded, moisture-wicking straps and back support. The Rum Runner also has a mesh pocket on the front for quick stowage of stuff that can get wet, and two side pouches for holding water, sunscreen, and other small items we needed to lay our hands on. 

Aquapac Upano waterproof duffel
$135 (for 70-liter);

The first impression from the Upano duffel, even when we had it loaded up, is that this thing is light (it weighs a hair over 25 ounces). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough—it’s constructed with polyurethane-coated nylon, so no need to fear damaging it when tossing it in a dinghy. In addition to being solidly waterproof one nice feature on this bag that we didn’t find on the others was an air-release valve on the exterior, which along with the compression straps makes packing it and sealing it up a breeze. Another nice feature is a strip of hook-and-loop fastener on the roll top, which offers some extra protection from water intrusion.

SealLine WideMouth waterproof duffel
$89.95 (for 40-liter);

The WideMouth waterproof duffel lives up to its name—the opening on this bag is enormous. The duffel is constructed from scrim-reinforced vinyl (19-ounce for the main portion of the bag, heavy-duty 30-ounce for the bottom) and has the company’s proprietary Dry Seal roll top for a watertight closure—easy to do even with the bag’s thick fabric. Compression straps help to pack everything down and D-rings on the outside offer extra attachment options. The bag comes in blue (shown), orange, and black

Old Harbor Outfitters 4Water backpack
$79.95 (for 30-liter);

Old Harbor Outfitter’s 4Water Backpack is constructed from heavy-duty waterproof vinyl and feels like it can stand up to just about whatever you put it through. The roll-top mouth makes stowing gear simple, and if the main compartment’s 30-liter capacity isn’t enough there’s an external water-resistant pocket (“resistant” in case something sneaks past that zipper, but the darn thing seals up pretty tight) and two external elastic tie downs. The straps and pads wick moisture, so even after we dunked this thing in the drink a few minutes later it was pretty dry and comfortable to carry. The bag also features an exterior reflective patch.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.