Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dry bags

You all know that I packed and repacked my kayak before going to Alaska, as a major fear of mine is that I will get to the put in and not get everything in the kayak. But while I was waiting to load onto the ferry I ended up meeting a number of guys doing long distance motorcycle rides through Alaska. They were heading home as I was heading to my put in, in Ketchikan.

We got to talking about the gear they had packed on their motor cycles. Most had hard cases - panniers - on tiebacks of their bikes, but within those they had waterproof bags that fit the cases perfectly. It made packing much easier because you could pack your bags and that would fit perfectly onto, or into the motorcycle.

I had a wonderful experience with the tapered dry bag I used, so much so that I will buy another one for my next trip so I have one in the bow and one in the stern. But this is really as close as we get to 'custom' bags for kayaks. The vast majority of us literally putting round pegs(dry bags) in square holes (our kayaks) and then filling the extra space with odds and ends. Even the tapered bag I use and love, doesn't slide all the way back into the stern. I found myself wishing for a 10 liter tapered dry bag that could go in front of my larger 35 liter tapered dry bag.

Why doesn't someone make dry bags that fit the shape of our kayaks? Why doesn't the manufacturer make - or contract out to a maker - a set of bags designed specifically for their boats? It would be another source of revenue, and it would make everyone happy.

The key to quickly packing your kayak is always packing the same gear in the same place in the same way, but invariable this doesn't happen. I can pack  kayak pretty quickly, but even on a a trip like the inside passage where the load is unchanging, just getting smaller every day as we eat food, and use fuel, it should be the same, but it rarely is. Now if I had a set of Delta kayaks dry bags, made specifically for my Seventeen by Seal line I probably would.

Earlier in the year I was thinking Seal line - or some other manufacturer should make bags not only in more and different colors, but with large icons to denote what is in them. A food bag. A clothes bag. A first aid bag, and so on, and so on. You could buy them in a set or individually. It would also help create brand loyalty as some would want a system that worked well together.

Another thing I was thinking of as a bear chased us from a perfectly good beach, Hunters wear clothing lined with charcoal - I think they use charcoal, I'm not a hunter! - to mask their odor from the animals they are hunting. Why can't we - or any outdoors person - use something like this for food and garbage? and while we are on the topic why aren't there soft, bear proof options? a bear proof/odor proof bag for food and garbage? Well, in all fairness there are bear proof bags but they are ridiculously expensive.

The answer to why none of these things exist is market share. The number of paddlers doing overnight trips compared to the number of paddlers is a very high ratio. There simply aren't enough people doing paddling trips of the kinds that would benefit from products like I mentioned to make it feasible for a company to offer these products. As painful as it is for me to admit most people in the US are paddling for away and going home - really most new paddlers, believe it or not, are fisherman. At least in the United States the largest growing group of paddlers are fisherman - and don't need any of the things I have mentioned. But it would be nice wouldn't it?


  1. Check out Sagebrush Dry Bags - located in Kake, Alaska. They make awesome custom dry bags.

    And, I've started incorporating Loksak Opsaks into my food and toiletries packing system here in Southeast Alaska. These bags are great but need a bit of care with the closures. Overpack them and the closure can fail - I've had it happen and am now more conservative with filling them only to the fill line.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I am familiar with loksaks, I haven't used them, but I should give them a try. I wasn't familiar with sagebrush, but I shouldnt have to have bags custom made. They should be abailable - designed to fit my hull - without me having to design them. that said, I know it isn't going to happen that way, so I may have bags custom made.

    thanks for the links