Friday, October 23, 2015

Pack and Go! or Hell NO!: Seal line Deluxe Bailing Sponge

I want to start doing more gear reviews. I use a lot of gear, and when teaching, get to put things through tests in harder conditions than most. So, let’s call this the first official gear review. There have been others in the past, but I think I am starting something new...

Is the reviewed piece of gear ready to "Pack and Go!" or "Hell No!"

This should have been an excellent product, from a company that makes excellent products. The Deluxe Bailing Sponge is a regular sponge that is wrapped in super absorbent "pack towel"  material and It does absorb a tremendous amount of water. 

A sponge is important to have for various reasons. You use it after bailing out your boat to get the last of the water that your bilge pump can't get to. For me, this is particularly important because I teach so much in the summertime. If my boat isn't dry when I put it away it is downright stinky for my next class. It is kind of like putting on a damp wetsuit. That's no fun for anybody. So it is particularly important for me to keep my boat clean and dry. I have gone through many sponges, most only cost a few dollars, so it is no big deal when they fall apart. I finally made the move to spend nearly $15 for this Seal Line sponge and expected it to be wonderful. I purchased it in January in prep for the pending teaching season. (In February I start working on my skills, in March I start working with other instructors, in April the season generally starts) My kayaking instruction season officially came to a close last week and this is what my sponge looks like after one season of use. 

I know about proper sponge care and maintenance: never put it under a bungie and store it dry. (The bungie will cut it in half over time.) This sponge lived in my cockpit and was occasionally left in the sun to dry out completely. I am not sure how the first rip started but it didn't take long for it to spread.

Now, I have to stress, it took a lot of use and it worked beautifully before it fell apart. I am tempted to try another one next season and see if the same thing happens. Between my paddling for fun and work it might have seen 90 wet days. But I still feel like it should have held up better than this. ( I don't know, is my 90 days the equivalent of 3 or 4 years of normal paddler use?) I should also point out that I use many 'pack towel' like products and I have never had one get torn. Before this sponge I was using one daily in my cockpit. So I am not sure what caused this failure. But I am disappointed.

So the verdict is: HELL NO! Stay tuned, maybe I will buy another one and see if it does better. 


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