Rafting & Floating Montana
Dry Bags

Dry Bags

Anyone who spends any sort of time whatsoever on a river will very quickly come to appreciate the value of a good dry bag. A good dry bag can truly make the difference between wet, soggy gear - and the destruction of electronic items - versus having all your gear arrive in one-piece nice and dry. More information about dry bags - Why You Want One and Shopping Considerations - is found below.

Standard Dry Bags

Standard Dry Bags : Boring, but a necessity for anyone on a float trip. Even for short day-trips, it's highly suggested to get a "small bag"...to store your purse, wallet, etc...

NRS Dry Bags

NRS Dry Bags : NRS is my favorite dry bag company, and they make all sorts of dry bags for every occasion. A good place to look for something if you don't exactly what you're looking for.

Dry Bags for Electronics

Dry Bags for Electronics : Specialized, and small, dry bags for cell phones, iPods, GPS locators and more. You'll also find handy bags for your wallet, maps, and keys.

Dry Boxes

Dry Boxes : Dry boxes are meant for either specialized gear (such as electronics) or for multi-night trips, where you need to drag along your camp stove, cooking items, and anything else that might "be sharp."

Waterproof Duffle Bags

Waterproof Duffle Bags : Duggle bags that are waterproof. Not many exist.

Fly Fishing Luggage

Fly Fishing Luggage : Not necessarily waterproof, if you have specialized fishing gear, this type of luggage is what you want if you plan on traveling.

Why Use a Dry Bag?

I began to appreciate the utility of dry bags on a float trip on the St. John's River in Northern Maine during a cold week in May. Several friends on this trip decided to save a few dollars by keeping their gear in backpacks that was then wrapped up in garbage bags. While the garbage bag routine worked ok to keep out water that happened to get spashed on the backpacks - this routine quickly broke down when large amounts of water began to accumulate in the bottom of the boat due to the waves of the rapids. The water quickly found all the little holes in the garbage bag - completely soaking my friends clothes (not a good thing when temperatures dropped below freezing at night!).

Even worse, one of the boats spilled over on a Class III rapids. Unlike dry bags - which have been designed to float - their backpacks didn't! As such, the St. John's River of Northern Maine to this day holds a friends backpack that contained much of his clothes and cookware, not to mention a few cases of beer that the river swallowed up too. My friends wallet also disappeared into the murky depths of the river that day as well.

So....the moral of the story is....if you plan on river floating, get a dry bag. Period. Listed below are some features in dry bags you may wish to get when shopping around for one.

Shopping Considerations for Dry Bags

A dry bag is absolutely essential for river floating. Even on short day trips, a dry bag should always be used to store such essentials as your wallet or purse, your camera and your car keys (which often have car alarm devices attached). Simply throwing your day use items in the bottom of the boat is a sure-fire way to ruin them. Here's some things to keep in mind when shopping for a dry bag.

  1. Size : Dry bags are, by their very design, rather large. This is because they are meant to float if they end up in the water. The large size allows air to be in the bag, which thus keeps the bag floating.
  2. Capacity : Due to the air in the dry bag that keeps it floating, the capacity of dry bags is not that high. As a general rule, a dry bag may only be filled up about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Thus, always get a dry bag that seems bigger - sometimes significantly bigger - than what you need.
  3. Don't Forget a Small Bag Too : You'll want at least one small bag to hold things like your wallet, car keys, digital camera, etc...
  4. Organization : As a general rule, keep your clothes in one big, or preferrably, two or more medium sized dry bags. Keep your wallet, car keys and other "day use items" that can't get wet in a small dry bag.
  5. Tie the Bags to the Boat! - A standard dry bag is meant to float. This is a good thing, unless you forget to tie the bag to the boat. Thus, unless you want to watch your items float away down the river, always tie the dry bag to whatever boat you are in.

What Type of Dry Bag to Get?

There are several types of dry bags available today. Listed below are some of the different types of bags and their uses.

The Standard Dry Bag is generally a big, ugly monster of a bag that resembles a tough garbage bag full of clothes. Yet, while ugly, these bags are tough, durable and if closed properly, not only keep your gear completely dry but will float too if cast off into the river.

For general river running, the standard dry bag is the main bag to use for holding your clothes and such. As standard dry bags do not have pockets or other organizational utilities, it can be helpful to get one that is clear - making it easier to find what you need. Additionally, by using two or more smaller dry bags, instead of one gigantic one, organization of your gear becomes significantly easier on multi-night float trips.

Waterproof Duffels are the stylish way to keep your gear dry. Unlike dry bags, waterproof duffels make it significantly easier to organize and access your gear. But that comes at a price of generally smaller capacity and, often, the lack of flotation. While preferences vary, I think waterproof duffels are ideal for storing your day use items - while you store you main gear in 1-2 standard dry bags.

Dry bags for electronics are a seperate creation. These bags have been designed to store electronic items while frequently allowing them to still be used - even when in the bag. Such bags are ideal for phones, PDA's, discman, iPods and the list goes on.

While your standard dry bag and waterproof duffel work for storing these itmes, problem with storing your electronics in them is that these bags lack padding. A dry bag designed for electronics has, or at least should have, some padding on it so as to protect the item(s) from the inevitable bumps and knocks that will be sustained on a float trip.

Find a Dry Bag

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