A dry bag does just what it says on the label; it is a bag used to keep personal longings protected from moisture damage, whether that be from rainfall or surface contact with bodies of water, such as the ocean or rivers.
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Though typically not suitable for any kind of prolonged submersion, they’re ideal for transporting personal belongings when taking part in sports such as kayaking, canoeing, or other water sports. In terms of sizing, dry bags come in a range of sizes and capacities, depending upon their intended purpose, with differences in their sealing mechanisms, too.
We’ve detailed some important information about dry bags below, which should help anybody thinking about a purchase to get a better understanding of how they’re constructed and how they’re used.
Benefits of using a waterproof dry bag
Using a dry bag brings several benefits, some of which are more obvious than others. Here are a few of the benefits that can be gained:
- Items are kept dry and protected from moderate water exposure
- Only one bag needs to be carried, as it can be used on dry land, too
- No need to leave items unattended while canoeing or kayaking, for example
- Bags also provide protection against snow, dirt, dust and sand
Design and build
Waterproof dry bags are generally crafted from either vinyl—specifically PVC—or nylon. The type of material used to construct a bag will normally depend upon its size. Whereas larger dry bags are constructed out of nylon in most cases, bags designed for small items, such as electronics and other personal effects, are mostly crafted from vinyl.
The differences extend to the type of closure used to form the watertight seal, too. Many smaller dry bags do not use the same type of roll top seal as larger models, as the mechanism would not be compatible with a bag that is, for example, suited to a smartphone in terms of its capacity.
Thus, they often use zipper seals, like freezer bags, but with specialized lubrication to ensure a waterproof seal.
Small, see-through bags that are used for carrying electronics and money often have touchscreen compatible material on at least one surface, allowing the use of smart devices without the need to remove them from their protective seal.
This is a handy feature for those who like to snap pictures during activities that put personal items at high risk on the water.
Essentially, the main considerations to make when choosing a dry bag are:
- Size and carrying capacity
- Whether a waterproof camera or phone dry bag is included with the purchase of a larger bag
- The waterproof rating of the bag
- Whether the bag comes with carry straps included
- Whether the bag can be secured to vessels or bicycles
- Design and color—brighter colors may also serve as a safety feature in low visibility
Choosing a waterproof dry bag
Providing the size and capacity is suitable, anything can be carried in a dry bag.
Most bags follow the same design in terms of shape, so it’s less about finding a specific bag to fit a specific item, and more a case of working out what overall capacity is required to fit everything that is to be transported.
Once the decision is made, a bag of adequate capacity can be purchased. At this stage, if buying online, it is worth skimming buyer reviews, as capacity can vary slightly for the same model between manufacturers.
Thought should also be given to the intended use of the bag. A bag for carrying gym wear or making the occasional commute in wet weather will not need to be as durable as one that is used on the open water, for example. Attention should be given to the waterproof rating of the product, measured in mm, and the material used in the build.
Some people choose to use dry bags as a safe space to leave their valuables and other items during camping trips or sports, where the bag remains stationary on the ground.
However, there are bags available with specialized hooks and attachments, which allows them to be anchored to vessels such as kayaks and canoes. Thus, this should be considered if the primary purpose is to maintain close proximity to the bag at all times, even during activities.
How dry bags are used
Larger bags, which are typically chosen for transporting clothes, towels, bedding and other thick, padded items, use a roll top seal.
This requires the top of the bag to be tightly rolled over several times, before a seal is snapped together. When the bag is not full to capacity and air is trapped inside, the bag can also provide some buoyancy if the items are not overly heavy.
After the bag is sealed, most larger bags will come with a carrying strap to enable easy transport to and from home.
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Conversely, smaller bags are often styled in the form of freezer zip bags, or envelopes. These vary in size, providing storage for valuable personal effects that might include smartphones and tablets, money, credit cards and medication.
Some such bags are attached to straps that can be worn around the neck, whereas others are suitable for inserting into a larger dry bag, offering extra protection to the most important items carried.
Waterproof dry bags come in different sizes, though there are two distinct types: larger nylon bags for bigger items such as clothing, bedding and pillows, and smaller vinyl bags for money, electronics, and other pocket-sized valuables that should be kept away from water.
These can either be used individually or in conjunction with one another to provide greater protection to the more important items, by storing one inside of another.
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Though these types of bags can appear to be very similar in design, there are distinct differences that will make some better suited to specific purposes than others. It is hoped that by reading this article you will now be in a better position to make a choice on what suits your needs.