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Dry Bags

Waterproof containers protect clothes and equipment from the elements.

By Gibbs Milliken

Weatherproof bags are good insurance for your gear on rainy days, open boats, sandy beaches and dusty roads. There is nothing more disheartening than discovering that your only change of clothes is soaking wet from rain, splash or an overboard dunking. And worse, the corrosive nature of saltwater and sediment wreak havoc on both the external and internal workings of your electronics, optics, hunting and fishing gear.

Dry storage is often not an option on some watercraft, nor are most backpacks truly waterproof. The answer is a quality dry bag or pack liner that stows easily, holds enough gear, seals tightly and is readily accessible.

Inexpensive PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic “rollover” opening type bags offer good splash protection, but they do not give a complete seal when submersed under pressure. The best soft-sided bags now available are 420-denier nylon multi-coated in the more durable polyurethane. These U.S. military-type units manufactured by Watershed Dry Bags are completely waterproof, not just water resistant. Made for harsh conditions, they use a rubber Zip-Dry lock-type seal built to excellent specifications for naval and special operations forces to keep out all dirt and moisture even in deep submersion. Another feature is that they can be quickly inflated with an oral tube for buoyancy of the contents. ($149.99, MPT Small Military Utility Bag, Watershed, 800-811-8607, www.drybags.com)

Also good are the Seal Line Boundary Packs that keep your sleeping bags, food and clothing high-and-dry in a storm. They are intended to be water/dirt resistant, but are not totally waterproof. These PVC coated fabric bags come in several color-coded sizes and are easy to carry in a car, boat or aircraft, as the shoulder straps are removable for smooth stowage. Individual containers easily stack to organize your gear inside the Boundary Bags for transport. ($74.95, Boundary Pack #115, Cascade Designs, 800-531-9531, www.seallinegear.com)

Outdoor photographers should check out the new Lowepro DryZone 200. It is a large-size camera backpack with a padded modular interior. Come rain or shine, this comfortable-fitting and well-balanced pack keeps out the elements with a waterproof zipper closure isolating the main compartment. It opens in a series of zippered layers that hold flat items such as reflectors, optical intensifiers, maps and notebooks. On the back surface are two quick access mesh pockets and a centered tripod holder. ($328.99, DryZone 200, Lowepro, 707-827-4000, www.lowepro.com)

All things considered, the ultimate in protection are the Pelican Cases, which come in many sizes and styles. Pelican cases have O-ring seals on the lids, solid pressure locking catch systems, padded interiors and hard-sided construction for rough travel. These cases set a high standard for durable watertight encasement and grime protection. ($129.95, Pelican Case, PC-1500DT with $79.25 Padded Divider Set #1505, Pelican Products, 800-473-5422, www.pelican.com)

All of these bags can be lashed in place with nylon strapping to a boat or other vehicle for security. It is also a good practice not to leave sealed bags in direct sunlight for long periods, as they will retain heat that might damage the contents.

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