This has been an exceptionally easy review to write. In any meaningful way dry bags are only judged by one thing: their ability to keep your kit dry. Extreme Cases dry bags do exactly that. This summer I have been fortunate enough to use two of Extreme Cases dry bags during my training for the Paddling the Margins project: their main rucksack (without harness) and its detachable divers waist belt dry bag.
Though not initially designed for kayakers the waist belt dry bag has proved to be the perfect deck bag for me as an expedition paddler. The waist belt makes for easy and adjustable attachment to any kayaks deck lines, while the bag is easily big enough to hold the equipment and supplies I might want accessible on the water whether as a group leader or else when paddling solo. For example, on a standard trip I have been able to fit a VHF radio, sandwiches, epi-pens (I have a nut allergy), sun hat, first aid kit, on water repair kit, thermos flask and mobile phone with ample room to spare. The deck bag hasn’t had an easy run of it either, being regularly used in force 4, 4-5 foot surf and on 8 mile open crossings. During that time there has not been as much as a drop of water ingress. Just to really test the bag, I put my book in it before a two-hour rescue and rolling session… again not even a crinkle to a page.
Similarly, the big rucksack held up to the worst I could throw at it which included being completely submerged during a memorable incident on the Wye river when a low tree branch and narrow channel resulted in a wet exit and a flooded boat as my sea sock was ripped out of place. On this trip and on others along the North Devon coast I’ve used this bag to protect a laptop and filming equipment and to make sure that I had a set of dry clothing ready for when I landed - not once did let me down.
Another useful feature of these dry bags are that they can be inflated or deflated. When packing a full boat ahead of an expedition the ability to in effect vacuum pack my equipment has been an incredibly useful feature, reducing the volume of my kit by at least half. Furthermore, being able to inflate the bags allowed them to double as flotation if needed. I sincerely hope that Extreme Cases continue to work with kayakers to further specialise their equipment to the paddling environment. One easy adaptation which could be made would be to add a netting sleeve to the back of the waist belt dry bag. This would allow the bag to double as a paddle float in rescue situations, and as any expedition paddler will tell you a piece of equipment that can fulfil multiple purposes is always a prized bit of kit. One of the reasons why the waist belt dry bag (when being used as a deck bag) could easily double as a paddle float is due to its quick release magnetic clasps which allow it to be quickly attached or detached from the belt. I haven’t seen such an efficient attachment system on another product. It also allows the bag to be attached to the front of the main rucksack thus reducing two items of luggage to one, again a benefit to the international paddler!
I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of RHIP’s equipment and it will certainly be a huge asset to the Paddling the Margins project where expensive filming, electronic and communication equipment needs to be stored accessibly but safely on the water in one of the wettest environments on earth. Using these dry bags leaves me able to take the equipment I need with confidence. The only criticism I can level at this product is its prohibitive pricetag, but it is most certainly a professional piece of gear which should be considered by any serious water-based Explorer or outdoor filmmaker. I look forward to working with RHIP in the future to help further develop this brilliant product.