Head out on a boat for any number of hours and you’ll be quick to realize the importance of effective dry bags. SealLine, one of the leading makers of dry bags, debuts a new line of dry packs this spring. The new bags range from supportive gear haulers to storable day packs. Recently, we had a chance to test the new products while canoe-camping along Ross Lake in Washington’s North Cascades during a trip sponsored by Cascade Designs, owner of the SealLine, MSR, and Therm-a-Rest brands.
Here’s a look at some of the gear we tested.
SealLine Pro Dry Pack
The suspension system on the Pro Dry Pack makes it ideal for carrying big, heavy loads. The full-length frame sheet built into the pack features an adjustable torso length to help find the packs – both the 70-liter version and the monster 120-liter pack – fit comfortably on most everyone. With these big waterproof backpacks, we toted everything on our backs from canoe to camp each day. It took me a day with the pack to get it adjusted well, but the shoulder straps and waist belt (both removable), as well as lumbar padding, made the pack comfortable even before it was perfectly fitted to me.
The interior of the Pro is light in color – a detail that made it noticeably easier to find items in the large interior of the bag. The pack also has an updated DrySeal roll-top closure that makes it simple to achieve an optimal seal.
We found it helpful to use separate storage cubes to keep gear organized in the large Pro pack since there are no inside or outside compartments in those packs. For internal organization, we used SealLine’s Blocker Compression Dry Sacks, Zip Sacks and PurgeAir Dry Sacks. These dry bag accessories made it easy to pack clothes, toiletries, food and more without the worry of them getting wet or misplaced in the pack. These sacks are also huge space savers – especially the style with the PurgeAir technology that allows air to be released while creating compression to pack your things as tightly as possible.
One of my favorite pieces of gear I tested throughout the whole trip was the SealLine Sky Lake Dry Daypack. New for Spring 2019, this 18-liter sidekick is lightweight, waterproof and easy to roll up and pack. It’s an ideal size for short excursions on or near the water. I had it out in the canoe each day with all my necessities – water, snacks, sunscreen, extra layers, phone, camera.
The front stash pocket is a simple yet great addition to the bag as it can be used for easy-to-access storage if you don’t want to unroll your water protection and open up the full bag. The pack’s lightly padded shoulder straps can be removed for traveling and stowing.
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Apex Mattress
The sleeping pad and bag system we tested from Therm-a-Rest was a perfect combination of lightweight and luxurious. The self-inflating ProLite Apex Mattress weighs in at 1 lb, 6oz.
A continuous layer of thermal foam in the mattress cuts weight while still providing two-inch thick comfort and warmth and proved to be ideal for this canoe trip and a couple backpacks I took it on this past summer.
Therm-a-Rest Parsec 20 sleeping bag
The Parsec 20 800-fill down sleeping bag from Therm-a-Rest is also engineered to be light and warm. I loved the zoned insulation of the bag with more fill on the top than the bottom to maximize warmth, and even during chilly nights on the trip not once did even my toes get cold in the bag.
I attached the ProLite Apex to the Parsec 20 with Therm-a-Rest’s removable pad connectors and it was the first time I haven’t slid off my mattress while camping.
Therm-a-Rest Air Head Pillow and Trekker Chair
Two sleeping accessories, also from Therm-a-Rest, added extra comfort on the trip: the lightweight and very packable Air Head Pillow, a best friend to my head and neck, and the Trekker Chair kit that allowed me to turn the ProLite Apex Mattress into a camp chair.
MSR Elixer 3 Tent
None of the true comfort, it seems, would have been possible without the MSR Elixir 3. This three-person and three-season tent has two large doors and vestibules.
I shared the tent with one other person on the two-night adventure, and it was plenty of space for the two of us and nice to have our own access on each side.
After washing and drying following meals, I would fold the spork and tuck it into the mug, then nestle the mug into the deep plate (a plate with deep enough sides to make it also work as a bowl), and then slide the bundle into a SealLine compression sack to store at camp or pack up in the Pro Dry Pack as we headed out on canoes for the day.
Playpus DuoLock SoftBottle
The Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle flattens and rolls up when it’s empty, which saves space, but it’s the DuoLock dual-locking cap that really impressed me.
It never accidentally flipped open or twisted, so it never leaked liquid, and it is super easy to fill and clean.