Dry Bags vs. Dry Boxes – How to Choose

| November 18, 2009 | 0 Comments

There are hundreds of choices when it comes to keeping your gear dry and protected from sudden, unexpected impacts. With all of these choices, how do you decide? I’ll try to explain all of the features and benefits for the different choices that you will have to consider to help you make an educated decision.

The biggest advantage of a Dry Bag is that it is flexible. Its flexibility allows it to be stored in places that normally go unused and out of the way, like in the bow of your kayak or in front of your feet. The flexibility of the Dry Bag also means that you can stow larger, bulky gear in it, like tents, sleeping bags, and roll-tables. Dry bags are also light. If you empty the contents of the bag during a trip and no longer need the bag, it can be folded or rolled up and easily stowed.

There are two main disadvantages to most Dry Bags. The most popular and inexpensive Dry Bags have a roll-top closure.  This means that all of your gear is loaded in through the top and the gear is stacked on top of other gear, meaning that if you need something in the bottom of the bag, you need to completely unload the Dry Bag to get to it.

The biggest advantage to a Dry Box is that it is rigid and can contain padding inside. This rigidity keeps its contents protected from impacts or crushing blows. Boxes can be lightly padded with a layer of foam or rubber or they can be filled with foam. Sometimes the foam is a block of foam that can be carved to fit specific items or it can be ‘Pick and Pluck’ foam. ‘Pick and Pluck’ foam fills the entire case and is perforated which allows you to remove small sections of it to make a custom fit for your items. Boxes with ‘Pick and Pluck’ foam are excellent for larger cameras or other items that are sensitive to shock. Dry Boxes also have the advantage of being quick and easy to open. Typically they have one or two latches on them so they can be accessed easily. This makes Dry Boxes a better choice than Dry Bags when you know that you will need to access your gear like a camera or phone multiple times a day.

Liter for liter Dry Boxes are more expensive than Dry Bags, so for cost efficiency a combination of the two may work best. Due to their rigidity, Dry Boxes are sometimes more challenging to store in smaller areas and their shape can make them tough to fit through some hatch openings. As well they can be difficult to stow in a backpack since their corners can press into your shoulders or back if not situated properly. Like Dry Bags, most Dry Boxes are not rated for submersion, they are meant to protect from splashes and short, shallow, quick submersions.

Make sure to read the specs for each Dry Box or Dry Bag before you choose one. There are options on the market to compensate for the shortcomings of both Dry Bags and Dry Boxes, but there is added expense to them as well. There are Dry Bags and Dry Boxes that are rated for submersion usually to 3 meters for up to 30 minutes, although there are boxes that are rated for deeper depths. Expect to pay a premium for these features but depending on what’s inside it may make the investment worth it. Dry Bags and Boxes can last through several seasons of hard use just make sure you keep them clean and stored properly so they are ready to go when you are.

This is a condensed version of this article, for the complete version click here

–Steve

Category: Camping/Hiking, Kayaking, Knowledge, Resources

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