Watershed Drybags Review

Summertime is time to be on the water! Our family likes to get out on the river at least once a week, whether that is canoeing, kayaking, or fly fishing. What we don’t like is wet gear—can I get an Amen?

This summer we had the opportunity to test out a couple Watershed drybags: the 22 L Chattooga duffle and the 10.5 L Ocoee with photo kit to stash our camera gear. We were not disappointed – they are perfect for adventure travel and days on the water.

Check out more of our summer gear reviews here.

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Chattooga Specs

Dimensions Rolled10″ Height x 19.25″ Width x 9.5″ Depth
Capacity Rolled1332 cu in (22L)
Closure TypeZipDry®
Opening Size16 in
Weight1.6 lbs

Ocoee Specs

Dimensions Rolled9″ Height x 16″ Width x 8″ Depth
Capacity Rolled640 cu in (10.5L)
Closure TypeZipDry®
Opening Size13 in
Weight1.5 lbs

What We Liked about the Watershed Drybags

Watershed Drybags are Extremely Effective

Most of us are probably worried about our drybags enduring some rain, splashing, or a possible brief swim in the event of a tip-over. The Watershed team are a bunch of over-achievers because these drybags are watertight up to 300 feet submersion with no leaking.

With a four-year-old in the canoe we experience a lot of splashing, and have certainly encountered rain and even got caught in a torrential downpour—we were soaked but our gear wasn’t even damp. How is this miracle possible, you ask?

The Watershed drybags feature a patented ZipDry closure in addition to the traditional roll top and buckles that altogether ensure your gear stays perfectly dry. The closure takes a little practice to get the hang of (Watershed provides instructions for how to open and close them properly), then it’s like riding a bike.

Chattooga Ocoee Watershed drybags

Watershed Drybags are Extremely Durable

You know it’s the real deal when you are browsing through Watershed drybags and find their “MILITARY” section. These bags are not messing around.

These Watershed dry bags are made with Cordura ripstop nylon which is coated with polyurethane. Unlike the ol’ PVC drybags, this makes them both very abrasion resistant (5X that of PVC) while still flexible to avoid cracking.

Watershed drybags target potential weak points by providing welded seams to prevent splitting. Straps and buckles are also heavy-duty and well-constructed. Additionally, the duffle bags have compression buckles and multiple lash points (handy if you’re into paddle boarding) to make sure your gear is safe and secure even in some high-intensity situations.

Chattooga Ocoee Watershed drybags

Great Design of the Watershed Drybags

Watershed drybags were created by people on the water for people on the water, and it shows. There are several design options depending on your activity—we particularly like the duffle bag shape for easier access to gear.

The duffle bags have durable carrying handles and an optional shoulder strap. (Which we have on the Chattooga and use often—it is comfortable and a lifesaver when you’re toting around multiple bags or coolers or children.)

The Chattooga duffle fits everything we need for a day in the canoe, and the Ocoee carries all our camera gear or works as a smaller duffle for shorter excursions. Paired with the awesome durability of these bags, I can’t imagine we’ll ever need to purchase another.

Watershed drybags

What We Weren’t So Crazy About Watershed Drybags

Accessibility

While I wouldn’t trade away the protection of the ZipDry closure, it does reduce the accessibility a bit. The opening naturally rests closed, so I often find myself using my forearms to hold it open while I’m trying to dig around for items inside, particularly on the smaller Ocoee bag.

Rather than having a wide opening like a traditional duffle, you’re working with narrower access especially near the ends. Since there are no additional interior pockets everything is all together in the main compartment and it can require some rooting around to find what you’re looking for.

Watershed drybags ZipDry closure

Photo Kit Dividers

The Ocoee photo kit comes with a padded liner which fits snugly inside the Ocoee duffle. Individual dividers with Velcro wings are made to be inserted however you like, which provides you with the freedom to arrange it to fit your needs. However, I felt a little lost trying to find a good way to puzzle these all together with our gear.

The dividers aren’t stiff, and the fleece interior is only secured at the top and end seams so it doesn’t provide a real stable anchor point for the Velcro. I also added a small bag to hold loose items like spare batteries and lens cleaning supplies, to prevent them from migrating into different compartments.

I do feel that all my gear is safe and dry; however, for someone who likes to keep things very organized, I didn’t find the dividers to be intuitive. That said, customer service was very attentive and kind, and even reached out to several photographers who use the bags to get some insight and help me find the best way to fit our gear.

Ocoee Photo Kit Plus

Bottom Line

Watershed drybags are gear you can trust. A great deal of thought went into the design and use of high-quality materials and innovative construction to produce some exemplary dry bags for a reasonable price. If your family spends a decent amount of time out on the water, I highly recommend Watershed drybags.

© 2020, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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