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Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by David


Watershed Bags: Burly, Ultrawaterproof Protection For Your Stuff

If you’ve nev­er had is­sues keep­ing your gear dry in your stan­dard TPU-lined mes­sen­ger bag, stop read­ing here- these bags aren’t for you. Like your bags sim­ple and light, your stuff easy to get to? Again, move along. If you’re the kind of per­son, though, that wants to take your lap­top on a white­wa­ter raft­ing trip, bring your iPad scu­ba div­ing, or car­ry your school books through a tor­ren­tial rain­storm, we just might have the bags for you. Wa­ter­shed bags are pur­pose-built ny­lon bags cre­at­ed with one pur­pose: to keep wa­ter out. Made of polyurethane-coat­ed, ul­tra­son­i­cal­ly weld­ed ny­lon, they are de­signed to re­sist salt­wa­ter, UV light, abra­sion, tem­per­a­ture ex­tremes, and pret­ty much any­thing else that would mess with your stuff.

One of the Wa­ter­shed’s fa­vorite ways to demon­strate the strength of the ZipDry seal is to blow some air in­to a bag and seal it up. It stays in­flat­ed- noth­ing, not even air, gets in or out. The dry­suit-grade rub­ber zip­per is a lit­tle in­tense to open and close (it gets eas­i­er with time), but it per­forms ab­so­lute­ly. The air­tight­ness has an added ben­e­fit, too- you can make your bags buoy­ant to aid re­trieval if they should ev­er fall over­board. Most bags al­so come with a roll-top clo­sure like tra­di­tion­al wa­ter­proof bike pan­niers, but it’s more of a con­ve­nience and com­pres­sion fea­ture than any­thing else: the zip­per alone can han­dle all of your clo­sure needs.

The first bag I tried was the Largo tote. At 1500 cu­bic inch­es (prob­a­bly a few more if you skip the roll-top), it can hold a a lap­top, sweater, and ac­ces­sories, or a full day of out­doors gear for a kayak­ing or beach trip. The op­tion­al lap­top lin­er is well-padded and should fit most ma­chines up to 17″. Long car­ry­ing han­dles and mul­ti­ple lash points make it easy to pick up and at­tach to ve­hi­cles aquat­ic and oth­er­wise, though the omis­sion of back­pack or shoul­der straps will keep this from be­com­ing a com­muter bag for me.

I al­so got a chance to try the Grid tablet bag, a wa­ter­proof sleeve with a clear cov­er that al­lows you to view and op­er­ate a tablet in wet con­di­tions. Justyn, one of em­ploy­ees at the firm, claims the seal is rat­ed to 300 feet- though I’m not sure how many peo­ple would want to take a $500 tablet scu­ba div­ing. That said, I was able to check email on my iPad in the bath, and even watch some TV us­ing Blue­tooth speak­ers (sound can’t re­al­ly pen­e­trate the air­tight seal). I do wish the bag was small­er, though- while it would be great for man­ag­ing kayak in­ven­to­ry on a sandy beach or cat­a­loging plants in a thun­der­storm, the strap and wide 14.5″ open­ing at the top make it bulky to stuff in an­oth­er bag.

See­ing a theme here? If you’re the kind of per­son that needs one of these bags, you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready bought one. They’re very rea­son­ably priced ($100 or so each) com­pared to Pel­i­can box­es and oth­er rugged gad­get cas­es, and for keep­ing your stuff dry in the wettest con­di­tions, they can’t be beat. As a line of stan­dard ur­ban gear bags, though, you’ll prob­a­bly find that their burly con­struc­tion comes with a few too many com­pro­mis­es to rec­om­mend over stan­dard “most­ly wa­ter­proof” mes­sen­ger bags and back­packs. I’ll cer­tain­ly be tak­ing my Largo on my next trip to the beach, but for a cof­feeshop run in light rain, I’m pick­ing up my Tim­buk2.

Note: this ar­ti­cle was up­dat­ed with cor­rec­tions from the man­u­fac­tur­er.

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About the Author

David has been writing professionally since 2008, as a translator and product editor for Japan Trend Shop. Along the way he has worked in IT for Six Apart (and its reincarnation as SAY Media), Naked Communications, and Tokyo 2.0, as well as volunteering his nerdiness for dance events and organizations such as the Fusion Exchange and the Portland Swing and Jazz Dance society. After graduating Lewis & Clark College in 2010, David entered the Teach for America program, and taught Algebra and Geometry at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. When he's not educating young minds or buried in a computer screen, he spends his time dancing, and frequently teaches dance with fellow TrulyNet author Ruth Hoffman.

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