Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by David0
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.