I have tried a number of kit bags over the years and although they have all done a pretty good job, I have always moved on looking for something that will fully fit my needs. In short I wanted a bag that was:

– big enough to take a weekends worth of wet kayak kit and keep the inside of the car dry
– tough enough to withstand the care and attention that baggage handlers give to luggage
– easy to carry
– waterproof so that it could also be used strapped to a raft on multi day trips (you never know it might happen one day)
– not Über expensive

I had been looking at the Bill’s Bag from NRS for a number of years and never really got around to ordering one from the US. At just over £55 the 3.8 bag seemed (on paper) to meet my needs.

Here is what NRS say about Bill’s Bag:

The time-tested NRS Bill’s Bag has been a dependable piece of boating gear for more than 30 years!
Constructed with 21-oz PVC/polyester body with a 34-oz round bottom.

Expandable for over 6500 cubic inches of storage capacity but can be cinched down with four compression straps to compact and stabilize gear.

The adjustable backpack harness has a rubberized grab handle and extra wide padded shoulder straps for comfortable hands-free transport your gear.

The StormStrip™ closure system provides a confident seal and allows for easy top loading access.

On arrival I found the bag came in its own stuff sack, which was a nice touch. I also thought that I had made a mistake and should have opted for the smaller model rather than the 3.8. However after loading up my kit I found that the 3.8 was perfect for a winters kit list and allowed me to carry my PFD in the bag without it being crushed. The roll neck closure system is pretty familiar to all of us now, but Bill’s bag has an additional set of strips that improve the seal as the top is rolled down.

The material used is that super tough tarpaulin material that is used in most heavy duty dry bag. All of the seams have a good amount of overlap and are therefore bonded really well. In addition all of the strap achnor points are of a good size and again appear to be held well in place. I did notice that it possible to purchase spares as well as anchors points direct from NRS if you wished to customise or make a repair.

I have only used the shoulder straps for carrying the bag over short distance so can’t comment on using them over a long period of time. However I can say that they are well designed, comfortable and kitted out with quality fasteners.

Disadvantages at the moment appear very few if any. I guess availability in the UK could be better, although I did manage to get the last one on Waterantics website.

Stats:

Measurement: 3.8 cu. ft., 6566 cu. in., 108 liters
16″ diameter x 33″ tall
Material: 21-oz. PVC/polyester body, 34-oz. PVC/polyester bottom
Weight: 4 lbs
Closure System: StormStrip™ closure
Integrated padded backpack straps