I have been wanting to get hold of a new dry bag to carry gear in the back of my kayak for a forthcoming trip this summer. I have used loads of bags in the past but have always had to double bag gear as the roll top systems deployed on must bags will fail at some point . Usually in my case this has been due to user error!
So I needed a bag that would be easy to store, would seal well and fit the back of my kayak really well.
First up is the Watershed Futa Stowfloat, kayak dry bag. This is a drybag/airbag combo designed to store gear and provide flotation in the back of a kayak.
Now all of the Watershed gear that I have ordered in is black. That is a personal preference. The Watershed Futa Stowfloat is available in Black, Blue, Coyote (Brown) and Orange.
You are looking at around £100 (Sterling) for this single bag. So what do you get?
Here is what Watershed say about the Futa:
Stowage and flotation – the name says it all. Float bags provide kayakers with ease of rescue if they swim, and ours give paddlers the added benefit of a place to keep dry gear. The Futa will fit in a wide range of boats, and comes with a long inflate/deflate tube so buoyancy can be adjusted easily.
The one thing that stands out with the Futa dry bag when you check it out is the material is heavy duty and really feels robust. It has ripstop pattern to it and looks incredibly well put together with welded seams and barrack stitching.
Since you will be putting gear into the bag that must stay dry this is reassuring. At this point it is worth mentioning that Watershed bags are designed to be waterproof even when they are submerged. This is achieved through the interlocking rubber strips (ZipDry) at the top of the bag. They provide a very neat and relatively low profile seal. Sealing the bag works in a very similar way to a plastic sandwich bag. The two parts are lined up and then pressed into place to create the seal. The seal is fairly pliable and it is very easy to do it up. I must admit that there is a knack to opening the bag up. Two hyperlon type tabs are situated at the mouth of the bag and creating a S shape with the seal allows the two parts to separate easily.
Volume is around 13.3 litres which is plenty for a range of gear. This does means that if you are using in a creek boat that you’ll probably still need to use the Futa in conjunction with the buoyancy bags you keep fitted in your kayak to ensure that you have enough buoyancy in play. Size wise the Futa is 91 x 47cm (tapers to 16cm). A number of straps on the bag allow you to compress the bag if required. A built in handle has also been integrated into the system allowing the bag to be easily carried when loaded up.
The tube that is used to blow up the bag is fairly substantial!
I first tested the bag by blowing it up and then leaving it for a few weeks to see how the pressure would hold. A few weeks turned into almost two months and I found that some pressure had been lost. Not a great deal but I could tell that the bag was slightly softer although it had maintained its shape. The next step was to load it into a kayak wheel that I have kicking around and then filling the shell with water and the bag put in place. Once again a test that was planned to take a few weeks ended up being over two months. Once retrieved the bag was still up, it had lost a little pressure as before but there was no sign of any water inside.
In use the bag works well. Through trial and error I found that putting some smaller items into the bag, loading it to kayak and then filling it up worked the best. This way allowed me to maximise the space within. It also allowed me to load the bag in such a way that I didn’t have my gear moving around too much.
Having tested and used the Watershed Futa in anger for almost a year (and other Watershed products for much longer) I am really happy that the £100 investment will provide me with a piece of gear that will last for some time. So much so I have ordered another one, this time in orange for the other side of my boat.