Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Mon Jul 04, 2016 5:46 pm

I tried using the search function but it seems to not be working. So I thought I would start a new thread. I have been lacking a BOB for quite some time. I think it's about time I put something together. One of my plans is to use differently colored dry bags to organize the contents. Given that I am poor I am drawn to cheap dry bags like this $10 set on amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Products ... 001AZNATC/

One part of my brain is thinking "Wow those are cheap and get pretty good reviews. I should get them". But I have learned that it's better to spend a little more for a quality product. This seems like it would apply double to survival gear. If I am soaking wet and need to change clothes. It would suck if the rest of my clothes were wet due to a cheap dry bag. So should I just avoid the cheap set and just go for something a little better? What recommendations do people have for inexpensive dry bags of good quality? Since I don't currently own any dry bags. A set of dry bags in different sizes would be nice. Especially since I have no idea what sizes I need.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by woodsghost » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:20 pm

In my experience so far, cheap dry bags are not worth it, as dry bags. As colored bags with some durability, yes, they are worth it. They are not POSes, I feel they help keeps their contents dryer than "nothing," but if you want your gear dry, and you want some measure of confidence in that dryness, then maybe consider Sea To Summit, or similar dry bags. I love that brand, and because I don't have a ton of cash, I only have 2 of those. But the one is more than enough for my clothes (20 liters?) and the other does great for my FAK (2 liters?).

I am sure you will get lots of other great responses.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:24 pm

woodsghost wrote:In my experience so far, cheap dry bags are not worth it, as dry bags. As colored bags with some durability, yes, they are worth it. They are not POSes, I feel they help keeps their contents dryer than "nothing," but if you want your gear dry, and you want some measure of confidence in that dryness, then maybe consider Sea To Summit, or similar dry bags. I love that brand, and because I don't have a ton of cash, I only have 2 of those. But the one is more than enough for my clothes (20 liters?) and the other does great for my FAK (2 liters?).

I am sure you will get lots of other great responses.
Thanks for the info. Perhaps a cost effective solution is a combination of cheap and not so cheap bags. Use a good bag for things like clothes and a cheap bag for things like food; which will already be in a package or ziplock bag.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by woodsghost » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:03 pm

Purple_Mutant wrote:
Thanks for the info. Perhaps a cost effective solution is a combination of cheap and not so cheap bags. Use a good bag for things like clothes and a cheap bag for things like food; which will already be in a package or ziplock bag.
Actually, that sounds like what I do, except that I did not think to put food in the Outdoor Products/Ozark Trail (forget which? Walmart brand...) dry bags. The cheap dry bags I have are not really large enough for most foods.

For what it is worth, here is my experience so far:

Sizes:

For individual meals (pre-packaged), I would look at the 1.5-2L capacity bags. For a day's worth of beans a rice, a 2L would probably fit 2 days worth.

For several days worth of food, I would look at the 5-10L capacity bags. Depending on if you have just "rice and beans," or if you have some pre-packaged/ready to go stuff. This also depends on how much you plan to carry.

My 20L bag is rather generous during the summer, and about right during the winter. It comes fairly close to filling a Med ALICE pack interior (not quite that big, but close enough for me). Honestly, I could get away with 10L bag, easy. In the 20L bag I can fit 2 full sets of clothing and a heavy wool sweater, or 3 pants and 3-4 days of other clothing. But my "in the woods" clothing has totally changed, so this whole concept is less useful to me now. But I'll start carrying my food in the bag. Thanks for the idea! :mrgreen:

In my 2L bag I carry what I consider to be a well stocked FAK, a reduced toilet paper roll, a sewing kit, and I often stuff an extra bottle of allergy pills in there too.

Durability:

My Sea to Summit bags are very durable. Both bags have been all over the country and both are over 10 years old. My FAK bag as been on every adventure and my 20L bag has been on 70%-80% of my adventures. I think they both have at least another 10 years left in them.

My OP/OT cheap dry bags have the "tape" on the "taped seams" coming undone, and I did not really trust them to take a dunk and keep water out from the first moment I got them. I figure they are about 7 years old, and figure I"ll replace them in 5 years or less, but the one has been a faithful companion on every excursion for the last 7+ years. The others get pressed into service when I need them. I only put things in them which can afford to get wet. I"ll waterproof things and then put them in the cheap bags. They do help organize things. I also don't "stress" the seams by over-stuffing them. There is always slack in there.

Overall:

I only rarely need more than 3 bags total, and often enough only use 2, if I am not packing extra clothing. So my past experience says you don't really need many bags, but they can be nice and helpful. On the other hand, you have given me some new ideas for organizing and experimenting, so I might change here in the next few months. Thanks!
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:11 pm

Using different colored dry bags for organizing wasn't my idea. I think I got that idea from my sister. Or maybe I saw it here on ZS. It seems like a great idea. So perhaps I got the idea from both places. :awesome: I may end up picking up the cheap dry bag set to give me something to start experimenting with. Once I figure out what I want to do; I can get higher quality bags for things that really do need to stay dry.

*edit*

It also occurred to me that cheap dry bags could be used to organize larger bags. Take clothes for example. You could have a smaller bag for things like socks, undies, and bras. That way when you dig into your big clothes bag it makes it easy to find those smaller items.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Wraith6761 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:33 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to just get one big good quality dry bag to use for your clothing and other items, and then just use cheaper stuff sacks (which typically are cheaper than dry bags to begin with) for organizing stuff inside the dry bag?

Personally, I just use a large trash compactor bag (the thick 3mil types, they're like $4 for a roll of 50 at Walmart) as a liner for my pack, and one more that holds just my down gear and clothing. Anything else in the pack has it's own stuff sack (like my cook kit), or doesn't need one (like my headlamp). It's worked for me so far, even in some pretty nasty downpours.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:38 pm

Wraith6761 wrote:Wouldn't it make more sense to just get one big good quality dry bag to use for your clothing and other items, and then just use cheaper stuff sacks (which typically are cheaper than dry bags to begin with) for organizing stuff inside the dry bag?

Personally, I just use a large trash compactor bag (the thick 3mil types, they're like $4 for a roll of 50 at Walmart) as a liner for my pack, and one more that holds just my down gear and clothing. Anything else in the pack has it's own stuff sack (like my cook kit), or doesn't need one (like my headlamp). It's worked for me so far, even in some pretty nasty downpours.
Good thinking on the stuff sack. However a dry bag would add an extra layer of protection. Plus it would be a way to make use of cheap dry bags as you upgrade to higher quality bags.

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by zero11010 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:38 pm

You've gotten some great advice. My opinion will mimic much of it.

You can look at a lot of different bag set ups for people who do bags of this nature "professionally", or bags where a single bag is required to keep them going for days or weeks at a time.

You will not see your individual dry bag solution commonly used. Why not?
* it's expensive (each individual bag will cost more than many other types of solutions)
* it's heavy (each individual bag will weigh more, you want as little weight as possible to come from just your bags, instead you want as much weight as possible to come from "gear" ... yeah bags are gear, but you get where I'm headed)
* using inexpensive versions of something that can be critical is a gamble, at best.

If you're expecting to go kayak camping and absolutely require your bags to not just be able to withstand rain, but also to withstand being fully submerged in flowing water, then you likely want to look at people who do that specific thing a lot (that's not an area I've researched at all). You may find the individual dry bag solution there. From little I've seen, people tend to use a single large dry bag which keeps the bag and any contents outside of individual dry bags from gaining a bunch of water weight from being wet.

Zip lock bags are a fantastic cheap solution if price is a real issue. Heavy duty name brand freezer style seem to be the best. Are you afraid you cannot trust it?
* Pack your bag with clothes and a couple items for some kind of weight and size.
* Stick a correctly sealed zip lock bag with some separate clothing or pieces of paper or things where you can readily tell if they get moist.
* Turn on the shower or a hose and leave that on the backpack for a while. Move the backpack around a little so it isn't totally still the whole time.
* Take the zip lock bag out and see if anything got inside.


Personally, my bag uses a standard dry bag for my clothing. It also has some gallon freezer zip lock bags and a couple 3mil garbage bags.

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Woods Walker » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:13 pm

Maybe for light duty but wouldn't take one in my kayak. I do put the Iphone in a cheap clear wallet sized dry bag. It works but again using it for rain.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by SCBrian » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:17 pm

I'm a little late to the party, but from real world experience here you go:

I bought the exact bags you are looking at some years ago, as a 'dry' bags for small stuff in my kayak. I learned real quick these were not true "dry" bags... I call them splash bags. They will protect from a splash or maybe infrequent rain, but that's about it. I do use them in the method you describe for packing. I just go in knowing they are not watertight. My Red bag (Smallest) contains my IFAK, Blue bag keeps my water filter, and typically the green bag gets food. I keep these inside my backpack for hiking. The color coding helps me or anyone I send to my pack identify quickly whats needed. "Go and grab the First aid kit, outside pocket, red bag!" etc. If I am doing an extended trip on the water (Kayak camping, etc) I have 2 20l real dry bags for all my gear.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:24 pm

SCBrian wrote:I'm a little late to the party, but from real world experience here you go:

I bought the exact bags you are looking at some years ago, as a 'dry' bags for small stuff in my kayak. I learned real quick these were not true "dry" bags... I call them splash bags. They will protect from a splash or maybe infrequent rain, but that's about it. I do use them in the method you describe for packing. I just go in knowing they are not watertight. My Red bag (Smallest) contains my IFAK, Blue bag keeps my water filter, and typically the green bag gets food. I keep these inside my backpack for hiking. The color coding helps me or anyone I send to my pack identify quickly whats needed. "Go and grab the First aid kit, outside pocket, red bag!" etc. If I am doing an extended trip on the water (Kayak camping, etc) I have 2 20l real dry bags for all my gear.
Thanks for the info. For the price I wasn't expecting super water tight. But it looks like they might be handy for organization that provides a bit of water protection.

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by duodecima » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:35 pm

zero11010 wrote:Zip lock bags are a fantastic cheap solution if price is a real issue. Heavy duty name brand freezer style seem to be the best. Are you afraid you cannot trust it?
* Pack your bag with clothes and a couple items for some kind of weight and size.
* Stick a correctly sealed zip lock bag with some separate clothing or pieces of paper or things where you can readily tell if they get moist.
* Turn on the shower or a hose and leave that on the backpack for a while. Move the backpack around a little so it isn't totally still the whole time.
* Take the zip lock bag out and see if anything got inside.
This was the solution I went with.

My BOBs are severely budget BOBs - we're primarily bug-in but I want something in case that plan doesn't survive contact with reality. So the existing packs were all garage-sale sourced, and I packed stuff in ziplocs if it was important (food,clothes,TP) and some things in double-bagged plastic grocery sacks as, essentially, splash bags. I did not shower-test the bags tho, good idea! I'm slowly acquiring better packs - but those get used, for hiking& camping, could repack the BOBs into them IF there was time. Since, at this point, we don't canoe/kayak, true dry bags are waaaay down the list.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by zero11010 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:19 am

Purple_Mutant wrote:
SCBrian wrote:I'm a little late to the party, but from real world experience here you go:

I bought the exact bags you are looking at some years ago, as a 'dry' bags for small stuff in my kayak. I learned real quick these were not true "dry" bags... I call them splash bags. They will protect from a splash or maybe infrequent rain, but that's about it. I do use them in the method you describe for packing. I just go in knowing they are not watertight. My Red bag (Smallest) contains my IFAK, Blue bag keeps my water filter, and typically the green bag gets food. I keep these inside my backpack for hiking. The color coding helps me or anyone I send to my pack identify quickly whats needed. "Go and grab the First aid kit, outside pocket, red bag!" etc. If I am doing an extended trip on the water (Kayak camping, etc) I have 2 20l real dry bags for all my gear.
Thanks for the info. For the price I wasn't expecting super water tight. But it looks like they might be handy for organization that provides a bit of water protection.

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If you're just getting a bit of water protection, and you're also hard up for money, why not go with zip lock bags? Lighter, cheaper, just as good for separating gear. I think I remember you mentioning in another post that you have some substantial weight limitations for your pack.

Most premade first aid kits are pretty easy to spot from a distance. This negates a lot of the bonus of having differently colored semi dry bags. Though, if you're looking into clear freezer zip lock bags it's generally easy to tell what the contents are, plus they're designed to be written on with sharpie.
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Personally, I'm looking for an excuse to buy something like this:
Image
So far, I can't pin an excuse down. I wouldn't use them in my BoB, my girlfriend's BoB or our get home bag. I would like to have them for general traveling, but I sure have gone a while without anything like it just fine and I haven't had any issues with my current packing system.

They're sold as a pack with a variety of sizes, usually all in the same color, though individuals in a specific size/color combination can be bought.
* I like that they come in a variety of sizes.
* I like that they're a light weight material instead of something like the 500D Kifaru pullouts (which seem absurd - though kifaru makes 2 lighter weight versions but you need to use their "ultralight" line to match weight for size of the budget Eagle Creek brand sold at REI and a bunch of other major stores)
* I'm a real sucker for organization and compartmentalization.

When I'm doing regular travel I already have a system to pack up my clothing compactly, neatly, and in an organized fashion just using the compartmentalization options in a standard bag. For a BoB my clothing is in a dry bag, first aid and toiletries are in zip lock bags, and I just don't need to put my stove or fuel or cook kit in a bag.

Still want an excuse to buy the organization bags. Really I do. I eyeball them every time I go into an REI.

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by taipan821 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:52 am

zero11010 wrote:
Still want an excuse to buy the organization bags. Really I do. I eyeball them every time I go into an REI.
I use those organisational bags in my go bag and they complement the dry bag and compression sacks I have in there
2x Small: one is for things that go into my pocket + safety items, the other contains 24 hours of food and spare sawyer pouches
1x medium: keeps my boots together and doesn't dirty up the main bag as much

Then I use compression sacks for the rain coat and liner(one for each item) and the dry bag for my clothes (13L Seatosummit)

now...back on topic: if weight (and cost) is a factor, why not make your own, something I have not done, but a few hikers I know make their own dry bags for their own uses
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Tue Jul 05, 2016 4:00 am

I hadn't thought of making my own dry bag. So far I am leaning in the direction of cheap dry bags for organization and light water resistance. As well as nicer dry bags for actual water proofing. Since I am not quite sure what I really need/want; the cheap bags will let me experiment on the cheap. I could also go the ziplock rout. But my brain wants gear and ziplock bags aren't gear. LOL

*edit*

Although it's easy enough to identify stuff in ziplock bags; that might not be good enough. If I am having an anxiety attack or autistic meltdown; easy to identify bags are a must I think. During a meltdown my brain doesn't work as effectively for conscious activities like thinking. So the least amount of thinking needed to find what I need; the better. So if I practice disassembling the BOB enough times; my brain should know what stuff is in what color bag. I was even thinking of having a meltdown emergency bag with a change of clothes and a space blanket. That way I can put on something dry and keep my ass from freezing right away. Perhaps easy food like a cliff bar, some anxiety meds, and water would be good additions to the bag. Basically items to calm me down and keep my ass alive, that are within easy reach. Once I start putting such a bag together that will get it's own thread I think.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Asymetryczna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:34 am

“If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.”
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Everyone experiences anxiety. One method to combat it is by training. Training does not mean you have to swim 30 miles a day through a swamp. It might mean simply that your lightweight rain coat always goes in the pocket on the top left side of your pack. Or that the blade that cuts through rope and straps is always in your right pocket, with d-cord. So I see what you are trying to do with the color codes: Simplify.

If the “dry” thing that you seek has a line in the description that says “not meant for submersion” than you should plan on the materials that go inside it being saturated with water. I just spent 3 days on the river with two heavy rain storms included. Everything that could get wet did. Everything that must stay dry, stayed dry. I use a combination of ziplock bags (snuff, ceegar, lighter), otter boxes (phone, charger, torch, wallet) and a dry bag that stuffs down inside my pack. If the river is rough, even the dry sacks and boxes go inside the dry bag. I keep a lightweight towel in there as well, to dry my hands before touching the dry stuff. I have used a number of the bags over the years mainly caught through sales on a number of the Outdoor sites: Campmor, Bass Pro, etc. So, rather than offer name brands I just recommend seeing one of the dozens of lists available on the internet.

This one is decent:
http://kayakbase.com/best-dry-bags/

Expect to pay $15-$30 on a decent dry bag. These, for example, are for submersion:
http://www.nrs.com/category/2732/whitew ... g/dry-bags

People often leave out the context when asking questions. For instance, do you mean to be in or on the water a great deal? What average rainfall do you get in a year? Without knowing the full context it is difficult to answer questions properly.

A zip lock sandwich bag will protect most things when inside a bag under a $10 rain poncho.

Cheapest option: Look for used NBC/Gas Mask Waterproof bags. I found 10 of them for $3.00 at a thrift store. Use colored rubber bands to secure them. They stretch nicely and have protected some of my CW protective gear when submerged, for years.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by teotwaki » Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:57 pm

I own some of those cheap bags and they fall in the category of splash proof but do not qualify as a true dry bag. A true dry bag will take a lot of abuse and not leak. SeaLine is a good model which I have relied upon for kayaking and canyoneering

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Asymetryczna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:26 pm

Following up, I looked and the dry bag I have used the most is from Seattle Sports. http://www.seattlesportsco.com/bags/stuff-sacks.html It's nearly 12 years old. Works like a champ. I purchased 2 from one of those companies that sells others products that have been discounted, via monthly email notices. This is one of the reasons that a thread like "Bug Out Deals" is great to watch. Someone is going to find a deal.

The one on the left is an example of the little gasmask waterproof bag stuffed with some extreme weather gear.
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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Asymetryczna » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:36 pm

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by Purple_Mutant » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:10 pm

Excellent! Thanks for the link.

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Re: Are cheap dry bags worth it?

Post by moab » Fri Jul 08, 2016 1:26 pm

I'm not a big fan of drybags for everything as it's bulky and adds weight. Instead maybe use one just for your clothes. But heavy duty ziplocks and contractor bags work and are rugged and cheap. I use silnylon stuff sacks from TiGoat http://www.titaniumgoat.com/StuffSacks.html There $20 combo bags are great and very very lightweight and not bulky - they stuff small. And take up almost no space.
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