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Feelfree Dry Bag Lineup Review

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Divers Like It Dry!

Divers have a tough life sometimes, especially in a logistical sense (and in the way that they have to relax on boats and then dive in the most beautiful spots on the globe – it’s a tragedy!). A diver has to take a small fortunes worth of delicate gear from his home, on a plane, in a taxi, into a dive gear box, onto a boat and then into the sea. This lengthy chain of perilous activities tends to take its toll on dive gear, but usually dive equipment is pretty tough (and surprisingly waterproof!) and can handle the abuse. The really big problem arises when you want to bring non-dive gear along for the ride too, because most cameras aren’t waterproof until they are in a case and there are very few phones out there that can handle a heavy rainstorm. The solution, of course, is to protect your valuables, books, spare clothes and food from the elements in a bag. The best bag to take is a waterproof bag, the more waterproof the better! This conveniently brings us to the topic of the day; I have a lineup of waterproof gear bags to review, ranging from a tiny valuables bag up to a massive gear sack.

Feelfree are a kayaking company first and foremost, which has given them a lot of experience in keeping dry things dry. In kayaking you need a dry bag which is capable of being completely submersed in water and not leaking, this is so that if you capsize your kayak, your gear will remain free from moisture. This dedication to hardy, practical bags has made the brand very popular with divers (especially in rainy South-east Asia) who want to get wet, but keep their dry gear dry.

I don’t have the space to review every bag in Feelfree’s extensive lineup, so I’m only going to look at the bags that I think are the most practical or are the most popular.

Valuables Bag, “Waist pack” – 0.5 litres

 

Starting with the smallest is the little Waist Pack. This small storage solution is primarily for your camera, phone or money. You will struggle to fit anything else in there. It has a gender neutral design that isn’t particularly aimed at any demographic which means the whole family can wear one without feeling embarrassed. It comes with a detachable strap which allows the wearer to turn it from a belt clipped design, to a shoulder-strap bag. You may also choose to remove the straps altogether and simply use it as a dry pocket inside your backpack, gear bag or handbag.

The only gripe that you may have with the bag is that although it’s light, simple and attractive – it’s not as waterproof as you may wish. It will certainly take heavy splashing with no leaks, but I’m not sure how well it’d cope with brief dunks in the sea (despite it saying otherwise)

Small And Light, Ideal For Keeping Your Latest Gadget Dry!

 

Dry Tube – 5 litres to 40 litres

 

This is the most versatile bag in the range and it makes use of a similar design to all the other dry tubes on the market. The bag is simply a welded PVC tarpaulin tube with an open end at the top, fixed onto the lip of this top is a flexible band that allows the user to fold the top over. Once the top has been folded over three to four times, he or she can buckle the two ends of the band together which seals the bag tight. This design has been well proven to offer excellent waterproofness that will withstand full (although short) submersions in the water. It is also so simple that it is virtually indestructible.

I am also very fond of the strap system which is a simple shoulder band that makes it quick to put on or off. The thickness of the strap does mean, however, that a heavy load might hurt your shoulder. Also, the bag is not compartmentalised which leads to items rattling around inside. The long thin design can sometimes make finding what you want difficult, especially if the item you seek is at the bottom, which it will inevitably be!

For the casual beach goer, or the diver with some valuables, a camera and a change of clothes, I recommend the 10 litre bag. If you wish to haul around a families’ worth of stuff or you are going on an extended trip then opt for a larger size (just bear in mind that strap – heavy loads can be sore!).

The Dry Tube Can Be Bought In A Huge Range Of Sizes And Colours.

 

Laptop Case – 10 litres

 

The amount of divers I see on the boat with a laptop out in the open on the way home from a days diving is quite shocking. What is even more surprising is the fact that a lot of them just have the laptops in a foam case inside a normal backpack with no provision for heavy rain or dropping it overboard. The gang at Feelfree have attempted to solve this issue by creating a waterproof backpack that will swallow a laptop comfortably and hold it securely.

They’ve been clever about it too – they made it look smart enough that you could consider taking it to work (if you’re a games designer) but casual enough to wear on your back while cycling (or jumping onto a boat). It’s plenty big enough for your laptop, camera, snacks and maybe even a dry t-shirt or two. You can carry it with the comfortable shoulder straps or as a briefcase with the side handle.

My only issue with it is that it’s only splashproof, not submersion proof. Which is probably sufficient for most uses being as people rarely go diving with their laptop on their tanks, but I would rather not take chances and put my laptop into a dry tube which is more water resistant.

Slick And Practical, A Well Balanced Hybrid Bag.

Dry Duffel – 25 litres to 75 litres

 

I don’t need to talk about this bag too much simply because it is almost identical to the Dry Tube, apart from two major differences: one, it is carried horizontally and two, it opens from the side. This side opening is ideal for combatting the issue I have with the tube, i.e. The inability to get what I want out of the bag without having to pour the entire contents out to get it. It is just as waterproof, just as simple and slightly more comfortable (due to the padded strap) than the tube.

The duffel is designed to be taken as an overnight bag (or “overweek” bag in the case of the 75 litre!) so you may find it is a little overkill for a day dive, but ideal for a liveaboard.

The Duffels Are More Spacious And More Handsome, Just Don’t Overload Them…

Dry Tank – 40 litres to 60 litres

 

The Dry Tank is a hybrid of the Dry Tube and the laptop case. It is a large rucksack that utilises the same design principles as the dry tube. The tank has a huge internal volume that is fairly easy to access because it has a wide opening. There still isn’t any compartments inside the bag so organising your stuff is finished when you chuck it in!

As a rucksack it performs well, using well padded straps and a sternum strap to distribute load. It is a comfortable way to move heavy gear about for extended periods. If I knew it was a long walk to the pier then I’d rather take the Dry Tank than the Dry Duffel because the Tank is much more ergonomically designed. Conversely, if I was flying with my bag I’d take the Duffel because the straps on the Tank are very easily tangled and will catch on everything!

The Dry Tank Is Great For Big Loads That Need To Be Carried Big Distances.

Horizon Gear Bag – 90 litres

I’ve presented a ton of ways to keep your dry things dry, but I’ve not discussed what you should do with your wet things…Feelfree have a solution for that too!

The Horizon Gear Bag is an enormous mesh duffel bag that allows wet gear to drain and then air while in transport. The bag can be worn with the shoulder straps like a rucksack which makes carrying a load of heavy gear much more pleasant (though you will probably get a wet back and butt, bear that in mind if you’ve just changed into your dry clothes!). There is also an array of handles in convenient spots to make handling the heavy stuff easier.

On the top of the sack (when it’s lying horizontally) is a dry pocket that can be used to store your dry valuables or spare gear. This is a nice touch that allows this gear bag to act as your only bag, rather than needing a dry bag and wet bag.

Vast Storage For Your Gear And Dry Storage For Your Valuables.

Final Thoughts

 

Feelfree have been thinking hard about what the modern adventurer needs, and have produced a huge array of solutions for a number of damp problems. They have managed to keep the designs simple and robust which are the two magic words in dive gear. My only problem with their design philosophy is the lack of compartmentalisation in their products which can lead to rattling gear. If they address this little issue appropriately then they will be onto a winner!

Do you have a Feelfree bag? What’s your favourite style in their lineup? Do you have any sad tales of people dropping things “in the drink”? Please share your thoughts with us using the comment section bellow.

Happy (dry) Bubbles!

By Jamie Campbell

Comments

  • Reef 2000 said:

    Great informative post. I’ll definitely check out some of the products you mention. It’s not the first time I’ve seemingly “waterproofed” kit only for my expectations to be sorely disappointed in the dryness stakes! Thanks for the post.

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