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Life Jackets and Dry Bags

An unexpected twist on our recent kayaking trip gives a chance to really test some gear

by Josh Rubin in Travel on 26 August 2011

Being prepared for any situation is a key element to ensure safety in the outdoors. In the case of our recent sea kayaking trip in Hawaii we had the unexpected chance to put our life jackets and dry bags through some thorough testing. While kayaking Kauai's Napali Coast we were toppled by some big waves. Though we were able to upright the kayak, enough water had gotten in to the hull that we became swamped and had to float alongside the craft for an hour or so before being picked up by a passing tour boat.

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Both the Kokatat Ronin Pro and OutFIT Tour Lifejackets had a comfortable, secure fit enabled by a variety of adjustment straps. The OutFIT Tour had ample pocket space for snacks, a knife and waterproof camera whereas the Ronin Pro was more streamlined to keep a lower profile. Needless to say, while floating out to sea we were really happy that these PFDs did their job keeping us above water.

Wetness is inevitable while sea kayaking so we carefully packed our food, shelter, clothes and supplies in dry bags specially made for keeping water out in even the most extreme situations. Here are four we used and were pretty impressed with.

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Outdoor Research Double Dry Window Dry Sack

A standard dry bag is a top-loading duffle with a roll top that ensures a water-tight seal. OR improved on this design firstly by adding a partial window to help locate items without having to open the bag up—helpful when you have several of the same style. By adding a second, internal roll top, the Double Dry lives up to its name—in our case keeping all of our food dry even though the bag was strapped down inside the hull of our kayak.

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Aquapac Wet + Dry Backpack

Adding shoulder straps to a dry bag makes it useful for day hikes at your destination or as a rainy day backpack. Aquapac also added an internal compartment to keep wet things separated from dry things as well as a small, clear stash pocket with its own roll top for extra precaution—helpful for stashing a camera or phone.

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Seal Line eCase

While it's nice to unplug when on an outdoor vacation, having a phone on hand is useful in case of emergency. Throughout our adventure my iPhone was in this case and it stayed perfectly dry all the way through.

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Innate Mentor Organizer Sacs

Organizing supplies in to smaller bags is good for keeping things handy so why not use dry bags for that as well. These Innate bags feature a one-way valve that lets you easily squeeze out extra air to make the bag occupy the least space possible.

While our kayaking adventure ended several days early, we quickly recovered with the counter-balance of luxury at the St. Regis Princeville.

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