For my big trip last summer, I knew I was going to need additional dry bags.
I did a bunch of comparison shopping, read reviews, and talked to fellow riders about their choices. In the end, it came down to a choice between motorcycle gear or backpacking gear. Since the backpacking gear came in around 1/5 the cost, I went with the backpacking gear. It was a good choice.
The Sea-to-Summit bags come in 5 sizes ranging from the XS at 2-6 liters to the XL at 10-30 liters. It’s important to note that these bags are waterproof, not water resistant. Fold the roll-top closure over at least 3 times and there simply is no way for water to get in. Additionally, the bags all compress down to 1/3 their maximum size via a now standard 4-strap compression system. The bottom panel allows air out for compression without allowing water in when the sky opens up.
I still can’t believe that in 5 weeks of riding I had only one day of rain, but that one day proved to be plenty. Just past Steamboat Springs, CO I hit a storm and was riding in some of the worst weather I’ve ever been in. From Steamboat to Vernal, UT it alternated between grape-sized hail, heavy rain, and torrential ark-building rain. All the campgrounds I had marked on the map were flooded, so I ended up getting a motel in Vernal. I was a bit nervous for my sleeping bag, which I had stuffed into the large compression sack along with the tent, air mattress, ground cloth, and fly. I didn’t need to worry. Everything was dry as the proverbial bone.
There is one downside to these, though. Though the seams are all double stitched and the fabric is sturdy against tears, it does puncture quite easily. I think it was probably the Mountain House Pro-Pak pouch that did it, but there is the tiniest of holes in the middle of the large sack. The pouches aren’t exactly sharp, but I can see how, when compressed, a corner might poke through. Suffice it to say I’ll be using these bags for soft goods only from here on out.
Other than that, these bags are terrific and have earned a spot in my standard travel gear. Here is how I ended up packing the dry bags:
Large: Tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, ground cloth, fly (and, one day, freeze-dried food – oops!)
Medium: Clothes and minimal toiletries
Small: I saved this for dirty clothes and put it inside the Medium bag
Ranging from around $25 to $50 depending on size, I think having at least one of these is essential for any motorcycle trip. I now keep the small one tucked away in a side case or tank bag at all times.