REVIEW: Sea To Summit Big River Dry Bags

Sea To Summit Big River Dry Bags

ExploringElementsSeaToSummitBigRiverDryBagREview-1MATERIAL: 420 D Nylon with Hypalon Roll Top Closure and Lash Loops

FEATURES: 10,000 mm waterhead, double stitched/reinforced/tape-sealed seams, exterior lash loops, oval base, D-ring attachment point at buckle

SIZES: 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 35, 65 Liters and 25 Liter Tapered

COLORS: Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange, Black

WHAT THE COMPANY HAS TO SAY: “Super strong and abrasion resistant, this non-PVC mid-weight dry bag has space saving low profile Hypalon® lash loops on the sides for secure stacking and a roll-resistant oval shape. A great choice for rugged water sports like kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Suitable to keep contents dry in any wet situation where the bag is not submerged.”



It takes a LOT of gear to paddle 226 miles, in the winter, self-supported!

I recently embarked on my first extended multi day whitewater kayak trip, down the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in February. What this means is that I had to carry all the gear I’d need for the entire trip, in this case 12 days, in my personal kayak. Because the trip was in February, it also meant that I would need quite a bit of gear, due to the cold water and air temperatures. Keeping sleeping bags, electronics, food and warm clothes dry is essential to having a successful, and comfortable multi-day trip. For this type of trip there are only three main options that I’ve found, from my many years in the paddle sports industry, to trust in keeping your gear dry on the river; Seal Line, Watershed and Sea To Summit dry bags. I have sold at retail, and used on a few sea kayak multi-days, the Seal Line bags to great success. I’ve also used the Watershed bags for years to keep my camera gear dry while on the river (Watershed Ocoee Review), but I’d never personally used the Sea To Summit bags. I’ve never heard anything but good things about them and I reached out to the company to see about getting some samples for review. They pointed me towards their burly Big River line of dry bags and sent some out just before the trip.


It is a jigsaw puzzle to get all that gear into a kayak, but this is the general layout of how I did it on this trip.


Lots of packing and systems to figure out at the put-in to the Grand Canyon.

From reading the description online, and checking them out in person at trade shows, I was a bit worried that the Big River line would be a bit heavy, stiff and overkill for my in kayak needs, but probably perfect for a raft trip. Luckily, what I found was that this line was actually perfect for my needs, and handled the abuse, much more than I thought I’d put on my dry bags, on this trip. The bags in fact have very little sign of wear of any kind, had zero failures and far exceeded my expectations.


Pretty much all gear had to come in and out of the boat each day.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated on this trip was that all the dry bags would have to be pulled in and out of the kayak at least once a day. Now this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in this particular case it was, as they had to flex through a pretty small opening between the back of the seat pan and the low rear cockpit rim of the boat. To make it even worse, I needed the extra space that the rear pillar of the boat took up, so I removed it, leaving a sharp plastic tab hanging from the deck of the kayak that the bags were scraped against over and over again as they went in and out of the boat each day. I fully expected to get out the patch kit at some point, or discover a leak in one of the bags that I had missed one day, but the bags took the abuse and came away from the trip completely unscathed.


Waking up to views like this, knowing your gear is protected from the weather, is what the Grand Canyon experience is all about.


Impressed with how well the Big River Dry Bags repelled the water, not wetting out much at all and drying quick with the moisture they did retain.


If you pack it in you pack it out in the Grand Canyon. Even on the last morning of the trip the boat was packed full of fully loaded dry bags.

The oval shape of these bags also seem to work quite well for packing and finding gear in the bags, not rolling away when you set them down and for packing neatly in the boat. While I didn’t use the exterior lash tabs on these bags on this trip, I can see where they would come in handy on many different adventures. I can say from experience that they work great for lashing the bags down to the top of motorcycle luggage with a cam strap. I also, basically, picked a different color for each size of dry bag, which made it quite easy to remember where gear was and which bag went where when repacking the kayak each day.


All my gear at the Diamond Creek take-out of the Grand Canyon. These bags still look new, somehow!

Besides getting these bags out on some more whitewater multi-day trips, I’m also looking forward to using them for sea kayak, sailing and dual sport motorcycle missions in the future. If you’re looking for a durable dry bag that is just the right balance of weight, flexibility, features and price, the Sea To Summit Big River dry bag series is right for you.


Used the Big River Dry Bags for some moto adventures in the Arizona desert as well. Versatile product.


(Disclaimer: Sea To Summit supplied these dry bags to Exploring Elements for review consideration, but no other compensation was provided.)

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