Aquapac - waterproof gear containers

The setting was London, 1983, and three young windsurfers were brainstorming at a pub, contemplating waterproof Walkman cases and a potential new business venture. Napkins and borrowed pens were likely involved, and the kernel of an idea was birthed in part that fateful evening long ago.

Twenty-three years later, with a patent for a waterproof sealing system in its files, Aquapac International Limited has an established world headquarters in London. The company’s line of waterproof cases, which feature a unique lever-lock sealer, includes products made to protect electronics and other items while boating, beach walking and, of course, windsurfing.

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In total, Aquapac makes 40 products, with designs to accommodate cell phones, GPS devices, MP3 players, radios and PDAs. The polymer cases are flexible like plastic bags. The sealer on top is a bulky plastic trim that covers the case opening. It locks down and closes airtight with the twist of two or more tiny levers.

All Aquapac cases are guaranteed to remain watertight when submersed to depths as much as 15 feet. Most will float when dropped in the water.

In addition to the interesting sealer system, which the company (www.aquapacusa.com) calls the Aquaclip, many of these cases are “use-through,” meaning buttons on electronics can be pressed for controlling digital cameras or iPods when they are sealed in their protective cases. The polymer material also acquiesces with sound, letting you speak through the watertight material when a phone call comes in.

Aquapac cases range from general, multi-purpose bags, like the $30 Large Whanganui Case, to the highly specialized MP3 Player Case, a $50 product that has a clear front panel for operating controls as well as a waterproof earphone jack.

The ArmPac, a $30 case that measures 6 inches high and 3 inches across its face, fits on your upper arm, attached by a neoprene band. It is made for keys, cash, passport and credit cards — all those items you don’t want to leave on the beach when taking a swim or catching a wave. Other products are custom made for cell phones, digital cameras and GPS devices.

In my tests, the Large Whanganui Case worked as promised, sealing quick and easy and keeping water off my merchandise inside. Honestly, I did not trust the product enough to submerge my pricey digital camera, though my socks and wallet — tucked safe inside the polymer shell and held underwater for several minutes — were kept safe and dry as a proverbial bone.

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