The rubbery roll-top dry bags popularized by river rafters and whitewater kayakers several years ago are gaining favor with hikers, hunters, backpackers and adventure racers. If 100 percent dry gear is an absolute necessity — as it’s increasingly becoming with cell phones, digital cameras, walkie talkies and GPS systems — these PVC, urethane or treated-nylon bags are pretty much the only thing going.
Seattle Sports Company (www.seattlesportsco.com) has one of the largest selections of dry bags on the market, with 30 bag-type varieties, including duffels, compression-style bags, boating-specific models, small accessory bags and backpacks. The company’s products are manufactured with traditional vinyl/PVC fabrics or a new urethane-coated fabric, which the company claims is more eco-friendly.
To test out a new product from the company, I recently reviewed the CrossBreed Dry Pack 1500 ($70), a mid-size waterproof backpack. The pack is essentially a dry bag with shoulder straps, a waist belt and a sternum strap, along with a few unique extra touches.
It is a simple design, with one large main pocket that opens wide and closes by rolling the top down and snapping each side into a plastic buckle. It has a bungee cinch on the front, but no small zippered pockets or other storage.
The pack weighs about 2 pounds when empty and, as the name references, can carry about 1,500-cubic-inches of equipment. Closed up, the pack is watertight, even when submerged for several minutes.
The CrossBreed 1500’s back panel was made to maximize ventilation, and its design incorporates hundreds of small plastic nodules that each stick out about 1/4 of an inch. This strange pokey panel allows air to flow subtly between your back and the pack’s rubbery fabric façade.
In my tests, hiking with about 15 pounds of gear in the pack, the CrossBreed carried comfortably, and the back panel provided adequate ventilation. The myriad little back-panel nubbins press in on the back with surprising, direct pressure, which on mellow hikes felt sort of nice in an acupressure-massage sort of a way.
But for anything more than a couple miles, the panel might start to feel too aggressive. Indeed, I would not recommend this pack for trail running, adventure racing or other activities where you’ll be moving fast or running with a bouncing pack for hours on end, especially if you’re wearing only a thin top or a T-shirt.
Seattle Sports Company markets the CrossBreed Dry Pack 1500 for recreational hiking, biking, boating or camping. Workaday bike commuters might also consider the CrossBreed, as the pack will protect folders, files and notebook computers from road spray and those unfortunate, unexpected rain storms that can pop up miles from your office door.