This review was originally posted on Misadventures’ website.
There’s nothing worse than spending a beautiful day on the water, only to open your dry bag at one point and discover that your sandwich bread is soggy with sea water or your camera not turning on or your sleeping bag heavy with wet feathers. After making several dry bag mistakes, I don’t trust just any dry bag, especially when it comes to keeping important things dry (like lunch). That’s why I was delighted when the team at Watershed asked me to test and review their Ocoee dry bag duffel.
For someone who mostly kayaks, I tend to use smaller drybags (think 13 liters and below) because they’re easier to pack and unpack in the small compartments of a whitewater or sea kayak. The first thing I really appreciated about the Ocoee is how it fit well in every hatch of my boat with its 10.5 liters of volume. It’s also incredibly durable and more airtight than other bags I’ve used which is why it has become my go-to on day trips or longer trips when I’m regularly storing electronics, camera gear, group food, and first aid.
Here’s a run down of my pros and cons after a season of use.
Large opening makes it easy to pack and access – The Ocoee has a 13 inch seal at the top that opens and closes like a really fancy latex zip loc. I’ve caught myself several times needing to get into a dry bag quickly only to waste time digging through a small opening to rummage through all the contents of a bag. The Ocoee’s large opening and design makes it easy to quickly open, access items, and re-secure while both on land and on the water.
The seal also makes the bag super impermeable. (Watershed claims its bag stays impermeable at up to 300 feet of submersion. They make custom bags for the military, so I don’t doubt that stat has been fully field tested.) Watershed even provides a small bag of 303 Protective Solution in the box for your Ocoee, which makes it easier to treat and strengthen the latex closure on the bag when it starts to get lots of use.
Size matters – As mentioned earlier, larger drybags make packing difficult. Which is why I like the Ocoee: it’s large enough to fit most items but small enough to easily play dry bag tetris while packing your boat.
Easy to secure – The Ocoee has four straps making it easy to compress and secure in a boat if you need to strap it or latch to another secure point in or on your boat (or SUP). It also has four lash points making it easy to secure to other bags or water bottles to it (think of an interlocking gear bundle with the Ocoee as your nexus).
Looks really fly – The blue color is so calming and nice, plus the handle straps are padded, making it easy and comfortable to carry when it’s fully loaded. In general, the bag looks really fly. So fly that I would legit use it as a duffel bag in the city on a rainy day.
Getting total compression – The wide opening and seal sometimes make getting the bag super compressed not as easy as a traditional drybag. But that’s not to say it’s impossible! Just takes a little more time and attention.
Not super ultralight – For those who are super weight conscious, this bag is on the heavier side. For me this is nowhere near a dealbreaker given the above pros. But coming in at 1.5 lbs empty, that’s a lot more than Seal Line’s 10L sturdy Baja, coming in at 5.6 oz. For me that means on a long trip when weight is a serious concern, I wouldn’t bring only Watershed Ocoee’s but rather balance Ocoee’s with lighter bags, depending on what the contents are.
Additional optional features: The Ocoee (like a lot of Watershed’s dry bags) comes with an inflate and purge valve if you want to make it into a float bag to displace water in your boat. You can also get padding that fits inside the bag to protect fragile equipment you may store in it.
The Ocoee has quickly become an essential part of my kit. I rarely get on the water without it. If you’re looking for a dry bag that will become your trusted, constant side-kick on the the daily, look no further.