For my planned paddling trip to Indian Key, I went through our gear closet and found a “dry box.” Something large enough for my wallet, phone and keys.
As I packed for the trip, I though that verifying it was still a “dry” box might be a good idea. With the kitchen sink filled with water I plunged it under water and sloshed it around. Empty, of course. Removing it from the sink I could see that it was “nearly” a dry box. A tea spoon of water had found its was inside.
What if I put my “nearly dry box” inside an untested waterproof dry bag we received to review?
The Outdoor Products 20L Amphibian Weather Defense™ Backpack is a waterproof backpack with adjustable shoulder and chest straps, two small waterproof zippered pockets, and a mesh zippered pocket. There is an adjustable looped bungee strap and two loops along the bottom edge that look a great deal like what you would use to carry an ice axe.
We carried it down to the Florida Keys, keeping our water gear – fins, mask, snorkel, dry box – inside of it. I dumped the other gear and loaded it with a camera, my Gatorade (in the outside pocket), and the little not-so-dry box inside it with my essentials. Strapped down to the kayak, it probably took a few splashes on the paddle out and back to Indian Key.
After this adventure, touring the ghost town on Indian Key with historian Brad Bertelli, I paddled safely back to Robbies Marina without tipping over the kayak – unlike the trip I took the day before our wedding while on the Ocklawaha River, but that is another story.
Sandy was back from her adventure and sitting at the dock with a camera as I paddled to the shore. I called out for her to get ready for a gear test. After unstrapping the pack, I began a generous dunking and sloshing right at the marina launch, where most people are most likely to drop their gear in the water getting on or off the kayak.
Back on dry ground, I unfolded the top of the bag. All of the contents were dry – and that’s what a dry bag is for!
But it gets better. It was way too hot on this trip. The heat in South Florida in the summer is brutal. But it is the best time to take pictures of the lush tropical landscape. We returned from each outing dripping with sweat. We had to hydrate as often as we could.
After our gear test, I had an ah-ha moment. What if we filled the dry bag with ice and wrapped it in a towel? Because the Amphibian could hold 20 liters and not leak, we found another great use for it. It became our ice chest. From that day on we were greeted by ice cold drinks after every photo session.
Each morning, I would add ice, a gallon of iced tea, a few bottles of Gatorade, some water, and (a couple of times) our lunch. By the end of the day our drinks were still cold, and there would still be some of the ten pounds of ice we started with.
Wrapping a towel around it provided insulation, and held the condensation. We set it on the back floor of the car, in the shade. As it is a backpack, it made it easy to tote the bag from the car to our room each night.
When traveling light, it’s always great to find an item that can serve at more than a single function. So an item that both keeps your gear dry and your drinks cold – keeping water out, or water in, depending on your needs – is a great find. For our hot days (and wet environments) in Florida, this pack is perfect.
Sold by Outdoor Products, the 20L Amphibian Weather Defense™ Backpack can be found at major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target as well as on the Outdoor Products website.