Firstly I must confess to having a bit of a ‘bag’ fetish. Not handbags I hasten to add, but rucksacks, day bags, laptop bags, camera bags or whatever. I have a plethora in the garage and under the spare room bed, but I continue to look for that ‘holy grail’ of bags that will fulfil multiple roles. I work on a basic rule of thumb of 10 litres of capacity for each day away. My pinnacle was reached once when I managed 10 days in Alaska with a 35 litre sack. Phew..! My other half was persuaded to pack light and tight too. But that’s another story.
I was pleased then when Overboard offered to provide a couple of their latest waterproof backpacks for a five day RIB trip around the Western Isles. A 20 litre and a 30 litre backpack were delivered. The 20 litre was found to be perhaps more suitable as an overnight compact, especially considering that lightweight wet weather gear was also to be stowed along with dry clothes. I found however that the 20 litre backpack harness carried a little too much ‘real estate’ for the size of the bag.
The 30 litre backpack was much more balanced in terms of capacity and features, so five days onshore and offshore kit was duly packed. My travel arrangements involved a 350 mile rail trip with a couple of station changes and a short road transport in order to meet up with the crew at Oban.
This waterproof backpack proved to be very accommodating with its comprehensive set of straps, including shoulder, waist and chest straps. The options should suit any person’s body build and personal preference to ensure a very snug fit. Complete with padded shoulder straps and a ventilated lumbar support the backpack was very comfortable to wear.
Internally a zipped pouch is provided suitable for quick access to documents such as ID, passports, money and keys. Externally there is a zipped plastic netting document pouch across the back. I found that this feature was ideal for enclosing documents eg maps/chartlets prior to filling the backpack. However, once the dry bag was packed, the netting corners caught the edges of any documents being inserted preventing easy use. The bungee drawstring ties across the external pouch I found useful for keeping magazines and newspapers handy for reading on my rail journey. The external pocket was generous enough for a mobile phone and/or pocket camera and, although not waterproof, it’s a very convenient addition when travelling onshore.
To seal the backpack two methods are available. One utilises the conventional across top dry bag style, with a plastic snap buckle closure once the seal has been folded over, and a second option which uses the same seal straps but tied down the sides, which is better for travel onshore. Because of the need to have a snap buckle for the first option the side tie downs rely on one dynamic adjustable buckle and one static adjustable buckle. Perhaps with a bit of ‘buckle’ engineering both could be made dynamic adjustments which would make for a much quicker tie down.
Our RIB trip was carried out in very blustery easterlies in testing F5/F6 conditions, seeing F7/F8 on occasions. We drove through lots and lots of rain at 25kts and I purposely attached the backpack to the bow Samson Post all the time at sea. I also threw the bag overboard in the rain and dragged it onboard. When I opened the bag to check the contents the only ingress was a couple of tear drops which were probably from my hands when opening the bag. To my astonishment, and thankfully, my dry kit remained perfectly dry..!
This is a very good and useful piece of kit. Easy to carry, suitable for 3-4 days offshore and comes highly recommended. I would be pleased to see a 40 litre and 50 litres in the range too, as I feel sure this waterproof backpack has plenty of potential.
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