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Gear Scout: Watershed Colorado Dry Bag

When is a bag not just a bag? When it’s part of a system.

The fine folks at WaterShed in North Carolina have created a pretty innovative bag system. They start with a large polypropylene mesh duffel, tough enough to withstand the rigors of being thrown onto a roof rack or heaved in the back of a pickup truck, full of hard gear, bouncing around for hours on end. Then they add multiple hard lashing points across the bag, so it can be strapped down or suspended from a rack, even when it’s full of stuff. What kind of stuff? How about their Colorado duffel dry bag? Not only is the Colorado duffel waterproof, it has an innovative zipper system at the top so even if it’s full and you can’t roll it down like a traditional dry bag, all of your gear still stays dry. It’s perfectly sized to fit into the mesh duffle.

I’ve used this system on everything from weekend trips to multi-week international journeys, and it has reorganized the way I travel. I now pack everything I need for my trip into the Colorado duffel and then I put THAT entire duffel into the mesh duffle. As I use clothing and gear on my trip the mesh bag is the perfect repository for dirty clothing, wet wetsuits, and other assorted gear that gets covered in mud, dust, and trail debris. As I use up my clean gear, I roll the dry bag ever-smaller and slip it into the mesh duffle next to my dirty gear. It’s a single, compact system with clean dry stuff on one side, and wet or dirty stuff on the other. And since the mesh duffle is breathable, my wet-gear doesn’t become stinky-gear. When it’s time to fly or drive home, if I’ve picked-up a souvenir en-route (like those cool rugs I found in India, or that bulky leather jacket in Korea…) I already have a convenient extra bag with me.

And I have to stress again just how incredibly tough these bags are. I’ve used good-quality dry bags in the past but never have I experienced anything with the puncture-resistant feel of these watershed dry bags. I guess that’s why many US Special Forces use them exclusively.

At $83 for the Mesh Duffel And $149 for the Colorado Duffle they’re not the cheapest bags you can find. But they work great and they should last you for many many years.

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Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.

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