OverBoard 20l Kayak Deck Bag
We've done a number of sea kayaking trips over recent years, but it wasn’t until this year that we got a second tandem kayak and managed to fit the whole family in two boats. A one-week touring trip off the Isle of Jura in western Scotland was out first of these trips and it quickly became apparent that even with big boats, fitting a week's worth of food as well as camping gear inside the boats would be a push. On previous trips we’d simply lashed dry bags to the deck and made sure to keep close to the shore and only go out in the best weather. With no guarantee that the weather would be good for a whole week, and a number of bays to cross, we opted for a more professional approach and got a couple of waterproof deck bags.
You're probably familiar with the criss-crossed elasticated webbing that adorns most kayak decks. This is great for quickly stowing light weight stuff, as well as baling pumps and throw lines, but not so good for bags of food and kit you want accessible whilst paddling. Enter the deck bag. A deck bag is a shaped dry bag which fits the profile of the deck immediately in front of the paddler, is secured to the deck so that it can't be washed into the sea, and provides easy access whilst on the water.
The OverBoard 20l bag we used has a flat base and a curved upper. It is fixed to the deck via 6 webbing straps with plastic toggles to tighten them. I had to tie some loops of para-chord through some stainless steel eyelets on the deck as the eyelets themselves weren't big enough for the webbing or buckles to pass through. Once this was done it was pretty straight forward to sit the bag on the deck and tighten each one until the thing was centralised and taught. My only real gripe with the bag is the fact that the straps are fixed to the top side of the bag, so in tightening the them, the contents of the bag are compressed. This is great if you are looking to tie everything down super tightly and securely, but not so good if you then want to access the contents of the bag whilst on the go as you really need to loosen the straps a little to do so. I've seen other bags where the straps are fixed to the base of the bag so the bag itself is effectively sitting freely on the deck, held tightly in place, but allowing access on the move more easily. Each has its own pros and cons.
The bag is accessed via a roll-top closure on the end facing the kayaker. The bag stayed completely dry in use, and is pretty easy to access whilst on the move. It also has a waterproof zip that runs along the same edge, on the top, giving access to a thin pocket on the top of the bag. This pocket is not compressed by the securing straps so it's easier to get into and out of, but it is very slimline and suited to charts, compact cameras and other slim-line items. There is no movement whatsoever as the boat rocks from side to side.
On the top of the bag is a criss-cross of elastic which effectively replaces the equivalent set up which the bag will invariably be sitting on top of. It's useful for stowing hats, sunglasses, cags and other things you use on and off whilst paddling depending on the conditions. It has a toggle so can be tightened / loosened. Lastly there is a shoulder strap for carrying the bag once you remove it from the boat.
In use the bag was great. It kept everything really dry, sat snugly on the deck, and was easy to remove and take to camp. The material is really nice and heavy duty so feels like it will last a good long while. At 20l it provides a decent amount of storage without adding too much cumbersome ballast to the top of your kayak. It retails at £40 which feels like good value. I'm sure it would be equally at home on an SUP.
More info on the Overboard website.