When planning the photography for the Newport Back Bay story, there were two things I had to take into account. First, I would be shooting from my kayak, and second I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of having my cameras surrounded by the big wet bay. The solution was to keep the camera – lens attached – in a dry bag between my legs while I paddled. I hoped that this would keep the equipment dry and safe but also close enough to remove as quickly as possible. After determining how large of a dry bag I needed (add together the length of the camera body, the lens, the lens hood and a couple inches to properly roll the top of the bag), I decided to try Seal Line’s Black Canyon series dry bag.
Purported to be a mix of both tough and PVC-free, the bag looked promising. The first thing I noticed was that the seam construction looked solid and the bag material was thick. I filled it with water and it reliably kept from leaking. So far so good. I opted for the orange color so it would be easy to see on the water, but the Black Canyon series was also available in yellow, green and blue. Bags ranged in size from 5 liters to 55 liters and the 20 liter bag I purchased was a good size. It fit loosely between my legs while I was paddling and it was easy to open for quick camera use. The camera had plenty of room around it and the bag was just long enough to fit my Canon 60d with a Canon 100mm-400mm lens at 100mm with the hood attached. The bag encountered minor abuse during its first trip. Even though the strength of the material hasn’t been rigorously tested yet, the bag hasn’t disappointed. It also was used as an impromptu tripod weight for our Christmas Card shoot. It was filled with water and hung using a carabiner from my tripod. The attached D-ring on the dry bag handled the gravitational stress of 15 liters of water without issue.
Overall, this bag field-tested very nicely. It was perfect for holding a camera with a relatively long lens and made me feel comfortable about bringing gear out on the water. Seal Line Black Canyon bags are made in the U.S. and their choice to use urethane instead of PVC reduces environmental impact. We purchased ours from backcountry.com for just over $30. We hope to put it through tougher tests in the future and we’ll be sure to let you know the results. In the meantime, be sure to check out the photographs from our Newport Back Bay story.