Every summer, around the world, thousands, perhaps even millions of people accidentally lose their electronics and other valuables to the murky depths of oceans, rivers, and lakes as they partake in various water-bound activities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Enter the mighty water bag. Available from various manufacturers, water bags allow you to enclose your valuables in a water-resistant and, in many cases, waterproof enclosure that will allow for any accidental contacts with water to be mere annoyances.
Before we get into our review of the Skog Å Kust DrySak and GymSak bags, let me tell you why we decided to review these bags.
Not too long ago, we looked at some of the best waterproof backpacks on the market, and one brand, in particular, caught our eye. Skog Å Kust is a Pennsylvania-based company named in Swedish for “Forest, Creek, Coast.” The company sells a copious variety of waterproof products, including backpacks, coolers, duffel bags, totes, wallets, snorkelling bags, scuba bags, swim buoys, PWC dock lines, collapsible water bottles and more. Designed for outdoor water enthusiasts, the company’s products are manufactured in China and adhere to ethical production standards while using 100% vegan materials.
Every summer, I spend some time at a cottage of some sort here in the Great White North, aka Canada. And with that comes various water-based activities of kayaking, canoeing and swimming. Unfortunately, I’ve had the bad luck of losing more than a couple of rather expensive pieces of electronics to the depths of lakes and rivers. Possibly I would not have lost these items to a watery grave had I only taken the time to stash them in a water-tight water bag that. Enter the Skog Å Kust DrySak and GymSak bags.
SKOG A KUST DRYSAK REVIEW
Made from tough 500D waterproof PVC, this water bag is available in 5, 10 and 20-litre versions. I was sent the 5-litre version, which I found more than adequate to stash a few of my precious electronics like my camera, phone and a change of clothes. The DrySak is a recreational dry bag with a roll-down main compartment that offers IPX-6 waterproof protection. The main compartment is just one large space with no internal dividers, a design choice made, I suspect, to maximize storage capacity.
IN PRACTICAL USE
So how waterproof exactly is IPX-6 waterproof protection? The bag performed beyond the IPX-6 standard in my tests, but I’ll talk about that in a moment. The IPX-6 standard requires a product to prevent any water ingress under the following conditions:
- A product is closed and then sprayed from all directions with powerful water jets
- These products are sprayed with a pressure of 100 litres per minute / 15 PSI for at least 3 minutes
- This is a fairly good simulation of what one can reasonably expect in the outdoors with a water bag.
The DrySak features Duraflex clips and hardware made from plastic which I didn’t mind, though I suspect that they may serve as a point of failure under rough conditions and would have liked to have seen the bag feature more robust metal rings for the mounting points. The DrySak is available in various colours and designs and features reflective trim throughout, including on top of the exterior splash-proof pocket.
The exterior pocket is big enough for a small knife or another accessory, but don’t count on it being as waterproof as the main compartment. The bag also includes a handy non-chafing nylon strap to allow you easily sling your water bag over your shoulder for easier carry or for attaching to your boat, kayak or bike to keep your bag conveniently at hand. While the strap is handy, I wouldn’t count on it to be overly comfortable if you’re carrying a particularly heavy load in your DrySak for extended periods.
All Skog A Kust products come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, which is quite frankly almost a standard that most consumer goods manufacturers are beginning to realize the value of.
The DrySak features an easy-to-use roll-top closure system. I would recommend you roll at least 3-4 times before using the locking clips if you want to achieve the same high level of water intrusion protection I experienced while using this bag.
WATERPROOFNESS & WATER RESISTANCE
In all of my testing, the DrySak performed its primary function of keeping my stuff dry flawlessly. So how did I test it? I definitely sprayed it with the most powerful “jet” setting on my backyard hose from varying directions for at least five minutes. Upon inspection of the paper towels I had thrown inside the bag, none had as much as a drop of wet on them.
Eventually, I found a nice cold Canadian Lake in which I took the DrySak on a few canoe and kayak ventures. And despite accidentally dropping the bag overboard once, I found the bag floated easily on the surface of the lake and was easy to retrieve with my paddle. Additionally, the bag had zero water intrusion. A final test took place in the same lake as I purposely submerged the bag in about 3 feet of water for a total of 30 seconds. And while the bag is not designed to be drowned due to its IPX-6 rating, it performed flawlessly still, not allowing any water inside the main compartment. If closed properly, this bag will perform just fine for brief and shallow submersions.
FINAL WORD ON THE SKOG A KUST DRYSAK
Good looks, performance and excellent affordability all make for an excellent choice if you’re looking for a great water bag of any size. I suspect the 20L version would even make for a superb ditch bag on any boat. You know, if your boat is sinking and you have to ditch but still want to protect some valuables while you swim to shore. And before you ask, no, the DrySak is not insulated, so don’t expect it to keep anything inside particularly hot or cool. The DrySak from Skog A Kust will probably work best for most people as a near-shore just-in-case dry bag.
And one final point on the DrySak, though this applies pretty much to any of the Skog A Kust products that include polyurethane in their makeup. The chemical known as DEET from various bug sprays tends to dissolve polyurethane so try to keep it away from these bags lest you want a hole in them.
SKOG Å KUST GYMSAK REVIEW
The Skog A Kust GymSak shares many of the same features as its DrySak brother reviewed above. That said, this bag is designed entirely to be your friendly take-anywhere casual gym bag. It features an awesome interior waterproof dry bag made of 70D PVC coated nylon that offers IPX-6 waterproof protection. It also happens to be machine washable, a main point of differentiation from the DrySak reviewed above.
The GymSak features a reflective logo that makes it easier to spot in low-light conditions, or if for some silly reason you took it on a boat and dropped it in a lake at night and then had to use a flashlight to find it as I did. The zippered exterior pocket with a key clip is not waterproof but still provides some measure of water resistance.
Available in six colour combinations, this super lightweight gym bag uses high-frequency welding construction and is great at keeping your gym clothes in a separate water-tight and stink-proof compartment. The roll-down seal on the interior bag, as with the DrySak, needs to be rolled down 3-4 times and clipped together to keep water out effectively.
As with the DrySak, I gave the GymSak a good drowning in a lake for about 30 seconds after seeing it effectively float on top of said lake, all with zero water intrusion to the interior water compartment. But I also decided to give it another test. We’ve been having some weird weather in Ontario cottage country this summer, and part of that weather regimen has been frequent thunderstorms with crazy downpours. Seeing that such as storm was approaching overnight, I decided to stuff the GymSak with some paper towels, hang it in a tree, and leave it to the ravages of the thunderstorm and subsequent deluge. To my delight, morning came, and when I checked the paper towels inside the bag, not a single drop had gotten in, despite being battered with what turned out to be about a two-hour heavy rain-fall amidst windy conditions.
While it’s very affordable, I’m not a huge fan of the thin nylon carry straps, though that’s more of a personal design preference than anything else. Small design details like the reflective and relatively subtle logo and reflective strips on the zipper pull nylon add a nice thoughtful touch to the overall look and functionality. The rubber bottom also adds a level of added water protection if you happen to be setting the bag down in water-drenched settings.
FINAL WORD ON THE SKOG A KUST GYMSAK
If you’re looking for a lightweight, waterproof and easy-to-carry gym bag that will keep your stinky gym clothes from passing along their smell to your other belongings, you might have just found the perfect bag.