Travel Essentials: waterproofing

There are plenty of things I regard as travel essentials and every now and then I’ll do a post on the subject.

Today it’s waterproofing your stuff.

For general waterproofing stuff, drybags are your best friends. Ortlieb make a huge variety of ultra-tough specialist drybags but mine are Exped, because that’s what my local outdoors shop sells. They’re fantastic – lightweight, tough and if you roll them up properly, they’re more or less absolutely waterproof. I’ve trapped as much air as I can in them and used them as pillows with no leakage. They’re designed for keeping your stuff dry on the water and so they’re certainly water-resistant as far as just falling in is concerned. I don’t make any promises about how well they’d stand up to a sustained dunking or to depth and pressure but for day-to-day use, they’re proper waterproof.

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What I know is that they are ideal for carrying wet swimming stuff around without getting the rest of the contents of your bag wet. I have a Large blue 13 litre one, a Small yellow 5 litre one and an Xtra Small green 3 litre one that I don’t actually remember buying. I use the Large one for trips to hot springs in the Icelandic Highlands – it easily swallows a huge travel towel and a swimsuit plus goggles, shampoo bottles, whatever, and most of my clothes in case there’s nowhere dry to leave them while I’m in the water. The XS is an ideal size for small electronics like phones.

But if you want to use your electronics in the water, you’ll want a waterproof case. I use Aquapacs, again, because that’s what’s in stock locally, but I speak highly of them. They’re waterproof enough for me to trust them with my phone and my camera – they make cases big enough for compact cameras and I even own one with a proper tunnel on the front for the zoom. They float and they come with long neon neck cords, so you can just tow them along behind you in the pool without any fear of losing or damaging them. In the interest of balance, I must add that they do get condensation inside them in warm water but it’s only in warm water, only if you let the pouch go in the water, it takes a while – like, half an hour to an hour, hasn’t caused any damage and I’m willing to put up with it in exchange for in-water photos and even underwater photos if the water is clear enough. And actually, it turns out this is a problem that can be solved by leaving the desiccant sachets in there instead of throwing them away like an idiot.

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Aquapac do so many variants – different sizes and shapes for different phones, tablets, VHF radios, cameras, camcorders, insulin pumps and so on. They were actually designed for keeping equipment safe and usable on the water, for people who need to be able to call for help if necessary and the likes of the river police and water rescue services use them, so they’re not just for idiots like me who want swimming selfies.

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