The Art of Waterproofing

By | August 15, 2016

How to Keep Water Sports from Damaging Your Luxuries

Most trips to the beach, the wake park, the river or the open ocean often involve a lot of remembering where certain gear items are and a few mistakes on packing lists.

Mother nature makes sure there will be a lot of guess work about conditions, and my years spent at the mercy of the elements has taught me that she might have a cruel sense of humor – bring your sun stuff and it’ll rain; bring your rain stuff and you get sunburned!

Imperative to your enjoyment, of course, is that the stuff you need to stay dry actually does.

Waterproofing your gear depends on the sport of course. Wakeboarding at the park, or merely sitting in front of the hotel room on the beach might have an easier time dodging the wet bullet. Not so for kayakers, whitewater rafters, beach goers and banca-riders whose gear may be under wet assault from all sides for long periods of time. Nothing ruins the joyful anticipation of a dry sleeping bag after a long day of sailing on a Hobie cat only to discover that you’ll have to sleep on a soggy dish sponge after all.

In cases of severe water exposure, make sure you double-bag your stuff, with a sturdy garbage bag inside a dry bag.

In many cases, dry bags still can leak a little bit, either from improper fastening of the open end, or by seam blowouts and pinprick holes caused by abrasive salt, grit and bag abuse from throwing it around.

Separate and seal up your lotions, shampoo, sunscreen and other leaky things, as they have a tendency to blow up and turn whole stacks of dry clothes into damp and sticky washrags.

For both dryness and organization, use zip lock bags of various sizes for sealing up items earlier mentioned, as well as books, papers, wallets and the like. With dry bags, make sure you properly maintain them, washing off sea or river water from them after trips. To double check the sturdiness of well-traveled bags, take a dry bag into the shower from time to time, and fill the bag with water, to see if you’ve got any leaks. Repairs can be made with super glue, resins or plain old duct tape.

Sea kayaks are often equipped with bulkhead storage compartments, that is, those big black lids that screw into the lids of the boat. These are great places to store your stuff unobtrusively, but do not forget that even these compartments can leak a bit of water, so make sure your stuff in there is properly packed. Or, as the saying goes, “waterproof hatches aren’t.”

Even beyond water sports, traveling around the Asian countries can involve riding on board a lot of jeeps, buses and boats of all kinds, all exposed to the elements, and a little waterproofing can go a long way.
Put your cell phone and other delicate, hydrophobic devices in a small dry bag in your pack, or, better yet, crush-proof water-resistant dry boxes and you won’t have to even spend one calorie of worry when your bag dips into the water while getting on a banca. How many people do you know have lost cell phones that way?

Dry boxes, which come in a myriad of shapes and sizes nowadays, are perfect for having boxes superb accessibility and the ability to take a fall from 20 feet onto hard ground. You can even buy sizes just for your lunch, smokes or petty cash, in addition to camera and other electronic equipment, safely nestled in cradling mini-cel foam that you can customize to your rig. Having a simple rain fly for your pack (they come with many packs in a bottom zippered pouch, or you can buy these separately for your size pack), is a lifesaver and stress reliever, even when you are just on a light hike into the forest. Having a small towel or chamois in the bag helps too, as a little leaked water can be swiped up in a jiffy.

When contemplating your dry bag/box needs, think about which sports you will be doing, how much and what type of gear you will have.

Small bags and boxes are applicable even for two-hour raft trips or lunch hikes (nothing less fun than realizing you packed your food or other immediate essentials too far away to dig out), but campers and overnighters will want at least one big one in their arsenal, for clothes, sleeping bag and those “must stay dry” items like first aid kits.

As dry bags/boxes aren’t cheap, don’t overdo it – some things like tents can make do with just a sturdy garbage bag, and sleeping pads don’t need any cover at all, as they tend to dry out quickly. Foods like dried food, bread and rice need to stay dry, whereas veggies and canned foods don’t. When packing out trash, be mindful as well about what goes where – trash needs to be stored so it doesn’t scatter around, but some trash, like an open can poke holes in the dry bag material, so pack accordingly.

If you’re bringing booze or other drinks, bring plastic instead of breakable glass, or even collapsible wine boxes.

Last but not least, don’t forget to waterproof that which waterproofs you your hat, your rain jacket, pants and tent can all be given a boost in its hydrophobic abilities with a can of water proofer spray like 3M, which are available at most hardware stores. It also works for tents, and even umbrellas. Clean and dry your gear before spraying, and give it several light coats of spray from about a foot away, giving a bit of time between coatings.