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Sea to Summit Big River Review

An inexpensive model that provides great water resistance at a reasonably low price.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $43 List | $26.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, durable, lightweight
Cons:  Not completely watertight
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Leslie Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 14, 2019
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Waterproofness - 70% 8
  • Ease of Use - 10% 7
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit Big River is a top-notch, classically designed dry bag that is well-suited for advanced and recreational watersports enthusiasts alike. Its material repels water and will keep your gear nice and dry unless it is subjected to prolonged submersion. Even then, only a small amount of water can manage to sneak its way in. Its durable enough to withstand regular use and inexpensive enough to fit a tight budget. Superior quality, practical design, and a low price earned it our Best Bang for Your Buck award.

For the avid water person in need of absolute protection, our Editors' Choice, the Watershed Colorado Duffel guarantees a dry set of clothes when you pull ashore for the night. For more serious protection from both water and the hustle and bustle of travel, our Top Pick for Travel Drypack, the YETI Panga 50 is the pack for the journey.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $26.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$185.00 at Amazon$299.95 at Amazon
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$27.94 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$114.95 at Amazon
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Pros Inexpensive, durable, lightweightDurable, easy to use, comfortable to haul aroundSuper durable, completely waterproofLightweight, easy to useDurable, very waterproof, easy to carry
Cons Not completely watertightExpensive, largeExpensive, rigidNot for use as a stand-alone bagExpensive, uncomfortable for long distances
Bottom Line An inexpensive model that provides great water resistance at a reasonably low price.This product keeps out water, no matter how rough and wet things might get.Rugged and perfectly watertight, this pack is ideal for traveling.This model is your classic lightweight stuff sack with the added bonus of waterproof material.This model is easy to carry and will keep your gear dry on caving or canyoneering trips.
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Big River Watershed Colorado Duffel YETI Panga 50 eVent Compression Black Canyon Boundary Pack
Waterproofness (70%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Features (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
9
Specs Sea to Summit Big... Watershed Colorado... YETI Panga 50 eVent Compression Black Canyon...
Closure Type Roll-top ZipDry HydroLok zipper Roll-top Roll-top
Weight (pounds) 0.55 0.33 4.3 3.2 1.98
Included D-Rings? Yes Yes No No Yes
Style Roll-top Duffel Duffel Roll-top w/ lid and compression straps Roll-top backpack
Material 420D nylon Polyurethane-coated nylon Laminated high-density nylon 70D nylon 300D TPU-coated nylon

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sea to Summit Big River is 24-inches tall, 11-inches wide, and 7-inches deep. It is made out of 420 Denier nylon and closes with a classic roll-top which make it highly water resistant. Its durable material and reinforced lash loops allow you to secure your gear to your craft confidently and its flat cylindrical bottle makes it easy to pack. This model is perfect for stowing your gear on your paddle board, kayak, or raft.

Performance Comparison


The Big River is the perfect bag for recreational water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking
The Big River is the perfect bag for recreational water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking

Waterproofness


This model scored significantly above average in this metric. While a small amount of water seeped inside during testing, the manufacturer does point out this product is not designed for full submersion. Even so, only a small corner of the towel we placed inside for testing was wet after being submerged, and a coaster-sized portion was wet after being dragged.


This product was the only model well suited for general use that scored this high in waterproofness and cost less than $50. The Watershed Colorado Duffel, our Editors' Choice award winner, offers absolute protection from even the smallest droplets of water but costs more than four times as much.

This model kept our testing towel almost completely dry when dragged around the lake except for a small coaster sized patch.
This model kept our testing towel almost completely dry when dragged around the lake except for a small coaster sized patch.

The Marchway Floating 20L, is the least expensive stand-alone model we tested, but you'll get a significant reduction in waterproofness compared the Big River.

Lots of bubbles escaped when it was held under  but only a small amount of moisture seeped in.
Lots of bubbles escaped when it was held under, but only a small amount of moisture seeped in.

Ease of Use


This was the toughest metric on this model, and yet it still brought home a score significantly above average. Although this bag is taller than it is wide, its shallow enough for you to reach the bottom of the bag and still keep your eyes on the contents. The flat oval base also helps to keep the bag upright and in one place while you are packing or unpacking


The Watershed Colorado Dufell was one of the few models to outscore the Big River in this metric. The wider than tall design of the Colorado makes for less stacking of contents which facilitates retrieval.

The flat oval bottom makes this model easy to pack.
The flat oval bottom makes this model easy to pack.

The Big River provides no special carrying system. You can sling your arm through the loop made by the roll-top to get it to your boat, but it sports no additional features for long distance carrying. The SealLine Black Canyon Boundary Pack, on the other hand, features a padded removable backpacking harness that provides a much more ergonomic carrying system for longer distances.

Features


Quality features earned this model a second-place score in this metric. Two welded TPU lash patches adorn each side of this model and provide a secure point for attaching the bag to your craft. Two plastic D-rings are also located at the roll-top, and a reinforced lip makes for more a tighter seal when it is closed.


While the Big River offers high-quality features for a standard dry bag, the Sea To Summit eVent Compression brings a unique twist by featuring a one-way valve at the bottom. This vent allows air to escape when it is being stuffed and compressed making it much more suitable to carry a sleeping bag or down jacket than the Big River.

A reinforced lip makes for a stronger seal when this model is rolled closed.
A reinforced lip makes for a stronger seal when this model is rolled closed.

The Big River also offers no inside stash pockets to keep your small items contained. The YETI Panga is equipped with two small zippered pockets in the main compartment as well as removable backpack straps for easier carrying.

Durability


The Big River is made of 420 Denier nylon which makes it both resistant to scratches and tearing and lightweight. When dry and empty, this model only weighs 6-oz. Lighter models, like the Osprey UltraLight Dry Sack may be a fraction of the weight, but they need the protection of an outer pack to prevent holes from forming with regular use.

The plastic buckles of the Big River are reinforced with stainless steel pins, and the lash patches on each side are made of a welded TPU fabric. Thus it offers significantly more durability than less expensive models like the Earth Pak Original.

Two welded lash patches on each side provide strong anchors to fix this model to your craft of choice.
Two welded lash patches on each side provide strong anchors to fix this model to your craft of choice.

While the Big River was near the top of the heat in this metric, the YETI Panga took the crown thus earning it our Top Pick for Travel Drypack and making it a better choice if durability is your top concern.

Best Applications


The Big River is a great all-around bag and is well-suited for regular use. Its waterproof enough to keep your gear mostly dry and durable enough to hold up to frequent river trips. It's low cost, and general usability make it an excellent choice for most people on most water-based adventures. This model is technical enough for advanced rafters, yet inexpensive enough for even the most casual paddlers. Unless you are in need of a model with special features, your search for the best all-around dry bag ends here.

This model is well suited for regular use by everyone from the avid paddler to the casual canoer.
This model is well suited for regular use by everyone from the avid paddler to the casual canoer.

If you plan to carry hydrophobic electronic equipment and require more complete protection from water, check out the YETI Panga and the Watershed Colorado Duffel, our Top Pick for Travel Drypack and Editors' Choice award winners respectively. These two models let zero water inside and are better suited when keeping water out is an absolute must.

Other Sizes and Colors
Sea to Summit makes the same model in six other sizes ranging from 3-liters to 65-liters. The smaller versions, 3, 5, 8, and 13-liters, differ only by offering only one lash point on each side instead of the two per side found on the 20, 35, and 65-liter options. All of the various sizes are offered in blue, green, yellow, black, and orange.

Value


This model costs a whopping $43 and boasts exceptional quality and functionality. Its high scores across the board combined with its low price made it an easy choice for our Best Buy award.

This classic roll-top model provides excellent durability at a very reasonable price.
This classic roll-top model provides excellent durability at a very reasonable price.

Conclusion


The Sea to Summit Big River is the perfect bag for day trips on the water of all shapes and sizes. While it may not offer absolute protection from water if you drag it behind your boat, your clothes will still be dry if you get caught in a wake while out of your paddle board. This product offers a simple and durable way to store your gear away from water at an exceptionally reasonable price. From beginners to more advanced water-goers, this product covers the basics and beyond.


Leslie Yedor