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Watershed Colorado Duffel Review

Be prepared for even the wettest adventures with this versatile and impenetrable product
Watershed Colorado Duffel
Photo: Watershed
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $194 List | $193.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, easy to use, comfortable to haul around
Cons:  Expensive, large
Manufacturer:   Watershed Drybags
By Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor  ⋅  Jun 6, 2020
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88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 14
  • Waterproofness - 50% 10
  • Ease of Use - 30% 7
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Watershed Colorado Duffel is the ultimate water adventurer's companion. With top-notch scores across the board and a versatile design that's ideal for serious water adventures, it remains an easy pick for our Editors' Choice Award. Completely watertight and burly enough to withstand the inevitable rocks and sticks of a raucous river ride, this product will keep your gear securely stowed and moisture-free. The duffel shape lends to easy packing and provides plenty of space for extended trips. While it's worth the investment for the avid water goer, the only drawback to this model is its relatively high price tag.

The Colorado is now available with an optional inflate/purge valve for a little extra money. We haven't tested the bag this upgrade yet, but we were very happy with the non-valve version. It's worth noting that Watershed's site states that ordering your bag with the valve voids return eligibility, so choose wisely.

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Pros Durable, easy to use, comfortable to haul aroundVery waterproof, clear window, easy to locate things, sturdy buildVery durable, easy to remove backpack straps, oversized capacity, simple metal clipsLightweight, rectangular shape, simplicity is a featureVery water resistant, useful shape, simple to use
Cons Expensive, largeFlat shape is odd, extra access stepLeaks if packed improperly, metal hooks take longer to use, tough to keep organizedNot abrasion resistant, must be part of a systemNo submersions, must pack full, weird clips
Bottom Line Be prepared for even the wettest adventures with this versatile and impenetrable productA seriously waterproof bag we trust with our most sensitive items at a very nice priceA simple, durable backpack option, but may be over the top for simple everyday useFor backpackers and day hikers, this model is a packing cube dry bag hybridAn easy to use compression dry sack with solid protection and a capacity larger than it seems
Rating Categories Watershed Colorado... NRS Ether HydroLock NRS Bill's Bag Osprey Ultralight D... Carryout Airpurge
Waterproofness (50%)
10.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Watershed Colorado... NRS Ether HydroLock NRS Bill's Bag Osprey Ultralight D... Carryout Airpurge
Weight 51.0 oz 2.3 oz 65.6 oz 1.6 oz 4.4 oz
Tested Size (liters) 75 L 5 L 110 L 20 L 15 L
Closure Type ZipDry HydroLock and roll-top Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top
Included D-Rings? Yes Yes No No No
Style Duffel Roll-top Roll-top w/ shoulder straps Roll-top Roll-top w/ compression straps
Material Polyurethane-coated nylon 30D silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon, urethane window 21 oz TobaTex 40D ripstop nylon 70D ripstop nylon, TPU laminate

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Colorado Duffel is 14 inches tall, 32.5 inches wide, and 13.5 inches deep with a 28-inch opening. It's wider than tall dimensions and huge mouth make packing this bag an easy task. It is made out of polyurethane-coated nylon and closes with a ZipDry seal, which strongly resembles a giant Ziploc bag. Both durable and watertight, this model is ideal for the avid water person.

Performance Comparison


The ultimate water-person's model, the Colorado Duffel is up for...
The ultimate water-person's model, the Colorado Duffel is up for whatever watery adventures you throw at it.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Waterproofness


This model is exceptionally waterproof and takes home an elusive perfect score for keeping water completely out throughout our several months of rigorous testing. A garden hose and thundering rainstorm have absolutely no effect on this protective bag. It's even capable of spending a prolonged time being held entirely underwater without letting any moisture in or any air out.


The ZipDry seal top, along with the classic roll-top design, provide an impenetrable barrier when closed properly. Rolling the lip and fastening it down with the provided buckles guarantees that nothing can tug at the seal while the product is in use. The thick, polyurethane-coated exterior and fully impenetrable seams ensure that whatever you put inside will stay dry.

This model was impermeable to water, even with prolonged submersion.
This model was impermeable to water, even with prolonged submersion.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

The Colorado Duffel is less bulky and more flexible than other models with this level of waterproofness. Generally, you see a reduction in waterproofness with an increase in malleability, but that is certainly not a trade-off made by this bag. The Colorado is easy to stuff into or onto your craft and it provides unmatched protection against the water.

The inside of the bag, and our testing towel, stayed 100% water-free.
The inside of the bag, and our testing towel, stayed 100% water-free.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Ease of Use


This metric is all about packing, unpacking, and transporting your gear. Once again, the Colorado Duffel outshines the competition and the highest-scoring model in this category. The huge opening at the top of the bag combined with the duffel shape make it super easy to pack. It's also wider than it is tall, which is preferable to a deep narrow bag for both packing and retrieving the contents without a lot of fishing.


Carrying this product is akin to any other regular duffel bag. The carrying straps secure with a comfortable neoprene grip that spares waterlogged fingers from the abrasiveness of the nylon webbing. It's incredibly simple to move this duffel from point A to point B and huck it up into your boat. That said, if you are looking for something to carry over longer distances, some other models feature removable backpack straps that make them much more comfortable to lug around.

This model is built like your classic duffel but with a neoprene...
This model is built like your classic duffel but with a neoprene grip for comfortable carrying with wet hands.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Features


One of our favorite things about this product is the ziplock style closure. It's simple to seal, and — unless you have the right technique — difficult to open. Press the seal together with your fingers, roll the top down a few times and buckle it into place. Between the thick, beefy seal and the buckles, you can rest assured it's not about to pop open at random while careening through a rapid. To break the seal, simply grab the pull tabs on each side and curve the lip into an S shape. Pull the tabs in opposite directions, and viola, it comes right open. This does take some practicing to get used to, but once you've figured it out, it's quick and painless.


Assuming your knot-tying skills are up to snuff, attaching this model to your craft of choice is just as simple. Six total Duraflex D-rings provide sturdy lash points; one small one on each end, and two large ones on each side. That's some of the most attachment points of any dry bag we tested. Many competitors provide just two attachment points, so we appreciate the extra security of this one. Its long and low shape also add to its ease of being securely attached to the inside of your watercraft, helping you to charge rapids without worrying about losing your gear.

The ziplock style closure is easy to securely seal and opens with a...
The ziplock style closure is easy to securely seal and opens with a twist and pull.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

One of the few downsides to this product is the lack of a built-in organization system for small items. One big cavern with no internal pockets or compartments makes it easy to lose things like sunscreen and car keys inside the bag. It's helpful to have your own organizational system using smaller sacks inside this behemoth bag.

Add-On Liner
If you plan to carry fragile equipment, a Watershed offers a selection of liners that can be purchased separately. These insert fits snugly inside the Duffel and provide added protection for your gear.

Durability


This model takes home yet another notable score in this metric. The polyurethane-coated nylon, thick single-ply webbing, and hefty plastic D-rings are a well-built combination that results in a rugged dry bag well suited for even the most formidable adventures. Throughout all of our testing, this model never showed the slightest sign of wear and sustained no scratches, let alone tears.


Other Sizes
Watershed makes five other models with almost identical construction to the Colorado Duffel but in various sizes ranging from 19.5 liters to 111 liters. Whether you are tight on space or need to forgo packing light, you can find the perfect size to fit your needs.

A reinforced seal and thick material allow this model to hold up to...
A reinforced seal and thick material allow this model to hold up to the bumps and grinds of a river run.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Value


This model is one of the more expensive bags we tested, but for the seasoned water-person, it's well worth the investment. Its exceptional durability promises to keep your gear dry for many adventures to come, and its outstanding waterproofness protects your most valuable electronics from even the largest deluges of water.

The quality of this model matches its price so you can have...
The quality of this model matches its price so you can have confidence in that its a worthy investment.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Conclusion


The Colorado Watershed Duffel is the avid water person's bag of choice and our reigning Editors' Choice for yet another season. Convenience, comfort, versatility, and durability rarely come in such a neat little package. This product not only boasts all of these qualities but also delivers on its promise to provide an impenetrable barrier between your precious gear and the water.

From the back of your truck to the front of your paddle board, this...
From the back of your truck to the front of your paddle board, this model is up for just about anything.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor