Here at GearLab, we pride ourselves on pushing our gear to the limits. From standard use cases to fringe one-offs, we try it all with enthusiasm and thoroughness. Following is a discussion about how we tested for the four metrics we used to score each of our dry bags.
The ability to keep water out and your gear dry is the most important job of a dry bag, so this metric was weighted the most heavily. To test each product's capacity in this metric, we first exposed them to regular recreational use. We used them for paddle boarding, beach days, backpacking, and river trips and took careful notes about the level of water exposure they received and how the internal contents fared. We then subjected them to more rigorous testing. We sprayed them with hoses and held them under running faucets. Each product was filled with towels, closed according to the instructions, and held underwater for 30 seconds. The towels and inside of the bag were then evaluated for water or even slight dampness. We also filled each bag with water and upended them to see what leaked out. And last but not least, we attached each bag filled with dry towels to a leash on the back of our watercraft and dragged them through a lake for 30 minutes.
Ease of Use
We set out to determine how each product packs, how it carries, and how simple it is to retrieve contents during an activity. We weighed them and measured them, and compared that to their capacities. We evaluated closure methods, carry contraptions, and lash points for their usability and convenience. We accessed contents in kayaks and backpacks and on beaches. When all was said and done, we'd used each model for a wide variety of adventures and packed everything from clothes to cameras to sleeping gear inside.
Certain models are best suited for specific objectives. In order to tease out the specialists, we thoroughly investigated and used the individual features of each product. We paid particular attention to the closure system and the lash points and made note of any unique characteristics like backpacking straps and pockets.
To best assess durability, we spent months subjecting these products to regular use and abuse. We judged each on the material of the main body and the features, such as clips and straps. We scrutinized seams and special features. We evaluated closure systems and how well they stay sealed during use. And to be thorough, we also scoured the internet for other user complaints and tried to root out potential weak spots of each model.