Dry Bag/Camera Bag for Kayaking

     This is not my first try at making a suitable camera bag for use in my kayak. My first project is described on my kayaking site in this article titled "Kayaks, Water, and DSLR Cameras - How I Manage Mine". The post discusses a large 54 liter bag that holds two DSLRs with lenses attached (up to 300mm with teleconverter). My rationale for using dry bags to hold my camera equipment while kayaking, even though it seems everyone recommends against it, is explained in the article, so I won't rehash it here. Just be sure you understand the risks before trying this for yourself.

Warning: I make no claim of suitability or waterproofing for camera equipment while using a dry bag. I use this solution with the knowledge that even the dry bag manufacturer warms this is not suited for any sort of electronic equipment.  

     While the large bag works great and does exactly what I wanted it to, I found that it was just a tiny bit cumbersome in my kayak. It is better suited for my duck boat where the cockpit is a few inches wider. So I set about creating another dry bag camera pack for one camera with lens that would be a little easier to handle in the limited space of my kayak.

     For this project I chose a 20 liter Seal Line Kodiak Sac tapered bag with pressure valve, shown in the upper left photo. It took some measuring and head-scratching to finally come up with this particular bag. The problem was that normal cylindrical 20 liter dry bags were the right diameter but were not deep enough to accomodate my 300mm lens with teleconverter attached. The 30 liter bags were deep enough but much too large in diameter. Finally I checked out the tapered bags. I discovered that because of the tapered shape, a tapered 20 liter was as deep as a cylindrical 30 liter bag, but still had the upper diameter close to the 20 liter cylindrical bags. It worked out to be a perfect fit. I also discovered that the pressure valve in these bags makes sealing it much easier.

     To make the foam padding form for this project I used a technique different from the foam blocks in the kayaking site article. This was made completely with sheet foam pieces, mostly of 3/4 to 1 inch thickness. I first rolled a 3/4-inch thick rectangle into a cylinder with an inside diameter just a little larger than the lens and lens hood. I hot glued the butted edges together so it would hold its cylindrical shape.

     On the bottom of the cylinder I glued end caps and a thick dome-shaped "bumper". The form diameter necessary for the lens wouldn't let the cylinder slip any lower in the tapered bag, so this bumper was needed to extend the bottom of the form. (I felt it would be better than having excessive air space in the bottom of the bag.) On the top of the form I glued layers of foam with the center cut out to conform with the inside diameter of the foam cylinder and with the shape of the camera body as shown in the two above right photos. The diameters of all these layers of foam were trimmed to best match the diameter of the tapered dry bag.

     Next I sewed a tapered sleeve of rip-stop nylon to cover the foam padding form. This is shown above lying on the dry bag, then with it slipped over the foam form.

     Then I sewed a cylindrical "sock" of nylon to serve as a liner inside the foam cylinder, shown at right. This liner will allow the lens to easily slide in and out. The far right photo shows the inner liner and outer sleeve on the foam form before pinning and sewing. Next I pinned the inner liner and outer cover together at the top and stitched them together.

Padded insert for standard
cylindrical 20-liter dry bag.

     I made a foam lid and covered it with the same rip-stop nylon as the outer covering, seen in the far right photo. With one edge of the lid sewn to act as a hinge, and a velcro strap to hold it shut, the project was ready to insert into the tapered dry bag.

     In order to have a second camera body handy with a shorter zoom lens, I made another camera bag like this one (left photo). It did not require a tapered bag for it though, since the depth of a standard cylindrical 20 liter dry bag was quite sufficient for a short lens. Hopefully these two smaller bags will be easier to deal with in my kayak than the one large two-camera bag I first constructed.

Visit my flatwater kayaking site, The Casual Kayaker.