The Colorado from Watershed is a duffel designed to keep your gear dry in the wettest conditions. It’s one of the many purpose-built bags from a company that knows a thing or two about staying dry. These bags are used on rivers, lakes, and oceans around the world. In addition to supplying outdoor enthusiasts, the United States military is one of their clients. With recent hurricanes wreaking havoc along the coast, it seems like a good time to highlight their products. And each September, for National Preparedness Month, we try to share outdoor gear that can double as emergency gear. The Colorado is a great example. If you’re not out on the river every weekend, why not use it to store some or all of your 72 hour kit?
Dimensions are 18″H x 31″L x 16″W with a 28 inch ZipDry closure. That’s 105 liters (6,400 cubic inches), which we found is just enough for the three of us. Four compression straps and six lashing points come in handy for travel. It quickly attaches to your boat or raft, but also a roof rack, or just tie it down in a truck bed. For lifting and carrying, the padded handles are more than comfortable. Construction of the waterproof Colorado is impressive. The bag itself resists abrasion, UV rays, most chemicals, and is temperature stable. It’s made from sheets of polyurethane film, layered onto backpack-grade nylon with RF welded seams. This results in a material that is airtight, and very durable. Further, each and every dry bag gets an inspection, so it’s delivered to you 100% leak proof. All the webbing, hardware, and stitching is mil-spec as well.
It’s easy enough to squeeze the waterproof ZipDry seal shut. Simple instructions are included for purging or adding air. This helps when you need it submersible, or want it to float. Fold it over, snug down the compression straps, and you’re set. Of course, opening that tough seal would be hard work without the built-in finger loops. They are offset on the opening, and make it easy to break the seal and open the bag. It’s all well thought out, like everything else about Watershed products.
Flooding is not a huge concern in our part of Utah’s high desert. But long and cold winters are. Loss of power, loss of heat, and the resulting freezing pipes are a viable threat. A realistic scenario for us would be a winter power outage lasting a day or two. So we packed it with items we’d want for that event. If we had to hunker down at home, or go stay with family, our needs would be mostly the same. We designed our winter kit around that, with some of the same stuff we keep ready for warm weather emergencies.
Since the Colorado is bigger than a simple “Bug Out Bag”, we used it in addition to our individual packs. To that end, we threw in 3 sleeping bags, and a change of warm clothes for each of us. On top of that, we added a Jetboil stove, extra gas, and several days worth of Mountain House meals, plus some jerky and energy bars. Just in case, I included some foil packets of water, but we have water storage at home, and we could always boil snow if no safe running water was available. A weather radio with solar panel, solar charger, LED flashlights and a lantern rounded out the bulk of this kit. All of our packs also contain basic first aid kits, but there was room for one in the Colorado as well. At 31 inches, a handgun and/or certain defensive shotguns and carbines would fit too.
Even fully loaded, I could probably find room in there for a tent, especially if I was only packing for two people. But the odds of not having any sort of shelter in the winter are very slim. It’s far more likely that we would end up huddled together in one room to stay warm. And if we had to go stay with friends or family, sleeping bags mean we can crash on the floor anywhere. During the summer, I would be more inclined to put the sleeping bags back in our individual packs. That would leave more room for a tent, plus more food and water. Note that if you’re using it for fishing, hunting, or some other application, they have more color choices besides orange. Blue, coyote, black, and even MultiCam (for a 25% premium) is available.
I am not a “prepper” by any definition. But it only took one event (the 1994 Northridge earthquake) to make me realize the importance of being prepared. Most of us will hopefully never experience a catastrophe of that size. It’s far more likely we’ll be without utilities and amenities for a few days. Preparedness for that can mean the difference between misery and comfort. Which brings me back to Watershed, and their dry bags. There’s a reason they are the choice of river guides around the world. They keep their contents clean and dry under harsh conditions. So get one or more for your outdoor adventures. I can’t think of a better way to store some of your emergency essentials when not being used for that. Find them at drybags.com.
I’d like to thank Watershed for sending their Colorado duffel for our use and review. We’re hoping to put it to use during warmer months as well, when we get out into the canyons or up into the mountains.