The best deck bag for kayaking is no deck bag. Seriously, don’t buy one. They all are a terrible idea. Instead get an underdeck bag. See below for why you don’t want a deck bag, and for a recommendation if — and only if — you ignore everything in this article and decided you need a deck bag. The best underdeck bag for kayaking is the North Water Underdeck Bag (read our review: North Water Underdeck Bag Review).
The primary reason is that they make your deck higher, which interferes with paddling. This is especially true on kayaks with high decks already. While I think that you should have a higher paddle stroke whether or not you use a high angle or low angle paddle, most people tend to paddle with a lower angle shaft and the deck bag can get in the way of a lower paddle stroke.
Another reason is that all require attachment through the perimeter deck line. In order to get the bag to stay in place, you have to pull the attachment systems tight. That also makes the perimeter deck line tight and harder to get your hand under. This makes grabbing the lines, which should be slightly loose so you can fit your hand easily under them, harder during a rescue or when rafting up with partners. The way to avoid this is to add additional small attachment loops at each pad eye and connect the deck bag to the loop instead of the perimeter deck line.
In surf landings, they tend to get knocked around and loosened. While this may not be an issue in all cases, I’ve seen plenty of floppy kayak deck bags. It’s usually after the paddler gets into waves. If you have electronics in the bag, a bad landing can mean that your delicate and expensive electronics get smashed under the weight of your kayak.
Lots of paddlers get these to hold cameras, and I’d hate to say it but most aren’t waterproof. Even some claiming to be waterproof aren’t. This is especially true in waves.
Still looking for the Best Deck Bag for Kayaking?
So, if after all that you still want to get a deck bag for your kayak the best deck bag for kayaking is the Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag. Why?
- It’s waterproof and has an unique closure system that makes sure your gear stays dry. I’ve been using the Watershed Chattooga Photo Kit Plus for years to carry my camera gear on paddling trips and not a single drop of water has gotten into the bag. This is true on flat water and whitewater. It’s the same closure system trusted by the US Navy Seals.
- It includes two Elasto-Lok buckles for your bilge pump. The Elasto-Lok buckles were designed to attach equipment to packs, body armor and outdoor equipment. They hold the equipment secure. They also make it easy to grab with a one-handed opening system. That way, you can hold onto your paddle with one hand and retrieve your pump with the other.
- The water bottle holder secures your bottle into a sleeve, so it doesn’t get washed away.
- There’s a clear map case on top of the bag. You can put your phone or a tablet in that area as well.
- The plastic stiffener can be removed for a more streamlined bag on your deck. If kept, it keeps the bag arched above your gear.
- It is 700 cubic inches which is a little under 12 liters, so it’s big enough to hold your camera and other gear that you want quick access to, but you want to keep dry.
If you are going to get a deck bag, there’s isn’t a better bag than the Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag. It’s the one you want. Personally, I use an underdeck bag or my day hatch to carry camera gear. But, I can understand why you’d want a deck bag. Just make sure to get this one. It’s the best.
NOTE: this is part of our ongoing series to provide you with one best recommendation instead of trying to include every piece of equipment in the category like other sites do.
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