Waterproof Camera Bag Overview
If you have been reading any of my blog posts on Seek Adventure, you may have noticed I really like photography. I bring my Sony A9 (Amazon Affiliate) everywhere I go on every adventure. There is a balance when you have a nice expensive SLR or DSLR camera, you want to have it accessible at all times but you also want to protect it from the elements....
Taking a nice camera on a kayaking trip is a scary thought. You are sitting in a slim boat that is not necessarily super stable, you are surrounded by water, and water will always enter your cockpit no matter how careful you are.
Waterproof Camera Bag Options
The standard waterproof dry bags most people are familiar with are the waterproof stuff sacks that are of the roll top style. You stuff your gear in there then roll the tops 3-4 times and buckle the clips. Some of my favorite roll top dry bags are the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag (Amazon Affiliate). I used to use the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag with a small towel stuffed in it. I would wrap my camera in the small camping towel and place it in the roll top dry bag and keep it between my legs in the cockpit of the kayak.
Using the Sea to summit bag kept my Sony A9 super dry but I hardly took it out while paddling. While kayaking I would see something I wanted to take a picture of, stop paddling, un-buckle and unravel the roll top dry bag and take my camera out. If I haven't floated away from the shot at this point I would take a quick picture or two then place the camera back in the dry bag, roll it up and snap the buckle. The unraveling of the roll top bag just wasn't easy or fast enough for me. Since it was slow I would not take my camera out as much while on the water.
I started doing some more research, zippers are much quicker than a roll top bag, but most zippers are only water resistant, not waterproof. I would not trust my expensive Sony camera in a bag with a zipper that was only water resistant...
But I really wanted a zipper and started researching waterproof zippers. Waterproof zippers are often used in dry suites. I wanted a bag or pouch of some sort for my camera though not a dry suite. At this point in my research I came across the Yeti Panga (Amazon Affiliate). The Yeti Panga uses a waterproof zipper in a duffle bag and is completely airtight... No water is getting into it! Now the zipper is much better than the rolltop for quick camera access but the smallest Yeti Panga duffle was 50 liters. That's a little overkill for my Sony mirrorless camera.
The Yeti Panga also comes in a 28 liter backpack (Amazon Affiliate), which I thought I might be able to attach to the kayak in front of the cockpit but the shoulder straps just didn't seem like a clean idea as they would be sticking out while attached to the kayak.
The Yeti Panga line was super close to being perfect for what I wanted but wasnt is the small package I was looking for. If I couldn't find anything better, I was going to try and make the Yeti Panga (Amazon Affiliate) work. I actually may buy one in the future for other water activities, but I wanted something smaller for kayaking.
The Best Waterproof Camera Bag
While continuing my research for the best waterproof camera bag with a waterproof zipper I stumbled on the tru zip waterproof airtight zipper! This is where I finally started to get excited! Nite Ize is a company that created a toothless silent waterproof zipper and has the RunOff collection of products which use this awesome waterproof zipper.
I bought a few of the products from the Nite Ize Runoff Collection, but let's start off with the Medium Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof Packing Cube (Amazon Affiliate) which holds my Sony A9 with Tamron 28-75mm (Amazon Affiliate) lens perfectly!
As you can see in the image above, the Medium Nite Ize Runoff Waterproof Packing Cube literally is a perfect fit for my camera and lens combo!
I did want to add a little protection for my camera in the Nite Ize packing cube so I also ordered some cheap acoustic foam panels (Amazon Affiliate) that I was able to easily cut and place into the packing cube. I cut two pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom, and it holds the camera and lens perfectly secure:
With the two pieces of protective foam and the camera inside it closes up nicely. The Medium Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof Packing Cube (Amazon Affiliate) also has a handy carrying handle on the side of the packing cube making it easy to pick up and transport.
Overall this worked perfectly on my latest kayaking adventure. I had the packing cube with my camera in the cockpit of the kayak with me the entire trip and it stayed completely dry. While kayaking through slot canyons I was able to quickly un-zipper the cube, remove my camera and start taking photographs!
The zipper is a little stiffer than your typical coat zipper and does require two hands to operate, but it still is a lot easier and quicker than using the roll top dry bags. There are small lashing tabs on either end of the zipper so you can also clip or tie the cube to your kayak as well if you are afraid of it falling out. I used the small lashing tabs to hold with one hand while I pulled the zipper with the other for easy opening.
More Nite Ize Waterproof Products
Earlier I mentioned that Nite Ize has a whole line of products using their Tru Zip waterproof zipper, and I did order a few more items that were also super helpful.
Since this is an article on the best waterproof camera bag, let's continue talking about camera gear. If you are carrying your camera on your kayaking adventure you most likely are carrying some extra batteries you also would like to keep dry. Nite Ize also makes a Runoff Waterproof travel pouch (Amazon Affiliate) which is the perfect size to hold your extra batteries. On my trip I kept an extra camera battery, a bunch of extra GoPro batteries and my cell phone in this pouch:
Lastly Nite Ize also makes a larger waterproof packing cube (Amazon Affiliate). I mentioned I bought the medium which fit my Sony A9 and lens perfectly but if you have a bigger camera and lens combo there is a larger option which may work for you as well. I purchased the large one and used it for keeping clothing dry. The packing cubes have a clear top so you can easily see what is inside. The packing cubes also open up like a clam shell when unzipped and it's much easier to grab the piece of clothing I need vs a roll top where I am digging through to find what I need.