When fashion meets technology we know we are in for an interesting ride, as with the advances in wearable tech and the increasing popularity, new innovative and awesome products are being created, like Google Glass or the wide range of fitness trackers that can almost fit inside a device the size of a two pence piece. Today I am taking a look at a slightly different product to what you would expect us to look at – a water, sand, snow and dirt proof bag: the Ultra-Light Waterproof Duffel from Over Board. This particular item has been created using new lightweight and water proof materials, which can subsequently protect your precious and expensive tech products from many of the elements.
In the past we have taken a good look at the Over Board iPad waterproof case and we were thoroughly impressed at how well it kept the water out, whilst still retaining all of the functionality of the device it protects, so I look forward to seeing how well this has been applied to a much larger (50 Litre) bag. Over Board are heavily focused on waterproof products and have an incredibly large range of waterproof products to choose from.
The particular bag I am taking a look at today is the ultra-light (UL) version of their existing waterproof duffel bags, weighing in at just 0.96KG. Normal bags of this size can weigh almost twice as much, mainly due to the fabric that has been used. The UL duffel has an IP66 rating, which you don’t often find with bags – this means it is fully waterproof and can even handle brief submersions. For the full specs, see below:
- 100% Waterproof holdall (Class 3)
- Floats safely if dropped in water
- Made from environmentally friendly and lightweight TPU fabrics
- High frequency welded seams
- Top carry handles with Velcro™ joiner
- Protects contents from dust, sand, dirt and water
- 4 x D-rings for multiple attachment options
- Large front mesh zip pocket
- Multiple D-ring attachments
- Top ID pocket
- 4 x Super reflective patches on the front and rear of the bag
- Quick access front pocket for items you want close to hand
The UL Duffel is available in green and red, but for this particular overview we were sent the red version, which looks very attractive – especially with the black and grey detailing. When sealed, the bag comes in at 27cm x 62cm x 30cm (h x w x d), which is fairly compact. It has two handles which can be attached at the top, in addition to being supplied with a shoulder strap, which clips on to each end. The majority of the bag is made from a thin, but incredibly light material.
The underside of the bag has a reinforced base, to protect the bag and contents from any sharp objects or rough surfaces.
The reverse side of the bag is relatively featureless bar the Over Board logo and reflector patches.
The bag has four reflector patches at the base of each strap. If you were to ever be thrown overboard or walking down a dark road at night, these would allow you to be spotted more clearly. At the base of each strap is also a D-ring allowing you to attach other items to the bag with ease.
On the front side of the bag is pouch with a clear front so you can place an ID or name tag inside. Beneath that is a water resistant pocket for quick access. For even quicker access, there is a netted pocket just below that.
When the bag is opened it is impressive in size, as it follows the concept often seen with stuff-sacks. This involves rolling down / up the top part of the bag, which is then held in place by a Velcro strip and some clips. The top part of the bag does not have a quick method of sealing it, so it must be rolled down carefully each time to ensure it is fully waterproof.
Inside the bag it is very spacious, albeit featureless, however this is something you would expect from this sort of product.
There is only a certain amount of testing we can do with a product like this, however since this bag is strongly advertised as being waterproof we can test this out quite easily. Comfort is another point to focus on as is the amount of protection it offers the contents.
First up I was very keen to test the waterproof properties of this bag, so several minutes later the bath tub was full of water. Before I tossed the bag into the water, I filled it up with newspaper and paper towels as this would highlight any water incursions. The bag itself is very easy to seal, although it is quite time consuming: you have to unclip the ends, open the Velcro seal then unroll it to then get access. Forget about using this bag in a hurry! When it was sealed, I could actually put my full body weight on top of the bag, which bulged at the seams, but would not budge! Tossing it into the water it just floated and after forcing it to be submerged (and displacing a lot of water on to the floor) I had a lot of confidence that the contents had not come into contact with any water. Opening up the bag confirmed my suspicions as the entire contents were still bone dry! Even the small water resistant pocket had remained free from water – although I suspect this would not have been the case if I had held it under water for much longer.
Carrying the bag with the additional shoulder strap was very comfortable, however due to the light nature of the bag material, the bag did sag in the middle or at the ends depending on what I had inside.
Protection-wise, other than the waterproof properties of the bag, the very thin and light material of the bag offers little in terms of protection from impacts. You would have to either stick to non-fragile items, or have include additional protection such as a padded laptop case (which funnily enough Over Board also sell) for your laptop. Since the main purpose of the UL Duffel bag is to keep water and dirt out, I don’t really see this as a major flaw.
If you travel a fair amount or spend long periods of time by water, then the Over Board Ultra-Light Duffel bag should be considered as your waterproof carrying solution. It has a large capacity (and larger models available) and is incredibly light for a bag of its size. It also has fantastic water/dirt proof properties, which allows it to double up as a buoyancy aid if you ever find yourself overboard. Anything inside the bag would be protected from water, snow, dirt and sand, making it ideal for those trips down on the beach or out at sea.
The only downside I could find with the bag is the time it takes to seal the bag, as you have to carefully roll the top down, creating a tight seal, to then make sure it lines up with the Velcro strip to hold it in place. If you’re in a hurry and just need to travel a short distance, without the need for it to be waterproof, then you’d have to make do with leaving it unsealed and the top flapping about – it might have been good to include a quick way to fasten it if you don’t need it to be 100% waterproof – although if this was the case, it might be worth buying a different sort of duffel.
Overall I am very impressed with the Over Board Ultra-Light Waterproof Duffel, it does everything it says on the tin and not at a bad price either, considering the cost of other waterproof bags. Sure it doesn’t offer a great amount of protection from impacts, but this is easily rectified: you could double up on this by including additional padding by the likes of laptop cases. Since this is just an overview of the bag, I won’t be giving it any awards, however I do thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a waterproof solution, as this is the best bag that I have come across that I have full confidence in for keeping my belongings safe from dirt, sand and water.