Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack Review

During the later parts of the summer I was planning a rafting trip down the Deschutes river in Oregon and needed a pack that I could stow in the raft to store snacks, sunscreen, fishing equipment and lunch. Normally a standard dry bag would work but with Steelhead running I needed something I could toss on my back and hike a few miles with through dense brush and deep water if needed to reach that perfect fishing spot.  In the back of my mind I also remembered a trip I took a couple years ago, sea kayaking around the San Juan islands in Washington State’s Pudget Sound.  One of that trips biggest annoyances for me was when we would pull up at an island and want to hike around and explore.  I didn’t have an easy way to transition my kayak setup to a hiking setup.  I needed a backpack that would seamlessly transition between boating and hiking.

After looking at many traditional dry bag packs (essentially just a dry bag with shoulder straps attached) I was excited to find the Rapid 26L by Sea to Summit.  It had real, padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, padding on the back, a couple nice pockets for storing small items (one on the outside and a second in the main compartment), two water bottle pockets and a large roll top main pocket to put all my larger items.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It even has a hydration reservoir that is accessible from the outside of the pack (you don’t need to risk opening your main dry compartment to access your water bladder).  Quick tip: because the hydration reservoir can be closed with a water resistant zipper when not in use it is a great place to stash wet clothing that you don’t want to put on the inside of your pack next to your dry stuff.

Over the several day trip I put this pack through the ringer – starting before we had even reached the river.  When we were loading all the gear someone backing up the raft trailer accidently ran over my pack with their SUV while it was sitting on top of very sharp gravel… not the best way to start a trip but the pack survived amazingly well.  So well in fact that the roll top seal didn’t even expel any air while it was being run over.  I think this saved my fishing reel, which was in the pack at the time, the same way potato chip bags are filled with extra air to keep chips from being crushed while the bags are packed for shipping and placed on shelves.

Once we were actually on the water the pack worked great.  I strapped it to the outside of the boat for easy access and it was constantly hit with water – never once did the main compartment get wet and the small stash pocket on the front (while only billed as water resistant) stayed dry as well.  I was able to put the pack on, strap my fishing pole and net to the sides (utilizing the top buckles and water bottle pockets) and hike up and down the river to my hearts content looking for fish.  More than once I slipped on a rock, took a tumble, and completely submerged the pack. Once, when I needed to cross to the other side of the river, I put my pack on “backwards” (so the pack was on the front of me) and used it to help me float and kick my way across through a class 1 rapid. Never did I worry about my equipment getting wet.

I've used this pack numerous times after the Deschutes trip I originally purchased it for.  Here I'm packing up my kayak for a Puget Sound kayak crabbing expedition.  You can see my yellow Rapid 26L DryPack strapped to the outside of my red kayak.  Totally unconcerned about anything inside getting wet even though its strapped to the outside of my kayak.

I’ve used this pack numerous times after the Deschutes trip I originally purchased it for. Here I’m packing up my kayak for a Puget Sound kayak crabbing expedition. You can see my yellow Rapid 26L DryPack strapped to the outside of my red kayak. Totally unconcerned about anything inside getting wet even though its strapped to the outside of my kayak.

With almost every piece of gear I buy there is some small annoyance (I’m picky about buckle placement, how easily a zipper will pull, the placement of pockets, etc.) – with the Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack I couldn’t find a single thing that annoyed me.

Conclusion:

Never before have I seen a piece of gear live up to its brand name like this pack.  The Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack truly goes from “Sea” to “Summit”.   From sea kayaking, to rafting, to trekking up a mountain, to an afternoon wake boarding or a relaxing trip to the beach this pack seamlessly transitions from ocean, to river, to mountain.  This is the pack for me.

Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack Backpack