What kind of bag on a sailing trip?
December 9, 2014 1:26 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a waterproof backpack for my dad who is really getting into sailing. He's taking all the exams necessary to sail on international waters, and practices like crazy! What kind should I buy?

I am looking to spend 30 - 70 Euro and am a bit overwhelmed by the options as I do not sail. There are bags that are simple PVC bags that you can sling over your shoulder, and there are ones with all sorts of gimmicks. What is the most practical one I can buy that he will end up using a lot? What size?
I think he intends to sail for several days at a time on vacation in Croatia and Greece. He probably dreams of skinny dipping and surviving on tomatoes and olives straight from the orchards or something (I kid, but that's his idea of a perfect vacation). And of course shorter day trips to keep in practice.

My dad is a practical person, an engineer. He looks for quality and is not particularly fancy. He doesn't go overboard (heh) with show off equipment, is almost spartan at times, but likes having the right thing at hand.
He is already an avid camper, so he does have experience in outdoor survival.

If you think the backpack is not a great idea, feel free to tell me what he absolutely needs instead (but I hesitate to buy him specialist equipment because he will already have bought / decided on most of it himself).
posted by Omnomnom to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless he's sailing in an Optimus or Sunfish type boat (where he's likely to get wet), the waterproofness isn't really anything he'll need. If you're thinking about a daypack, then a backpack type bag is good. For over-nights or longer, I'd get a nice canvas duffle bag.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:55 PM on December 9, 2014

For about USD20 - USD40, you can get him a decent quality rigging knife with a marlin spike. Ask him if he has a good sailing knife first. If the answer is no, then get one.

Another very useful thing to have is sailing gloves. Gloves aren't a sign of weakness, everyone who sails fast boats competitively uses them to increase grip and reduce fatigue.

As far as bags go, just get something soft and flexible. Boats aren't square and rarely have square spaces. Soft bags that can be squeezed into an available space are strongly preferred over frame backpacks or rolling bags.

Since your dad wants to vacation in Greece and Croatia, I would try to avoid bags with sailing logos or brands. Get him the kind of bag that any traveler would have, so he isn't marked out as a Rich Yacht Dude and robbed. Logos on the knife or gloves are fine, since those would only ever be used on board the boat.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:32 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get a duffel pr travel pack that lays horizontally and zips all the way open side to side. Half of living on a boat is the small space and disorganization potential. It's excellent to have a bag that you can open up and reach whatver it is you need without unpacking everything on top of it. My Osprey pack is great for that - you unzip the top and it's almost like a three-sided box, keeping things organized. I actually chose that pack based on a thread here and I've been incredibly happy with it. Love it.

I agree waterproofnes is not that big a concern unless he's, like, soloing the North Atlantic, but if that is what you want for whatever reason the term to search on is drybag. Bon Voyage to your dad!
posted by Miko at 5:39 PM on December 9, 2014

I have a version of Hyperlite Mountain Gear's Metro Pack. It's been amazing on my travels (no sailing but I do a fair bit of water sport). The material itself is waterproof so I can use it as a dry bag, and it's big enough to fit everything I'd need for a day trip (or two or three) too. When you don't need the bag, it folds up really nicely like a paper sack.
posted by astapasta24 at 2:30 AM on December 10, 2014

I cruise on sailboats often and you actually do want a waterproof bag for daily use because you're forever tossing it into dinghies which usually have some water in the bottom. I use a transparent dry bag for trips ashore, which is nice since you can see what's in there without digging all the way to the bottom, but any of the bags reviewed here would be good.
posted by nicwolff at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use this Seal-Line drybag backpack as my sailing bag and foul-weather photo bag. It's sealed like a typical drybag with a roll top, but has backpack straps. Minimal and nondescript in grey so it doesn't attract attention.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2014

Patagoinia makes great, durable stuff. Check this one out.
posted by trbrts at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2014

I live on a sailboat year round in Lake Ontario, and agree that a plain duffel is the most practical bag to have on-hand (I have something like 5 or 6 at this point), and that drybags are exceptionally handy for getting things on and off the boat (I've also got about 5 of those). Bags in general are just essential to any sense of proper organization on a boat, and it's often easier to nest simple bags within each other than to deal with more complex bags. A consideration that's just about as important on a boat (possibly more so) than being waterproof is having good airflow. Boats are very humid environments, and it's easy for condensation to form just about anywhere, and then for mold to start growing, so that's worth thinking about in a duffel (also to stick with synthetic fibres, as natural fibres are likelier to become moldy themselves).

I'd also +1 the rigging knife as it's right up there with a lifejacket as an essential piece of safety equipment (with the bonus of being generally useful as a tool even when it's not needed for safety).

The gloves are a good idea if he's sailing on saltwater (which would be the case around Croatia and Greece), but not as valuable if he's sailing on freshwater. Saltwater has a remarkable knack for softening, dissolving, or otherwise removing callouses, so it's pretty much impossible to be tough enough not to need gloves for saltwater sailing. I rely entirely on callouses when I'm in my home waters (which are freshwater), but as soon as the water gets salty, I break out the gloves.
posted by kiwano at 1:43 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

This backpack -- Aqua-Quest 'Mariner' Waterproof Backpack Dry Bag Day -- is waterproof, as in you can toss it in a lake and your stuff will stay dry. It's just a big bag, no pockets or compartments, which I like but some people don't.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2014

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