It used to be that a dry bag just had to keep your gear dry. As long as it did that, it was doing its job. One challenge that dry bags have had, however, was that they were long and deep. Finding the one piece of gear you needed at any moment often meant rooting around in a somewhat dark tube to get a glimpse or feel of what had likely already migrated to the bottom.
Simms wisely took the dry bag and turned it on its side, and then oriented the opening the long way -- instant large opening and no more digging. A medium-sized (big enough for a box of flies and a pair of gloves) side zip pocket (highly water-resistant, but not submersible) makes stowing and retrieving essentials even easier.
Simms Dry Creek Duffels come in three sizes. Our tester toyed with the large size (36" x 18" x 16") over a three-month period. While dry bags have been strictly utilitarian in nature, Simms' treatments with color, fabric and accents make its Dry Creek series somewhat more acceptable in a wider range of circumstances -- say as an overnight bag when traveling via air. And with the large model carrying a suggested retail of $199.95, we would expect that any self-respecting dirtbag would want to wring as much use out of one as he could.
At first, we were skeptical of the durability of the Dry Creek's fabric. Instead of the bomber material that rafts are made from, Simms opted for 420-denier polyurethane-coated nylon. After our tester's Labrador retriever used it during a three-day float trip as a personal bed and doggie gathering area, all durability skepticism was put to rest. Compression straps and a padded shoulder strap round the package out to make it suitable luggage whenever one is traveling in an area with more precipitation than sun. Our only quibble is that the bags could use a few more external pockets for organization and ready access. That addition alone would elevate this item to a functional work of art.
SNEWS® Rating: Four hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection).
Suggested Retail: Large -- $199.95; Medium -- $149.95; Small -- $99.95
For more information:www.simmsfishing.com, 406-585-3557.