Lowepro DryZone 200: Great for moist… but stay out the deep end.
Brutal Reviewer – David Greer- Lowepro DryZone 200 – As an adventure photographer, you have to be able to capture those fleeting moments that define the experience. This comes with an enormous obstacle, though – the expensive, ultra-fragile, bulky gear that you need within arm’s reach at a moment’s notice. Naturally, you want easy access while keeping all your lovelies safe and sound (regardless of how brutal the elements get).
Lowepro DryZone 200 Price
Priced at around $360, the Lowepro DryZone 200 is a high-performance waterproof bag with an impressive range of features. With an IPX7-rating, the product claims to keep your gear dry in up to 1 meter of water (keep in mind, warnings say it should never be submerged). The pack’s strap system is quite technical with great lumbar support and adjustable buckles, providing a good fit and even weight distribution for proper toting.
Lowepro DryZone 200 Strengths
Not only is it comfortable, the dry-pod storage area is pretty damn large. I used it to carry essential camera gear (body, 50mm and 200mm lenses with filters, batteries, hot-shoe flash) in addition to my usual gear (first-aid, utility machete, emergency blanket, 100 foot of paracord, and a liter sized Nalgene with water filtration system). I was even able to throw my tripod on the outside holder.
A Self-Contained Sanctuary For Precious Gear
These features gave me the freedom to tackle a day trip with all the gear I needed for various project shoots, and still had space available. This self-contained sanctuary for precious gear impressed me. The bag performed in a fashion that I had been hoping for ever since I first picked up a camera.
But I did find out a cold-hard truth: It’s not foolproof, even if it’s never submerged.
Lowepro DryZone 200 Failed
Shortly before writing this article, my Lowepro DryZone failed, resulting in $2k worth of waterlogged and ruined gear. Like most outdoor shooters, I had already come to terms with the risk your gear is exposed too. Still… it was heartbreaking.
We’ve Lost Cabin Pressure
When you and your crew set out on a week-long Kayak trip, the chances of you getting wet are pretty significant. Knowing this, I had hoped the DryZone was the obvious choice. Having owned the meticulously cared-for pack for 2 years, I inspected it every time I risked getting it wet and followed the preventative maintenance that was designated in the manual. My gear had survived countless rainstorms – and being pissed on by a moose – without fail. Then my mates and I forged a river that was quite unruly; when our kayaks tumbled, so did all the gear.
At some point during its flippy-floppy trip in the drink, the bag failed. The waterproof TIZIPÆ zipper was knocked open about an inch and let enough water in to completely saturate the inside of the bag and all its contents.
Despite this failure, I am not trying to knock the performance of the bag. If you watch, you can actually see the bag floating on top of the water. It did so for the next few minutes until we got to shore. (At least I didn’t have to go searching for my cards and gear at the bottom of the river).
I had misunderstood the reality of its ability.
When it comes to ANY scenario in which the DryZone is exposed to light moisture –
be it rain, waterfalls, squirt-guns, urine – this bag can handle the punishment. If it were to drop into calm waters of more than a few inches deep, though, my butt hole would clench tighter than a ducks arse (which is quite waterproof).
What did I learn from this experience?
Although this bag is stated as waterproof and a “Drysuit for your gear,” there is no substitute for a hard case. Latches trump zippers.
At even the smallest chance that you are going to drop your bag into a serious watery scenario, go with something that uses O-rings and latches. You can get a container that will be more reliable for less money. My advice: ensure that you have a 100% waterproof carrying device; otherwise, you may pay for it.
I should have taken the hint from their site. Even if it is waterproof, people aren’t comfortable with it being in the water. On the Lowepro product page, the first image is a guy in the water trying to hold it up out of the water.
(Check it. http://store.lowepro.com/dryzone-200)