For cameras other than waterproof point and shoots there are two main ways to protect your camera when kayaking – a dry bag or a dry case. As a general rule dry cases will provide you more protection than dry bags but are more difficult to use and to access your camera while kayaking.
The most popular dry cases on the market are Pelican Cases. The hard case provides protection to your gear from being crushed and when properly outfitted with foam provides protection from drops. The case has an o-ring seal surrounding the lid and when closed shut with the case’s clasps it creates a watertight seal. However, you do need to ensure the seal remains clean, and free of any debris otherwise it will leak. Make sure you follow the directions that come with the case and maintain the o-ring seal as recommended.
A case large enough to fit an SLR plus a lens is too big to fit in a kayak cockpit and must be strapped to the deck. Most people find accessing their camera from a Pelican case while kayaking much more difficult and time consuming than a dry bag. Anything larger than the Pelican Case 1450 is too large to use with our kayaks.
Dry bags can be easier to use, but please note that not all dry bags are created equal. Dry bags can vary quite a bit in the weight of the material used, their puncture resistance, and how watertight their closures are. At Kingfisher we provide dry bags for your clothing and gear but we don’t suggest relying on them for expensive cameras and electronic gear. While they do a very good job, they are not considered completely waterproof if sitting in the rain or a pool of water for any length of time (this is primarily because of the way they are rolled closed). The dry bags we provide get used almost every day by many different people. Over the course of a summer a few will develop small pinholes that can go unnoticed (the ones we notice we repair or replace). The amount of water that could leak into the bag may not be a big concern for most items but for delicate electronics it could be devastating.
We recommend investing a bit of money to protect your camera gear, not just on your kayak tour but for all your outdoor pursuits.
The best way to carry your camera while kayaking we have found are Watershed dry bags. They are made of heavier material than most dry bags , if closed properly they are considered completely watertight, the large opening makes it easy to get your camera in and out of the bag, and they can be positioned between your legs in the kayak for easy access. They also have optional padded camera liners and dividers available.
If you are interested in learning more we found an online review comparing Pelican Cases and Watershed Dry Bags.
Most of our guests don’t want to risk changing lenses while sitting in a kayak, it can be easy to get water in them or even drop them. It is much easier and safer to change lenses on shore. For this reason, consider having two dry cases or bags – one for easy access while kayaking and another for extra lenses and accessories that can be accessed on shore. Our base camp kayak tours allow you to bring extra gear like this. Our expedition kayak tours however are much more limited in the space we have for extra gear. If you are thinking you need extra storage space for camera gear on an expedition-style tour please call or email us to discuss this in more detail.
While you may not want to use your SLR in heavy rain, light rain and fog can make for beautiful photos. Having a camera rain cover can come in handy for these situations. A Google search finds a variety of SLR camera rain covers in a wide price range. A small quick dry towel also comes in handy to dry off your wet hands before handling your camera gear.
To learn more about charging your camera in the wilderness read our next post on charging your camera, extra batteries, and memory storage.