best dry box for camera?

Hi all! I’m looking for THE most waterproof dry box for my digital SLR. I’ve been storing it in it’s padded case, inside a dry bag, but this doesn’t allow easy access. I’ve tried a few dry boxes years ago, but I’m sure they are better now.

I’m interested in suggestions backed by experience. I carry it with only one, standard lens, but a second box would allow me to carry accessories.

I’m more concerned with absolute dryness, rather than price.


How big is the camera?
Also, how readily do you need to get to your accessories? It may be best to store them in two different containers so that getting to the camera doesn’t risk having smaller things like spare lenses fall out while accessing the camera itself.

I recently tried a pelican case for a cannon G6 and strapped it down to my front deck. Easy access and totally waterproof even when doing rolls.

Pelican Case

– Last Updated: Nov-20-05 9:13 AM EST –

Available in many sizes. I've used them all year and am most satisfied. Mine are sized to the camera with installed lens. Spares in the other one. FWIW I have a friend who is a professional videographer and he uses Pelican exclusively for over $100,000 worth of equipment when travelling. I have no financial interest in Pelican other than buying a couple of boxes.

Nikon D70
Basically the same size as a standard 35mm SLR with a 35-70.

The Pelican seems to be the best, and most common.

I do plan on 2 cases, one for the camera, and one for extra batteries, cards, and a larger lens.

Thanks for the replies!


Reasons for the case
I did a 3 day trip with friends on the Lumber River in NC/SC. I had the camera in it’s soft case, inside a small sealine bag. This kept me from getting alot of quick shots that I’m sorry to have missed.

I like the suggestion of storing the box on the fore deck. I was in my canoe on this trip, but now have a 15’ rec/tour kayak that I’m outfitting. I think the box will speed access, not as handy as keeping the camera around my neck, but that’s not an option I’m willing to chance.

Thanks again for the help!

What I Did
I bought an Otter Box a while back. When I got it home I filled a deep sink with water and pushed the empty box to the bottom and moved it all around. No water got inside.

I Have an Otter and a Pelican
The Pelican is fancier, has better padding, but it is more difficult to open and close. So, I still end up using the Otter. It opens faster and has proven to be water tight for 3 years now. WW

Still using Otterbox
I have an Otterbox 3500 and an 8000 both are fully padded inside. I’ve been using the 3500 fore years and it’s never leaked yet.

However I’ve been told that Otterbox has been bought out and the boxes redesigned, and quality was mentioned so be sure to check for leaks before placing a camera or other expensive equipment in a new one.

If you look around you can still find the older boxes,

Otter and/or Pelican
I bought one of the first generation pelican cases (circa 1980) for my SLR’s, and I threw it into canoes and rafts for years without a leak. I also bought an Otter box for my digital, and so far, no leaks. I would reccomend either, subject to NT’s caveats.


Regardless the waterproof security …
… of a Pelican or similar box, I really wouldn’t suggest buying one with the intention of strapping it to the deck to keep your expensive camera handy for on-the-water shots. There is simply too great a likelihood of water damage any time it is out of its case and exposed to the elements, especially while the user is seated in a bobbing kayak or canoe.

My friend, an avid fly fisherman, recently damaged his high-end Nikon digital camera merely by taking a shot of a trout he’d just caught–his wet hands were enough to infiltrate the camera’s buttons or other controls and short out the delicate electronics, requiring a $200 repair bill and a six-week wait. He counted himself lucky: many cameras are simply toasted by such treatment.

For not much more money than such a repair bill, one could instead purchase a weather- or waterproof digital camera, such as the Pentax Optio WPi or Olympus Stylus series, and reserve your high-end camera for use on dry land. I’m planning to purchase something similar before next season, and in the meantime have been using my old 35mm autofocus and even a Kodak disposable with high-definition film, both of which go back into heavy-duty zipper-lock bags between those quick, on-the-water shots, and neither of which would break my heart (or my wallet) if they got wet and quit working. To bridge the digital gap, film can easily be digitally scanned at the time of processing for a few extra bucks, offering a CD with high-resolution digital files.

All these photos were shot this way:

I still pack my high-end digital gear into cases and drybags, safely stowed belowdecks, for use in camp and the often striking and beautiful dry-land locations a kayak allows one to reach. But I do not plan to risk that expensive photo gear by exposing it to the elements.

Otterbox 8000
cause my cannon A75 fits snug inside.

Clip the lanyard on the outside of my C1 and OC1 and it’s been upside down plenty with no ill effects so far.


Pelican, and common sense
I keep my SLR in one Pelican box and two lenses in another Pelican box. The boxes are watertight and they float–I tested them in a bathtub.

BUT you need to keep in mind the cases’ limitations. Namely, they are only waterproof when the lids are shut tight! If you are hoping to use the camera while in the water, be very careful. I took photos with my SLR on the water, but only in calm conditions. Even one jetskier’s wake can jiggle stuff enough that you could get the camera wet.

I got tired of being limited to calm water, and of the slow process of pulling the sprayskirt off, extracting the box from in front of my feet, making sure hands were dry before popping the box lid, balancing the box in my lap while trying to keep the kayak still in one place (even in calm water it drifts), etcetc. Now I take a Pentax Optio 43WR along for snapshots on the water. I do store it in a tiny Pelican 1020 case, on deck. I can open it with one hand (unlike the bigger pro boxes) and quickly take a photo, and the camera won’t croak if it gets wet.

I still have the option of carrying the SLR in the bigger boxes inside the kayak. It’s just not a great choice for grab shots on the water.