Dromedary Bag in the Cockpit????


On my kayak trips on saltwater I carry several MSR Dromedary bags that I carry in the hatches up against the bulkhead. Works great, but they take up a lot of valuable hatch space.

I read an article recently where Jeff Allen said he carries one large Dromedary (a 13 liter) instead of multiple smaller ones and places it in the cockpit.

I can see where that would save a lot of hatch spaces; however, I wonder if that would have a negative impact on the ability to roll the boat if you needed / wanted to.

A loaded boat is no harder to roll than an unloaded, boat, but I wonder if the very heavy “loose” item in the cockpit could be detrimental. If you were capsized and upside down, the heavy bag would fall to the deck side of the cockpit and potentially cause the boat to want to stay upside down rather than to roll up. At least this is what I would logically see as happening.

Anyone have any experience in doing this who can comment?



behind the seat

– Last Updated: Nov-17-12 7:56 PM EST –

I have put behind the seat, and usually attach it to the seat. I think mine is smaller than the 13. Of course, the seat needs to be reasonably secure if you are going to do this.

But usually when I am touring and carrying gear, I am more conservative in my paddling. So only rarely rolling.

I did roll a year and a half ago when I was doing an overnight rock gardening trip on the Big Sur coast, but can't remember if I had a dromedary there. Was in my Alchemy (14'), so likely did, as there isn't a lot of space elsewhere. But if it fit, I may have had it at the bottom of the day hatch.

behind the seat…
that’s another good option that may prevent the bag from flopping from bottom to top, thus potentially hindering rolling.

I will take a look to see if that will work in my boat. I think it may work in my Nordkapp which has a good amount of space behind the seat…not sure about my Explorer though.


Try it out and see what works for you
A loose 13 L Dromedary bag (27.5 lbs or less) in the cockpit of a loaded sea kayak should make that much of a difference. It you try it out and does keep you from rolling then you know you need to work on your technique.

type of paddling
I think it will depend somewhat on the type of paddling you will be doing. I keep a 3L camelback behind the seat of my Nordy, and that is about all that will fit under the backback to bulkhead straps.

You are talking about nearly 30lbs of water that will slosh around big time. This will not be much fun if you are already pushing your limits in conditions. If you have spent much time paddling with a partially flooded cockpit, you know what I mean.

If you can figure out a way to secure the bladders to the bottom of the boat it would be helpful, but sloshing will always have some effect even just while just leaning the boat. If you are paddling moderately flat water, then it would be reasonable to go for it, but I would do some serious testing before I headed out on a trip expecting to do this for the first time.

Another Consideration
Another thing to keep in mind about one large Dromedary vs several smaller ones: If you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, you could be in trouble if you lose that large one or it springs a leak (even though Dromedaries are pretty tough).

Shouldn’t be an issue
Items that are not secured to the boat will also move along with the rolling motion. As the boat moves from upside down to slightly to its side, the bag would follow the lowest point of contact in the boat and essentially follow the hull line.

Water is heavy, but I really don’t think the bag would be so large that it would hinder rolling. I’ve seen people re-enter and roll completely flooded hulls and I can’t imagine it would be worse than that.

I tend to not like things to be loose in the boat, however, so I try to find solutions which keep items secured as much as possible. One could also find/make a container for your water bag that could then be secured in the boat (either behind the seat or a place where it won’t impede comfort or mobility).


When camping I almost always paddle with an unsecured 10L water bottle between my legs. Not ideal, just not alot of options, hatch space is way too precious and securing the bag would mean rope in the cockpit, an entrapment risk, or placing the bag too far forward. I don’t think it would impact rolling at all but I agree that it is best to have it behind the seat if possible. Lyn

All good thoughts…
But has anyone actually tried rolling with the bag in the cockpit?

Of course I can try it my self, but just don’t feel like going and packing up my whole boat and going to the expense of buying a 10 liter dromedary in order to try it.

Agree with the re-entry and roll analogy and I thought of that too, but in that instance the water rolls pretty evenly to the lowest point of the boat at all times where the big bag would perhaps not be so dynamic in its tendancy to do that (it may tend to stick and then rapidly slide or fall).

As far as conditions, I would be paddling in potential conditions or where I may choose to roll to cool off anyway.

Just wondering if anyone has tried it.

A consideration…



clean cockpit
Shawna Franklin from Body Boat Blade related a story during a rescue class: In a storm on the south coast of Iceland, her husband came out of his boat when he got hit by a large wave and couldn’t get back in because of bags in the cockpit that had shifted. They ended up having to do a towed rescue in big surf conditions before they could rearrange his cockpit. After that they went back to the rule of nothing in the cockpit unsecured.

If you put something in make sure it’s secure. Not just wedged in or tied with a piece of cord that could entrap you. And of course, practice your preferred rescue method to see if it causes problems. The only place I would put something would be behind the seat and lashed down.

Nice solution
With the suction cups/straps. Better, most likely, than any attempt to wedge an amorphous bag of water into a secure location or having it lie between legs.

As for rolling, I still don’t think that water in a container (as long as it doesn’t interfere with mobility) will have an affect on one’s ability to roll. We’re talking about 80 lbs. of water (about 37 kilos) and I’ve rolled boats with considerably more dead weight in them.

The way I see it, the container will either shift or not during the roll. If it shifts, it will simply fall to the lowest point of the boat during the roll, which may actually minimally facilitate rolling. If it doesn’t, it would be no different than any other 80 lbs. of dead weight in the boat.

But to answer the question as to whether I’ve done this with a water bag sloshing under my legs, no, I haven’t.


d rings
I have 2 sets of NRS D rings that come attached to a patch then I glued one set in front of my feet and the other behind my back band. That way I can tie down anything I place inside my cockpit including water bladders and my paddle float.

has been a problem
I have not put my 10L bag under my legs because a friend once got capsized during an expedition, and when he rolled up, a large water bladder in his cockpit was stuck over on one side, so both his feet were on the right side of the boat, and the 20 pound water bladder was on the left. He did ok, but felt fairly uneasy in the rough conditions that had just capsized him, but was unable to sort it all out until he had finished the challenging crossing.

If you want to store stuff there, I’d go to the trouble to attach some straps to the floor of your cockpit, and strap the dromedary bag in place.

Personally I put it behind my seat.



– Last Updated: Nov-19-12 7:15 AM EST –

The 13 liter bag will weigh 13kg, about 30lb.

Losing water
This article about a Falklands trip demonstrates what is probably the biggest danger of carrying your water loose in the cockpit.


water bags thoughts
Some of my peers prefer placing water bladders under their knees. I tried this once – I hate of the feel of it (it felt confining) and it impeded my leg drive.

I put multiple dromedary bags behind my seat. Depending on the trip I will carry multiple 4 liter bags. The top bag has a dromedary hydration system to keep me hydrated while paddling (allowing a clean deck and no water weight on my back). Having the same bag for hydration and storage gives you more options should a bag fail.

I prefer multiple bags over a single bag. I agree that having “all eggs in one basket” is not the best plan. I haven’t had any dromedaries leak but I have seen racoons chew through milk jugs to get water in the Everglades.

There isn’t much room for the bags to shift behind the seat in my kayaks. I have capsized in dumping surf in Iceland and elsewhere with this setup and had no problem rolling or with the the load shifting.

I don’t want bags that can leak in a hatch – with all my dry gear (even if it is drybagged). Also, on a steep beach I like being able to remove my water bags INSTANTLY – with that weight free, I can more easily pull the kayak up the beach. In one situation I almost had to throw my bags over a berm and quickly haul the boat to safety, before the next wave hit.

Greg Stamer

Anchor points
I have never seen a 13lt Dromedary bag but I have several 10lt ones that I use on long trips.

One is SECURED to the bottom of the cockpit, just in front of the seat (behind the seat I place smaller items since a 10lt bag doesn’t fit).

Securing the bag is imperative for me in case of a capsize. I have made 4 sturdy small saddles (from fibraglass) and epoxy glued them to the hull, inside the cockpit. Details with images here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/shop-underdeck-storage.html

I have
Its never been a problem, but I usually store it beyond my foot pegs.

I wouldn’t do a long crossing or paddle all day in any kind of weather with a loose bag in the cockpit. I limit this setup to going from launch to first campsite and from place of water supply back to campsite, always a short distance. Lyn