DSLR in dry bag, would it survive a capsize/roll?

Hello, anyone have experience of how much water gets inside drybags?
should i put it under bungees, or just tether it and keep it inside cockpit it so hopefuly it floats out and stays on the surface?


as an afterthought, would it even float? its over 0.4kg in a 10litre dry bag. thx

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Try to put similar weight in a dry bag in similar sized box.

Close it up and sink it test it.


I would not trust any roll top dry bag to keep its contents completely dry if that bag was fully immersed, especially in current.

I would trust a Watershed dry bag, with a zip lock-like closure to keep your camera dry if you want a soft case option.

The most practical option would be a Pelican case. Either that or a Watershed dry duffel would have enough flotation to keep it from sinking but the Pelican case would allow quicker access to the camera.


I purchased this Watershed Bag for that purpose, to carry a camera on deck:

Aleutian Deck Bag™ - Watershed Drybags

Well designed, and I trusted it to keep things dry, however I never tested it.

However, I found that I really didn’t like having that much bulk on deck. I also found that when kayaking, my hands typically are wet, so every time I took the camera out, it got a little water on it. No biggie, since the camera is quite splash proof. But the inside of the bag did get damp, and lens cleaning clothes got damp. Eventually I put it aside, and found I was happier with the camera in my day hatch. I can reach it there, so get it when photo ops are likely, then just keep it around my neck, then put it back when photo op time is over.

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It doesn’t take much of a drybag to keep something dry in a roll. You are under water for 8 maybe 10 seconds if you take time to set up. My question would be whether it is clunky enough to interfere with your roll. If it does you need to have a better dry bag because of a swim.


A liter of water weighs a kilo so yes it will float if the dry bag is used correctly, i.e. puffed full of air.

I have a Pelican for my DSLR and while it keeps the camera dry, it is bulky. I’m not really comfortable having something that large in the cockpit between my legs but I did it for years.

Now I use the day hatch, but its not as secure as a Pelican. I managed to drown a camera once when I didn’t close the hatch properly (wish I had eyes in the back of my head like my mom did), plus there is a grommeted hole thru the bulkhead behind the seat through which water will leak if the boat capsizes.

Double dry bagging would be almost as secure as the Pelican, but your picture-taking opportunity might disappear by the time you get the camera out.

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How much money can you afford to lose? Drybags in general leak a bit… It does not take much water to ruin a camera… Even condensation can play havoc with a camera in a dry bag ( dry)

Are you guaranteed to get back upright in ten seconds?

Pelican Box… And be sure to store the Peli box open between uses. Compressing the O ring by storing closed can cause a leak

Yes I have drowned a camera in a dry bag. Fortunately it was a bridge camera that is less expensive.

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I used to carry a DSLR from time to time, especially when whale watching. I had both a Pelican box and an AquaPac roll top bag made to carry a camera and 2 lenses (not the type you shoot through - just a largish bag with padded dividers to hold things). I found I used the roll top most of the time, as the dry box was too clunky to access. I kept it between my legs in my touring kayak, and only popped my skirt and opened the dry bag to take camera out when things were safe. Never rolled or swam with it to really test.

I agree with @Celia above - a roll top bag properly sealed would do fine in a roll or even a short swim. If a roll top bag was submerged for a while, water will seep in through the roll.

Here is an article from a while back comparing different types of dry storage options:
http://calkayakermag.com/CaliforniaKayakerMag-Winter2010.pdf Starts page 27

No matter what you use, your camera will get a little wet from drips on your hands and the like.

I have downgraded from a DSLR to a “superzoom” point and shoot camera. I didn’t use most of the DSLR functions - primarily wanted for the zoom. This smaller camera is easier to carry.

And just for fun, some DSLR whale photos taken from my kayak:


I don’t think there would be any issue with a dry bag keeping your camera dry if you roll it properly, but it won’t do anything to protect the camera from getting banged around. Depending on the circumstances of your capsize and roll, the camera could take a real beating.

If you don’t tether the bag to your boat, you risk losing it, but if you do tether it, you risk entanglement or getting whacked by it. It seem that keeping it in the cockpit or a day hatch is probably a better idea.

Perhaps the best idea is just to get a modestly-priced waterproof camera and not worry about a case, which is what I did. I kept the lens clear enough by using the “lick, spit and shoot” method.


Don’t they make diving camera cases?

They do, but they tend to be very bulky and very expensive. Some cost as much as a decent DSLR. They are often weighted so that when you are diving they will be neutrally buoyant.

I used to carry a DSLR in a Pelican case, but only used it when on land. To much of a hassle to get at the camera on the water and too risky for me considering the cost of the camera. When handling a DSLR in a salt water environment where there is spray or when your hands are wet doesn’t seem like a good idea either. The electronics don’t like it and moving parts quickly corrode.

Now I just carry a waterproof point and shoot camera that is rated submersible and rated for salt water. While I miss having a wide range of lenses, especially a powerful zoom lens, I’ve learned to live with it.

The newer cameras of this type have gotten pretty good as far as quality.


I have an older Nikon point and shoot. Have to check out a new one. Mine still works great.

They do and I still have that case for an older digital camera I am going to try and rehome again this year. As rstevens15 says, they are very bulky. The case is hard plastic and made so that every adjustment on the camera can be made via a corresponding button that comes up thru the case in a gasketed passage. This particular camera had a ton of adjustments to be operated completely manually if needed. Pretty heavy and we never tested whether it would float - I suspect not.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but totally not practical for kayaking unless either of us was a major camera person and needed all those options. Went with point and shoot cameras for paddling.

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I have an old Nikon W300, waterproof with a 3x telephoto. Over the years it started to overexpose but I can fix that on my laptop. It takes decent, not great, pictures and from what I’ve read there are better choices out there now. But a newer Galaxy phone has a 3X lens, probably takes better pictures, and is waterproof enough for paddling.

Biggest problem with these is clearing the drops off the lens. I can’t always find anything dry to wipe it with when out paddling.

Having said all that, mostly I’m using a splash-proof Lumix FZ300 superzoom stowed under the front bungies. Picture quality is definitely not as good as a phone but you can really reach out and touch something with that lens, and you can put a lens cap on it!

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Buy a cheap used DSLR and use that in a drybag. Even if you have a drybag for your camera, you can still end up in the water with it while its out of the bag (experience talking here). I do this to save my good DSLR and that way I’m not to upset if I lose the cheaper used DSLR but am able to still get some good shots. I take photos from my kayak for several groups and this system works vest for me.


There are soft cases designed for diving available that seal as well as the hard cases and have pockets for your hands to slip into so you can work the controls You screw the optical lens onto the filter mount of your camera lens. I’ve used one while filming a USCG rescue practice in Charleston.

They work fairly well although still impact your dexterity. I usually shoot in fully automatic or shutter speed preferred mode.

I wish pelican still made their simple o-ring sealed boxes instead of the over engineered, bulky incarnations available now. They are too bulky to attach to the top deck. Back in my SCUBA days first aid kits were routinely kept in pelican boxes.


Old guy here. I have used dry bags and my old style pelican cases. I eventually went to using the pelican cases for my dry box. I lost two cameras to water, one an older DSLR and it got about two drops of saltwater inside with the case open. DEAD. bought an Olympus waterproof and it held up amazingly well for over 5 years of stick it in my pocket and go surfing, swimming. Eventually the seal around the gasket corroded and it too died. For a $200 cameral I was impressed that it lasted that long. NOT your DSLR quality for sure. I have a few Pelican boxes and use only the size I need. My pelican box rides between my legs in my kayak and in the bottom of the canoe. Now I use a Sony 14x zoom or a Canon S110 that both fit in a smaller pelican box with cameral and wallet. My rollup bags usually lay in the bottom of my canoe for everything else. Salt water eventually kills everything…

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I’m using a Canon D10 that my brother bought for me as a gift in 2009. Still works very well and has been immersed in salt water on multiple occasions. My wife has a Canon D30, after a couple of other waterproof point and shoots, which has a 5x optical zoom instead of the 3X on my camera.

Picture quality is good enough for what I am using if for. Newer cameras are better, but it just won’t die. 12MP camera.

My Samsung S20+ has a 64MP camera and much better zoom and supposedly the newest S23+ has 200MP. Of course it’s a lot cheaper if the Canon leaks than the phone. While the Samsung is supposedly water resistant, it is a lot less than the camera. Samsung specifically regards water damage to be abuse and will not cover it under the warranty. Check the fine print.

It’s probably just me, but I find it’s easier to hold onto a tethered camera than a phone in a kayak.

A lot of good comments here. I shoot with a DSLR (Canon 5D MKII and Canon 7D) in my kayaks, but I won’t bring my newest body (Canon R6 mirrorless) with me while kayaking due to the risk. I use a drybag for when I’m launching and exiting the boat, as that’s when I’m most likely to take a spill. Once I’m out on the water, the camera stays on the floor, usually covered with a towel to reduce the water splashes. I want it accessible for shooting. I figure if I tip over, the camera and lens are lost at that point. I have put the camera back in the bag a couple of times when the water gets real choppy or there is nothing interesting to shoot. I have 3 different lenses that I’ll use for kayaking (but only one at a time). With my 24-105, my camera body and lens will actually fit in the day hatch of my Delta 14, but my Eddyline Sitka’s day hatch is too small for that. When I shoot with a 70-200 or my giant 150-600mm, those are obviously too large for a day hatch. I’ll have to test the theory about whether or not the dry bag will float with that much weight in it. I like the comment here by brianmurfy where he recommends just getting an older DSLR. With mirrorless cameras being the thing now, you can pick up a new (or used) DSLR body fairly cheap. I’m not too concerned about a small amount of water getting into the dry bag, as I usually pack a couple of small towels in there and one time when I was careless, I tipped my boat while exiting and my 7D was on the floor of the boat (not in a bag). The bottom of the boat got quite a bit of water in it and the camera/lens were briefly in the water, although not fully submerged. When I got home I took the lens off and fortunately no water entered the camera or lens and everything was fine. Photo here was taken with my 150-600 which is wonderful to have when photographing birds that are a bit farther away. For me, having a point and shoot would just not cut it.

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