Help- Sleeping bags and VCP oval hatches

Tommorrow is my maiden overnight voyage in my Assateague kayak and I am having trouble loading my bag in the smallish oval hatches whilst contained in a dry bag. It is not a backpacker bag or down but more than suitable. In its (non-waterproof) stuff bag, I can get it in the hatch and turn it sideways behind the day hatch, but in my dry bag, it does not squish easily at all. Please do not say “buy a new bag” cuz I thought if it first.

These are pretty dry hatches, so for one night, I will likely be OK. I may even be able to put it in a plastic garbage bag to protect it from “condensation moisture”. Compared to my expedition (barge) kayak, this is a tough sell, but one of the “costs” of having a play boat. What have been your experiences with the skinny ended Brit boats and hatches? It does sound like more, and smaller dry bags are in order.

More and smaller it is
Be grateful it is not an NDK boat with truly small round hatches. The Valley ovals are pretty good size. The Asseteague is quite a bit larger than most boats people consider ‘play boats.’

More and smaller bags is the usual for packing kayaks that are not barges. Tapers are also useful. Compression caps/sacks are a blessing.

Valley hatches tend to be very dry. I don’t put my tent, thermarest, or sleeping bag in dry bags.

garbage bags
put one plastic garbage bag in the regular stuff sack then put the sleeping bag in that. Sit on it to get all the air out then fold/tie the bag to hold the vacuum. Put that in another plastic bag then put it through the VCP hatch. You don’t want anything in the hatches that can’t take being wet.

Try this
Put your dry bag into the hatch empty, then stuff your sleeping bag into the dry bag that is already in the (front or rear) storage compartment.

Packing Kayak
If you got a good dry bag, put the sleeping bag in the cockpit compartment in the space in front of the foot pegs. This space is usually quit large in most kayaks unless you have custom bulkhead placment.

Listen to Lee
I have thousands of miles in kayaks and don’t use heavy dry bags, as they are just too bulky. Garbage bag lined nylon stuff sacks work very well. Get the air out, twist and tuck the garbage bad closed, seal up nylon stuff sack. Test if you want in bathtub weighted down compared to dry bag. You’ll be suprised at the result…BTW new sea to summit dry bags are light nylon, seal well, and pack well. I’m using those now but still line them.

old nylon “dry” bags
I finally clued into kitchen garbage bags when some favorite flat/skinny dry bags started to lose all their interior coating. Put in the garbage bags and they worked great.

sea to summit bags
do they hold up ok? Looks like the kind of thing where you’d want to check for sharp edges in the compartments.

From someone with smaller spaces…
As above, if you really want to have fun try stuff like sleeping bags and tents thru 10 inch rounds in a low volume Explorer… yes, ultimately you may want a bunch more smaller bags for camping out of the kayak. And a really big over the shoulder bag to carry all the little bags to the campsite.

Some of the things that work for me:

Get a compression bag, or at the least compression caps, for the sleeping bag to shrink it more. Also for the tent if you need the real estate.

Lose the heavy plastic nyon bags with the real stiff big closures. If you are using them, switch to garbage bags as a holding action until you can get a bunch of smaller coated nylon bags with less stiff closures. WaveTex makes some nice ones.

If you must try using the stiffer plastic dry bags, do as suggested above and get the dry bag into the boat and positioned then get the stuff into the dry bag. The down side of this is that you’ll have to get it out of the boat the same way - empty out all the bits until the bag is empty enough to bend thru the hatch. So you end up packing or unpacking the same dry bag four times for a single overnight.

Look for tapered bags to get the most out of those elfin Brit-style ends.

Depending on the trip you are planning, it may be risky to put the dry bag with the sleeping bag in it in front of your feet. Should a major event occur, maybe one that strands you, that sleeping bag could be an important part of the survival equation. But you can judge that better than anyone at this distance.

I went through that, too.
The sleeping bag, in a drybag becomes a nuisance. I tried putting the bag in the hatch and stuffing it while it was in the kayak, that didn’t work out. Think I just trash bagged it at first. After I got comfortable with the fact that the front hatch stays dry, I stopped putting the bag in anything other than its own stuff suck. The stuff sack is water resistant coated nylon, so it will take a total flooding of the compartment to soak it. There’s just enough room to turn it sideways and push it up against the front bulkhead, and that has been my practice sine my first trip or two.

The valley hatches are very dry, but I do have to take extreme care and make sure the hatch is seated in the cowling just right. My day hatch and rear hatch always got wet. I filled them with water to see where the leakage was from and it was from the bulkheads. Water from the cockpit would work its way around the bulkheads. So last winter I caulked around the bulkheads. It took two or three passes and repeat testings, but I finally think I got all the leaks. Now the day hatch is always dry, but the rear hatch still gets a few drops. I suspect the water may enter through the skeg-cable housing. It’s not ideal but I just keep it in mind while packing and try not to load anything that can’t stand a drop of water in the rear compartment.

For kayaking, I find lots of small bags and containers work best. Zip lock bags work well for some things, used plastic containers for others (e.g. Folgers coffee, any type of plastic jar with twist on top). Cans and bottles, cookware, and other stuff can get wet with no ill affect, so just stuff those in nooks and crannies after the big stuff is in. Taking some sort of light, compactable duffel along is handy for carrying all the little stuff once you reach your destination.

Also, when I go alone, I take short lengths of pool noodles in the cockpit. These are useful under the kayak as rollers so u can pull the boat out of the water to do your loading and unloading. The packed kayak can get heavy, even a light craft!


Beat me to it WW … logic is great.

forego sleeping bags altogether
3 years ago i switched from sleeping bags to using quilts under and in a hammock…this for section hiking on the AT, and have used the hammock in temps to 17F.

the hammock rules when it comes to finding places to camp/sleep compared to a tent…the quilts are separate and thus allow easier packing into a VCP’s hatches-been there and done it with a Nordkapp Jubilee.

Get a compression stuff sack
It will squeeze your bag down to the minimum possible size. Once compressed, slip it into a dry bag or plastic garbage bag to protect it from moisture, then put it in the boat.

Try the compression dry bag
from REI. It compresses around the width not top to bottom. I have used this type for two years and it not only makes it thinner but keeps ithe bag dry.

Take up backpacking
That will teach you how to pack.


Water_walker …you must be a

Lessons learned:
Garbage bags are good liners IF they have a sturdy shell over them.

I hate packing bags thru the hatches. As said, you have to pack each item four times instead of two, AND you have to do it outside instead of from the shelter of your tent/tarp.

Don’t pack a compression sack on your livingroom floor and expect to duplicate the pack job on the forest floor or beach. You may get everything in on the first day out and find your gear grew had babies when you go to repack on day 2.

If you roll your sleeping bag wider, it’ll end up long, skinny and usually cone shaped. You can bend this into a smaller hatch, and being less dense, it makes a better choice for the front of the bow than almost any other item.


D rings
I use the REI compression bags for the sleeping bag and they work great, but I always use the space in front of my feet inside the cockpit for something. Glue a couple of D rings in there so you can bungie it in place. You can also put a couple of nylon loops through the little adjustment holes at the ends of your footpeg rails and put a light bungie though them to hold stuff. That’s too much space in my boat to waste.

bad news, good news
bad news: the Assateague is a huge boat, the oval hatches are large and any sleeping bag system should fit in there. if you are having problems- that’s bad news. because as everyone has said, you basically need new stuff sacs.

good news: the Assateague is a huge boat, the oval hatches are large and any sleeping bag system should fit in there. if you are having problems-just get a new stuff sac system or take the previous advice.

easy and cheap! enjoy luxury camping from your voluminous boat. i know, i have the same kayak.

Maybe this…
Try getting a good dry bag and stuff the sleeping bag in it and then strap to your deck, this will make more wind resistence but it will be easy to get on and off and will give you lots more room in your hatches. By the way ALWAYS use a dry bag or garbage bag on your sleep gear, it REALLY sucks sleeping in a wet bag on a cold night. Buy the best dry bag you can for your sleep stuff if possible.