Admit it—we’re all basically gear nuts, whether it’s for the boats we sail or the clothing we wear. And the simple fact is, that’s the reality of our sport. We can’t compete well if the boat’s not functional, nor can we do so if we’re too cold, too wet, or too hot. But along with that comes a number of ancillary products—stuff to carry our stuff. In this case, Gill’s new Voyager drybag backpack provides a great option for personal gear, especially when you’ve got a lot of it.
With a 30-liter volume, this big boy will hold a lot of gear. For that reason, it’s good they added the backpack feature instead of relying on a single over-the-shoulder strap. The backpack harness is constructed with breathable, padded airmesh, and includes a cross strap to keep the harness from sliding off your shoulders. Airmesh is also incorporated where the pack contacts your back. This is key, as the pack itself is a full-on waterproof, non-breathable bag, and without the Airmesh, it wouldn’t take more than a short walk down the dock on a hot day before the back of your shirt was soaked. Comfortable pads, one in the lumbar area and two in the scapula areas, round out the backpack aspects of the Voyager.
The cavernous interior includes three pockets along the front of the pack (adjacent to your back), which are probably most useful for objects not too bulky, as they are closer to sleeves than actual pockets. The smallest of the three has a zipper top—a super-secure place for anything you really don’t want getting lost. Even when the pack is full, it’s not difficult to slide your hand down the inside wall and find that pocket, although I’d probably attach a small lanyard on the zipper pull to make it even easier to find.
Outside, there’s a roll down top to keep water out and the pack more compact. It’s secured with a strap along the top and one on each side. We really liked the large external pocket on the back, complete with clear window and side zipper access—another great, easily accessible but secure place to stash a cellphone, sailing instructions, etc. Plus, you can see what you’re looking for. No more groping around in the dark. Endless possibilities there.
The only niggle we have with the Voyager is with the advertised water bottle pockets, located on either side. Great idea, but they’re simply not big enough for the average water bottle. We even tried a Gill water bottle—no dice. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting. Still, a lot of good things going on with the Voyager backpack. And you’ll likely find that carrying a full offshore load was never easier. $115.