I am always looking for a better way to carry my stuff on my deck when I paddle. I try to minimize the amount of accoutrements I take with me but there are those times when I find I need cargo capacity. Maybe it’s a day-long outing and I need food, sunscreen, extra water and a rain jacket. Maybe I am teaching and I need emergency gear like the BIG first aid kit, phone, radio and my students’ stuff – like their keys and wallets. Deck bags designed for kayaks can be spacious, but awkward and not designed to go on a paddle board. They can lack appropriate attachment points. They can be difficult to access, heavy, hot and really not very functional off the board.
When it comes to barebones simplicity, when you don’t need to carry much, it’s hard to beat the Sup Pocket.
But sometimes you need more
Enter the DeckBagz.
When the Deckbagz folks sent me a bag to review, I first thought it was just a more colorful version of a typical deck accessory, with a halfpipe shape and zippered entry on one end. But that’s where the similarity to the conventional kayaking deck bag ends. Deckbagz has a “retro look” – in other words …it looks like a straw bag with sections of fabric sewn in for a Hilo Hattie/Hawaiiana/Tiki feel. But the material is actually woven vinyl mesh just made to look like wicker. The panel fabric is neoprene and it comes in a wide variety of Aloha colors. So, it’s super fun and eye-catching.
Big but not too big
But at 18″x13″x5″ it is more than just a conversation piece. The mesh is pliable and the neoprene panels also allow the bag to accommodate an ample amount of stuff. I recently tested the DeckBagz while teaching a beginning sup class where I was required to carry a large first aid kit, emergency communications gear, and several small dry bags full of keys, wallets and food. Normally, this gear goes into a semi-dry, conventional deck bag that has a hard plastic insert to help the bag keep its shape. Getting the gear in, especially the first aid kit, is a chore, then there’s very little room for anything else and no way for the bag to expand. That was absolutely not issue with DeckBagz. I had plenty of room to spare.
Retrieving items from the bag was snap- largely because the Deckbagz has TWO zippers – in addition to the one on the end of the bag, there is a zipper that runs the length of it on the top. Dual access. That means I can get to what ever I need quickly and efficiently – from a standing position, mind you – without having to pull stuff out of one end. And that means I am less likely to lose something out of the bag because I dropped it or it slid off my board.
Not a dry bag
Now, before I go any farther, I need to stress that Deckbagz are mesh. They are NOT dry. That means that anything that goes inside needs to be secured in a dry bag or dry case. Otherwise it will get wet. I like this approach. Not everything I carry needs to be on a dry bag. It keeps the deck bag itself light and easy to carry and easy to attach to the board. Simple.
While the mesh fabric is reminiscent of the suction-cupped SupPocket, the DeckBagz attaches to the board more like a conventional deck bag- via a series of four snap hooks on the side, which can be used with deck rigging bungees if you have them. If not, no problem. There are also four side loop cords, which are highly functional and useful for a variety of applications. And, the Deckbagz website sells a suction cup kit. I usually use my SIC Bullet when I teach and I do not have deck rigging on that board – just GoPro mounts. Well, I used two small carabiners and the built-in snap hooks to attach the bag onto the safety lanyard for my GoPro. I expected the bag to slide around and not be especially secure during our class. Much to my surprise, the bag, because of its flexibility, stayed put the entire two hours we were on the water. I rather like the snaps – sometimes my SupPocket suction cups don’t adhere to the matte finish on the Bullet. This is a great alternative when I need to carry gear on that board in particular.
In addition to the snap hooks, there are D-rings, a carabiner hook, an ergonomic carry handle, and a bungee loop that can be used to secure your paddle or as a lashing point for shoes, a water bottle, whatever. This would be a great accessory to have on board if you were taking a SUP yoga class and needed to secure your paddle while at the same time keeping water close at hand.
Inside, the Deckbagz has an integrated key hook which can also be used to keep a small dry bag in place.
You can accessorize your Deckzbag with a matching carry strap, which turns the bag into a useful tote.
The bags are designed to stand up to salt water with marine grade zippers. The vinyl is durable but it’s a good idea to rinse it off after use in ocean water. Also, neoprene can tear, so it’s advised not to carry anything sharp loose in the bag.
Now get this – these bags are handmade in the US. That’s right. The makers of Deckbagz are custom marine canvas craftspeople with years of experience. That means these bags are extremely well-made by folks who know how hard the elements can be on an accessory like this. That said, the bags are a bit pricey at $119.99 but remember, you are getting a handmade bag that comes from Florida- not China.
Bottom line, the Deckbagz is a great looking but equally functional deck bag that makes a lot of sense when you need to carry a significant amount of gear but in a lightweight package that’s stylish enough to use as a tote bag as well.