I have owned and used the Northwater Peaked Deck Bag for 18 months or so and been very pleased with it (see my review). I was therefore more than happy to get access to the Northwater Expedition Deck Bag for review.
The ‘Expedition’ is the largest deck bag Northwater produce. It has a large zippered opening giving access to the main compartment which holds the bulk of your kit, but is further expandable via side clips, top bungees and optional ‘expansion’ compartments available from Northwater. The shaped is kept true via a removable polyethylene liner. (I have posted a video showing the main features).
The Expedition Deck Bag secures to the deck using a different system to the Peaked Deck bag. The bottom of the deck back has a vinyl base & flap covered in velcro. Sliding the flap under the deck lines allows you to then drop the bag down on the velcro securing it in place. This is a lot less fiddly than systems relying purely on straps/buckles and makes removing the deck bag a synch.
In rougher conditions, I did notice some more movement with this deck bag – I imagine this is due to the larger ‘weight’ carried along with the increased surface area. However, the six side clips can be used to secure the bag even more securely and this did cut down the movement.
My intial impression of the bag was that it was too large for normal day paddle use as it seemed huge when held however, once in place it is not overbearing and the increased storage has been very welcome. Although designed for expeditions where more equipment is carried, I have been very happy using the Expedition Deck bag for short, day trips.
The Northwater Expedition is not a dry or waterproof bag, so equipment stowed in it needs to be in waterproof containers/roll bags however in calm weather, even with the occasional wave washing over the deck the combination of the vinyl base and position high up on the deck means very little water seeps into the bag.
I tend to stow a flask or water bottle, VHF, gloves and hat and snacks along with a camera in a roll bag which means there is plenty of spare space and it is easy to access equipment. The two sided zip and domed shape of the opening aids easy access and the mesh pocket on the front flap is ideal for a granola bar or similar.
On a longer paddle, I have successfully used a smaller dry bag within the Deck Bag and it is easy to unclip, unroll and access equipment.
The side clips allow you to attach kit to the outside of the Deck bag and I have taken to attaching my Northwater Bilgemaster pump here for easy access. The addition of bungees on the top of the Deck bag allows a laminated chart or other, slimmer items to be attached. I often use this to tuck a hat or gloves or even my paddle float whilst on the move.
Overall I really rate this bit of kit. It is a step up from the smaller deck bags such as the Peaked Deck bag, ad the extra storage is very welcome without dwarfing the deck of my Sea kayak. The build quality is very good and it feels like a robustly made bag. I would have no qualms about throwing this around over a sustained period of time and despite my ‘heavy handed’ testing I have not damaged the bag in any way.
Whilst some people may prefer a true ‘dry bag’ style deck bag, for me the lower cost of the Northwater Expedition Deck Bag makes it a more affordable and sensible option, particularly if, like me, you seem to have accumulated a number of small dry bags over time!
Cost is around £75-£80 which is not cheap but if you have the need for a deck bag worth every penny.
The Northwater Expedition Deck Bag can be ordered from Bournemouth Canoes or check your local paddle store.
From the Northwater Website:
Our largest deck bag. Easily installs using existing deck lines. Webbing and buckles let you attach gear to the sides. Large zippered opening and small mesh pocket in front. It is easy to remove, has loads of cargo space and is contoured to follow the profile of your boat. The unique ‘Non-Slip’ attachment system uses a 14oz vinyl base sewn at the rear of the bag and held with hook and loop. A polyethylene liner shapes it for easy access through the front zippered entry.