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Discussion Starter #1
Time to replace The Bills Bag, I see NRS (as sooo many companies do) changed a time honored proven winner. Both the strapping and material. Interested to hear any feedback on how the near material is wearing and if there are any other downsides of the new generation bag.
 

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We had two on our last grand trip. They were brand new at the start and made it through. Neither was on a flipped boat. No one was impressed with the hook closure instead of the buckle but they didn't fail. Wish I had better info for you. I'll call and see if there is an update on wear.
 

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Had one on our Grand trip. Made it through but one of the G-hook straps ripped off halfway through. Other than that I can't speak to it really. I have one of the very first ones, I can say that they got better since then for sure.
 

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I went Watershed and never looked back. I know a few Bill's Bags owners that regretted their decision after seeing how the Watershed bags work. Worth every penny IMHO. I have a number of them and used them all on a 12 day MFS/Main earlier this month (I have a Mississippi, Colorado, Yukon and a Chatooga). Watershed makes the top roll version too...but I heavily prefer the duffel bag style.

I carried one of the new bill's bags in my duffel pile every day on one of my Grand trips and wasn't super impressed. The hook strap thing is kind of a pain in the ass. I felt like I had to redo the closure before I put it in my everything bag every day because it would unroll ...and the owner is a pretty smart and capable lady. I think it kinda drove her nuts and she ended up replacing it with a Watershed duffel before the next trip.

I have a couple friends that do the Ortlieb or Yeti t-zip bags too... but the vast majority of my rafting friends use Watershed (and a few with the NRS bags).
 

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Decades ago I started rafting and purchased 2 Bill's Bags. They worked ok for a few trips.

Then I found Jacks Plastic Welding. Purchased several in different sizes. Many years of use and they still work as good as new. JPW dry bag fabric wears like iron. Long as you roll the top of JPW bags 3 times I have never had a leak.

For smaller bags Watershed works well for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the feedback, I’ll definitely consider the alternatives. Kinda hope this isn’t another symptom of NRS going by the wayside in general
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I like the JPW bags. Totally forgot about those. Anyone ever have an issue with those??? They seem simple enough and I know the reputation of their material. Pros and cons between JPW and Watershed?? I’ve heard just enough in these posts to steer me away from the new Bills.
 

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One vote for Watershed bags. I've been using Watershed bags pretty much since they started making them in Asheville. I had a zipper rip off of a 15 year old bag due to improper opening by someone who borrowed it. They replaced it! I have probably 5 watershed bags and they are hands down the best. I have a Mississippi that is my everything bag for Grand trips and other multidays. Its perfect if not even a little too big.


Just make sure that anyone that is going to put their grubby little mitts on one knows how to properly open it!



I will say over the years I've had different versions with different materials some that are better than others.
 

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The only big downside to Watershed I’ve run into is they get nearly impossible to do the “ziplock” seal in cold weather boating.

They same seal is kinda too much bother for a day bag, too, in any temps, imho.

Beyond that, pretty tough to beat.

Ortlieb’s only saving grace is the zipper. Beyond that, the design is mediocre, at best, for most typical rafting uses.

Like others, I shifted from Bill’s Bags to the duffel style bags, as well.
 

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The only big downside to Watershed I’ve run into is they get nearly impossible to do the “ziplock” seal in cold weather boating.
I always hear people say that...but I've done some pretty cold trips (down into the single digits) and I've never had a problem. Run some 303 in them before each trip and they go together super smooth and easy.

They same seal is kinda too much bother for a day bag, too, in any temps, imho.
I have a Chatooga that I run on day trips and I don't find it to be any harder to use then a standard roll top drybag. If you do the 303 thing...its easy enough to close the bag quickly. Still...for the quick access stuff I still use a little pelican case on my boat. I know plenty of kayakers that run the small watersheds in their lap and keep stuff like cameras and such in them. The kayak float bag Watersheds are pretty popular too.

IMHO...if you want to guarantee dryness with your bag... Watershed is hard to beat and they last FOREVER. Made in the USA if that matters to ya (its honestly not a top priority for me...but its nice to support domestic companies).
 

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Watershed. We had a bills bag on a gc trip in a small boat. Water got into it every flip, so we had to add an inside garbage bag liner and pack them upside down, so when the boat was flipped the bottom of the bag sat in the water. Did like the backpack style straps but they break after awhile- good thing there are two straps. After that we got watershed duffels and a bigger boat and haven’t flipped since...I’m sure it’s because of the bags 🤪
 

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IMHO, Cascade's side-loading roll top bags are a great buy for the money... very dry and secure, and they have way better access than an end-loading bag!
 

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One disadvantage of the Bill's Bag: No loops for rigging security. All the loops and straps connect with hooks now. So you really don't have an secure loop to use to ensure the bag won't come out in a flip.
I know it's possible to use netting. I know it's possible to cinch bags down. Still not as good as having sewn-in loops through which to thread a cam strap.
Though they are crazy expensive, I have a couple of Yeti drybags which are bomber, and include exceptional rigging loops and easy zipper access. Never had one leak.
 

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I'm a fan of Jack's plastic welding dry bags. I like the size that's just big enough for a sleeping bag and clothes.
And we use their smaller ones for day bags.
 
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