“The best camera is the one you’ll get out of your pack and use.”
It’s sound advice when shopping for a camera to shoot stills or clips to document your hunt—but due to the constant threat of rain where I hunt, my camera stayed in my pack. I finally made the questionable decision and sold it…to upgrade.
It was one of those introductory-level, reputable brand camera kits you get at Walmart.
You know those kits, a 35-75mm lens and a 75-300mm lens that takes good enough photos—if it ever made it out of your pack.
I say the decision was “questionable” because it’s like buying a gym membership, hoping it will inspire you to go. I wanted to take better photos, but buying a newer, better camera didn’t guarantee I would document my hunts any more than before.
But once I had the new camera, turns out that I did use it. A lot. Now to protect it. Ketchikan averages 18 inches of rain every October, which means that the dense forest is almost constantly wet, and during peak rut in November, the temperature drops enough to bring some snow, but rain is still more likely.
I bought a cheap camera bag, and the brush of Southeast Alaska brutally beat it. I had it riding in front of me, hanging just below my bino case as I punched through brush that grabbed, pulled, and tore at the case. However, that was only on days in which it was dry. More often than not, the camera was back in the pack to avoid soaking it. Back to square one.
So I hit the market looking for something that I could wear in the rain. I took a look at Sagebrush Dry Gear. Since I had owned one of their day packs for steelhead fishing and knew that they made top-of-the-line products. I have had that day pack for over ten years, and it still won’t leak. Anyone who looks for excuses to buy new packs should NOT buy a Sagebrush pack because it will not wear out or fail in a way that will warrant a new purchase.
Solid Product That Lasts
There is no Sagebrush Dry Gear Squad page on Facebook because people who buy their products keep and use them, so I paid full price without hesitation.
The Large Cam Dry bag is 7.5”x 10” x 4.5” and fits my Sony a6 with a 70-300m lens attached. The zipper is waterproof and stout, so it is a little loud to open when going fast, but the tone is much deeper compared to the high-pitched whine of the standard variety. The whole bag is inflated and submerged to ensure true waterproof status before it’s sold.
So if it’s waterproof to start, waterproof it will remain. I spent the last three weeks of rut blazing through thick brush without so much as a scuff. It’s almost disappointing since I rarely trust a review about a piece of gear that looks like it hasn’t been used or is lauded by someone who looks like they are wearing gear with the tags still on. So the bag looks new, and so does the 10-year-old Steelhead day pack. Anyone who would then conclude that Southeast Alaska must not be that bad hasn’t been here.
You won’t use a camera that’s riding on your back. You still might not use it if it’s in a Sagebrush Dry Bag, but that’s on you. Available here.
Jeff Lund is an author, outdoors columnist, and teacher at Ketchikan High School in Ketchikan, Alaska. He also hosts the On Step Alaska Podcast.
Comment or ask Jeff questions here.