The OTB Odhin boot drains water instead of holding it in. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
Life in the great outdoors can be a muddy, wet mess. (That goes double if you plan to take your kids along.) But thanks to a handful of new products, you can keep your electronics and valuables from getting waterlogged while you're hunting, fishing, camping or humping gear in a downpour. Here's a look at a few.
Seal Pak Watertight Waist Pack
This will be the one time you can get away with sporting a fanny pack. Made of PVC-free PU-coated polyester by Cascade Designs (motto: "Never be limited by your gear"), the Seal Pak is part of the company's signature Seal Line. It's got a roll-down closure, "rubber" welded seams, protected zippers and removable straps, and comes in blue, gray or orange. It weighs 5 ounces and is made in the U.S. with a limited lifetime warranty. It's about the size of the fanny pack your aunt wears to Six Flags, but it's stiffer and more stylish. Perfect for cell phones, cameras or tactical gear.
Pelican 1040 Micro Case
Pelican is the go-to company for water- and airtight hard cases, and it has built a reputation on keeping sensitive gear safe and dry. But you don't have to lug around a 20-pound giant just to take advantage of the company's crushproof designs. The 1040 Micro Case is perfect for cell phones, cameras, wallets, PDAs, small tactical gear — everything you carry in your pockets. The cases, which come in six sizes, are watertight (up to 50 feet of water) and come in several colors. They have an auto air-release valve for changes in air pressure. They're made in the U.S. with an unlimited lifetime guarantee. But because they're virtually indestructible, you probably won't need that.
Rite in the Rain Planner
The All-Weather Tactical Field Planner is as tough as you are. Known for all-weather notepads and paper, Rite in the Rain has an extended line of planners and binders. Here's what the deluxe kit includes: Cordura cover (in black, tan or Army Combat Uniform pattern), 12-month calendar on waterproof paper, 1-inch binder rings, wrist strap, business card holder, No. 97 waterproof pen, zippered pockets, plastic sheet protectors, clear zipper pouch, four-year future planner and quiet zippers. It's pricey, but if you're a leader in the field, this is an indispensable tool to add to your arsenal. It's 8.5-by-11 inches and weighs about 5 pounds; it's made in the U.S., and designed with input from soldiers and Marines.
OTB Odhin Boots
They aren't waterproof, but the OTB Odhin boots might be even better. Made of water-repellant materials that resist soaking, and with breathable mesh ports, the soles are lugged and razor siped, so they drain water instead of holding it in. Thus, when your kicks get wet, they dry out faster and won't absorb any of the water. They come in black and green, and they have a customizable foot pad for all shapes and applications. Made with Navy SEALs in mind (OTB stands for "Over the Beach"), they also make a good addition to your outdoor sporting wardrobe.
Outdoor Research Foray jacket
When it comes to waterproofing your body, lightweight is the name of the game. OR's Foray jacket has all the protection you need in a downpour — sealed seams, two-way zippers with stormflaps, Velcro cuffs, dual drawcords, zippered armpit holes for ventilation, a pretty serious hood for maximum coverage and, of course, pockets. And since it's made from Gore-Tex Paclite laminate material, you don't need an inner layer to keep you warm and dry. The best part is the size: Roll up the whole thing and pack it into one of the pockets for compact storage. They're available at most outdoor stores and weigh in at a little more than 15 ounces. If you can pony up a couple hundred Benjamins for a jacket to keep you dry, this is the one to buy.
SureFire A2L Aviator
An update to the SureFire line arrives with the introduction of the A2L Aviator. The two-beamed favorite finally enters the LED age, with a blazing bright-white LED for 120 lumens and a set of low-powered LEDs for low-level secondary light, available in either red, blue, yellow-green or white. The controls are simple. A two-stage tailswitch activates the four low-power LEDs first. Pushing harder activates the high-power, white LED. Plus, if you drop it in the drink, it'll keep on shining for hours. It's a pricey light, but it just might be the last multitask flashlight you will ever have to buy.
Aquapac Camera Case
Buying a top-of-the-line underwater camera housing can cost more than your camera — up to $2,000 in some cases — but you can still get crystal-clear images with the Aquapac Camera Case. A clear LenzFlex window lets you focus the lens on your subject, above or up to 15 feet below the surface. The patented Aquaclip seals water out of the case, making it 100 percent waterproof — and perfect for shooting on your scuba trip. Most small digital cameras will fit inside, and the pliable material makes snapping shots easy and reliable. It comes with a three-year warranty and is available at most outdoor retailers.
Arc'teryx Arrakis 50 Pack
If your sad little JanSport is the Hyundai of backpacks, then the Arc'teryx Arrakis is a Cadillac Escalade. It's weather-proof with welded seams and watertight zippers, making it perfect for light, overnight hikes — even if your idea of a light hike involves a river crossing. A roll-top enclosure keeps the goods safe and dry; it comes with a pocket for a hydration bladder, a comfortable sternum strap and even a spot for your trusty ice tool, should your quest find you high atop Everest. Best of all, the 53-liter pack is made out of 420ACT fabric, Supermesh and Durastretch — some of the lightest, toughest materials around — so you'll likely keep it forever. At close to five bills, that's pretty good news.
Staying dry in the field doesn't mean you have to max out your credit card. If you want to keep your undies dry on a weeklong slog, just go back to the basics: a good plastic baggie and a heavy-duty trash bag. They're neither sleek nor sexy, but they'll do the trick when the rain comes.
If you're serious about your gear — or you've dropped one too many cell phones in the toilet — Golden Shellback will save your skin. Its process of coating your electronic gear in a waterproof film will render it impermeable to water. (It's guaranteed only up to a month, though.) You'll pay $120 to waterproof your iPhone, but that's still cheaper than buying a new one when you drop it in the ocean. The process works on almost all electronic items — speakers, GPS units, BlackBerrys — but it's also perfect for metals and glass. Visithttp://www.golden-shellback.com">www.golden-shellback.com http://www.golden-shellback.com">www.golden-shellback.com for details.