Canadian Canoe Routes

60L canoe barrel only?
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Author:  Mike McCrea [ April 29th, 2019, 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

RHaslam wrote:
Buy the barrel and a decent harness. It's bomb proof. I stopped using canoe packs years ago. I've had many sealine and similar packs, they've all proven to be defective in the long run, either springing an unexpected hole, or the harness straps breaking.

A barrel with a well sealed gasket and ring is as close to bombproof as it gets. Almost every roll top dry bag will leak in a long swim, or worse a submerged pin.

“Almost”; there are dry bags with both a roll top and a WP zipper which might not leak. Watershed makes bags in that style. I have not tested one, and I’m not buying a $300 just to find out.

Same with straps and buckles breaking; some of our inexpensive shoulder harness dry bags have needed repair, the better quality stuff not so much. Bigger dry bags without a weight-supporting waist belt put too much stress on just the shoulder straps.

A couple years ago I leak tested all of our barrels, screw top buckets, Cur-tec drums, Pelican Boxes and dry bags. The “test” was admittedly rudimentary; I just poured a couple gallons of water in them, sealed them and turned them upside down. Rudimentary, and too long procrastinated.

TL;DR – I would leak test anything you “believe” to be waterproof, or even to be mostly waterproofie. Forewarned is forearmed.

Barrels – Egads, two of the three barrels I tested leaked. One that leaked a little needed a new gasket, one that poured water like a teapot spout needed a new ring. Note: Those are old, oft used barrels, some purchased used. A brand new barrel would hopefully do better. I’d still test it before I fully trusted it

Screw-top pails and buckets – Every single one, different sizes and designs, leaked. Some badly, enough that I eliminated those from my kit for anything that actually stay dry. Caveat: I did not test a Gamma Seal pail lid. I’d be interested in the leak test results if someone tries.

Cur-tec wide neck drums – None of them leaked so much as a drop. All of those were obtained used, first shipped with laboratory chemicals (salts) and have been reused on trips many times. I was impressed at how watertight a screw top could be, and left them upside down for a long time to no avail, waiting for a drip to appear.

Pelican Boxes – None of them leaked. With the caveat that we have only two WP boxes and neither are that old or oft used; I don’t carry the kind of camera equipment or electronics that require a Pelican box. I didn’t check our old ammo boxes; I bet those ancient things simply pour out water.

Roll top dry bags – Every one of them leaked. Every. Single. One.

I continue to use roll top dry bags, but I know what to expect after a long swim or pin. I still old-school garbage bag my clothes and sleeping bag inside a (water resistant) stuff bag, and accept that even solution still isn’t fully waterproofed. At least the slippery plastic bag helps when stuffing against some PU coating inside the bag.

I was surprised (maybe aghast is more accurate) to discover that the barrels leaked. I had unfounded confidence that they were watertight and had used them for years without verification. After installing a new gasket and ring both once-leaky barrels passed the test.

I was completely unsurprised that none of the roll top dry bags were watertight. I didn’t test them all, but did try different makes, models and sized, all properly rolled and closed, some stuffed with foam to replicate a filled dry bag.

The ones with the single across-the-top buckle closure leaked more quickly and worse than those with multiple closure straps across the top and down the sides, but they all leaked/seeped.

I suspected/knew that the roll top dry bags would not actually be waterproof. Recovering those bags after even brief swims and opening them I had found water already creeping its way through the folded closure.

The contents weren’t yet saturated, none of those were long swims, and I expect in a pin they would perform much worse. For 100% risk management surety I could just stay home.

About the pin holes in vinyl dry bags. It happens. It seems to happen most on the bottoms, where the dry bag stands on the ground while loading/unloading. The better, beefier dry bags like that Pro-pack have a thick, rubberized double layer bottom.

I inspect our dry bags occasionally, using the “stick your head in the bag and look around on a sunny day or under the shop lights” method. After checking the first bag I remember to shake out the sand and dirt of the rest before sticking my head inside.

I suspect those bottom pinholes are from setting the bag atop a thorn, sharp shell shard or etc; if there was one pin hole there were often a couple all in the same area. For patching pinholes a waterbed repair kit works best of anything I’ve found. If it will hold 200 gallons of water under human weight bouncing around in a vinyl mattress it’ll hold on a dry bag.

I recently striped (or patterned) most of our dry bags for better visibility and differentiation, and checked them for pin holes while I was at it. A check I should do more routinely since it only takes seconds. None found; I must be getting better about where I incautiously drop a dry bag. And I’m more often using better quality dry bags. ... k-dry-bags

Author:  Captaincanadian [ April 29th, 2019, 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

I have a 60L barrel and have used it a few dozen times or more, but I do find myself just using my 70L backpack with watertight sealed liner bags if I am concerned about going in the drink. I just recently purchased two brand new dry bags at the Outdoors Show to eliminate the use of my backpack. One 70L and one 115L, both are Eureka Storm Shield series. I find myself getting away from the barrel and mostly just due to the fact that it is uncomfortable and too heavy for my ultralight tripping style. I may downsize to a 20L barrel just to see if this is more comfortable to carry. I haven't used the dry bags yet, but will with my first trip out in two weeks time.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ April 29th, 2019, 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Captaincanadian wrote:
I have a 60L barrel and have used it a few dozen times or more, but I do find myself just using my 70L backpack

I find myself getting away from the barrel and mostly just due to the fact that it is uncomfortable and too heavy for my ultralight tripping style. I may downsize to a 20L barrel just to see if this is more comfortable to carry.

I’m not a UL tripper, but without a good harness, or better a frame, toting a 60L is no fun. I didn’t know there were 20L barrels, at least in the ubiquitous blue barrel style. Of course I didn’t know my usual barrel was a 45L until I volumetrically measured it.

20L would be a handy size. The 60L is overkill (and big/heavy, even with a good harness) for most of what I do. Even on four-person family trips it is more than we need for a 4 – 5 day trip.

I know everyone’s food packing is different, from fine dining to pre-soaked beans again tonight, or meals from the home dehydrator. Mine tends towards the more volumetric high caloric snaky, but I’d be interested in what folks manage to fit, in what foodstuff guises, in various hard side containers.

I’ll start. In non light-packing snaky guise I can manage three weeks of food in a 45L barrel (with a few freeze dry meals stored elsewhere at the start), and easily fit two weeks in a 30L with the same preliminary side-storage consideration.

On shorter trips, a week to 10 days, a couple of 10L Cur-Tec wide neck drums have become my go-to food containers. Once the first 10L Cur-Tec is empty I can begin using it for other storage while I delve into the second. ... iter-label

What’s in your barrel?

Author: [ April 29th, 2019, 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

The Curtec look nice but seem hard to find. I use a hardware store bucket and a couple different lids. Sub ten bucks. Fits behind my stern seat nice too.

Author:  open_side_up [ April 29th, 2019, 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Recreational Barrel Works now has a 20L snap ring barrel. ... ks-barrel/

Author:  RHaslam [ April 29th, 2019, 3:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

I always wonder about complaints about the difference between carrying a barrel or a pack. Most ports I do are under a mile, with the majority being in the 2 to 400 yard range. If they are over a mile, I will usually stage them anyway. I honestly can't feel the difference, in fact, I find the way the barrel rides on my back to be more comfortable than some packs. Plus, if 'm double packing, the barrel provides a nice wide base to throw another pack onto. I usually see the functionality of things in terms of canoeing, not hiking.

Author:  Corbeau [ April 30th, 2019, 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

This is great, I'm going to test my older barrel to see how watertight it is!

On another note, just saw that the Scout Shop has a good deal on the 115L Eureka dry packs which were mentioned:

Author:  RHaslam [ April 30th, 2019, 8:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

That is a pretty good price!

Author:  recped [ April 30th, 2019, 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Good price and pretty much exactly what the OP needs.

Like a lot of threads there has been a lot of drift, fancy packs, barrels etc. are all very nice but the (customers) requirements don't call for that.

- modestly priced
- usable for non paddling
- waterproof enough for flat water paddling
- big enough to carry enough gear as it is likely the only waterproof bag available to use
- good enough to last some time

Eureka make "good stuff", not the best but always good value and not junk. If the OP decides to do more paddling they can think about adding a barrel or other (I'm partial to dry-duffles and smaller 30l barrels).

Author:  Mike McCrea [ May 1st, 2019, 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Agree, that is a very good price for a well appointed dry bag.

Corbeau, if you (or anyone else) tests the waterproofieness of your barrel I’d be interested in the results.

I tested three barrels. The 60L, which did not leak, had been purchased as a used rental from an outfitter. The original ring was noticeable bent from past misuse, was awkward to align properly and required a lot of force to snap closed. I had already replaced that recalcitrant ring several years before the leak test.

The 45L barrel was purchased used, repurposed from some shipping use but never previously used for tripping. I could snap the ring closed using just my pinkie, which I thought was convenient until I leak tested it and found that it poured out water.

A new gasket didn’t fix the 45L leakage, nor did the trick of incrementally squeezing the (removed) ring down with a pair of pliers all the way around. With a new ring it did not leak a drop.

The 30L barrel was likewise used/repurposed and the slight leak was resolved with a new gasket. Actually a new gasket and the old gasket. I had a variety of gaskets and O-rings that fit that barrel, none of which alone fixed the leak. What eventually worked was a sticking the original gasket atop a skinny O-ring.

A couple guesses. Used barrels, especially rentals, may have suffered unknown ring abuse in the past. And gaskets do compress over time; in home storage it may be better to leave the ring unsnapped and the gasket uncompressed.

Author:  Odyssey [ May 1st, 2019, 8:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

I too love the looks of the Curtek, nice and squarish to slide into packs and onto backs. The barrels aren't an issue in their harnesses, and adequately comfortable to carry. T-ing a second load on top as mentioned works really well. The in between sizes would be nice. 60 can be too large, 30 too small. We have to plan for frugal meals with minimalist kitchen if I want to include kitchen kit in the 30 with the food, otherwise the kitchen kit fills its own separate pack. The problem we had with the 60 actually was that it was too large to pack heavy items, so it was used for soft, such as sleeping bags, clothes, tent etc, but we found it was almost too small on cool weather trips even for that. Those 115L portage packs are perfectly sized (for us) for all soft items for 2. The SealLine Pro is stupid comfortable with it's harness system and hasn't leaked yet. Maybe I don't abuse it enough. It'll be an easy duct tape fix if and when it springs a leak. I thought it was expensive at $170 when I bought it but it has been good value. But like all trips and packing it comes down to "What we want to do and how we want to do it." Volume of gear is as much a factor as weight IMO. Shoulder season base camp type of trips mean we're finding room for a glampy 2 burner propane stove and full complement of pots and pans. And heck, we'll probably really live large and bring 2 whole changes of warm dry clothes. The summer travelling type of trips mean fewer packs and less gear/clothing/luxury.
If I were to choose one single pack as a new and uncommitted tripper like the OP says, it might actually be a large dry duffel. I bought a cordura with urethane coated interior medium duffel for about 5-10 bucks (flea market-yard sale) and am really impressed with it. The handles are great as shoulder straps on portages, the full length zip opening makes access easy. And who wouldn't want a duffel as a nontrip do everything go everywhere bag?
Decisions decisions.

Author:  Corbeau [ May 1st, 2019, 8:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Looks like the Scout shop doesn't have the sale price anymore, the pack is back to regular price. Outdoors oriented has it for a few bucks less (

But to your point recped, the OP may want to simply get a nice hiking pack - which can do double-duty - and then get an Ostrom liner to waterproof it for canoe trips: The cost is very reasonable for the flexibility it would give you sylvain.

I've never used one, but it seems the experience with those liners are very good? I was thinking of getting one myself so I can add some flexibility to my pack selection and use some of my hiking bags.

I currently have a 60L barrel w/harness, and one of the Eureka 115L bags - which is usually good for gear+food for two people for the trips I have done, but when I travel with my kids I use drybags for their stuff in a smaller pack.

I'll try to get my barrel out and test it next weekend Mike, as I am curious whether the ring and seal is still good enough.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ May 1st, 2019, 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only? wrote:
The Curtec look nice but seem hard to find. I use a hardware store bucket and a couple different lids. Sub ten bucks. Fits behind my stern seat nice too.

Odyssey wrote:
I too love the looks of the Curtek, nice and squarish to slide into packs and onto backs.

The Cur-tec drums I have are all 10L and round, although Cur-tec does make large squarish ones. I really like the size and squat, wide neck shape of the Cur-tec drums, and was delighted to discover how watertight they proved to be.

They are hard to find. I spent 35 years working in laboratory research and saved routinely the 2.5 and 5 gallon containers lab chemicals are shipped in. We still have a dozen of those screw-top \_/ pails with gasketed* lids. Some were chewed up by camp rodents, which should have clued me in that they weren’t very water (odor) proof.

That tapered \_/ shape is far less convenient to pack in a canoe, and every single one of them leaked when tested.

I managed to recover a total of four 10L Cur-tec wide neck drums, all courtesy of lab that had relocated from the west coast. They appear smaller than the 2.5 gallon buckets, but actually have a little more volume, and pack/store much better in a canoe. I tied a cord loop through the molded recess and cut off three of the four grip handles on the lid. ... m-10-liter

A friend in NY managed to find a half dozen 15 or 20 liter Cur-tecs. ... m-15-liter

Some friend; he didn’t give me one.

If you have friends who work in research labs it would be worth asking them to keep an eye out for used Cut-tecs.

*FWIW, the gasket on the more common 5 gallon \_/ laboratory screw-top pail was the perfect size for the leaky 30L barrel. Or at least one of them was; we have 5 or 6 of those lab chemical pails, with 2 or 3 different gasket styles, and it took some switching out to find just the right one.

Author:  recped [ May 1st, 2019, 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

Mike McCrea wrote:
Agree, that is a very good price for a well appointed dry bag.

Corbeau, if you (or anyone else) tests the waterproofieness of your barrel I’d be interested in the results.

I have a few barrels, both 30l and 60l, I have leaky ones and watertight ones. My go to 60l I've had for almost 30 years, it NEVER leaks, not one single drop even when spemding up to 30 minutes floating around in turbulent water. Similar results with multiple 30l size.

My thoughts on leaks, they come from three reasons:

1 - Deformed gasket/o-ring, usually from long term storage while sealed

2 - mangled snap ring, this may not put enough downward force on the lid, can sometimes be "fixed" by pinching the ring

3 - Manufacturing "defect", these barrels have a "seam", I think they are made with a two piece vertical mold, where the mold pieces join there can sometimes be a "glitch" in the top edge that meets the o-ring, I have one barrel where there is a pronounced "notch" at that seam location with one side being 2 - 3mm higher on one side than the other side, this leaves a gap or at least a post where the barrel and o-ring do not tightly meet. This barrel leaks like a sieve! Another one has the same thing only less pronounced, I don't visually see it buy OI can feel it by running my finger along the rim, this barrel leaks a tiny bit.

In my experience it's #3 that is the most likely suspect when you have a leak, if it's a very small leak grinding down that "notch" may help but if you grind off too much then you have just made an even larger gap, best solution.....get a different barrel!

I've found that the most reliable testing method is to put the barrel out in the sun, let it sit for a bit and then seal the lid. Leave the barrel until the ambient temperature has dropped significantly and then try to remove the lid. On my primary barrel the suction created by the cooled air inside makes it necessary to pry the lid off and I can detect the seal being broken. On a barrel that leaks the lid just lifts off easily indicating no suction and therefore some leakage.

Best practice, when selecting a barrel run your finger along the rim and if you feel bumps, depressions, notches or any other type of defects even very minor ones move on to a different barrel.

Although most of my barrels are "recycled" rather than new, I've found this type of defect on barrels which are unused and are sold specifically for paddling use. I have a Eureka barrel (bought barely used), it leaks!

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ May 1st, 2019, 11:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 60L canoe barrel only?

I have the 70l Eureka. It's not really 70l but all those waterproof packs exaggerate volume. I didn't get a great deal but I still think they're a good value. I like the Eureka's grab handle placement. We lay the pack flat, under the yoke of our 17' prospector and it's always easy to grab. The harness isn't comfortable, I much prefer my CCS 60l barrel harness over it but there's a big price difference.

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