Who needs a changing room? Since her sailing club was condemned, Ali Wood gets changed on the slipway with the Red Original Kit Bag and Pro Changing Robe

I have a cupboard full of waterproof bags. Some I use for keeping water in (for example, my 40L Musto drybag, which I use for lugging around soggy wetsuits); others for keeping water out (for example, my 20L aquafree drybag when paddleboarding or sailing). 

The thing I love about Red Original’s Waterproof Kit Bag is it does both at the same time. You can carry your wet gear in one compartment and your laptop, phone and dry clothes in another.

Made from recycled plastic bottles, the bag has so many sections I genuinely lose my stuff in it and have to rotate it 360 degrees before I discover the hidden pocket!  

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Red Original Waterproof Kit Bag

The bag’s fully waterproof and I mostly use it on boats and for carrying my dinghy kit.

Sadly, the clubhouse at my local sailing club got condemned during lockdown, so the members now get changed on the slipway. Not a problem! I just put the kit bag on my bike and cycle down in a changing robe and slip my swimmers and wetsuit on underneath. 

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You can read more about changing robes in this article – I’m a big fan of Red Original Co’s Pro Changing Robe and dryrobe, but there are lots of other brands available now too. On a hot day, or if I need a lighter, more portable dryrobe, I use a microfibre changing robe.

Handy changing mat

But back to the bag… the Red Original Waterproof Kit Bag comes with a changing mat, which is handy for keeping stones or sand off your feet, and the 40L bag just about fits a buoyancy aid, wetsuit, water bottle and snacks. If I need to carry any more, though, I’d probably go up to the 60L bag. 

The welded-seam zipper is a little stiff to open and close, but that’s the price you pay for a waterproof zip that’s not going to fail on you. A lot of drybags just come with a roll-top, which can be tedious if you want to dig something out of the bottom. 

Using the Red Original kit bag and Pro Changing robe to get ready for sailing

I also use the bag for the beach and throw our wet swimsuits in the water-resistant side pocket. Whilst this keeps it separate from your dry stuff, be warned the water does seep through to the outside. A few times I’ve returned home with a soggy patch on my back! That said, it’s great for items that aren’t quite so waterlogged, such as muddy clothing or a damp cagoule.

Lots of pockets for keeping wet stuff separate from dry

Alternatively, throw your wet swimmers in the main section (which is totally waterproof) and keep your valuables in the side-pocket. I can just about fit my 16in MacBook in the side-pocket, so often take this bag to the beach and start the day with a swim before working remotely from my favourite beach cafe. 

A great holdall

The bag works great as a holdall. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice as a rucksack – the reason being it doesn’t have a waist strap and the chest strap is very lightweight. For the capacity it’s designed to hold (the larger bag, up to 60L) it could do with one. Being small in stature, I find the chest strap sits around my lower ribs, and when the bag’s full, and the shoulder straps tightened, it’s fairly uncomfortable and I can only just about get it done up. 

The Red Original Kit bag can be carried as a holdall or on your back

When I queried this with Red Original, they pointed out that 60L is a lot to carry on your back, so they don’t classify the bag as a rucksack. Rather, the straps are there to help with carrying the holdall over a shorter distance, and it should be looked at more as a dry bag/ holdall (ie. in the hand) in terms of use, which you can’t do with wide straps.

Ultimately it comes down to the strap being ergonomic for day to day use as opposed to being designed for comfort with very heavy loads,” they said. “We designed the bag trying to keep it lightweight and fuss free for a variety of activities. I personally wouldn’t describe the chest strap as very uncomfortable, but it definitely does help / is an improvement vs. not having it.” 

“​It is interesting to see the feedback on wanting a waist strap though, we decided to leave that off as the feeling was that most people wouldn’t have the requirement to use that, the intention was we want to keep the bag lightweight and easy, but definitely something we can explore further especially for the 60L bag.”

Overall, I’m impressed by the Red Original Kit Bag, and agree with their feedback that it’s great for carrying gear on and off the boat, for storing wet and dry clothes to and from the car, plane and train, but only for shorter distances.

As well as being highly functional it’s really smart, and certainly attracts nice comments when I take it out. 

What to wear for dinghy sailing

In the video you can see what I typically wear for dinghy sailing. I expect to capsize and get wet, so I wear a rashvest under my O’Neill wetsuit, and then a windproof splashvest, or ‘smock’ over the top – this keeps me warm, even when wet. Then, of course, I wear a buoyancy aid.

Buy a loose-fit rashvest from Decathlon

Buy an O’Neill wetsuit from Amazon

Buy a splashvest from Decathlon

Buy a buoyancy aid from Decathlon

In the photo above I’m wearing wet shoes, though often I wear surf boots or dinghy sailing boots as I prefer to cover my ankles too. In the winter, I might wear a pair of hiking socks under my boots and rubber gloves under my sailing gloves for extra warmth.

Buy surf boots from Decathlon

I always wear sailing gloves to prevent blisters from handling ropes, and often – if it’s windy – I’ll wear a helmet too to soften the blow of a knock from the boom. 

Buy a sailing helmet on Amazon

Buy sailing gloves from Decathlon

I always take a water bottle out with me, and especially love Red Original’s sturdy stainless steel one, which keeps cold drinks cool for 24 hours or hot drinks warm for 12 hours. 

Buy a Changing Robe from Red Original

Buy a Waterproof Kit Bag from Red Original

Buy a 1l stainless steel waterbottle from Red Original

On a hot day (such as in the video below) I might just wear boardshorts, a rashvest or t-shirt, such as the Zhik UV active top  and keep a splashvest in a drybag in case it gets cooler.

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