There are many canyoning bags on the market these days, from major companies to small independent manufactures. Access Gear out of New Zealand designs and make canyoning backpacks for whitewater canyoning that last the test of time. Shanan Fraser reviews them for us.
I have been using an Access Gear Expedition Canyoning bag for approximately 4 years. I purchased a prototype model early in 2012 and it has been going strong ever since. It has started to show some signs of wear but it has had a lot of heavy use across 3 countries in more canyons than I can remember. I have recently started using the newer Mesh Expedition Bag which is quite simply the best draining bag I have ever seen. This review will be focused mainly on this model.
The Mesh Expedition bag is made of hard wearing PVC mesh. The lid and base are made of super durable Hypalon with extra piping around the bottom for extra wear resistance. Stainless steel eyelets provide for additional drainage and a draw cord at the top. A rugged zipper provides access to a pocket on the lid. The bag has surprisingly comfortable padded shoulder straps and an adjustable waist band which provide a lot more comfort than cheaper webbing straps.
Although not as supportive & comfortable as a rigid frame hiking style harness, the shoulder straps and waist belt provide good stability and load sharing. The addition of a sternum strap in my mind would be a big improvement (These can be added on special request). Inside the main compartment is a sleeve to insert additional floatation or store smaller items and 4 webbing loops allow for the attachment of equipment.
The Mesh Expedition Bag is the fastest draining bag I have ever seen bar none! Its capacity to shed water borders on miraculous and it will fully drain in as long as it takes you to pick it up and sling it over your shoulder. Full Mesh construction, with drainage holes on the bottom provide nowhere for water to hide. There is built in Internal floatation with an additional pocket for adding addition closed cell foam pad if you desire.
If you want a super tough rapid draining canyon bag then the Access Gear Mesh Expedition bag is the one for you. While it does not have a technical Hiking harness & frame, the padded straps make for a surprisingly comfortable carry. They are particularly suited for NZ or Euro style aquatic canyons (Class C if you hail from the land of the free) due to its rapid drainage. Highly durable, suits bush bashing and guiding.
For more information and their full range of canyoning bags, visit http://www.accessgear.net