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The Arc'teryx LEAF Drypack 70

The DRYPACK 70 was specifically designed for maritime operations. It weighs in at 2.47 kg/87 oz and is 70L of waterproof load bearing equipment that is well suited for VBSS, boat ops, over the beach work and can also function as a flotation device.


have spent a large portion of my life around or on the water. Most of the homes I have lived in were either within walking distance to the water or had a view of it. As a kid, I spent many summers in an ocean kayak paddling around the Puget Sound. I made a handful of trips to the San Juan Islands, hopping island-to-island and camping along the way. I even kayaked up in Canada, where I first learned what it meant to be wet and cold. At that time I was only about 8 or so but the memory of being cold, wet and miserable is something I still vividly remember. That wouldn’t be the last time either.

As a young man I joined the Navy and became the youngest sailor to ever go to and graduate Special Warfare Combat Crewman (SWCC) School. At the time it was the late 1990s and I was 19 years young. For those unaware, SWCC – or “Boat Guys” as we are fondly called – spend the majority of our time on the water. SWCC are tasked with a variety of mission roles to include insertion and extraction of SEAL teams and other Special Operation Units, as well as reconnaissance, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations, Maritime Interdiction (MIO), search and rescue and other mission profiles. During my time as a SWCC I was attached to RIB Dets. A RIB (also RHIB) stands for Ridged Hull, Inflatable Boat. These are high speed gun boats that are highly maneuverable, extremely rugged and completely exposed to the elements.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

The SWCC operator is at the mercy of God’s big, cold ocean. There is no shelter for a RIB Det. There are no heaters, no bunks, no creature comforts. All you have is your guys, your gear your boat and your guns. All of the guys and the majority of their gear need to withstand the elements and the pain. Imagine flying (yes flying) across the open ocean at 70 mph. The constant pounding the body and equipment takes is brutal. If your gear wasn’t strapped down it ended up overboard or busted up. If you weren’t holding on and you took a bad hit you would find your ass in the middle of the ocean without a boat. When I was in, it was reported that the Boat Units (now called Boat Teams) had the highest injury rate in the military. The G forces exerted on the body is mind numbing. Many guys suffered from constant headaches. I have seen guys piss blood. I had a buddy break his back and I used to be an inch taller. Seriously. You are pounded like a steak and salted by the sea at the same time. We were always wet. It didn’t matter what time of year, the location or the hours. If you were a Boat Guy, you were always dirty and always wet and usually cold. There is an NSW saying, “It is better to be cold ‘n wet in UDT’s than warm and dry in dungarees.” Amen to that.

We had lots of great gear to aid in our mission profile as well as protect us and our equipment from the elements. By today’s standards it may pale in comparison, but looking back it was all top-notch stuff. We had our wet suits, dry suits, thermal wear, tactical vests, arms, armor, coms, etc. No expense was spared; we had the best of the best. Ironically some of my favorite pieces of kit I was issued was a series of dry bags to stow all my stuff in. I had small bags, medium bags and one very large black bag that had a set of shoulder straps on it so I could wear it like a modified back pack should the need arise. Like I said, top of the line…back then. Oh, if I could only see the future. In 2013, a Canadian outdoor company would create a product made just for me and my brothers that would be perfect for our mission profile.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

Born in 1991 in Vancover, BC, ARC’TERYX has long been known for manufacturing some of the world’s finest outdoor apparel and equipment. They created their ARC’TERYX LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) brand to tailor to those men and women that go into harm’s way and use and abuse their equipment, while depending on it day in and day out to keep them operational. Their newest offering is four years in the making and is called the DRYPACK 70. The DRYPACK 70 was specifically designed for maritime operations. It weighs in at 2.47 kg/87 oz and is 70L of waterproof load bearing equipment that is well suited for VBSS, boat ops, over the beach work and can also function as a flotation device.

It is completely water proof made from HT 725D Cordura which is coated with urethane on both sides. It uses a unique AC² (Advanced Composite Construction) which is a taped-and-sealed method that is said to be vastly lighter in weight and more rugged than other methods of fabrication. It also sports a double layer reinforced bottom and sides giving it outstanding tear resistance. This is important as I mentioned before, the high speed boats and open water beat the crap out of everything. It has a massive top opening for large content storage. The first day I had it I stuffed it full of two AR15s, a smaller pack and some miscellaneous soft apparel. I have also crammed it full of two larger back packs full of specific range gear. Instead of two bags, I only needed the one DRYPACK 70.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

For the maritime warrior this bag is perfect for extra dry clothes, electronics, escape and evasion kit, weapons, etc. Anything you want to keep dry, this will do it. The opening is sealed with a beefy TIZIP zipper, which provides a waterproof seal. The RollTop™ closure is then rolled and quick-clipped to the two removable side compression cinch straps on the side. Remove the air with the top mounted oral inflation valve and compress, cinch the straps and the pack is now secure and waterproof.

If you have to go in the drink, the top mounted oral inflation valve can be used to regulate the pack buoyancy. This is an outstanding feature as it allows the contents to be sealed tight by removing all the air, or they can be expanded, filled full of air to float for easy swimming or to act as a flotation device. There is a grab handle on the top and bottom and a removable 1 meter long tether on top to makes grabbing and towing simple. Just expand the tether, clip it to your tactical vest with a carebiner and swim to shore.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

Once ashore, the operator can wear the DRYPACK 70 like a backpack. It has a built in, fully customizable and fully removable Alpine-grade back pack system. This means they can be stowed in the pack, out of the way and deployed when it is appropriate. The special C² suspension system consists of a laminate back panel, GridLock™ shoulder straps that fully adjust to the individual user’s width and height and it has a removable Load Transfer™ Disc. The disc is unique as it is designed to rotate freely to better stabilize the pack load on uneven terrain. This disc is attached to a waist strap allowing the weight of the pack to be distributed more on the hips, taking strain off the back, which results in the core muscles not having to work so hard. There is an adjustment for just about everything. Shoulder strap tension, width and elevation, chest strap tension and elevation and load adjustments. For conceal-ability, the exterior wears the highly popular and highly effective multicam pattern.

As a bonus, all the loose ends of the adjustment straps can be secured. Back in the day, we used to either cut off the excess and melt the edges or tape them up with riggers tape. ARC’TERYX has come up with a better solution. Every place that has an adjustment strap also has a plastic tab with an elastic strap that captures the loose ends and secures them, keeping them out of the way. If for some reason the operator needs to haul more gear than can fit in the bag, such as swim fins, there are hard plastic connection points that allow for more webbing to be attached or even secured with a bungee cord which was a popular way to stow swim fins in my day.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

The interior is simple, yet well thought out. It is primarily just a large, cavernous space for gear, however it has the Web Dominator™ system which is basically two rows of webbing loops fastened to the interior of the bag to strap or clip gear. This allows gear to be stored in a somewhat orderly fashion rather than in a hap hazard heap. The interior also has a top mounted zippered pocket for small easy-to-lose items. Lastly, the interior of the bag is white to make finding objects easier. This is especially crucial in low light environments.

I must say I am very impressed with the DRYPACK 70. I have had it for about a month now and it is very comfortable to wear and simple to adjust. My body didn’t feel strained as I can tailor the bag to my build. While I haven’t had the opportunity to jump off a gun boat and swim it to shore (I doubt that will ever happen again) it has been through some decent rain and all the contents remained nice and dry. Looking back I can see how this bag would have made life much easier. Instead of trying to fit a dry-bag into a back pack, adding more weight, the DRYPACK 70 takes the best of both worlds, cuts down on the weight and adds superior waterproofing. While at SHOT Show, I spoke to the LEAF brand manager, Marc Elbaz. I asked him if he had any operator feedback on the DRYPACK 70. He assured me they had, which is why it took four years to develop. They want to make sure their products are made right with all the important end user input, and it shows. It should also be noted this bag isn’t for everyone. It is for a very specific customer with a unique price point. That being said, I do see great applications for civilian water sport enthusiasts such as kayakers who like to island-hop and set up camp.

Photo by Jody Lewis for Guns & Tactics Magazine

I truly hope my NSW brothers are now using this piece of kit. If they aren’t they should be.

To find out more about the DRYPACK 70 visit Arc’teryx LEAF

MSRP is $1,199.00

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