Being seen and keeping kit dry are both paramount when on the water ~ the Ulu AquaTrek 36 helps you to do both, writes Mike Gormley.
Since I have had the Ulu AquaTrek 36, produced by a Cornish company founded by a former RNLI lifeguard, I have not been out on the water without it. It has a number of key benefits. It is fully waterproof and floats. Therefore, it will keep your kit dry and if it does get dropped in the ‘oggin’ it will keep it safe on the surface until recovered. Along with that its high visibility colour will enable you to see it and it also comes with a significant reflective strip to make it visible at night. Importantly, it will enable you to be seen when you have it with you.
Spending a fair bit of time on the water these days I really wish folk would wear hi-vis when swimming in the sea or river or when on SUP boards and kayaks, as they can be very difficult to see. So using an AquaTrek has a significant safety element. In addition, it is just great for containing all your kit when waterborne or even if swimming.
As the name suggests it has a 36 litre capacity. There is a tow line that comes with it for swimmers or those in /on small craft with limited stowage. The AquaTrek has two compartments and both have large waterproof zips. This helps to sort your gear a bit. There is also a mouth tube so it is possible to inflate the Ulu for added buoyancy, should you need it. However, the bag it quite ridged in its own right, so tends to stay ‘inflated’. This of course could offer a significant level of assistance to anyone in the water needing a bit of help. It is clearly not intended as a life-saving device but could come in very handy should the need arise.
As the name also suggests, this is in fact a rucksack with the necessary straps. This strap set is made to come off with reasonable ease, with four clip fastenings. It would make it easier to tow if swimming, but generally I would leave them on as very handy if portaging or just walking along the jetty or harbour to the boat. Perhaps not a rucksack to use for a long distance yomp, but if out in very wet conditions it is quite acceptable as a dry land kit transport device.
Thoughtfully, the AquaTrek is provided with compression straps – also useful to secure it on a boat. It has a selection of loops to secure external items and two small mesh pockets. There is a substantial grab handle at the top, which is very handy. The construction is very robust and I would think it will last a long time, even with a lot of use. I have had quite tough-looking dry bags in the past and they have failed after not a great deal of use, but this should not be an issue here.
I have to say I have found the waterproof zips a bit of a trick. Not too bad when dry but if wet they can be quite hard to pull along as there is nothing much to hold onto to react to your pull. The front pocket zip can be helped with a hand in the back pocket, but the main section is more tricky. Both zips have loop ‘locks’ to keep them from opening, which would seem unlikely. The main thing is that they do seem to be watertight, which is of course their main function. Of relevance these days, the material that this bag is made from is made up from recycled plastic bottles.
Over the past couple of months the AquaTrek 36 has become standard kit for me when I am off boating and I can’t see this changing anytime soon.
[Images © Mike or Jean Gormley]