It is difficult to decide in which category to review this. Pakboats PakPod is a very nifty combination paddle float and dry deck bag. I purchased mine when they first became available and have used it for several years. A good paddle float is an essential safety item. It can be fastened to a kayak paddle blade to provide a buoyant outrigger for extra stability in an emergency. And it will allow an unaided solo paddler to reenter a properly rigged kayak after a wet exit. Because of its triple duty versatility, as paddle float, dry bag, and day backpack, the PakPod is one of my most useful and cost effective pieces of gear.
The PakPod is designed to strap to the foredeck of a kayak. I've used mine with a Pakboat Puffin 12 as well as a variety of kayaks and solo canoes. As a paddle float it has functioned properly, easing self-rescue in deep water situations. The flat bottom side has a convenient mesh retainer and strap for the paddle blade. The arched top side has an external mesh pocket with cord lock which is convenient to hold rope, map, and small items I want to reach from the cockpit. Bright color and reflective strips enhance visibility. Pakboats website shows a red PakPod. Mine is yellow, easy to spot on the water or around camp.
A roll top closure seals the interior against water. It has kept valuable gear dry on many extended camping trips and has had only a small amount of condensation dampness even after days and nights of rain. A semi-rigid interior plastic stiffener ensures that the Pod retains its shape and volume for paddle float buoyancy. The stiffener also protects delicate items like cameras and binoculars. On trips that require long portages I save weight by removing the plastic stiffener and using clothing to pad gear and fill the volume.
Although paddle floats are considered sea kayak gear, I also use them in my solo canoes whenever paddling deep waters. In those conditions I always carry a double blade paddle so that I can use a paddle float and have the extra power and boat control of two blades. On solo canoes I rig the thwarts or gunwales with bungees behind the seat to hold a double paddle in place for a paddle float reentry. The PakPod is buckled to a thwart where it is easy to reach and use if I capsize. Paddle float reentry procedures are similar for solo canoes and kayaks.
One of the things I like best about the PakPod is that I was able to rig it to use as a small backpack. The harness which holds the Pod to the kayak deck buckles to the Pod at the four corners. With the harness removed it was possible to add one inch wide webbing and four plastic male buckles to make shoulder straps. Voila! A totally dry day pack with two external mesh pockets! This added utility has made the PakPod something I take on almost every paddle outing. After the boat, paddle, and PFD, my PakPod is the item I use most. My other paddle floats are mostly retired.
In backpack mode, the flat bottom rides against the back very comfortably. The one inch web shoulder straps are very comfortable for the small pack size and weight I'm likely to carry. Volume is 10 liters, or 2.5 gallons. The PakPod has become essential for canoe camping trips that require portaging. I pack the Pod with things I might need on the water and don't want stored out of reach in larger, harder to access packs. This might be camera, binoculars, snacks, rain jacket, fishing gear, and small emergency items. When reaching a portage I first carry my large pack of camping gear and my food pack. Then I return to make a second carry with the PakPod on my back and the solo canoe portage yoke on my shoulders.
The versatility to use the PakPod as a small, dry, backpack turns it into something that is useful beyond its cost. Great bang for buck, like a Swiss Army knife of dry bags. I hope Pakboats will offer the backpack straps as an option. If not, this is something you can easily do yourself at little cost.
Durability is good. I use mine several times a week. It's still dry and hasn't worn out.