GEAR REVIEW: NRS "Bill's Bag" Dry Bags

Are you planning a river trip in Alaska? Northwest River Supplies offers some of the best dry bags in the industry and you'd do well to have a look. NRS has been making dry bags for many years, and they have it dialed in.

Northwest River Supplies dry bags


Used by commercial guides the world over, NRS dry bags are available in a multitude of sizes and styles. Here's a list:

Northwest River Supplies Dry Bags
Model Capacity Dimensions Description Colors 2020 Retail

NRS 3.8 Bill's Bag

3.8 cu. ft.; 6566 cu. in. 16" dia. x 33" tall Top-loading dry bag with padded backpack straps, top closure and rubberized grab handle. Red, Yellow, Green, Blue $159.95
NRS 3.8 Heavy-Duty Bill's Bag 3.8 cu. ft.; 6566 cu. in. 16" dia. x 33" tall Same as 3.8 Bill's Bag, but with extended 34-oz. bottom for added wear. Red with black bottom $179.95
NRS 2.2 Bill's Bag 2.2 cu. ft.; 3802 cu. in. 14" dia. x 24" tall Top-loading dry bag with padded backpack straps, top closure and rubberized grab handle. Red, Yellow, Green, Blue $139.95


NRS Bill's Bags are available in the following colors:

red yellow green blue
Red Yellow Green Blue

Bill's Bags have been an NRS "core product" for over 30 years, and for good reason. It's a dry bag with a lot of practical features. The Bill's Bag is a top-loader with four closure straps for extra security. To secure the bag you simply roll the top down, secure the cinch straps to the sides of the bag, and extend the two tie-down straps over the top. Properly rolled, this bag can survive a week's immersion in the river without leaking a drop. Features and Construction

The bag also features two curved, padded shoulder straps with a sternum strap to keep those shoulder straps from slipping off. It's ideal for long portages. Finally, each Bill's Bag has a padded grab handle near the top for easy handling in and out of the raft, pickup, or gear pile.

Bill's Bags come in two sizes; a 2.2 cu. ft. bag, and a 3.8 cu. ft. bag. The smaller bag is ideal for a sleeping bag and pad, while the larger one can be used for other gear.

The bags are made with 21-ounce PVC on a polyester base cloth, with a round bottom made from 34-ounce. PVC / polyester. It's a very tough bag. For those needing extra protection on the bottom, a heavy-duty version is available at a slight extra cost. The bottom on the Bill's Heavy Duty bag extends the heavy-duty 34-ounce bottom fabric about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom. This bag is only available in red, with a black bottom.


Top-loading dry bags can be a nightmare to unpack if they are not organized; inevitably the item you are digging for is at the bottom. Sort your contents into colored nylon stuff sacks; clothes in one color bag, first aid / toiletries in a different colored bag, and so forth. When you're looking for an item, simply pull the stuff sacks out until you come to the right one.

Bill's Bags come in a variety of colors. On longer expedition trips, choose one color for each member of your group; a 2.2 for your sleeping gear, and a 3.8 or 3.8 Heavy Duty for your personal gear. This helps each member of your group identify their gear when you're offloading to camp for the evening.

If you're traveling on the airlines, avoid checking in an unprotected dry bag. These bags have straps hanging off of them that can hang up in airline conveyor systems and machinery, and the bag can be damaged by sharp metal or by other luggage. Instead, pack your dry bag and place it inside a canvas duffel for extra protection during transit. Leave the duffel at the hangar before you fly out.

Bring a small roll of Tear-Aid Tape for emergency patching in the field. Use the Type B tape, which is specifically designed for PVC materials.

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