Asheville, NC, September 1, 2020 – Eric Revels – founder of Watershed Drybags – fell in love with whitewater during his childhood time at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo, NC. It was there, soaking up the magic of the Chattooga River, he was guided to follow his passion – not a paycheck – and something clicked. Fast forward to 2020, Revels and his crew based in Asheville, NC, are celebrating 25 years dedicated to making the industry’s best 100% submersible drybags, packs and cases.
Growing from a single style in the fall of 1995, Watershed now offers over 30 SKUS in their recreation line, including duffels, backpacks, kayak bags, boat bags and gun cases. They also manufacture a full military line providing their cutting edge technology to multiple government agencies including all branches of Special Operations.
“When I started Watershed at age 27, I had no idea where this long and winding river would take me. But it has been deeply rewarding to continually improve and develop better waterproof bags for our customers,” Revels said. “We are very excited about our next 25 years and beyond!”
Revels, a New Orleans native and lifelong paddler, spent his fair share of time on the water, fishing, hunting, boating, snorkeling and sailing. He quickly grew tired of dealing with gear getting damp in the supposed ‘drybags’ he first owned. The opportunity to put his passion into practice was born. Beginning with sewing his own drybags and testing them out with friends for feedback before obsessing over every detail to make them perfect, Revels quickly learned what the most important details were for the people who would be using them most.
“I, and the rest of the world, needed a waterproof bag that was truly airtight and submersible. I needed to create a bag that people could trust with cameras, expensive electronics, medicine, food, and cold weather gear. A bag that remained completely waterproof even if you flipped a raft, swam out of a kayak, or got caught in a storm while sailing the open ocean. And so I set out to build what became the Watershed ZipDry bag,” Revels reflected.
Dubbed, “a freezer bag on steroids,” an “oversized rubber sandwich bag” and more, Watershed’s proprietary ZipDry closure system is what has set the Made in America brand apart from others in the industry. Sealing tightly shut and far less clunky and prone to damage than other waterproof zippers, Watershed bags have been tested by the US Navy to 100 meters of submersion without any leakage whatsoever.
Rugged and durable, Watershed’s construction and material choice also differs from others on the market. Instead of using cheap PVC coating, Watershed uses polyurethane-coated fabric which is chemically stable (read, good for the environment) and provides five times the abrasion resistance of PVC. They also double and triple layer their fabric at meeting points, and weld joints together with high pressure radio waves. Creating a seamless bond, the seams in their bags are so strong, word on the street is you can run over one without it getting damaged.
Not only has this kind of technology earned them the opportunity to specially design bags for both US and European military divisions, it’s also enabled the brand to assist in other areas of R+D, such as pivoting to the creation of PPE during the current global pandemic. Assisting Kitsbow, Industry Nine and Oowee Products, Watershed provided cutting of the materials needed for face shields. By working together on sourcing, production and development, the group shifted into high gear, turning out 30,000+ shields ready for assembly in just one day.
Adapting, evolving, and always listening to customer and industry feedback, the brand hopes to continue to grow for another 25 years, and more.