Keep Your Gear Dry this Winter with the Catalyst Waterproof Backpack.
I know that I cannot be the only terrible gift receiver! I do not know if I am overly picky or if I simply have everything I could need/want by Christmas. My wife struggles every Christmas to surprise me because she does not understand or care about technology, gadgets, gizmos. Over the past three years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as a Cub Scout Leader with my nine and seven-year-old sons. We have looked into new gear for camping and survival, and I have wanted a lightweight bag that I could attach to my main hiking bag. Imagine my excitement when one of my favorite Waterproof Case makers (CATALYST) announced a 20L waterproof bag. I talked with my wife, and I said: “THAT, I want that.”
The Catalyst Waterproof Backpack arrived in a 5 1/4 inches long by 2 3/4 inches wide by 2 3/8 inches thick clear plastic bag. Inside of the thin plastic container, I found an attractive black nylon drawstring bag with flat black catalyst logo/title. Rotating the bag to the opposite side, I was pleased to find that catalyst included a useful black carriage hook and an attached instruction manual. The cover of the manual showed images of the unfolded backpack, the compressed backpack and three icons detailing the waterproof, compact and ultralight nature of the Waterproof 20L Backpack. The inside of the manual provided a useful labeled diagram of the TPU coated nylon fabric bag with mesh shoulder straps, roll-top closure, taped waterproof seams, the nine-inch deep side pockets, and the neat carry pouch. For a bonus, Catalyst provided this information in Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Traditional and Simplified Chinese. The reverse panel provided some information about the limited one-year warranty and where to look for additional information (www.catalystcase.com/instructions). I was lucky that I had not just taken a drink because I did chuckle a little when I read “attention: the backpack is not indestructible and must be used with care.” This reminded me of a joke by Ron White about swimming with the killer shark fish. Seriously, is it not absurd that we have to state the obvious on our packaging? Either way, this is another gem in the pro-catalyst column.
To remove the backpack from the carry pouch, release the barrel cord lock, slide it away from the pouch and then remove the bag. The bag will unroll to its full width and 1/4 of its height. It is important to note that this is not a hiking backpack, book bag nor is it designed for long-term use or comfort. This style of bag is designed to attach to your main pack, to your belt loop and to be an emergency bag or a quick carriage bag. The thin, breathable, black 2-inch wide mesh shoulder straps attached to the bottom triangular nylon panel via a 3/8 inch wide strap. Each of the straps has a quick pull mechanism that acted like a taut line hitch. If you pull the strap, the shoulder strap easily tightened, but if you attempt to loosen the hitch, it took much more finagling. I appreciated that the bag came with an included chest strap, utilizing the same 3/8 inch wide strapping, and a 2 inch wide by 1 1/8 inches wide buckle. As a bonus, the buckle contained a hidden whistle. Despite the positives, I wish that the chest strap could slide up or down the shoulder strap. Located 2 3/4 inches from the upper 1 1/8 inches strap, I found a 1 1/4 inches wide by 3/8 inches thick black strap that spanned each of the shoulder straps. Upon each of the straps, I found an attractive white catalyst logo. The upper edge of each shoulder strap attached to a large U-shaped nylon flap. The cutout allowed the bag to set on your back and to provide space for your neck/upper back.
Turning the bag over, you will immediately notice the flat black catalyst logo abutting the ten-inch long waterproof zipper. Pull downward on he thin zipper pull and enjoy the smooth mechanism of the zipper. Once open, I was able to access the 13 1/2 inches tall trapezoidal front pouch. The upper section measured just at 9 inches wide and the lower section measured 7 1/4 inches wide. Move the zipper upward, hide it under the water-resistant cover and enjoy a robust weather/water protective zipper. If you look at the left side of the bag (your right side and side nearest zipper), you will find approximately 9 inches tall by 5 inches wide water bottle pocket with an elastic retention strap. A similarly sized waterbottle pocket was added to the right side of the bag as well, perfect for your waterbottle/protein shake bottle. The top section of the bag had another U-shaped flap with attached 3/8 inches wide strapping and tightening buckles. These straps attached over the top of the bag to the shoulder straps. To access the main compartment of the 6.7-ounce, 20L, 14 1/2 inches wide by 24 inches tall compartment, open the top of the bag. The main compartment was lined with a waterproof plastic layer that could be sealed like a dry bag. To close the top portion of the waterproof bag, roll the opening lip three times and connect the two halves of the buckle. This setup was similar to many dry bags and the advertised air couches. An internal instructional guide recommended an extra waterproof bag or catalyst waterproof case for your device.
The bag was perfect for a day-hike, a quick trip to the store, a sweater/hoodie or even for a child packing a few items for an overnight stay at a friend’s home. I loved the build and the overall feel of the bag but wished that the zipper pull or face of the bag had a reflective coating. I loved the white catalyst logo on the shoulder straps and wished that the color was used on the face as well. When finished, fold the bag into fourths and then roll it tightly. If you have ever tried to get a tent or sleeping bag back into its bag, this step may cause you to wince. Interestingly, this step proved too much easier than I expected. I added and removed the back at least a dozen times and found rolling the bag worked better than stuffing it into the bag like a sleeping bag. To test the waterproof nature, I added a roll of toilet paper into the bag, rolled the top over as directed and added four pieces of paper towel to the front compartment and then zipped it up. I placed the bag in the shower for about 90 seconds and then realized my mistake. The top of the bag fell over, the bottom sagged and a pool of water formed over the front zipper. This pool entered into the front zipper compartment and allowed water ingress. Roughly 1/4 of the paper towel became wet, but the remainder stayed dry. When I repeated the test holding the bag upright in the shower, the water glanced off the outer zipper and did not gain access to the bag. I left the roll of toilet paper in the inside of the bag throughout all of the tests. After allowing the bag to rest on the floor of my shower and while holding the bag under the shower, I unrolled the bag and was amazed that the roll of toilet paper remained dry and fully unscathed. The bag survived the test and like Catalyst Waterproof Cases, truly surprised me. It was portable, collapsible, attachable, water resistant and well built.
The straps of the bag were not the most comfortable, and I would not want to carry this for long periods. I did like the contour of the bag and the included sternum strap with safety whistle. I have my main pack to serve as my comfortable all day bag, with chest and abdomen straps, padded shoulders, and breathable back. Although comfortable, my large Maxpedition Falcon II and the smaller Pygmy Falcon II may be overkill for some situations. Having looked into the Maxpedition Roly Poly backpack, I was pleased that I went with Catalyst instead. The Catalyst Waterproof bag is the perfect companion to my main hiking bag and would work well as a gym bag, for quick jaunts or emergencies. The upper compartment easily held my MacBook Pro and a fleece jacket. It would hold your gym towel, change of clothing and it will likely keep them dry in the rain. I applaud Catalyst for their bag, the 20L waterproof bag may be the perfect holiday gift for me.