Introduction: Waterproof Pouches, Almost Free!

About: We have been making high end custom adventure and bushcraft gear for a long time. Secretly, we have always preferred the rustic and DIY approach to camping over the slick tactical and manufactured products. Ma…

Super Simple DIY Waterproof Pouches that cost next to nothing to make!

Welcome to our first Instructable. We are ‘long time listeners, first time callers’ and it’s about time we put something back in the mix.

OK, before we begin they are pretty darn waterproof if you take your time and make the fancy version of these aluminium clips. The ultra simple version using a twig or dowel will hold up to a lot of rain and even a quick drop in water. I would not use these for expensive gear while kayaking though...but that’s up to you!

As a bonus, we are going to describe how to make two versions of these DryPouches: The ultra simple,100% free to make and eco-friendly pouch as well as the fancy looking one on the cover picture.

Many of you will work these out by just looking at the first few pictures (that’s how I tend to learn anyway). They really are that simple. It’s just a twig and a recycled inner tube! The following pages will be for people that would like some simple construction tips and a walk-through on making the fancy version of these clips.

If anyone wants to suggest a name for these, I would appreciate the help! ‘DryPouch’ is just a little...well... bland? It sounds a bit like something you would get in your armpit while hiking!

I have been making and using these for years now and have not seen them anywhere on the net, but it’s impossible to have an original thought these days, so...

If I have stolen someone’s idea, sorry mate! I’m happy to share the limelight with you.

A quick note about us, we have been making high end custom adventure and bushcraft gear for a long time. Secretly, we have always preferred the rustic and DIY approach to camping over the slick, tactical and manufactured products. Machete Bushcraft Australia and this Instructable are all about us getting back to basics. We are packing away all the fancy tools and jargon for a while and just focusing on sharing what works for us! Hopefully you might find these helpful as well.

If you like this Instructable and would like to say thank you, vote for us in the Survival Contest! We are late in the running and would appreciate a running start!

You might also like to take a look at our YouTube video if you want to see these pouches in action! Click the link below. It's a long video with lots of related info on bushcraft related topics.

Click Here For A YouTube Link!

Like and Subscribe as we have many more YouTube clips on the drawing board!

Step 1: The Ultra Simple and Free DryPouch Using a Twig

This really does not need much explaining. Take the twig, fold the inner tube slip once over it and secure that fold with a ranger band (an elastic band cut from the left over inner tube). Fill the pouch and repeat on the other side.


Tricks with getting the ultra simple dry pouch to work a little better

  • These work just fine for large mountain bike inner tubes. The sizes we look out for are 2-2.75” wide. Bigger tubes (motorcycle sizes and up) are going to struggle with this method unless it’s well packed with a large fold.
  • Try to pack your equipment so it fills the void near the folds. This helps the ranger bands to close the inner tube up tight, as well as stretching the folded tube over the round twig.
  • Reuse discarded inner tubes from bicycle repair shops. Manners get you everywhere in this world and if your polite, they will point you over to a recycling box to help yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask, bike people are generally very eco-friendly and happy someone will get good use out of them!
  • Cheap inner tubes are better. They tend to be much softer and thinner. Don’t bother with the thorn proof or extra HD ones.
  • Use a smooth straight twig or 6mm (1/4”) timber dowel.
  • You can fold the flap back under the ranger band, but the extra length needed means it is a bit difficult getting light and well packed items out.

What, a bonus on the bonus page!

Want a look inside out field sharpening kit?

The last picture is the breakdown of what we carry when we need a field sharpening kit. We need our tools sharp and with this system, we can put a razor's edge on a machete, knife or axe very quickly while out in the field. The advantage with this system is that nothing is disposable or readily wears out. Provided we take care of the two flat chainsaw files, we have months worth of daily sharpening in this kit.

We are soon to do a second sharpening video on YouTube on how we use this kit. Take a look on the 'about us' page on how to find us. The biggest tip I can give to beginner sharpeners is that a strop is not just for the pro's. It's a very easy to use and very inexpensive tool that improves the edge that you already have.

Ok, enough of the twig method and on to the fancy version.

Step 2: Step 2: the Fancy Aluminium DryPouch Clips

These are made from aluminium tube and paracord. The way these work is very simple. The slit you are going to cut is only wide enough to accommodate an inner tube folded over once and slid in from one end. If you have the paracord laid inside the fold, it then becomes too fat to be pulled through the slit. The fold around the paracord and the pinch at the slit create the seal.

What size Aluminum tube do I use?

  • If your making a DryPouch from mountain bike inner tubes: Use 10mm by 1mm wall thickness aluminium tube (For our fellow USA campers, 3/8 tube by 1/32 wall thickness may work. 10mm by 1mm are both about a 1/64th larger).
  • Making a DryPouch from a motorcycle inner tube: Use 12mm by 1mm wall thickness aluminium tube (1/2” by 3/64th).

You can use what you like. We use aluminium tube as these sizes are easy to find here in Australia but brass and copper tubing would look a bit ‘Steampunk’ lf that’s the look you’re after.

The process is simple.

1. Cut the aluminium tube to length which is about 10mm (3/8”) wider than the flattened inner tube.

2. Mark the cut-out to suit the thickness of the rubber (folded) which is about 4mm for bicycle inner tubes and 6mm for motorcycle tubes. Adjustments (experiments!) for fit may be needed so cut shy of the mark, test and widen the gap with a file to suit. Snug fits are more waterproof but are frustrating to put back on the dry pouch. Read the FAQ at the end for solutions.

3. Drill a 4mm (5/32") hole on one end for the paracord. It’s centred about 6mm (1/4") from the edge (not that critical). Keep it above the gap you just cut for the inner tube though.

4. File and round all edges that come in contact with the rubber. Polish with fine steel wool (#000 or #0000 steel wool both work well)

5. Add paracord, install on your new inner tube DryPouch and go for a hike in the rain!

Step 3: Step 3: Tools Needed

This depends on what tools you have access to. We are describing a method that suits the most basic tool box as this will cover most DIY’ers.

Bare minimum tools: Pictured inside the hacksaw in the photo

  • Hacksaw: Cutting slits and aluminium and trimming to length. Use a fine tooth pattern about 20 tpi
  • Flat chainsaw file: Smoothing everything out. They have rounded safe edges which is helpful
  • #000 Steel Wool: Polishing everything. The zero’s are a numbering system similar to sandpaper. #0 is coarse and #0000 is very fine
  • Bench vise: Clamping the tube for cutting. It’s very difficult to hold the tube any other way

More tools make life easier: Outside the hacksaw in the photo

  • Cordless and 4mm drill: If you want an integrated cord
  • Round chainsaw file: Helps smoothing everything out
  • Debur tool: Same as round chainsaw file
  • Tube cutter: Easier to use for cutting the tube to length
  • WD40: Lubes the hacksaw while cutting the long slits
  • Pencil and ruler: It’s easier that guessing the length and scratching a mark!

So how do you install and remove these clips? That's step 4!

Step 4: Step 4: How to Use These Clips

Ok, we described how these clips work but not how to install or remove them.

To get them off is very fast. Just grab the pouch near the clip, grab the clip near the hole for the paracord and slide the clip off.

To install the clip, it takes a little practice. You’re reversing the process above with a few more steps, one trick and one tip.

You can close these pouches with the back or front facing towards you but I find it helps if you keep the clip in your dominant hand.

The trick is to keep the tail (opposite side to the clip end) of the paracord taught while you start to slide the clip on the folded rubber. If you tuck the paracord tail in your pinkie finger, this keeps the rest of that hand free to work.

The tip is to read the first “Helpful Shop Notes and FAQ’s” post on the next page. Automotive paste wax really improves these pouches and it helps the clips to glide rather than bind.

Step 5: Step 5: Helpful Shop Notes and FAQ’s

We have been asked so many questions about these over the years so here is a list of the more common Q&A’s...and a little light humour as the topic is a bit..well... ‘Dry’.

Some if this may seem very basic info but keep in mind everyone has a different level of ability. We only get better by trying and sharing what we know!

And to add a safety note (for me), no lawsuits please! I have no idea of your level of ability! I do see this as a very simple and reasonably safe project even for youngsters but if you try any of these methods described in this Instructable, you do so at your own risk.

Any tips on making these awesome little pouches even better?

The secret ‘herbs and spices’ is just automotive paste wax. Apply it just the same way you would on a car. A little wax, work it in then rub the excess off. The wax will do four things:

1. It makes the clips slide on and off a lot easier.

2. It makes the water bead up on the rubber so it sheds the water drops. A quick shake generally dries out the pouch fast.

3. The weakest part of these DryPouches is the bottom seal as it’s turned up. Water can collect here and slowly wick its way past the seal if you have made the clip too loose. The wax helps create a better seal (not by having a sticky and gooey mess which ends up on all your gear). The light wax coating on the inside of the rubber tube prevents water from ‘wetting’ the rubber, instead it beads up.

4. Rubbing a little on the paracord helps prevent them getting waterlogged. Although when they absorb water, they swell creating a tighter seal inside the clip.

Keep in mind even dry wax makes your hands a little slippery.

What can I use these DryPouches for?

A Survival Kit would be easy to piece together and a good match up for these pouches. They are good for lots of things you want to keep organised and dry. A Fire Kit, First Aid and Sharpening Kit are the three that I mostly use. On a side note and while not recommended, strips of inner tube rubber burn for a very long time. This is a good way to dry out your kindling when trying to get a soggy fire started in an emergency.

How long do I make the paracord?

For the looped strap, its 4 times the clip length plus the knot as a minimum. For non-looped, it’s 2 times the clip length plus both knots.

Why have a knot?

It just keeps everything together. You can tuck the tail under a ranger band as a keeper.

Why do you use a bench vise like that in the photo?

It looks awkward like this but if you clamp the tube the other way, once the hacksaw makes its way through the slit, the aluminium closes up and binds on the blade.

Why do you ramp the aluminium tube openings?

These clips easily stay in place until you need access to your gear and to open the pouch is fast. Getting them back on is a little fiddly until you come up with you own technique. When these are made properly, they are a somewhat snug fit. Ramping the openings helps slide the aluminium clip over the tube.

Why do you cut the clips a little longer than the width of the rubber tube?

Because of the ramps we described above. The point that is most prone to water creeping in is the two outer edges of the rubber tube. By making the clip a little longer, all the rubber is clamped up in the slit.

I love the Med logo on the DryPouch! How can I make one?

Easy! Scuff the surface with #000 steel wool, make a stencil from masking tape and spray paint in your chosen colour. The paint actually sticks to rubber much longer than I first though.

My clip is binding up, what has gone wrong?

There are a few places where these can bind and keep in mind every brand of inner tube will be different thicknesses. The first two places to check are the width of the slit as well as the inside diameter of the aluminium tube. Widen the slit with a file if thats the issue and use a slightly thinner cord if the tube size is the issue. Check for any sharp edges and clean them up. Automotive paste wax helps everything glide nicely but keep in mind even dry wax makes your hands a little slippery.

Any other modification ideas?

We have lots but you can tailor these pouches to your needs. Ranger Bands on the outside of the pouches let you stack commonly used gear that’s already waterproof. Eg, a torch, fire steel, sharpening stone, band-aids (plasters) in plastic, paracord etc. Don’t stack too much as it can make it a bit difficult to get the gear in and out of the pouches though.

You can use the glue in puncture repair kits to weld more pouches and slips to the outside. Maybe a dedicated tool holder? You can stitch rubber and use silicone to seal the seam.

I don’t have callipers to measure the slits accurately. What else can I use?

Just cut shy of the mark and slowly widen the gap with a flat file. Test with a bit of scrap rubber as you go. Alternately, round chainsaw files are easy to come by. A 5/32 file is almost 4mm and a 13/64 file is a bit more than 5mm.

Thanks for reading our first Instructable! If you liked these pouches and want to say thanks, Vote for us! We are very late in the game and would appreciate the kick-start!

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