How often do you think about a zipper unless it’s caught in a bit of fabric, the tears of frustration welling up as you try to get the bugger unstuck? Not often, would be my guess. Unless you’re a product designer, zippers are mostly there, they mostly work, they require little thought.
But this new one, from Nite Ize is worth a whole lot of thought. It’s waterpoof. Not water resistant. Waterproof. Which means Nite Ize, or anybody else using the new zipper tech, called TRU Zip, can also make zippered waterproof bags.
This new zipper uses no teeth and no coils. Unlike a seal that you press into place, like that found on zip-loc bags, this is based on an interlocking ball and socket rail design—pull the zipper and the rails lock into place. Both the mechanical action of the locking rails and a vacuum effect created when the zipper closes keeps these suckers sealed. Nite Ize claims that the waterproof pouches they’re put the zippers on can be submerged at up to a meter of depth for 30 minutes.
I’ve been testing the Nite Ize Runoff Pocket with the TRU Zip deal, and, anecdotally, I can’t speak for the 30-minute submersible time, or even the one-meter depth, but I can tell you that this system is functionally completely waterproof.
I’ve kept it a few inches underwater for four hours with a precious, precious iPhone inside, and the phone emerged as dry as if it had been stored in a bag of rice. I dropped it a fast-moving stream tied to my pack and it withstood the rush of water like a champ. It’s also dustrproof, key for desert camping.
The pouch seals so well in fact, if you don’t “burp” it when closing, it becomes kind of an air bladder. The seal is so strong that you can stack at least 165 pounds on the pouch when puffed up with air, and the seal won’t budge. I know because I stood on it expecting the seal to blow, but it held tight.
The Pocket is well-thought out with cool features. For one, you can use a smartphone through the pouch – even when a little wet, I was able to send expand maps, take photos, send a text with my phone sealed in the pouch. There’s a small loop on the back of the pouch so it can be threaded through a belt, carabiner, whatever, and secured to your pack. Two attachment points on the side of the bag are also useful.
Zipping the pouch closed is smooth and easy, though it requires more force than a regular zipper. Small children could have trouble closing the pouch. But it also inspires confidence. When the pull is locked into its “garage” (Nite Ize’s term) it’s satisfying and there’s no question that it’s sealed.
Simply put, it’s the best waterproof pouch I’ve ever used or seen. Nite Ize makes a range of sizes up to a 10″ x 14″ x 3.2″ cube, down to a tiny travel wallet. All boast the same zip system and rugged feel.
The TRU Zip tech will very likely find its way into all sorts of other applications. Waterproof jackets spring immediately to mind, since toothed zippers, no matter how water resistant, can still leak. Kayaking gear, maybe certain kinds of wetsuits, who knows.
For now, this is a must-have if you bring sensitive electronics like phones and GPS devices into the backcountry. For the future, get ready to see this waterproof zipper everywhere.
$30 • BUY