Watershed Blog

How Watershed and Missouri River Paddlers Founder Norm Miller Recovered Keith Lynch’s Lost Gear

Raise your hand if you’ve ever lost gear to the river – whether your bag took a gnarly spill out of the boat and was lost to the rapids, or you dropped a phone trying to snap a pic. Well, we hate sad stories like this, but out in the wild you never know what’ll happen. What we do love, however, is a good happy ending, especially one that involves our very own drybags. 


If you aren’t familiar with Norm Miller, he’s the creator and founder of the Missouri River Paddlers, which acts as an online hub and service to provide information on all things paddling on the Missouri River. Each year they hold a Paddler’s Rendezvous on the river where local paddlers can connect and embark on a fun-filled week-long adventure. You can see full event info for the meet up, taking place later this summer, here. Norm has also got a guide book written for taking on the river, which helps bring you up to speed with great tips and tricks for navigating. 


The Missouri River Paddlers’ goal has always been to promote expeditions and paddling adventures on America’s longest river system. This year, there are nearly 20 expedition paddlers planning to paddle all 2400-miles of the Missouri, some going further another 1000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. 


The event is also an opportunity to meet key figures in the paddling scene like 2014 Canoe & Kayak (C&K) Magazine’s “Spirit of Adventure Award” winner, Janet Moreland and “The Complete Paddler” Author Dave Miller, and 2015 C&K “Spirit of Adventure Award” winner Keith Lynch. 


What’s funny is that only a few months prior to the rendezvous’ conception in 2014, Keith capsized while paddling in Montana just before the Three Forks Confluence. Well, it wasn’t funny at the time, as Keith had lost nearly $5,000 in camera equipment. Needless to say, he was down on his luck and had to come to terms with the fact that his gear was lost to mother nature. 

North Side of the island where the bag was found, previously under water. Credit: Norm Miller


Norm Miller, being the paddling prodigy and loyal friend he is, set out with his partner Kris Walker to find Keith’s missing bag come hell or high water. After countless unsuccessful attempts, Kris and Norm refused to call it quits, much to Keith’s surprise and gratitude. Getting to paddle while going on a treasure hunt? Sounds like a win win. 


Then, on that fateful labor day, Keith opened his phone to see several text image notifications. The first one he saw was the following picture:


Kris Walker with Keith’s lost Ocoee!

Ecstatic that the bag had even been found, Keith was still cautious to hold out hope that all of his belongings would still be dry and functioning. Well, let’s just say the Navy SEALs don’t trust us for no reason. 


That’s right, every item that was in Keith’s bruised, soggy Ocoee Drybag was bone dry and completely functional. Norm was able to FEDEX the gear overnight for Keith so he could finish his paddling trip.

Keith’s recovered Ocoee. Credit: Norm Miller & Kris Walker

Our Ocoee is one of our best-selling bags, and for good reason. It’s perfectly sizable to be able to fit between your legs or below your kayak deck, capable of packing lunch, a first aid kit and a spare change of clothes. As you can see here, Keith was able to pack some PBR plus a hefty haul of precious electronic cargo. The Ocoee also has it’s own separately sold Photo Kit Plus, which we recommend to every photographer packing their full kit, like lenses and other hardware. The kit also features padded dividers and a liner, to really drive home the cushioning.

In the midst of overwhelming odds, a nomadic sense of friendship and a downright burly, trustworthy USA-made drybag came to save the day. These are the types of stories that make us proud to do what we do! 

Keith’s Ocoee contents, fully dry. Credit: Norm Miller


Thanks to Keith, Norm and Kris for sharing their story – keep the adventures going! 


You can watch Norm’s short video detailing the discovery below: