I purchased a couple of used water-proof barrels for keeping things dry in the canoe. They are easy to open and close, so in theory they keep your stuff dry and they float. The lids clamp on (image of 13 gallon, ruler for scale).
In reality, if you put them under water, even just partially submerged water leaks in around the seal. I purchased them in response to How much flotation does a canoe need?
They are not damaged, the seals are intact, they are in the same condition as when they were used to transport medications, for their one previous use. They don't leak fast, but I had one of the smaller 8 gallon ones in a tub 90% submerged for an hour and it was about half full of water.
Before taking the canoe to the lake to try it out, I cut a circle from a heavy construction grade garbage bag and used it like a drum skin, to try and get a better seal between the lid and the barrel.
This worked better, I spent about an hour tipping the canoe over, getting back in and generally having the barrel partially or fully submerged for most of the time. Actually I had two, an 8 gallon and a 13 gallon.
The bag helped, there were a couple of cups of water in the bottom of each. There was also water between the lid and the bag. Lesson: when using the bag section as a seal, lay the barrel on its side to open. The water between the lid and bag lands on the ground rather than inside your barrel.
Overall I am content with the barrel, bag seal solution. It provides good flotation, keeps most of the water out, is easy to get stuff in and out of, should have better wear and a longer life than a dry bag.
Looking for a solution to keep the stuff inside dry at normal capsize depths, (surface to a max depth of 3 or 4 feet). While still being able to easily get stuff in and out of the barrel.