When you’re out hiking and camping you always have to be wary of the weather. A beautiful sunny sky can turn into a pouring rain with very little notice. For those of us who like to go boating, fishing or kayaking dealing with water is even more important. In these situations a quality dry bag can be the difference between a fun time and a miserable ordeal. Today we’ll be covering the features and qualities you should look for in a dry bag and reviewing several great examples to help you find the best dry bag possible.
- 1 Best Dry Bags
- 1.1 Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack
- 1.2 Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra
- 1.3 Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag
- 1.4 Sea to Summit Event Compression Dry Sack
- 1.5 Skog A Kust DrySak Waterproof Dry Bag
- 1.6 Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag
- 1.7 Ultra Dry Premium Waterproof Dry Bag
- 1.8 NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag
- 1.9 SealLine Baja Dry Bag
- 2 Buyers Guide to Buying the Best Dry Bag
- 3 Other Styles of Waterproof Bags
- 4 Final Thoughts
Best Dry Bags
Dry bags have been around ever since humans have been on boats. In the past you were lucky to get an oiled canvas bag that might keep your stuff only a little bit damp.
Thankfully modern materials and craftsmanship have created bags that can stand up to serious soaking and even accidental immersion.
We’ve picked out some of the best dry bags at a range of price points to help you find the one that works best for your situation.
Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack
The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack is a hybrid dry bag and backpack made from premium materials. It uses 600 denier TPU laminated ripstop PVC free fabric for excellent waterproofing and durability.
What separates the Hydraulic Dry Pack from the rest of the crowd is how versatile it is. It’s designed with an easy to remove harness system that allows you to convert it from a backpack to a standard dry bag.
It hooks on with durable aluminum buckles that help prevent damage or corrosion from water exposure. The straps themselves are a lot thicker and more comfortable than those found on many similar dry bags.
The Hydraulic is available in 4 sizes, 35l, 64l, 95l and 120l, and a range of colors. About the only downside to the Hydraulic Dry Pack is its price. It’s definitely on the expensive end of the market.
If you’re torn between a regular dry bag and the convenience of a waterproof backpack definitely give the Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack a look.
Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra
The Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra is a multipurpose piece of gear designed for ultra light hikers. It weighs just 2.9 oz yet fills tons of different essential roles out in the wild, including:
- Stuff Sack
- Dry Bag
- Sleeping Pad Inflation Pump
- Inflatable Pillow
- Backcountry Shower
Big Agnes is a giant in the hiking and outdoor world. Their well regarded sleep systems are consistently praised for their quality and value. The Pumphouse Ultra is first and foremost an ultralight air pump for filling up their sleeping pads.
It saves your cheeks from blowing up your sleeping pad and gives you a lot of additional uses. It’s made from aviation grade lightweight nylon and uses a roll top closure.
Because it’s designed primarily as a pump waterproofing plays second fiddle to some of the other features. That’s not to say it’s useless as a drybag.
We’ve used it successfully as a shower after all, so it can definitely stand up to water. Just don’t expect it to be as waterproof as a single purpose product.
If you already own a Big Agnes sleeping pad and are considering dry bags you should make sure at least one of them is a Pumphouse Ultra.
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag
The Sea to Summit Big River line are some of the company’s most popular dry bags. They’re made from abrasion resistant TPU laminated nylon with an oval base to help resist rolling.
The Big River bags have double stitched seams that are taped and sealed to prevent any water from getting in. The TPU nylon is rated to 10,000 mm hydrostatic head. This makes these bags suitable for any water sport activity so long as they aren’t immersed.
Depending on the size bag you go for there are numerous d-rings and other attachment points to help secure the bag.
Big River dry bags are available in a wide range of sizes starting at 3l and going all the way up to 65l. This gives you considerable ability to find the perfect bag to meet your needs.
Sea to Summit Event Compression Dry Sack
The Sea to Summit Event dry sack is a compression stuff sack made using innovative waterproof material. The body and lid of the Event is made from 70 denier waterproof nylon with an eVent air permeable base that allows you to compress your sack without allowing water in.
It’s designed with a hypalon roll top closure and 4 reinforced straps to help really ratchet down the size. The bags are rated to 10,000 mm hydrostatic head, plenty for any marine or boating use.
They’re made using taped and double-stitched seams for maximum durability and waterproofing. Because of this durability it’s possible to compress your goods down to about ⅓ of their original size.
If you’re looking for an effective compression sack rated for any kind of water use it’s hard to go wrong with the Sea to Summit Event line.
Skog A Kust DrySak Waterproof Dry Bag
The Skog a Kust DrySak is a lightweight waterproof dry bag designed for mid intensity activities. It’s made from 500 denier PVC using a roll top closure and welded seams.
It’s available in both a 10l and 20l version and comes with a removable shoulder strap for easy carry. It has a small zipper pocket on the front of the bag for things like cash, credit cards, and other items that don’t mind getting a little wet.
One thing to keep in mind is that PVC will break down when exposed to heavy UV from sunlight. The DrySak is a good value priced bag with most of the features casual users will need.
If you’re just looking for a way to keep your outfit dry while out tubing or on a pontoon boat it’s a great option. If you’re participating in extreme sports or activities where dry clothes and equipment are essential you might want to spend a little more on a different bag.
Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag
This Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag is an inexpensive entry level bag with a lot of useful features. It’s made from 500 denier PVC and includes a free IPX8 waterproof phone pouch.
It uses a roll top closure and has fully welded seams. It offers a lot of nice features not usually seen on a dry bag at this price point.
The Piscifun includes clip on straps for use as either a shoulder bag or a backpack. It also has a really nice mesh storage compartment on the front for slipping things like flip flops, sealed snacks, and anything else you don’t mind getting a little wet.
It’s available in 4 sizes, 10l, 20l, 30l, and 40l, and a huge variety of colors.
The Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag is a great product for use by casual boaters and folks out having a good time on the river or at the beach. It’s inexpensive and includes useful features but doesn’t have the level of durability needed for high intensity activities.
The Ultra Dry Waterproof Dry Bag is a sturdy dry bag designed for outdoor and boating use. It’s made from 500 denier PVC and includes a free waterproof phone case.
It’s built with a removable shoulder strap and a roll top closure. The larger sized bags also have a sturdy carry handle to reduce stress placed on the top buckle.
You can get Ultra Dry bags in 10l, 20l, and 30l sizes as well as a variety of colors and patterns.
The Ultra Dry Waterproof Dry bag is inexpensive, reasonably durable, and does what it’s supposed to. It isn’t quite as long lasting or dependable as top of the line models but most people will find it perfect for casual use.
NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag
The NRS Tuff Sack is a dry bag made to stand up to the toughest conditions. It’s made from TobaTex PVS polymer with welded seams.
It uses a roll top closure system and has a rugged plastic d-ring built right in. The Tuff Sack is available in everything from 5l all the way up to 55l sizes. This gives you considerable flexibility in what you store in your bag and where you take it.
It’s definitely on the pricey side for a basic dry bag but it comes from a manufacturer well known for their commitment to quality.
If you’re looking for a no frills dry bag that keeps your things dry under wet conditions the NRS Tuff Sack won’t let you down.
SealLine Baja Dry Bag
The SealLine Baja is one of the most well known dry bags in the world. It’s been on the market since the 1980’s with continual small improvements made to materials and design.
The Baja dry bag is made from 1,000 denier vinyl coated polyester with a rigid bottom. This gives you excellent waterproofing and a very sturdy bag.
It uses a dual strip roll top closure with a sturdy plastic buckle. It doesn’t offer the extras and addon’s many other dry bags do because it doesn’t have to.
The Baja is designed to keep your stuff dry when it counts. It’s available in a range of sizes and colors and is actually priced extremely well for the value it provides.
If you’re looking for an excellent dry bag from a reputable company you should definitely check out the SealLine Baja.
Buyers Guide to Buying the Best Dry Bag
When you’re comparing different dry bags the biggest things to keep in mind are material, price, waterproof rating, and features.
Each of these will encompass a lot of other subcategories but as long as you know how much you’re willing to spend, how you intend to use the bag, and what you need it to do you shouldn’t have a problem finding the perfect one.
With dry bags the price really comes down to quality and size. Smaller dry bags are naturally less expensive than larger ones and pretty easy to figure out. Quality though is a bit harder to measure objectively when looking at pricing.
For a 20l dry bag you can spend up to about $40-$50. There are value priced products available for as low as $10 but for a really nice one you’ll need to spend a bit more. As size and quality goes up the price rises as well, with top of the line models running well over $100.
Level of Waterproofing
When dealing with fabrics waterproofing is measured in hydrostatic head, commonly called waterhead. Waterhead tells you the vertical load of water that can press against a fabric before it begins to leak.
Hydrostatic head is measured in millimeters. A dry bag with a waterhead of 10,000 mm can stand up to 10 meters or around 33 feet of water pressure and is good for any use including boating.
Depending on the manufacturer you may also see references to the IPX system of waterproof rankings. Most dry bags that use this system will have a ranking between IPX6 and IPX8. IPX6 means that they’ll stand up to heavy splashing but not immersion. IPX7 and IPX8 give you limited immersion resistance up to 1 meter in depth.
A good thing to keep in mind is that no dry bag is truly designed for long-term immersion. The roll top closure is great for keeping water out but will eventually fail and allow water in. It will survive a dunk in water or even a few minutes under but will usually start to leak after much longer.
Pockets – Internal and External
Smaller dry bags up to about 10-15 liters generally only have a single pocket. Once you get above that size you get a lot more options. Many offer internal organizers, outer zipper pockets to hold things you need easy access to, and some even offer removable internal packs.
A good thing to keep in mind with external pockets is that they will rarely be as waterproof as the internal ones. The roll top closure is what makes a dry bag as water resistant as it is. Even the best waterproof zippers can’t compare.
Smaller dry bags usually rely on the roll top closure as the handle. As you move up in size though more and more straps begin to appear. If you’re using your dry bag strictly as a storage space on a deck or in another bag straps aren’t really necessary.
For bags you intend to carry or larger dry bags it’s a good idea to have handles and shoulder straps available. Newer products even offer full backpack harnesses for maximum comfort and portability.
If you want an actual functional dry bag it has to have a roll top closure. Waterproof zippers are fine for things like rainy or misty conditions but can’t hold up to any serious splashing or immersion.
A roll top closure allows you to fold the material down 3-4 times to help seal out any water. Once it’s rolled down you can buckle or velcro it sealed.
D-rings on dry bags add a lot of functionality and are pretty much essential for any marine use. If you’re just out hiking in wet conditions you can get away without a d-ring. If you’re on any kind of watercraft though they’re basically required.
They allow you to securely attach your dry bag to your vessel or other gear. This prevents it from getting lost if it gets knocked or dumped out of your watercraft.
Modern dry bags are made of synthetic polymers and fabrics with a waterproofing treatment. The vast majority of bags use either nylon, PVC or vinyl with nylon making up the bulk of the market. These materials aren’t naturally waterproof on their own so they also have a waterproof treatment.
One of the most common treatments is siliconized CORDURA nylon. This offers excellent water resistance in a variety of levels. You’ll also commonly see TPU coated nylon.
Dry bags are available in everything from small waterproof phone pouches up to very large 100-120 liter waterproof duffels. For most uses though a 20-30 liter bag will hold the essentials and not take up too much space on a small watercraft.
Because there are so many different sizes and types of dry bags you can find one for just about any use you can imagine. Some of the most common places and uses people purchase dry bags for include:
- Beach Trips
- Wet Weather Hiking
- Scuba Diving
- General Watersports
It’s important that you consider the intensity of your activity when picking a dry bag. Many bags will be perfectly fine for use in wet or rainy conditions but unsuitable for marine or boating use.
Because dry bags are so versatile they’re often used as organizers even when you aren’t overly concerned with wetness.
One of the most fascinating and effective parts of dry bag construction is seam welding. Using radio-frequency welding quality dry bags actually have their seams welded together to create a perfect seal.
This means that every stitch and fold of the bag is connected with a single piece of material. Because of this it’s very uncommon for seam leaks to take place.
If you’re choosing between two dry bags and one has welded seams and the other doesn’t go for the seam welds.
Other Styles of Waterproof Bags
Dry bags are the most basic of the waterproof bags available. They’re usually designed a lot like stuff sacks, just with heavier and more water resistant closures. There are also a bunch of other waterproof bags with specific roles.
Waterproof Phone Pouches – We take out smartphones with us everywhere these days. Even to places we really shouldn’t. A waterproof phone pouch is designed to keep your phone totally protected from splashes and sudden immersions while still leaving it mostly accessible and usable.
These are generally made from PVC and other clear plastic/fabrics and have either a roll top or a zip top closure.
Waterproof Backpack – Waterproof backpacks are an emerging product field with a lot of good offerings coming onto the market. They range from basic dry bags with backpack style straps all the way up to purpose built and extremely comfortable backpacks built from the best waterproof materials available.
Check out our waterproof backpack review here to learn more about them and see some of the best available today.
Waterproof Duffel Bag – waterproof duffel bags are one of the most popular waterproof bag categories on the market. Just about every major outdoor brand offers their own version.
They’re great for transporting any kind of gear through the backcountry or on a vessel.
Check out our waterproof duffel bag review here to learn more about them and see some of the best available today.
Waterproof Camera Bags – Taking pictures of nature is one of the most enjoyable pastimes available. Unfortunately camera equipment is delicate and expensive. A waterproof camera back is designed to protect your photo gear from the elements as well as shield it from basic drops and impacts.
Check out our waterproof camera bag review here to learn more about them and see some of the best available today.
So there you have it.
Picking out the best dry bags comes down to what level of capability you need and how much you’re willing to spend. There are tons of great options available for everyone from the casual hiker to the serious distance kayaker.
As long as you keep the features and points we’ve discussed above in mind it’s easy to pick out the best bag for your needs.