There’s nothing quite as disheartening as opening up your bag after a long day of fun in the sun and discovering your clean clothes are soaking wet. Dry bags have been used to prevent this for decades, but they’re not exactly the easiest things to carry around with you. Waterproof backpacks have been taking the outdoor world by storm to fill this niche and help outdoor enthusiasts keep their gear nice and dry. Keep reading to learn more about the best waterproof backpack available.
- 1 Best Waterproof Backpack
- 1.1 Skog Å Kust BackSak Waterproof Backpack
- 1.2 Overboard Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack
- 1.3 Sea to Summit Flow 35L DryPack
- 1.4 FE Active 30L Eco Friendly Waterproof Backpack
- 1.5 Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DayPack
- 1.6 Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack
- 1.7 Adamant X-Core Waterproof Backpack
- 1.8 Geckobrands Waterproof 30l Dry Bag Backpack
- 1.9 SealLine Pro Portage Waterproof Expedition Backpack
- 2 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Waterproof Backpack
- 3 Other Styles of Waterproof Bags
- 4 Final Thoughts
Best Waterproof Backpack
Originally waterproof backpacks were little more than standard dry bags with basic backpack straps. Over the years they’ve become so much more than that.
Now you can get a very comfortable all day pack that has the same submersible capabilities as the best dry bags.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best waterproof backpacks across the spectrum of price, capacity, and capability to help you narrow down your search.
Skog Å Kust BackSak Waterproof Backpack
The Skog Å Kust BackSak is a heavy duty waterproof backpack constructed for water focused activities. It’s designed to stand up to splashes, heavy rain, and even short duration submersions.
The BackSak is made from 500 denier PVC and is available in a variety of sizes. It uses a roll top closure and has fully welded seams. Its overall waterproofing is excellent.
When you look at the BackSak as a waterproof backpack the picture gets even better. It only has one method of carry, the backpack straps, but they’re very comfortable. Both the straps themselves and the back of the BackSak are padded with soft and sturdy EVA foam.
The BackSak is available in a wide range of colors and two size options, 25 liter and 35 liter. The 25 l pack is great for a day’s clothes, snacks, and some basic gear, while the 35 is spacious enough to accommodate a weekend’s worth of stuff.
The Skog Å Kust BackSak is a robust waterproof backpack at a reasonable price. It’s comfortable enough for multi hour wear and can stand up to short duration submersions when needed.
Overboard Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack
The Overboard Pro-Sports Backpack is a dust-, dirt-, and water-proof backpack designed for use on the open ocean. It’s a fully waterproof backpack with a lot of extra features.
It’s made from 600D PVC with fully welded seams and a lot of comfort enhancing extras. It has a roll top closure with a clip seal and a reinforcing hook and loop strap. This gives it an excellent seal, enough so that it can stand short duration submersion and float when it lands on water.
There are several outside access mesh pockets on the back and sides of the bag. These aren’t protected from the water but they do give you a great place to store waterproof things like water bottles and snacks.
The thing that really helps set the Overboard Pro-Sports backpack apart is the carry options. It has padded shoulder straps and lumbar support that makes it very comfortable to wear. Each strap also has a reflective coating to make it more visible at night.
Overall the Overboard Pro-Sports backpack is a comfortable and high-quality waterproof backpack that can stand up to frequent use.
Sea to Summit Flow 35L DryPack
Sea to Summit makes some of the best dry bags, travel gear, and outdoor equipment available. The Sea to Summit Flow DryPack is a 35l waterproof backpack designed for the true outdoorsman.
It’s made from highly water resistant 420D TPU laminated nylon with fully sealed seams. It uses a roll top closure and has buckles and strap holds made from aircraft grade alloys. This gives the DryPack substantial strength and durability wherever life takes you.
It has a main waterproof pocket plus a pair of mesh side pockets, a zippered back pocket, and a set of exterior straps designed for use as tie downs. They’re seriously sturdy, easily strong enough to hold trekking poles or even skis when properly balanced.
Inside the pack there’s a hydration compartment and a small zippered pocket for loose items. The backpack straps are padded as is the back of the pack. There’s also a very useful waist belt to provide added stability.
It honestly looks a lot more like a weekend hiking pack than a standard roll top dry bag. The only real downside to the DryPack is its price, frequently well over $200.
If you’re planning to do some serious hiking, skiing or snowboarding the Sea to Summit Flow DryPack is a great option. It’s fully waterproof and ergonomically fitted to be comfortable for all day wear.
FE Active 30L Eco Friendly Waterproof Backpack
The FE Active is an eco friendly waterproof backpack with a 30l capacity. It’s made from 5mm PVC from eco friendly sources.
It has a padded back and breathable straps for all day comfort and provides you with several storage options. There’s the waterproof main pocket with a roll top closure of course, but there are also a few other outside access pouches.
The front of the pack has a set of adjustable bungee cords that allow you to strap down jackets, hats, and other items you don’t mind getting wet. On either side is a mesh pocket great for holding water bottles and similar items.
We really liked the inclusion of a chest strap. It makes sure the bag isn’t going anywhere, even over rough terrain.
The FE Active Eco Friendly 30l isn’t the best waterproof backpack out there. Given it’s very affordable price and good range of features though, it’s not a bad choice if you’re looking for a value waterproof backpack.
Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DayPack
The Sea to Summit Rapid DayPack is a 26l waterproof backpack made for everyday use. It’s designed to be the ultimate in weather resistant day pack.
It’s made from 420D TPU laminated nylon and uses aircraft alloy buckles and clips. It has a roll top closure and is fully waterproof up to brief submersions. The Rapid 26l has fully sealed seams and an ergonomic design.
The straps and back of the pack are padded and designed to be breathable for comfortable wear. It includes a removable chest and waist strap for added support.
The Rapid 26l has a large top handle and a pair of mesh side pockets. The central pocket is fully waterproof, but it also provides a water resistant zippered pocket on the front.
It’s a comfortable fit and has enough space for your daily commute or the personal gear you’ll need out shooting the rapids. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but we think its combination of durability, excellent performance, and attractive styling make the Sea to Summit Rapid 26l DayPack one of the best options available.
Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack
The Earth Pak is a medium to large capacity waterproof backpack intended for multisport use. It’s made from 500D PVC and includes a free smartphone waterproof pouch as a bonus.
The Earth Pak comes in either a 35l weekend pack or 55l multi day pack. This gives you a good bit of flexibility in how much capacity you need and what amount of weight you’re willing to carry.
They both use a roll top closure system and have an exterior access zippered pocket for things you aren’t afraid of getting a little damp. The Earth Pak has fully padded straps plus an ergonomically designed back panel.
This, combined with the adjustable waist belt, makes it much more comfortable to wear for multiple hours or while hiking across rougher terrain. There are also several MOLLE compatible attachment points on the exterior of the bag to increase your storage potential even more.
The Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack is a well made and reasonably priced waterproof bag. It offers good features and reliable protection for your gear.
Adamant X-Core Waterproof Backpack
The Adamant X-Core is a classically designed waterproof backpack made from high-quality materials. It’s available in a variety of color choices at a premium price.
It’s made from 500D PVC tarpaulin with a PVC coating added for good measure. It has fully sealed seams and a roll top closure for full fledged waterproofing for seriously wet conditions.
It has a single large internal pocket plus a small zip pocket on the front for water safe items. It has a set of adjustable straps on both sides of the bag that allow you to cinch it down when it isn’t completely full.
The backpack straps are fully padded but the actual back of the bag is plain PVC. This makes it more comfortable to carry than a standard dry bag but not quite as easy on your back as a more adjustable backpack.
The Adamant X-Core Is a waterproof backpack that provides excellent performance. It will definitely keep your gear dry while out hiking, boating or skiing, but it isn’t the most comfortable waterproof backpack to wear.
Geckobrands Waterproof 30l Dry Bag Backpack
The Geckobrands 30l Dry Bag Backpack is a large capacity backpack with a lot of nice features. It has enough capacity for a weekend’s worth of clothes and snacks and is available in several different color choices.
It uses a roll top closure system that helps make it highly resistant to water intrusion, though not fully submersible. It has a large central storage pocket plus an external zipper pocket. This pocket isn’t fully waterproof but it’s great for putting things you need to access throughout the day.
There are also a pair of adjustable bungee cords that allow you to strap down additional gear like fins, trekking poles or other water safe gear. The backpack straps are padded and ventilated. When paired with the two part padding system on the pack itself it makes it comfortable for multi hours of wear.
Best of all is the price, well under $100.
Overall the Geckobrands 30l Dry Bag Backpack is a workable though uninspired waterproof backpack. It offers good protection from splashing water or quick dunks but isn’t quite as capable as some other bags we reviewed.
SealLine Pro Portage Waterproof Expedition Backpack
The SealLine Pro Portage is a large capacity line of waterproof backpacks intended for use in the most trying conditions. They’re made from 100% waterproof materials with fully welded seams throughout.
Forget day trips, the Pro Dry Pack is there for the long haul. The smallest size is 70l, and you can get one as large as 120l. That’s the kind of gear capacity you need for week long rafting trips and excursions cruising around a large body of water.
The construction of the bag itself is excellent. It uses a roll top closure system and has some of the best ergonomics features we’ve seen on a waterproof backpack.
It has well designed lumbar support, a fully padded back, and straps that are both ventilated and padded. Even better, it has a large adjustable waist strap to help you properly distribute the weight of the bag.
If you’re looking for a large and extremely comfortable waterproof backpack the SealLine Pro Portage Dry Pack definitely bears a second look.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Waterproof Backpack
There are a lot of factors to consider when picking out the best waterproof backpack. The most important ones are price, waterproofing, closure type, and ergonomic features.
As long as you find the right mix of these features you’ll end up with a bag that fills your needs and won’t let you down.
There’s a big range of prices in the waterproof backpack field. They start at around $40 and can go up to several hundred for a feature packed bag from a well known brand.
Price doesn’t always equal quality of course, but for the most part the best waterproof backpacks will run above $100.
Level of Waterproofing
Waterproof fabrics are measured using hydrostatic head. This measures how many mm of water pressure a specific fabric can withstand before water starts to seep through. Unfortunately it isn’t as useful a measure as we might like.
Not all waterproof backpack manufacturers provide the hydrostatic head of their products, and even when they do it doesn’t always take into account things like seams, stitches, and the type of closure they use.
Type of Closure
In just about every waterproof backpack the closure is going to be the point of failure. If you need a really waterproof bag a roll top closure is the most commonly used.
This works with a rigid strip of plastic embedded inside the rim of the opening. There’s an internal space you can fill plus several inches of extra closure material.
To seal your bag you roll the top several times into itself then clip it securely closed on the ends. This type of seal helps prevent water from entering when splashed or with a quick dunk.
Waterproof backpacks have a pretty consistent range of sizes. 20l up to about 35l is the norm, about the size of a large daypack or weekend hiking bag. You can definitely get waterproof backpacks that are bigger than this, all the way up to large waterproof duffel bags with backpack straps.
Waterproof backpacks all have at least a pair of back straps and a carry handle near the top. Roll top backpacks and other similar
Additional Storage And Pocket Options
Some waterproof backpacks are little more than dry bags with a pair of shoulder straps. They offer a single large compartment to store clothes and other items you want to keep dry, but not much else.
As you move up the quality and price scale more features begin to pop up. Some of the best waterproof backpacks have multiple interior zipper compartments, outside access sleeves/pockets, and things like camelbak reservoir slots.
As with any piece of gear designed to be carried around for long periods less is more when it comes to weight. Try to balance out the weight of your bag with the features you need.
Generally speaking, the more options and capabilities a bag has the more it will weigh. If you’re willing to spend more though you can get highly capable bags that are lighter than you’d believe.
One of the most common failure points for any bag is the seams. With waterproof backpacks the gold standard is laser welded seams. These create a perfect seal between pieces of fabric that prevent any water from penetrating.
A good alternative commonly seen in value priced waterproof backpacks are taped seams. These provide good waterproofing but aren’t quite as durable or effective as welded seams.
The material used to make a waterproof backpack depends on what level of protection you need. If you’re going white water rafting or want to take your backpack out on the open seas, PVC and TPU laminated nylon are the materials of choice.
These are totally waterproof and can actually provide submersible protection when paired with the right type of closure. If you’re just out hiking in wet conditions or want a day pack that can stand up to the occasional rain shower something like DWR coated nylon or polyester will work just fine.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is how long your waterproof backpack will last. Material and workmanship will place the biggest role here, with material affecting overall durability the most.
PVC is a very sturdy material that has excellent waterproof properties. Unfortunately, it’s also susceptible to damage from UV exposure of the sun. Over time it becomes less impact resistant and overall more likely to tear.
Workmanship also plays a big role. Stitching, welded seams, and the types of hardware used for straps will affect how well it holds up.
Probably the biggest factor in picking out the type of waterproof backpack you need is how you intend to use it. If you’re participating in water sports like surfing, rafting or boating you’ll need a lot more protection than if you’re out hiking in wet conditions.
Fully waterproof bags are available, but they often lack the external attachment points, multiple access pockets, and overall style of water resistant backpacks. They can also be less comfortable on your back because they lack things like foam padding on the straps and back.
Other Styles of Waterproof Bags
Waterproof backpacks are just one type of waterproof bag available to you. Depending on what you’re carrying and where you’re going there may be a better option available.
Waterproof Phone Pouches – Waterproof phone pouches are small resealable pouches made from transparent plastic with a water tight seal. They’re designed to protect your phone or tablet from the water and usually come with a lanyard or other attachment point so you don’t drop it.
Waterproof Dry Bag – A dry bag is basically a catchall term for any bag designed to keep goods safe from the water. In the past this included things like oilcloth and leather pouches, but now usually refers to a small (up to about 50ish liters) bag with a roll top closure made from PVC or TPU laminated nylon.
Waterproof backpacks have a lot of similarities with dry bags, with several basically being high-quality dry bags with backpack straps.
If you’d like to learn more about waterproof dry bags, check out our full review here.
Waterproof Duffel Bag – Waterproof duffel bags are the largest type of waterproof bag available. They’re made in much the same way as waterproof backpacks, just to a larger scale.
You can find bags that are well over a 100 liters in capacity, plenty of space for a weeks gear on a rafting trip. Some waterproof duffel bags will have backpack straps, blurring the line between the two categories.
You can find out more about waterproof duffel bags by checking out our full review here.
Waterproof Camera Bags – Cameras are some of the most expensive and delicate pieces of gear you’ll take with you into the backcountry. Because of this waterproof camera bags have to provide reliable and comprehensive protection.
The waterproof backpack field is getting more and more crowded as the days go by.
So long as you keep the features you need in mind it’s easy to find the best waterproof backpack at your preferred price range.