If you are a camper, hiker, surfer, kayaker, or into any other water or snow sports, you understand the frustrations of staying dry yourself, but how about your gear?
If you’ve searched for ways to keep your equipment dry during outdoor activities, you might have tried Ziplock bags or supposedly “waterproof” duffle bags.
Something like a duffle bag or backpack with a zipper is not likely to be 100 percent waterproof, though, as water can seep through the zipper. If you have never given dry bags a shot, these are well worth looking into.
Dry bags can come in sizes as small as one liter (1L) which can be useful for a phone or a single wallet, up to measurements as sizeable as 40L. Bigger dry bags are basically waterproof backpacks, and many have padded straps to be worn just like one.
There are a lot of versions out there, so how do you pick one? We sifted through some of the top dry bags on the market right now and narrowed down the list for specific specialties and the best durability.
The Unigear dry bag is constructed of stiff 600D PVC for waterproofing and durability. With the signature roll-top closure for dry bags, this is an affordable model to keep your electronics, wallet, toiletries, and other necessities dry when boating, kayaking, or spending a day at the beach.
The seams on this dry bag are welded for ultimate waterproofing and tear resistance.
The outside also shields against abrasions and tearing, and the sack can hold heavy loads. With a single strap and extra-strength D-rings, you can carry a hefty amount without worrying about the belt breaking on you.
Unigear makes their dry bags in a variety of sizes, from 2L up to 40L, and they come in a variety of colors. You can go for more understated Army green, black or white.
Or, you can pick any of their bolder hues, such as bright shades of blue, green, orange, red, sky blue, and yellow.
You can float this dry bag next to your boat or kayak to save your room, just be sure you strap it on securely to the side. The satchel itself has a hook on the side for this purpose.
We like that this sack has an exceptional amount of five-star ratings from close to 2,000 customers. This is a sturdy bag, and we enjoy the size and color options as an overall quality dry bag.
The Picifun dry bag is ideal for activities such as hiking and camping. This model comes with a super convenient outside mesh pocket (not waterproof) which can be suitable for quick-grab items when the sack is not in the water or getting rained on.
We don’t see an outer mesh pocket like this on most dry bags, so if you need a quick-grab spot, this is an option to consider.
The convertible strap and be worn in several ways, including a two-strap option worn like a backpack. This feature makes this one of the best dry bags for hiking and camping.
The Army green color is also complementary with a lot of camping supplies, but it comes in black, gray, light blue, sapphire blue, green, and yellow, as well.
The ratings are respectable on this bag, although there on not as many. The durable 500D PVC is scratch-resistant, waterproof, and sturdy for packing full. This sack comes in 10L, 20L, 30L, and 40L sizes to fit a variety of uses.
The Picifun dry bag also comes with a 6.6-inch separate waterproof phone case with attached lanyard. While your phone will probably go in the dry bag if you truly need it to stay waterproof, we still like this little bonus as an option to keep using your phone in light rain, for example.
The Marchway model is one of the best dry bags for those who want a variety of bold colors and sizes ranging from 5L up to 40L.
In a whopping 16 different choices of hues, there is a shade to suit anyone’s needs or taste preferences.
The classic design has a rolltop, and the bag is made from ripstop tarpaulin with durable welded seams. Marchway claims it is rip-proof, tear-proof, and even puncture-proof.
So, if you are in a market for an exceptionally sturdy dry bag, give this one a look.
The ratings are high, and one of the features we love the most are the padded backpack style straps on the 40L size. On the smaller versions, you get a carry handle or a single strap with a sturdy clip. In the 20L and 30L sizes, you have the option of detachable, unpadded double straps. For a fully waterproof backpack, the 40L capacity is the way to go.
The rolltop secures with a heavy-duty clip and is waterproof enough to float with you in the water. This dry bag is a relatively basic design, but well-constructed for needs such as surfing, kayaking, camping, boating, and hiking.
The Earth Pak waterproof sack is one of the best dry bags out there, with an outstanding overall five-star rating from close to 4,000 customers. New York Times Bestseller of The Four-Hour Workweek and entrepreneur Tim Ferris even praised the Earth Pak dry bag in his blog.
The variety of sizes and quality construction is a significant selling point for these bags. This is one of the models that come in larger sizes, including a 55L version with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt for added stability and comfort. We like that they throw in an IPX8 Certified waterproof phone case, too.
The smallest size is 10L for the Earth Pak dry bag, and they are available in eight different colors. On the smaller sizes, a single strap with an adjustable, durable clip comes standard.
The 500D PVC is tear-resistant and entirely waterproof. A standard roll-top closure has a sturdy buckle on top.
We like that Earth Pak makes the 55L model, which is especially helpful for longer trips and packing things such as camping equipment. These sacks start out a bit higher than some more affordable models, but for the quality of the product, it is worth a few extra bucks if you need something that will last for years and years.
The KastKing makes our list of the best dry bags not only for its superior waterproofing but also for the transparent window on the side. This is a unique feature for a dry bag, and an incredibly helpful one.
If you aren’t sure if you packed something and can check with a glance, that can save riffling through your belongings.
We also love the transparent window for those who have had bad luck with dry bags leaking in the past and want to keep an eye on the things inside. With a quick peek, you can make sure everything is still sealing inside airtight.
Made with 500D PVC, these dry bags are on par with some of the best for their waterproof and tear-resistant technology. KastKing dry bags come with a waterproof phone case, similar to the one available with the Earth Pak model.
The ratings on these dry bags are similarly outstanding, with overall feedback of a solid five-star.
The closure is a double roll top for extra security, and the three different sizes (10L, 20L, and 30L) come with a single adjustable strap. The belt can be removed via the sturdy clip.
These dry bags are some of our favorites for those who want to float their satchels down the river with them because the window allows you to monitor your belongings while the bag is in the water.
KastKing dry bags are available in eight different colors, as well as two patterns—something that is also a bit unique and fantastic for those who don’t want the standard, single hue look.
Much like the KastKing, the Freegrace dry bag also offers a transparent window option (on select models).
Again, we love this feature so you can better monitor your belongings if you don’t put 100 percent of your trust in a bag keeping your expensive or valuable items entirely dry.
The value of this dry bag is another point we like about it. The bag itself is quality, and the price is fair—about the middle of the pack—but you get more than just the dry bag.
Like many other companies, they provide a waterproof phone case.
Additionally, they add in a waterproof clip-on satchel, much like a fanny pack, for extra storage of smaller items.
We like this extra waterproof bag for strapping around your waist or crossbody style during a strenuous hike or wearing on your body while the main dry bag floats beside your kayak or boat.
The double-sealed zip-top (think Ziploc bag style) closure also rolls down, and the patent-pending dual snap zipper adds another layer of waterproofing. The 20L size comes with a grab handle, and all of the Freegrace dry bags come with a standard, single adjustable strap.
Available in six colors, with window options on four of those, you go with a subdued black bag or bright hues such as orange or yellow.
There is also a black backpack version in a 35L size with padded double straps, for those who need a waterproof backpack.
The Tebrion Adventure is Calling dry bag set is a single 10L or a pack of two, one 20L and one 10L size. If you know you have an ample amount of supplies to take with you, we like this option for either double-bagging valuables or get extra bang for your buck.
The mesh side pocket is perfect for carrying a water bottle or something similar on your adventures.
We also love the translucent options that are still colorful but show the inside of the bag to keep an eye on your valuables staying dry. This is a fantastic choice for those who want to see their stuff without a fully transparent side window. Solid colors are available for those who want to keep their goods discreet.
The side hook, which is ideal for connecting to a canoe or kayak, is double reinforced to prevent ripping or tearing. A durable parachute buckle tops off the dual-lip stiffener closure once rolled down.
The straps are removable with sturdy hooks, and the 10L comes with a single strap, while the 20L has a double and can be worn like a backpack.
One thing we particularly like about Tebrion is their attentive customer service. They address negative reviews and have a full refund policy if you are not entirely happy with the product.
Size options are limited to the 10L and 20L, but these tend to fit the average customer’s needs. It just might not be the bag for you if you are going on an extended trip or need to pack a lot of gear in a dry bag.
The Såk Gear dry bag is a modern take on a waterproof beach or boat bag. With seven contemporary colors and one digital camo pattern, these dry bags come with a single, adjustable strap that can be removed if desired.
We like the outer zippered pocket as an option for keeping quick-grab items.
This pocket is only splash-proof/water-resistant, not waterproof. However, if you are hiking or at the beach, and the bag is not submerged in water, this pocket can be a super convenient feature for items like a phone, cash or credit cards, or small things such as lip balm or travel-size sunscreen.
Another major perk to the Såk Gear design is the reflective trim around this outer zipper. It might seem like a small thing at first, but it adds safety, and if your bag falls in the water in low light, the reflective trim could help locate it with a flashlight.
SKOG Å KUST is boldly printed on the side, which is Swedish for “forest to coast.” This rugged bag is made from 500D PVC and can withstand a lot of what nature can toss its way.
These dry bags are also only available in two sizes, but in 10L and 20L, this will suit most people’s needs.
The One Savvy Girl is a feminine take on dry bags. These waterproof polymer sacks are both durable and visually appealing. In black, blush pink, and black and white striped patterns, this is an ideal dry bag for someone who wants a genuinely waterproof sack without the garish bright colors.
These are some of the best dry bags we’ve found for someone who wants more classic or elegant hues.
Double straps are available on the 30L size and can be worn like a waterproof backpack. The robust parachute buckle on top closes off the roll-top design and can be used as a quick carry handle.
The single strap can be worn crossbody style or over one shoulder and is adjustable in length.
Made of durable PVC, these aren’t just pretty, they do a stable job of keeping your hiking, swimming, boating, or camping gear dry.
Designed to be tear-resistant, these bags keep up with the competition when it comes to sturdiness and waterproofing.
Sea to Summit is a well-known maker of lightweight dry bags.
The Sea to Summit is a bit of a different take on these outdoor sacks, though. This pack is crafted with lightweight nylon that is coated in a waterproof polyurethane and has taped seams to keep the water out.
These are ideal dry bags for people who want something to keep their items dry but don’t want the more substantial PVC material. It is worth noting, this dry bag is not airtight. It is coated with a waterproofing sealant but still allows air to flow through.
One notable downside to this sack is the lack of body straps. However, a sturdy D-hook is at the top with the closure bucket, and a strap could be attached to this hook.
The more petite versions of the Sea to Summit bag can be stowed in a backpack, and they make fantastic water-resistant sacks for luggage.
Many of these dry bags are perfect for packing inside of other luggage, though. With small sizes such as 1L, 2L, 3L, and 4L, these are some of our favorite dry bags for interior packing and extra waterproofing.
This is the smallest dry bag option on our list of top picks.
The colors of these satchels are bright, except for black. The remaining four are apple green, (light) Pacific blue, red, and yellow. If you want a dry bag with a bright color to make it easy to find, this is a good bet.
Black is fantastic if you want a neutral color but consider the use for your dry bag.
If you will be using it floating down a river or white-water rafting, having a bright hue can actually be a crucial feature if you run the risk of needing to locate your bag in the water.
We like the extra snug roll of the roll-top design on these bags. The secure parachute buckle at the top closes it off for a reliable, tight pack.
The oval shape and anti-roll bottom make this ideal for carrying with you and setting down in the sand, the snow, or while hiking or camping.
If you are new to dry bags, these handy products are (typically) plastic sacks made for stowing items you want to keep waterproof, but not just from the rain.
These bags are usually built for full waterproofing, such as floating the satchel in the water next to you down a river while kayaking or canoeing to save room in your vessel.
Many dry bags are made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, a popular plastic polymer. Some PVC materials can be incredibly durable against scratches and are waterproof as long as they are sealed entirely.
Always inspect your dry bag thoroughly before use, even if it has worked well for you in the past. After all, a single hole in a dry bag will eliminate the watertight quality if it is submerged.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is contemplate all of the activities you are likely to use your pack for. If you are only camping for one night next month but will probably need a dry bag for a two-week hike next summer, seek out a size that will suit your needs.
Some people like to have a separate mini dry bag for their most essential items. Keep in mind these bags can sometimes seem smaller once you fill them with things and roll down the top.
If you think you only need a 1L size, it might be smart to get a 2L or 3L instead. Many smartphones are too large for a 1L capacity.
If you want to pack an entire sleeping back with other items, it will likely be best to look for a 40L size, or at least a 30-35L if you have more compact goods. Rolling your clothing tightly can help you fit more into the sack.
Picking up a separate mesh baggie that you can stuff, and cinch closed can also help save you space.
You’ll also need to consider whether you need straps, double straps, on only a carry handle. Do you want to be able to wear your dry bag like a backpack? Look for padded double straps if that is the case.
If you are just using it to go to the beach or for something like a ski trip, a single strap will work in most cases.
For some, having an outer mesh pouch is as crucial as having a cupholder in the car. If your dry bag is for hiking, looking for one with an exterior pocket to hold a water bottle is something to think about. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a pack on your back and a bottle in your hand for your entire hike.
Another thing to consider (and check reviews for) is the interior color of the bag. Lighter colors will make it a little easier to find items in your dry bag when sifting through it in dim light. With lesser-quality bags, occasionally the color can rub off and stain your clothes inside the container.
So, look into the customer feedback for this issue before purchasing a dry bag.
Make sure you pack your essentials near the top of your dry bag. If you are hiking, camping, or going down a river and will need a few items first (such as a head torch) put those items in last at the top.
Roll down your goods such as clothes and sleeping bags to give yourself the most room before packing them away.
Don’t put anything breakable in a dry bag, as anything like broken glass can puncture your sack and compromise the waterproofing. Even if a bag claims it is puncture-resistant, it is not worth risking it.
For the same reason, don’t pack anything sharp or too pointing that could wear down a spot in your bag.
Don’t overfill your dry bag. If you pack it with too much pressure, the closure will not seal correctly at the top. Even if it does, any additional stress, such as the bag being tossed or sat on could break the seal and cause your goods to get wet.
Most dry bags will have a zipper seal at the top, similar to a sturdy Ziplock bag closure. They are designed much like a giant, durable sandwich bag that also rolls closed, buckles, and can be worn as a crossbody sack or a backpack.
Make sure to compress as much air out of the bag as you can while sealing this closure. Test the zip to make sure you have sealed it entirely.
Fold over the top once and test for air pressure again. Simply give your bag a bit of a squeeze to see if any air can escape. If you need to get more air out, undo the seal, squish it out, and close it back up. Once you start folding the roll-top, no air should be able to escape through standard PVC dry bags.
If air can continue to squeeze out, that means water can find a way in.
When rolling the top, make sure you have clean folds and roll the top three to five times, depending on the sack and the number of supplies you have packed. Close any buckles and check once more for the airtight integrity of your dry bag.
If the inner “zipper” closure is not sealed all the way, it doesn’t matter how many times you roll the top—the sack will not be waterproof if that zip does not have a complete seal.
If you have not taken a trip with your dry bag yet, it is not a bad idea to test it out in a bathtub or with a hose before going on a long voyage. It is better to find out at home with a few casual clothes whether you have learned to seal the bag correctly, or if the bag has a hole in it.
You don’t want to be on a canoeing trip and have to camp overnight in wet sleeping bags.
Pack the bag as if you are getting ready for a trip and fully submerge it or hose it down. Don’t put valuable items in your dry bag when you test it the first time.
Make sure you inspect your bag before each use, even if you have used it for years. All things wear out over time, even the best dry bags with the highest quality can get tears or wear spots if they are handled enough.
If the interior of your dry bag is a color other than white, it is also a smart idea to take an old t-shirt or washcloth, dampen it, and see if any of the inside colors wear off on clothing. You don’t want to learn the hard way if you have a product that will stain clothes or other items you love.
If the color does wear off when testing it out, consider returning the dry bag and finding another.
As mentioned, even the highest quality dry bags can lose their integrity over time or get holes with rough use. Even if you test your dry bag and it works wonderfully, it’s wise to give the most essential items another layer of protection.
If you have to carry a passport with you or an ID that could get ruined if wet, these should be stored inside something like a sealed sandwich bag.
If the off chance that your dry bags work but get a hole during your journey you will be glad you saved your items from getting soaked with this spare level of protection.
Considering stowing your phone, any wires or electronics, flashlights and batteries, and passports in something like a Ziplock bag inside the dry bag.
The times you can find a good use for your dry bag are unlimited, but some popular (and some not often thought of) times to take advantage of having a dry bag are as follows:
There are so many uses for a dry bag; other alternative ideas are abundant if you search online or get creative yourself. We like the smaller sizes for organizing wired items on trips, or for storing your most valuable goods in their own separate waterproof pouch.
Make sure you always clean your dry bag and allow it to air dry thoroughly before storing it. Any odors left inside the sack will only get worse for the next time you pull it out. You don’t want to start camping, skiing, hiking, rafting, or a beach trip with a stinky bag or one with mildew inside.
If you leave even a small amount of water enclosed in the bag, it can grow bacteria and mold, leaving you an unpleasant surprise the next time to go to use your dry bag.
Clean off any sand, dirt, and saltwater from the material to keep it clean, and to prevent salt from wearing away at the PVC. Rough sand left on the bag can also scratch the outer surface if it is packed tightly or handled roughly.
You can hand wash the bag inside and out if necessary, with a gentle detergent, and allow it to dry before packing away.
Make sure the inside of the sack is entirely dry before storing and keep your dry bag out of direct sunlight (it can break down the materials over a long period) and do not keep it folded so tightly that it stretches the PVC. It is also best not to stack heavy items on top of your dry bag.
Once you’ve found the best dry bag for you, tested it out, and learned to pack it correctly, get out there and find as many uses for it as possible. Dry bags are excellent at helping you get outdoors and experience the water, the rain, and the snow without all of your things getting soaked.
It can be surprising how much joy you can get from reconnecting with the outdoors while still having the comforts of dry clothes and a warm sleeping bag. Now get outside and enjoy nature with dry items