The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Dry Bags

If you are an adventurer, explorer, or avid water sportsperson then a typical bag will simply not do for you. What you need is a dry bag that is completely impervious to water and can even be submerged. As you can imagine, this type of specialty bags isn’t easy to choose.

With dry bags, you can’t afford to get it wrong – if you do, it means that you have a faulty bag and will get all of your belongings wet. This is why we decided to write up a guide that will make sure that you will be able to choose the best possible bag for you. Here is everything that you need to know:

Your Guide to Buying a Dry Bag

There are numerous factors to consider when buying a dry bag. From the material to the design to even the seams, everything comes into play. You really can’t afford to make a mistake when trying to decide which bag is right for you. So, if you want to understand all of the aspects involved with this type of bag and how to ensure that you are getting a quality one, keep reading:

Is a Dry Bag Right for You?

So, first things first – do you actually need a dry bag? It is important to understand precisely what a dry bag is. This type of carrier is not just water resistant or waterproof, it is completely impervious to water. This means that even when it is submerged, it will not let water in.

Due to the properties offered by the dry bag, it is best suited to people who are divers, go on boating trips in vessels that are close to the water (kayaks, for instance) or will be trekking through water. Basically, if you anticipate that your bag is going to be splashed or fall into the water at any time during a trip, then you need a dry bag.

The Materials

You will mostly find dry bags that are made from one of two materials – nylon or vinyl. These are specialized versions of the material, however, instead of the ones that can simply be bought in stores. It is important to note that just because bags are made of vinyl or nylon doesn’t mean that they are dry bags or even waterproof.


Vinyl is typically used to create the smaller dry bags. The main benefit of bags that are made from this type of material is that it is strong and able to carry heavier objects in it. Vinyl dry bags also tend to be easier to patch up, if they happen to tear.


It is normal to find larger or higher-end dry bags that are made from nylon. Now, on its own, nylon isn’t completely waterproof. It must be treated with a laminate covering to ensure that it doesn’t let any water through, even when it is kept in water. One of the most reliable coatings is silicone although you can also find bags that have been coated with plastics such as polyurethane.

Level of Durability

Typically, dry bags aren’t just exposed to water – they are also exposed to a whole host of other elements, including the weather and rough terrain. Due to this, in addition to being waterproof, the dry bags also need to be quite durable:

Abrasion Resistance

When your bag continues to rub against another surface, particularly an abrasive one, it has a tendency to wear away in certain spots. This is why it is important to get a dry bag that is able to withstand this type of friction. Thus, it needs to avoid pilling and any changes to the texture of the surface of the material. Here, vinyl tends to be a good candidate as it is highly abrasion resistant.

Resistance to Tearing

A durable material will be able to prevent your dry bag from tearing quite easily. However, if there is a chance that a tear can appear, you will require a fabric that will stop the bag from ripping apart any further. If you will be in an environment where your dry bag can catch on anything, a backpack made of ripstop nylon can be helpful. This will prevent any rips that do form from spreading.

UV Resistance

The sun can be quite damaging to dry bags due to the constant exposure to UV rays. The rays can cause the materials to fade and wear away with time. For people who spend a lot of time out in the sun, it can be helpful to find dry bags that are UV resistant. In these instances, you should focus on dry bags made from TPU laminated nylon.

Types of Dry Bags

Dry bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes which allows them to loosely be placed in various categories. Here are the most accepted groupings:

  • Barrel Bags/Dry Sack: the most common design is the dry sack which is also known as a barrel bag. They are cylindrical bags that are well known for their ability to be completely impervious to water for long periods of time. They are particularly great for divers or for other water activities.
  • Mobile Phone/ Wallet Dry Bags: as you can probably tell from the name, this type of dry bags are specifically meant to keep your mobile phone or wallet dry, even when you are submerged. These bags are often quite small and come with lanyards that can be worn around your neck.
  • Kayak Dry Bags: while most dry bags are meant to be taken aboard kayaks, a kayaking dry bag is meant to fit in this small vessel. It has a tapered end so that it can be stored in the nose of a kayak. These bags are often built to float as well, should they fall into the water.
  • Rucksack Dry Bags: the most notable thing about this type of dry bag is that it resembles the backpacks that you carry on a regular basis. This is largely due to the carrying straps that are fitted on the back of the bag. It is essentially a waterproof backpack.
  • Duffel Dry Bags: the main difference between a rucksack dry bag and a duffel dry bag is the handles. A duffel bag is meant to be held by the straps and thrown over your shoulder. The benefit of these bags is that it is easier to get to your belongings inside the bag.

What Size Do You Need?

There is actually a considerable amount of variation in size when it comes to dry bags. Let’s take a look at what these options are:

  • 3 – 5 liters: this is a good size if you are planning on going kayaking for a few hours and only want to take some food and electronics with you. It may be possible to fit in a first aid kit into these bags as well.
  • 10 – 15 liters: bags between these sizes may be able to carry enough of supplies to last you a whole day out on the water. You may even be able to take a change of clothes with you as well.
  • 20 – 30 liters: these bags can contain food, supplies, clothing, and a sleeping bag. They are well-suited for overnight stays.
  • 30 – 60 liters: if you are going to be spending a weekend or more in an area where your belongings may get soaked, bags of these sizes will work fine.
  • 70+ liters: the main purpose of these bags is to allow you enough space to carry certain types of equipment. They also work well for longer trips too.

Dry Bag Seams

One of the most vulnerable points on a waterproof bag is its seams. Since most backpacks have stitched seams, this provides a place for the water to seep in. This is why, with time, even the strongest seams (complete with double stitching) will let the water in. If you want a dry bag that is completely waterproof, you will need to look one that has unique seams. This means that you will need to rely on either heat taped seams or heat welded seams.

Heat Taped Seams

Here, the seams have a different coating applied to the seams inside the bag. Then, either heat or pressure is applied to this area until the materials bond together. This way, there are no gaps for the water to enter through.

Heat Welded Seams

With this process, the same material is bonded together. Here too, heat is applied to the fabric so that it melts and solidifies together, creating an impermeable barrier against water. While welding tends to be the most reliable form of creating waterproof seams, bags with this type of seam can be quite pricey.

Dry Bag Closures

Just as important as the seams are the closures. Now with most bags and backpacks, metal zippers feature quite heavily. These aren’t as good for dry bags, however, as they can let the water in if they are not sealed properly. Dry bags rely on these closures instead:

  • Plastic zipper closures: these closures resemble the interlocking features of a zip-lock or freezer bag. These closures are mostly found on bags that are attempting to seal up mobile phones and wallets.
  • Roll-down tops: the dry bags with roll down tops are ones that can be folded down several times and then secured with either buckles or Velcro. These tend to be one of the more widespread closures due to its effectiveness at keeping out water.
  • Drawstring closures: as you can imagine, by themselves drawstring closures don’t offer a lot of protection against the water. This is why they are usually used alongside Velcro and buckle features as well.

How Waterproof is Your Dry Bag?

It is important to understand that just because a carrier is referred to as a waterproof dry bag, doesn’t mean that it is actually going to keep the water away from belongings forever. In practice, most dry bags keep the water out when submerged for a considerable period of time. In some cases, though, these bags will let the water in after this.

A true dry bag, however, shouldn’t let the water in at all. To determine how well a bag is capable of preventing moisture from seeping in, you can run an easy test. You should turn your dry bag inside out and then fill it up with water. Then, after a period of time, check to see if any of the water has leaked out. If there has been no leakage, you can be certain that you have a good quality bag on your hands.

This is all the help that you will need to find a dry bag that fits all of your needs and will continue to be the perfect accompaniment to all of your adventures.

Top 10 Best Dry Bags

1 – Seattle Sports Explorer

Seattle Sports Explorer Dry Bag
  • Superior waterproof protection
  • Three roll waterproof closure with D-ring
  • Rugged 19oz vinyl
  • Heavy-duty bottom

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Seattle Sports Explorer:

Reviewers like these things about the Seattle Sports Explorer

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Seattle Sports Explorer dry bag is ideal for outdoor adventures including camping, rafting, and biking.
  • Others thought that it is durable due to its vinyl-coated nylon material.
  • Several users noticed that the fabric on its wrap bottom is resistant to abrasion.
  • Users found it comfortable to use.
  • According to some users, its compartment keeps the materials stored safely in place.
  • They also mentioned that its compartment could maintain a sufficient number of things including snacks, books, and first aid kit.
  • A reviewer said that the bag is waterproof.
  • Testers indicated that they could access their stuff from a top closure with a squeeze-style side-release buckle.
  • Other testers noted that its designs are simple yet attractive.
  • They also said that its design is lightweight yet functional.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that its buckles are fragile.
  • Another user found that the bag is on the expensive side.

2 – Watershed Ocoee

Watershed Ocoee Duffel Bag, Orange
  • Removable, padded shoulder straps and adjustable waist strap
  • Durable top lug handle
  • Large, tapered opening allows for easy access to contents
  • Abrasion resistance and overall strength
  • 840 denier fabric with a heavy matte PU finish built to withstand years of use

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Watershed Ocoee:

Reviewers like these things about the Watershed Ocoee

  • Most users said that it has an interesting way of opening and closing and it will keep water out.
  • They also said that it will work perfectly and are completely waterproof.
  • Some users said that it is very versatile.
  • Users also said that it is a great size and fits all my essentials with no problems.
  • Many reviewers said that it has plenty of well-constructed lash point.
  • They said that it’s super fashionable.
  • Reviewers said that it holds all your stuff, still look tough.
  • They said that it’s great to have your phone protected.
  • Buyers said that the seal is heavy duty and easy to open and close.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users is that the clips on the compression straps are well made and can take a beating.
  • Another great feature mentioned by the users is that it has hard loops that allow you to throw a carabineer through and secure into your boat.
  • Many buyers mentioned that there is a soft flap that velcros around the carrying straps that create a nice handle.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that it is hard to open and close because the seal is so tight.
  • Another user complained that the stitching on certain areas that were frayed & loose right out the box.

3 – Blackburn Outpost

BLACKBURN Outpost Seat Pack with Dry Bag
  • Includes a water-resistant 70D 4mm ripstop seat pack. Removable, welded design attaches to almost any bicycle. Extra-large capacity adjusts to varying load sizes.
  • Weighs 516g. Imported.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Blackburn Outpost:

Reviewers like these things about the Blackburn Outpost

  • A user said he was so happy with the bag because it’s nicely designed,includes a velcro inner divider with padding, perfect fit for his dolphin battery.
  • One owner thought it looks pretty rad on his military green zombie apocalypse folder.
  • A lot of users love it for its high quality,rugged look and ample space for a number of items.
  • Others particularly liked the nice thick velcro straps that holds the bag well.
  • many users loved how they can move the straps to where they need them via the well spaced loops around outside of bag.
  • Moveable separater is also a favorite feature as it lets them partition the bag into two compartments of any size that suits their needs.
  • Others find the webbing loops along its bottom side perfect for Velcro strapping a compact pump.
  • Many who used the bag thought it’s sturdy,very durable, expandable and convenient.
  • Users were amazed with how the zippers never failed or jammed.
  • Reviewers thought it’s a good-looking bag that is convenient for getting things in and out while standing over the bike.
  • Others noted how it stays in place mile after mile, seems to be very water resistant and holds stuff securely.
  • Excellent quality material, zippers, and aesthetics,plenty of attachment points with solid velcro bands are some of the reasons for purchasing this bag.
  • Other users described it as great for carrying gear,solid piece of equipment for your day-to-day routes or long tours.
  • Many owners who tested it said it’s a good and stable frame bag, easy to get a good fit with the multiple mounting options.
  • One user who used it for bikepacking liked it for its high quality build with all sorts of space.
  • Another thing that users liked about the bag is the size and the fact that it can enlarge itself by unzipping the bottom section and allowing it to fold down.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said it would be nice if some accessory straps were included.
  • Others didn’t like it because the velcro straps are not padded which results to scuffing the bike’s finish.

4 – Watershed Big Creek

Watershed Big Creek Backpack
  • Removable, padded shoulder straps and adjustable waist strap
  • Durable top lug handle
  • Large, tapered opening allows for easy access to contents
  • Abrasion resistance and overall strength
  • 840 denier fabric with a heavy matte PU finish built to withstand years of use

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Watershed Big Creek:

Reviewers like these things about the Watershed Big Creek

  • Most users said that they are able to use this for fly fishing to keep their gear dry.
  • Some users said that they also used it to hiking in the rain forests, the beaches and used even to go to the hot springs.
  • Users said that they got several compliments on it while on vacation.
  • They also said that it was even great to use as their carry on while flying.
  • Other users said that the bag’s shoulder carries, sling-type design works great.
  • Several users said that the closer system of watershed packs to be the most trustworthy.
  • They mentioned that the material is far more rugged than traditional dry bags.
  • Buyers said that the backpack style is very convenient and frees your hands for swimming, catching your balance, etc.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that the opening is too small and inconvenient for packing.
  • Some other users complained that the tight opening and longer main compartment that may not be the best design for some.

5 – Watershed Yukon

Watershed Yukon Duffel, Orange
  • Rugged carrying handles
  • Several lash points
  • Multiple compression straps
  • Completely airtight
  • Nylon ripstop fabric, which is UV and chemical resistant

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Watershed Yukon:

Reviewers like these things about the Watershed Yukon

  • Most reviewers said that it is an awesome bag. It keeps them organized and their gear dry.
  • They said that it looks great, seems to be of good quality.
  • Some users said that they went under water many times with no leaks.
  • Some users mentioned that it’s the best one-person all-around bag.
  • Some other users said that this is a very sturdy bag.
  • They said that it holds all their camping gear strapped to the rear rack,.
  • Many other users said that with soft stuff in front it doubles as a comfortable backrest.
  • They also said that the wide opening makes packing bulky items easy.
  • Buyers mentioned that it is a very nice well-made duffel.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that it can’t be used as a Backpack.
  • One user complained that it doesn’t hold a pad or tent.

6 – SealLine Seal

SealLine Seal Pak
  • Watertight Protection: Roll-down closure provides excellent protection from the elements.
  • Convenient Access: External zip pocket.
  • Versatile: Removable waist and shoulder straps plus options for securing to boats, bikes, etc.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the SealLine Seal:

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Seal

  • Several users noted that the SealLine Seal hip pack is durable due to its robust polyurethane coated polyester fabric.
  • Reviewers said that its roll-down closure delivers an exceptional protection from elements.
  • According to those who have tried that pack, it is able to provide a convenient hands-free protection for the gears.
  • Reviewers thought that it has a sufficient storage option.
  • Users found that its external pocket allows for easy organization of essentials.
  • Other users indicated that the bag is versatile.
  • Users also noted that its waist strap could be removed.
  • Several reviewers have noticed that it has options for a shoulder strap.
  • Other reviewers found that it is secured when used in boats or bikes.
  • A lot of testers noted that its fabrics help reduce environmental impact.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer had issues with the waterproof feature of the bag.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag was smaller than it looks.

7 – Watershed Chattooga

Watershed Chattooga Duffel Bag
  • Keep your gear dry even when submerged! Easy-to-use ZipDry Seal presses shut like a freezer bag.
  • 420 denier Cordura nylon ripstop with a heavy matte polyurethane finish for abrasion resistance and overall strength.
  • All seams are RF welded and guaranteed to be free of leaks.
  • Even the smallest details are top quality: Duraflex side-release buckles and D-rings are combined with extreme-duty nylon webbing.
  • 17" wide opening for easy access.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Watershed Chattooga:

Reviewers like these things about the Watershed Chattooga

  • Most users said that its construction is very high quality.
  • Many other users said that this was a great bag and kept everything dry on a motorcycle trip where it rained many days straight.
  • They also said that it is a great bag and extremely well made.
  • Most reviewers said that the closure system is so good, it takes some muscle to open.
  • Some other reviewers said that the zip lock works great.
  • They also said that this is the best bags on the market.
  • Most buyers praised its excellent quality.
  • They said that their things will not get wet unless there is a hole in the bag.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that this bag does not come with a shoulder strap.
  • Another user complained that this pack is little pricey.

8 – Aqua Quest Sport 25

Aqua Quest SPORT 25 PRO Backpack - 100% Waterproof Reflective Dry Bag 25L with Padded Straps, Waist Belt, Water Bottle Pockets, Foam Back Panel
  • 100% WATERPROOF - From extreme adventure to daily urban use, the Aqua Quest Sport 25 Pro keeps your valuables safe from rain, snow, dirt, dust, or sand, and even protects against quick temporary submersion. Once you go waterproof, you'll never go back!
  • LIGHTWEIGHT + DURABLE - Only 1.7 lbs (770 grams) + Abrasion resistant 420D RipStop fabric + TPU Lamination and DWR coating + Double bar tacked stress points + Heat taped seams = A sleek yet functional bag that's always ready for the demands of your active lifestyle.
  • COMFORTABLE - Designed to stay high on your back and out of the way during activity. The waist and shoulder straps are fully adjustable, soft, padded, flexible, and contour to the shape of your body. The high-density foam back panel is extra supportive, highly breathable, and stays comfortable against your back all day.
  • VERSATILE + SAFE - Featuring two water bottle pockets with elastic drawstrings, two zip pockets on the waist straps, and a front sleeve pocket for quick access, as well as for separating wet and dry. Internal liner allows for a zip pocket on the inside of the 100% waterproof main compartment, and makes cleaning the inside of your bag fast and easy. Fully reflective front panel, plus strategically placed reflective material provide 360° visibility, keeping you safe in low light conditions.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Aqua Quest Sport 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Aqua Quest Sport 25

  • Majority of the users confirmed that the bag is sturdy and waterproof.
  • Some users said that the reflective area in front pocket is useful in case of cycling/hiking etc.
  • Other users said that the pockets on both inside and outside are sufficient to hold essential items.
  • Reviewers said that the waist pouch of the bag is ideal for holding handy items.
  • Other reviewers said that the bag is comfortable and designed to stay high on your back.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many users complained about the quality of the drawstring.
  • Some users said that the water bottles slip out of the compartment as its loose.

9 – SealLine Baja 55L

SealLine Baja Dry Bag, Black, 5-Liter
  • Reliable protection: Dry Seal roll-top closure ensures the best Watertight Seal possible
  • Built tough: 1,000D 19 oz. Scrim-reinforced vinyl side with heavy duty 1,000D 30 oz. Scrim-reinforced vinyl bottom
  • Proven design: all-purpose reliable protection for your gear
  • Our most popular all-purpose Dry bag. The Baja bag offers proven protection for everything from river running to motorcycle touring
  • Made in the USA of US and imported materials

Here’s what the reviewers think about the SealLine Baja 55L:

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Baja 55L

  • Reviewers thought that the SealLine Baja backpack protects the contents of the bag well.
  • Other reviewers remarked that it was comfortable to wear.
  • Testers that its dry seal roll-top closure ensures the best watertight seal possible.
  • Users thought that the bag is durable.
  • Other users found the bag to be versatile and accessible.
  • Reviewers noted that the bag could be used in a variety of ways.
  • Testers found that its shoulder straps offer support because it conforms to several body types of users.
  • Many of the reviewers commented on its durability as manifested by its robust fabric.
  • Testers noted that its main compartment is large enough to store and secure necessary things.
  • Other testers said that it is available in six sizes.
  • Many users who used it found the bag to be stylish and attractive.
  • A lot of users thought that the pack was easy to carry.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that it does not provide enough resistance to water.
  • Another reviewer felt that it got soaked when placed on the river.

10 – SealLine Black Canyon 10

Seal Line Black Canyon 10-Litre Dry Bag
  • Premium Protection: Extra tough 300D TPU double-coated nylon with Dry Seal roll-top Closure provides exceptional durability and protection.
  • Lightweight: Lighter and more pliable for easy packing
  • Proven Design: Straightforward, versatile and reliable protection for your gear.
  • PVC-Free: Eco-friendlier urethane reduces environmental impact.
  • Width 8 in / 20 cm, Length 14 in / 26 cm, Volume 620 cu. in / 10 liters, Weight 7 oz / 205 g

Here’s what the reviewers think about the SealLine Black Canyon 10:

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Black Canyon 10

  • Several users noted that the SealLine Black Canyon backpack is durable due to its robust double coated nylon fabric.
  • Reviewers thought that its dry seal roll-top closure provides protection and added durability.
  • According to those who have tried that pack, the SealLine Black Canyon pack is comfortable to wear.
  • Reviewers thought that its lightweight design makes it easy to pack things.
  • Users found that its design is straightforward and versatile.
  • Other users thought that its eco-friendlier urethane reduces its environmental impact.
  • Users also praised its sufficient gear volume.
  • Users also noted that it could withstand quick submersions. It floats if it is dropped in the water.
  • Several reviewers have pointed out that it can be used for camping and hiking.
  • A lot of testers thought that it was stable when used on terrains.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the pack has no exterior pocket for an accessible storage.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag might not contain enough space for storage.

Selected reviews

Simply Hike reviewed the Exped Cloudburst 25

It kept my kit dry, felt comfortable on my back (even in 60 MPH winds) and it stayed safely and securely on my back. To top it off it carried the same kit that everyones 35 litre rucksack had. A great piece of kit for every season!

Posted 6 February 2015 – Read full review

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

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Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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