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Water resistant backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide (Feb 2019)

Most waterproof backpacks are actually just water resistant - but luckily that's also all that most of us need.

Most of us don't need to cross rivers with our backpacks. All we need is to be able handle a bit of rain and for that, a water resistant backpack is all that is needed.

But watch out when you are looking for a new water resistant backpack. Not all packs are of the same quality, so you need to compare the different brands and models before you buy.

The 30 Best Water Resistant Backpacks


RankWater Resistant BackpackRating
1Arcteryx BoraArcteryx Bora
Available on Amazon
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4.8725 reviews
2Patagonia Black HolePatagonia Black Hole
Available on Amazon
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4.591,386 reviews
35.11 Tactical Rush5.11 Tactical Rush
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
4.508,731 reviews
4Sea to Summit RapidSea to Summit Rapid4.4012 reviews
5Aqua Quest StylinAqua Quest Stylin4.25273 reviews
6Aqua Quest HimalAqua Quest Himal4.25280 reviews
7Under Armour HustleUnder Armour Hustle4.192,673 reviews
8The North Face HomesteadThe North Face Homestead4.1738 reviews
9Patagonia Storm FrontPatagonia Storm Front4.1713 reviews
10SealLine BoundarySealLine Boundary4.12968 reviews
11Eagle Creek Gear HaulerEagle Creek Gear Hauler4.0541 reviews
12Chrome UrbanChrome Urban4.05329 reviews
13Quechua ArpenazQuechua Arpenaz3.9717,201 reviews
14Trunki PaddlepakTrunki Paddlepak3.96226 reviews
15Timbuk2 SpireTimbuk2 Spire3.96855 reviews
16Ortlieb VelocityOrtlieb Velocity3.9373 reviews
17Mountain Hardwear ScramblerMountain Hardwear Scrambler3.91154 reviews
18Timbuk2 EspecialTimbuk2 Especial3.89505 reviews
19Granite Gear BoundaryGranite Gear Boundary3.8644 reviews
20Aqua Quest SportAqua Quest Sport3.86194 reviews
21Timbuk2 LuxTimbuk2 Lux3.8624 reviews
22Granite Gear SonjuGranite Gear Sonju3.8217 reviews
23Voli Dry BagVoli Dry Bag3.81255 reviews
24Granite Gear JackfishGranite Gear Jackfish3.73125 reviews
25SealLine Black CanyonSealLine Black Canyon3.71230 reviews
26Granite Gear BuffaloGranite Gear Buffalo3.69130 reviews
27Lowepro DryZoneLowepro DryZone3.6967 reviews
28Watershed Big CreekWatershed Big Creek3.6831 reviews
29Phantom Aquatics WalrusPhantom Aquatics Walrus3.36327 reviews
30Timbuk2 TuckTimbuk2 Tuck3.18239 reviews
How we rate the bags

We have checked 35,479 Water resistant backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.


Buyers Guide to Water Resistant Backpacks


Man in the jungle with water resistant backpackThese days, everyone carries a small fortune in technology around with them at all times. So, even a little bit of rain can be cause for some serious concern, if you don’t have the proper protection. If you are not planning on facing down any storms or going swimming with your backpack on, you should be just fine with a water resistant backpack.

Are Water Resistant Backpacks What You Need?

Of course, this brings on an entirely new debate including what is a water resistant backpack, is it really right for you, and how do you decide which one is best? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to look elsewhere, we have all your answers right here.

Backpack manufacturers like to throw around various terms and specifications to make their bags sound more rugged and durable. This is partly why so many labels are often used interchangeably with others. For instance, while many companies like to claim that their backpacks are waterproof, what they actually mean is that they are water resistant. For you to truly be able to understand the difference between these terms and other categories, you need to take a closer look at this aspect of the backpack industry:

What Does a Water Resistant Backpack Do?


First things first, let’s narrow down what a water resistant backpack actually is. These backpacks are made from material where the fibers are woven together very tightly. This creates a surface that makes it very difficult for water to penetrate through. However, while these bags are capable of keeping the moisture being absorbed, it is only capable of doing so for a short period of time. If the material continues to be exposed to water, particularly droplets falling with force, the water will penetrate through.

Now, water resistant backpacks are the only form of water protection available. There are also backpacks that are water repellent and waterproof. The main difference between a water repellent backpack and a water resistant one is the treatment on the material and its resulting properties. With water repellent backpacks, the material is sprayed with a protective layer. This causes the water to pool on the surface of the bag and then flow off. Therefore, unless you submerge a water repellent backpack in water for a period of time, it will keep your backpack dry.

Last but not least, there are waterproof backpacks which provide the ultimate form of defense against moisture. These packs are made from materials that prevent the water from entering in, even when submerged. On top of that, the zippers, seams, and various other features that are designed to keep water out no matter what.

Why Water Resistant Backpacks are More Suitable for You


So, with more than a few options available to you, the question is which type of moisture protection is right for you. While it can be tempting to straightaway opt for a water repellent or waterproof pack, this isn’t necessarily something that you may need. In fact, precious few people actually require a waterproof backpack in their daily life.

If you live or travel in a region that experiences continuous, heavy downpours then perhaps, a waterproof backpack may be useful. The same can be said if you go kayaking, diving, or engage in similar water activities. These, however, are typically the only occasions where waterproof backpacks are really utilized to their full potential.

Whether you are a cyclist, commuter, or hiker that relies on backpacks, you will often find that water resistant packs are more than enough for you. Here are some of the advantages of this type of backpack:

  • Sufficient Protection from Water: water resistant backpacks have been built to keep your belongings dry during light drizzles and intermittent showers of rain. The fabric is able to prevent the water from coming in until it gets waterlogged and the water droplets force their way in. Since rain droplets are often quite large, it will take a while for the moisture to seep in, protecting your things in most rainy conditions.

  • Additional Storage Space: whether you are on a daily commute or a hike, one of the most required features is easy access. Most water resistant backpacks have plenty of external compartments available. This has two benefits. First, you are able to store a greater number of items in your bag. Also, you can easily access them when needed, even while on the move.


  • Better Access Points: the truly waterproof backpacks often have roll-top access points or have a top loading opening. This means that it can be quite difficult to organize your belongings. It can be just as hard to actually get to them very quickly. With water resistant backpacks, however, there are often front loading panels, making storage a lot easier.


  • Lower Cost: one of the main advantages of a water resistant backpack is that is often considerably cheaper than a waterproof backpack. The materials used as well as the techniques for constructing this bag are cheaper which makes the end product more affordable as well.


The Structure of a Water Resistant Backpack


So, the next thing you must ask is what makes up a water resistant backpack? What is it made of and what are the components involved? Here is what you need to know:

Materials

Water resistant backpacks can be made from a number of different materials. On the less durable end of the spectrum, these backpacks can be made from polyester of different strengths. However, it is becoming more common to find tougher water resistant backpacks such as those made from Cordura and rip stop nylon. For people who are willing to pay more, you may even find backpacks that are made from sail cloth. This material is not commonly found and is usually specific to certain manufacturers.

As mentioned, regardless of the material used, the bonds between the fibers are relatively the same. They are sewn very tightly together to prevent the water from seeping in immediately. Now, depending on the manufacturer, treatments are sometimes sprayed onto this material. This is so that it adds more protection against moisture. Some of the components that are used include polyurethane, thermoplastic elastomers, and polyvinyl chloride. These, however, only act as a barrier for a short period of time. Due to exposure to the elements, they can wear off after a while.

Assembly


One of the reasons that water resistant backpacks aren’t waterproof is because of the seams. To keep costs down, the seams are often sewed together. This, of course, leaves needle holes through which the water can pass through. To make the seams less permeable to water, they need to be coated on the inside of the bag. Oftentimes, the same treatment used on the exterior of the bag is used on the inside of the bag as well. As such, the coatings on the seams are prone to wear and tear as well.

Then, there are the zippers on the pack to think about as well. Traditionally, zippers have proven to be weak points on any pack, letting the most amount of water in. One of the simplest ways to prevent this to a certain degree is to keep the zippers hooded. These are like small awnings, made from the same water resistant material as the bag. In certain instances, manufacturers may apply a polyurethane seal over the zippers to act as a shield.

The other step that many manufacturers take is to have a lining inside the backpack as well. As you are aware of, the fabric used for water resistant materials only lets water in after a certain period of time. When the material gets waterlogged, the water passes through. This means that anything near the material is bound to get soaked. An internal lining, also made from water resistant material, can help to cut down on this a little.

Determining the Level of Water Resistance of a Backpack


Now, there is hardly any point in getting a water resistant backpack if you aren’t even sure that it can live up to its claims. While there are many manufacturers that say that their backpacks are water resistant, not all can live up to these promises. Of course, you can’t exactly go to a store, hose in hand, and spray the backpacks to find out whether they pass muster or not.

Fortunately, there are more subtle ways of doing this. By carrying out these small examinations, you will have a better chance of finding a water resistant backpack that will actually do what is supposed to:

Multiple Layers

One of the first things that you should check is just how many layers the backpack is made up of. Remember, how when water resistant material gets waterlogged, it lets the moisture through? Well, the more layers that there are, the longer it will take for this to happen. Therefore, multiple layers are often a good sign.

IP Rating


Even the term water resistance can mean many different things. After all, this definition refers more to a spectrum of properties rather than a distinct rating. To determine the precise water resistance of the backpack, it is best to look at the IP rating. It should be noted that this is not something that is commonly found on backpack labels, particularly the more economical options. This is because testing to figure out the exact level of water resistance can be quite expensive. So, to keep costs down, many companies skip this procedure. However, if you do find this rating, you should know what it means. Ideally, you should be looking either for an IP64 or IP65 rating. This indicates that the backpack can withstand drizzle and light water spray.

This is what you need to know what it means to buy and own a water resistance backpack. As you can see, it is not always simple and certainly not concrete. Still, this information should help you to make better choices regarding your backpack purchases.

6 More Water Resistant Backpacks


Classic water resistant backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankWater Resistant BackpackRating
Herschel MammothHerschel Mammoth
Sea to Summit FlowSea to Summit Flow
Lowepro Dry Zone
Matador DayliteMatador Daylite
Watershed WestwaterWatershed Westwater
Showers Pass UtilityShowers Pass Utility

Last updated on February 22, 2019

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