Top 10 Best Water Resistant Backpacks in 2018

These 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:


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.


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.

Top 10 Best Water Resistant Backpacks

1 – Patagonia Black Hole 25

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Black Hole 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Black Hole 25

  • A lot of users thought that the Patagonia Black Hole backpack is resistant to any weather condition that might tarnish the state of the bag.
  • Other users recommend the bag for those who are commuting to school and work.
  • Other users noted that the bag has a lightweight design.
  • Many of those who have tried the backpack were able to secure things properly due to its pockets.
  • Several users observed that its straps could be pulled quickly.
  • Reviewers have found that it is comfortable to wear due to its back panel.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a padded sleeve dedicated for laptops.
  • Tablet users found it easy to secure their gadgets due to a sleeve dedicated to tablets.
  • Many wrote that the bag is durable and functional.
  • Another user said that its stretchable pockets make it easy to store different sizes of water bottles.
  • Other reviewers noted that there is a roomy storage space for more comfortable organization.
  • Users thought that the bag has an attractive design.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it has a minimal protection to laptops.
  • Another user thought that the bag might be too small for him.
  • A reviewer felt that it is not fit for hiking.

2 – Ortlieb Velocity

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Ortlieb Velocity:

Reviewers like these things about the Ortlieb Velocity

  • Reviewers said that It’s great for walking around town, biking, and overnight hikes.
  • Reviewers also said that the foam ventilation system keeps the users back from getting sweaty when it’s hot.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users is that the detachable inner pocket fits their pens, phone, sunglasses, and computer cord just right.
  • They also mentioned that the straps are easy to adjust.
  • Users commented that the single-compartment design is versatile and can carry anything from a laptop and a bunch of books to a load of groceries.
  • Several users said that it also works as an airplane carry-on.
  • Other users said that the waterproofing has worked well.
  • Many reviewers liked the fact that the closure is easy to open and easy to close. It holds well and does not open by itself.
  • They said that there is one pocket with a zipper that can hold your wallet, phone, and keys.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that If the pack is full and they flex their shoulders forward, the Velcro pops open.
  • Another user complained that after a few years of consistent use, the seams are coming unglued at the point where they roll down against the hard plastic back liner.

3 – Aqua Quest Himal 20L

Aqua Quest Himal Backpack - 100% Waterproof 25L Dry Bag - Lightweight, Foldable, External Pocket - Blue
  • 100% WATERPROOF - From extreme adventure to daily urban use, the AquaQuest Himal 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!
  • ULTRA-LIGHT - At only 1.1 lb, the Himal is ultra-light yet tough. 70D RipStop fabric + TPU lamination + Heat taped seams = A waterproof pack that's so light that you might even forget you're carrying it!
  • COMFORTABLE - The waist and shoulder straps are fully adjustable, soft, flexible, dry easily and contour to the shape of your body. The Air-Mesh back panel is soft and breathable, and stays comfortable all day.
  • FOLDABLE + COMPACT - The Himal can't make your breakfast, but it can fold up into its own front zip pocket! Perfect for athletes, minimalists, and travelers concerned about space. Size when packed: 11 x 7 x 2.5 inch. Compressed: 11 x 4 x 1.5 inch
  • USA SERVICE & WARRANTY: Aqua Quest is based in the Pacific Northwest, where they have designed and tested waterproof gear since 96. All products are protected by AQ's Two-Year 'No Worries Warranty'. Toll-free customer service Mon-Fri, 10-5 PST, at 1-844-775-7770.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Aqua Quest Himal 20L:

Reviewers like these things about the Aqua Quest Himal 20L

  • Most users said that the material is top notch, waterproof, lightweight but durable.
  • Users said that it fit all their essentials in the bag cavity easily.
  • Many users mentioned that it has wide opening will accommodate even large items.
  • They also said that it is equipped with comfortable straps and two sets of support straps both on the chest and waist.
  • Many reviewers said that the front pocket is also a great feature with a decent amount of storage space.
  • Some reviewers said that the front pouch is not waterproof.
  • Most reviewers also said that the ability for the backpack to fold itself into the pouch was a great feature.
  • Users also said that the straps, stitching and padding on the bag are fantastic.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that the shoulder straps are very thin and without much padding.
  • Another user complained that It has a thin rubberized lining inside the case for waterproofing that may be susceptible to puncture if not careful.
  • Some users complained that the front pocket is not waterproof.

4 – 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.

5 – Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 Outdry Backpack
  • Guaranteed watertight OutDry construction main compartment, rain room tested
  • HardWave suspension conforms comfortably to the curve of your back and distributes weight evenly
  • Easy access hydration sleeve with drainage
  • Rope strap under top pocket
  • Side compression straps keep any size load stable

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30:

Reviewers like these things about the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30

  • Reviewers found out that the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler backpack conforms comfortably to the curve of the back.
  • Users thought that its waterproof main compartment keeps the gear dry inside.
  • Reviewers felt that its main compartment is roomy enough to store essential equipment.
  • Testers thought that the weight of the pack is distributed evenly.
  • Other users thought that they could easily access their hydration bladders from its designated sleeve.
  • Many reviewers found that its pockets were sufficient to store and organize things securely.
  • According to some reviewers, its compression straps secure the load to keep the pack stable on the back.
  • Testers thought that its deep side pockets are essential for carrying small items.
  • Other users also noted that the pack is versatile and efficient.
  • They also mentioned that the bag could be used by hikers, climbers, and skiers.
  • Many users took notice on its robust water which leaves no seams and gaps.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that there is no sleeve specifically designed for laptops.
  • Another reviewer mentioned that the top drawstring closure is not waterproof at all.

6 – Lowepro DryZone 200

Lowepro DryZone 200 Camera Backpack (Yellow)
  • DryZone 200 Capacity: Large 35mm or digital pro SLR; 4 5 lenses (up to a 300mm f/2.8, with hood reversed)
  • 100% Water-tight protection
  • Fully customizable interior for any system.
  • When properly closed, the DryZone 200 will float, even when fully loaded.
  • SlipLock attachment slots allow you to attach additional Lowepro accessories and pouches to the DryZone 200.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Lowepro DryZone 200:

Reviewers like these things about the Lowepro DryZone 200

  • Many users like the sliplock attachment slots which allow them to to attach additional accessories and pouches.
  • Some reviewers noted that it sits comfortably on their backs.
  • Others are impressed with how it held up after being taken to camping, hiking and canoeing trips.
  • Many users thought it provides a good amount of protection for gear.
  • Some reviewers thought the shoulder and waist straps are decently padded and comfortable to wear on the back.
  • A lot of users find it solid, well built and keeps equipment dry.
  • Some reviewers are impressed with how the pack stayed manageable and comfortable even when fully loaded.
  • Others said it provides good back support.
  • Many users like the presence of waterproof pockets to keep delicate items dry.
  • One user said that its water tightness is superb.
  • Many reviewers like the presence of several straps for hand carrying or backpack style.
  • A lot of owners are impressed with how it is able to fit several lenses, telephoto, a microphone, camera body, a go pro and a bunch of other stuff in it.
  • A number of users thought it has solid chest and waist straps to distribute the load evenly.
  • Others find the back harness system very innovative as it can be easily adjusted up or down based on their height.
  • Some reviewers love the hidden fold-out tripod holder down the centre of the bag.
  • many users thought the dry-suit zip works incredibly.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users thought the design doesn’t allow for quicker access to their equipment.
  • Others said it feels bulky to carry.

7 – SealLine Boundary 70

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the SealLine Boundary 70:

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Boundary 70

  • A lot of users thought that the SealLine Boundary pack has ample storage for necessary equipment and personal belongings.
  • Many of those who have tried the pack felt that it is comfortable and firm.
  • Users lauded the presence of continuous double sealing strips.
  • They also mentioned that the bag is ideal for canoeing and canyoneering.
  • Several reviewers observed that its roll-top closure is waterproof.
  • Other users praised its improved suspension system.
  • Reviewers have found that its shoulder straps are both breathable and waterproof.
  • Users noted that the bag comes with a waist belt.
  • Testers found that it is able to protect gear well.
  • Many testers said that it could come in three sizes, depending on personal preference.
  • They also thought that it is equipped with side-cinch buckles.
  • Other reviewers praised its simple yet striking design.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it is not quite comfortable.
  • Another user thought that the straps need constant readjustment if things shift inside the pack.
  • A reviewer indicated that the folding top is too short to provide a secure seal.

8 – SealLine Black Canyon

SealLine Black Canyon Boundary Pack
  • Lightweight Design: Ideal for carrying large loads over short distances while saving space and weight
  • Premium Durability: RF-welded, 300D urethane double-coated nylon body, 400D HD urethane- coated nylon bottom.
  • Reliable Protection: Roll-down Dry Seal closure for the best watertight protection
  • PVC-Free: Eco-friendlier fabrics reduce environmental impact
  • Weight 2 lbs 8 oz / 1150 g, Width 12.5 in / 32 cm, Length 18.5 in / 47 cm, Height 30 in / 76 cm, Volume 6940 cu. in / 115 liters

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

Reviewers like these things about the SealLine Black Canyon

  • 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.

9 – Watershed Big Creek

Watershed Big Creek Day Pack
  • Keep your gear dry even when submerged! Easy-to-use ZipDry Seal presses shut like a freezer bag
  • 840 Denier fabric with a heavy matte PU 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.
  • Wide mouth for easy access on-the-go

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.

10 – Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25

Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25 Premium Waterproof Backpack Dry Bag
  • Roll-top 100% waterproof backpack, Floats safely if dropped in water
  • Protects contents from dust, sand, dirt and water, Unique High Frequency welded construction
  • Two-way sealing system, Padded shoulder straps and lumbar support
  • Comfortable back panel with air-flow design, Elasticated front webbing
  • Super reflective patches on the front of the bag and both shoulder straps, Large internal zip pocket

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25

  • Several reviewers thought that the Phantom Aquatics Walrus duffel bag is durable.
  • Testers praised it has a large main compartment for storage of essential things.
  • Users noted that it has internal pockets for excellent organization of gear.
  • Users found that its fabric is waterproof and heavy-duty.
  • They further mentioned that its seams are taped well to avoid leakage.
  • Several users noted that its zippers are water resistant.
  • According to other users, the bag is very manageable for its size.
  • Those who have used the bag praised its minimalist and clean design.
  • Many reviewers found the bag to be comfortable when used.
  • Other reviewers pointed out that it has multiple carrying handles.
  • They also said that its passed backpack shoulder strap system could be removed when not used.
  • Several testers recommend the bag for excursions, overnight trips, and overseas travel.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that it is a little heavy.
  • Another user had issues with the zippers of the bag.

Selected reviews

Loadout Room reviewed the Granite Gear Jackfish

This bag works great as a school backpack while I commute to the classroom. The shape is great for all the books and laptop that go in it every day as well as the organization it offers for pencils, pens, and note cards. The bag keeps heavy loads off of your back and onto your shoulders where you can adjust the placement of weight.

Posted 20 January 2018 by JakeShackleford – Read full review

Road CC reviewed the Ortlieb Velocity

Waterproofing is the Ortlieb Velocity’s headline feature, and for that reason alone it’s worthy of consideration, but it does have its flaws. Impressive waterproofing, but there are better backpacks available for the money.

Posted 4 January 2016 by Ash Quinlan – Read full review

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