Dry bags are a genius invention! In this article, I am going to walk you through the best dry bags and give you tips on how to choose ones that will last you for a long time but also something that will fit your budget!
Now, you might be thinking that they aren’t really necessary or you might not even know what they are at all, but whatever your stance, they are the best things to protect your travel gear and belongings from that darned bad weather.
With the outdoors being highly unpredictable, you need something light that you can carry around with you and whip out to protect your things from the rain or water when you need it.
This is where dry bags come in. A lightweight and inexpensive bag that protects your valuables safe whether camping, canoeing or hiking in the rain, you need to make sure that your dry bag is a good one.
To help you make the right choice, here are the best dry bags you can buy in 2021.
- 1 Our Picks for Best Dry Bags (2021)
- 2 Dry Bags Comparison Table
- 3 Why Use a Dry Bag
- 4 What to Look for in a Dry Bag
- 5 Types of Dry Bags
- 6 Best Dry Bags (2021)
- 6.1 1. Osprey UltraLight 3 Dry Sack
- 6.2 2. Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack
- 6.3 3. Montem Dry Bag
- 6.4 4. Earth Pak-Waterproof Dry Bag
- 6.5 5. Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack
- 6.6 6. OtterBox Yampa Heavy Duty Waterproof Dry Bag
- 6.7 7. Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack
- 6.8 8. ZBRO Waterproof Dry Bag
- 6.9 9. Overboard Waterproof SLR Camera Backpacker
- 6.10 10. SealLine Bulkhead Tapered Dry Bag
- 7 How to Choose the Best Dry Bag For You
Our Picks for Best Dry Bags (2021)
- Best for General Use – Earth Pak-Waterproof Dry Bag
- Best for Camping – Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack
- Best Dry Bag Backpack –OtterBox Yampa Heavy Duty Waterproof Dry Bag
- Best for Cameras – Overboard Waterproof SLR Camera Backpacker
- Best for Kayaking – SealLine Bulkhead Tapered Dry Bag
Dry Bags Comparison Table
|Osprey UltraLight 3 Dry Sack||3 to 20L||40D Ripstop Nylon||$|
|Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack||3 to 55L||40D Silnyl||$$|
|Montem Dry Bag||5 to 30L||500-denier polyester||$|
|Earth Pak-Waterproof Dry Bag||10 to 40L||PVC||$$|
|Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack||6 to 30L||Nylon||$$$|
|6. OtterBox Yampa Heavy Duty Waterproof Dry Bag||35 to 105L||Nylon||$$$|
|Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack||22L||PVC||$$|
|ZBRO Waterproof Dry Bag||20 to 40L||PVC||$$|
|Overboard Waterproof SLR Camera Backpacker||15L||PVC||$$|
|SealLine Bulkhead Tapered Dry Bag||20L||Nylon||$$$|
Why Use a Dry Bag
We’ve all had that “uh-oh” moment when we’re caught in a downpour. There’s truly nothing worse than wet socks and a soaked phone. Even worse, we’re worried because we’re stacked with our electronics and gear.
Dry bags are the ultimate fix to all of this.
Adventuring with a dry bag gives you some peace of mind, no matter where you are and what you’re doing. When not in use, dry bags easily fold up and can sit in our daypacks, just ready to be pulled out when the need presents itself.
Besides unpredictable conditions, it’s nearly essential to have a dry bag on water-related expeditions. From kayaking and canoeing to a boat ride or day at the beach, it’s essential to keep your belongings safe and dry.
What to Look for in a Dry Bag
With so many dry bags on the market, here are some things to look for when choosing one that’s right for you.
Dry bags are typically made of nylon, polyester or vinyl. Most dry bags are made from nylon as it’s pretty durable and versatile but you’ll also find good ones made from polyester.
Nylon dry bags have a waterproof coating made from siliconized CORDURA and the amount of fiber used indicates how tough the bag is. Most dry bags made from nylon will have a fiber indicator which is a number followed by a “D.”
The higher the number means the more fibers used. It’s always worth springing for nylon bags with a higher density as they’re stronger and will last longer.
Dry bags made from vinyl aren’t as tough and are generally used to hold small personal items.
Some dry bags are made from PVC which is the strongest, most durable material. Unfortunately, PVC weighs more than nylon so it’s not best if you’re looking for something lightweight to take trekking with you.
Dry bags come in so many different sizes, so be sure to check this when looking at different models.
Sizes range from super small to absolutely massive. Small dry bags typically range from 1 to 10 liters, while medium bags are between 10 and 20 liters.
If you need something large, you can find dry bags that are up to 55 liters, but this is a little excessive if you want to be able to carry it on your adventures without hassle.
Typical dry bags for a day adventure are around 20 liters, so that’s a good size to use as a basis when choosing a dry bag that’s right for you.
You definitely want to get a dry bag that has straps, unless you plan on keeping it in another bag the entire time.
A dry bag with straps is super useful because you’ll be able to navigate hands-free, without the hassle of always having to hold on to your bag.
Some dry bags have just a general shoulder strap, but others have straps that turn it into a backpack. Advanced dry bags may even have padded straps that make carrying it comfortable if you’ve filled your bag with heavy items.
This is definitely something you should look out for when examining different models.
Dry bags have different closure systems.
The typical one is a roll-top, which closes the opening, buckles and secures it to keep water from getting in. This is the best mechanism to keep water out and even creates a little handle on the top of the bag.
However, there are also dry bags with a zippered top. Zipper tops work fine, but aren’t as dependable as an air and watertight roll top.
Besides just the top closure, good dry bags will have fully taped seams which keep water from seeping in from the outside. This is something you want to check for before purchasing as it makes the most dependable dry bag.
Obviously, the main benefit of a dry bag is it’s waterproof and keeps your belongings safe and dry. However, there are different levels of waterproofing, and this is something you should look out for.
Typically, a dry bag can handle a decent amount of water but they aren’t designed to be submerged for long periods of time. Be sure to check out the guidance provided by the brand to see how much water your chosen dry bag can withstand.
It’s highly recommended to test out your dry bag before taking it on an adventure so you know its limits.
The best test is to turn the dry bag inside out and then fill it with water. Does it leak? If so, how long did it take? Now you know the limits of your dry bag!
Besides just the typical sack, dry bags can have extra features that may make it even more practical for your desired use.
Keep your eyes peeled for dry bags with pockets or compartments, extra padding for your tech or valuables, convenient straps, and a point of attachment on the outside. All of these are awesome to have, but not entirely necessary.
Types of Dry Bags
Here’s a general breakdown of the types of dry bags you may come across in your search for the perfect one.
Barrel Roll-Top Dry Bags
This is the most common kind of dry bag, and what most of our reviews are based on. These bags are highly versatile and ready for any kind of water-related adventure.
A barrel-shaped dry bag is typically a long cylinder with an open top and buckles on either side. To seal the dry bag, you put the open end together, roll it down, and then secure it with the clips. This will keep everything inside nice, dry and protected from outside forces.
Lightweight Dry Bags
Like with pretty much any type of gear, dry bags can be a typical weight or come in a lightweight form.
Lightweight dry bags are awesome for travel as you can easily toss them in your luggage and pull them out as needed. Partake in any activity with a weight lifted off your shoulders by using a lightweight dry bag.
PVC Dry Bags
This type of dry bag is made to last. Dry bags made from PVC are the most durable and ready for any kind of rugged adventure.
PVC is naturally waterproof, making it a good material for a dry bag in the first place, but the strength takes it a step up.
The downside to a dry bag made from PVC is it tends to be a bit heavier than ones made from other material. But if you’re going to be doing lots of water sports or activities, definitely opt for a dry bag made from PVC.
Backpack Dry Bag
If you want to be hands-free while keeping your belongings safe from water, you may opt for a backpack dry bag. These bags are essentially the same as the barrel roll tops, with similar sealing mechanisms.
The main difference here is that there are straps that make it wearable like a backpack. Pretty handy, huh?
Kayak Dry Bags
Whenever you’re heading out on a boating adventure, it’s imperative to bring a dry bag , especially when using a kayak.
A genius invented a dry bag in the shape of a kayak to fit comfortably in the little boat without taking up unnecessary space.
The best kayak dry bags are tapered to easily go in the hatch and are especially useful for sea kayaking when waters are rough and you may not want your dry bag strapped to the top of the boat.
Camera Dry Bag
A camera dry bag is especially useful if you’ll be in unpredictable weather conditions with your camera.
To prevent your camera from getting damaged, it’s nice to have a dry bag specifically designed with it in mind.
These come in two shapes: the first is a classic roll-top dry bag that is slightly tapered at the bottom to fit your DSLR and other gear snugly. The second is a waterproof housing case that allows you to see your camera clearly and potentially still use it.
Phone Dry Bag
Finally, keep your phone nice and dry with a pouch designed to keep water out, but allows you to still use it.
These dry bags encase your phone and seal at the top but are made of clear material so that you can still access the touchscreen even if it’s wrapped up. Phone dry bags typically have a neck strap so you can wear it in rough conditions while leaving your hands free.
Best Dry Bags (2021)
Now that you know all the different types of dry bags, here are reviews of the best ones on the market.
While they’re mostly your classic barrel roll-top style (as this is the most versatile and useful, in our opinion), we’ve snuck in a few extras to help you with your camera, phone and kayaking needs.
Size: Various (3 to 20L)
We love the Osprey brand, and it’s no different when it comes to their dry bags.
Osprey always delivers with their ultralight products, so you’ll have no trouble carrying this around in your backpack until you need it. The fact that it is a rectangular shape also helps with the packing too!
Complete with fully-seamed tape and a roll-top closure, this dry bag performs best in water conditions, keeping your valuables safe whether in the rain or when you’re doing a water activity.
We especially like the 3L version because it’s big enough to hold what we need without being too bulky and annoying to carry around. However, if you’re looking for something bigger, the Osprey UltraLight also comes in 6, 12 and 20 liters.
As well as being generally amazing, these bags are also available in four funky colors, from teal and lime to black and red.
Size: Various (3 to 55L)
Another good contender is the Outdoor Research Ultralight dry bag. Boasting a great combination of silicone and nylon material, these bags are strong, waterproof and lightweight.
This, along with features such as the taped seams, the roll-top closure, and the durable buckle that secures it make this a great lightweight option for protecting your belongings from water.
There is also one D-ring which makes this bag easy to attach to your backpack, or you can use it alone as a handy light dry pack.
Outdoor Research makes this dry bag in various sizes (up to 55 liters), making it a terrific choice for any length adventure.
Size: Various (5 to 30L)
The Montem dry bag is an ideal option for the traveler looking for versatility and durability. This bag is made out of a tough waterproof material, giving the bag incredibly high tear strength while being pliable enough that you can access and store it easily.
With round bottoms and a watertight seal (you need to roll the top down a few times and snap the side buckles together), no water is getting into one of these bags!
This is the perfect choice for power boats, sailboats, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing to motorbiking, ATV’s and snowmobiles.
Size: Various (10 to 40L)
From 10 to 40 liters, these Earth Pak-Waterproof dry bags are made of thick PVC material (500D) which makes them perfect for protecting your backpack’s contents whatever its size.
The seams are reinforced with thermowelding to make sure that no water can get inside. The larger bags even include padded shoulder straps so you can wear them comfortably as day packs.
Our favorite part about this dry bag is that all sizes have a zippered front compartment where you can stash belongings you need easy access to.
Coming complete with a waterproof phone case, these secure and long-lasting dry bags are ideal for kayaking, rafting, boating and more. Oh, and they also come in a variety of size and colors. Sweet!
Size: Various (6 to 30L)
This dry bag is seriously awesome! Not only does it keep the contents inside dry, but it compresses them as well, with a sturdy and easy-to-use compression sack.
A unique feature of the Sea to Summit Dry Bag is the eVent feature which does two things. It allows air to pass through the base to vent the contents whilst still offering water protection, and it also allows you to remove as much air as possible to compress the bag. Cool right?
Like most dry bags, this model is closed by rolling the top. However, Sea to Summit uses four straps to compress the bag which offers more protection.
Although no carry strap is included, the bags compress to a small size and can be mounted or tied to backpacks easily.
As one of the most popular dry bags among travelers, you can be sure that the Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack is a solid option.
Size: Various (35, 70, 105L)
The name OtterBox may sound familiar, and that’s because they make those indestructible phone cases that are especially protective against water damage.
This dry bag doesn’t fall far from the tree as it’s a totally durable and is built to withstand even the wettest adventures.
Rather than a little sack, this dry bag can actually be worn as a backpack for hiking, traveling, or even trips down the river. You’ll be perfectly comfortable with the soft neoprene shoulder pads and even a back pad for airflow. There’s also a crossbody strap for carrying it like a duffel bag!
The OtterBox Yampa has waterproof sealed seams and a waterproof zipper, with tough waterproof coated nylon so it can be completely submerged. Never worry about your belongings again with this amazing piece of gear!
If you’re looking to ditch your daypack for an all-inclusive dry bag, this is the one for you.
Looking and functioning just like a regular daypack, the Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack is a PVC dry bag with two padded straps, a roll-top closure, and plenty of pockets throughout.
Coming in at 22 liters, this backpack is big enough to store all of your belongings for a trip, as well as keep them protected from rain, wind, and the elements.
Perfect for any water adventure, this daypack floats on the surface in case it’s accidentally dropped and is made of high quality materials that are tough but lightweight.
With two mesh pockets on the side for water bottles and a convenient front flap, you’ll love rocking this backpack on all of your adventures. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty, just in case.
Size: Various (20 to 40L)
Another unbeatable waterproof backpack is the ZBRO Dry Bag.
This awesome backpack was designed with travelers in mind, complete with different pockets and a bungy cord front to stash a raincoat or anything else you may want quick access to.
Made from extremely durable PVC, the ZRBO Dry Bag is made to last through any adventure. Choose from a 20, 30, or 40 liter size to fit all of your adventure gear and be amazed at the versatility this bag offers.
While the outside is entirely waterproof (and even floats!), the inside has an inner liner packet to keep your belongings organized. The straps are padded for maximum comfort, in addition to a hand carry strap, and it comes in seven different colors and patterns for you to choose from.
The reflective strap on the outside will keep you noticeable during day and night, adding to your outdoor safety. Many travelers absolutely love this bag — you will too!
Photographers rejoice — you no longer have to stress over your camera and equipment getting wet on water adventures or in unpredictable conditions. This awesome dry bag backpack is designed specifically for DSLRs, and is guaranteed to keep your camera and gear safe and sound.
Made of 600D PVC with HF welded seams, and complete with internal lining and a padded bottom, this durable bag is tapered to fit DSLRs snugly and store other camera equipment.
The roll-top keeps air and water out, and the carrying straps make it easy to sling this bag over your shoulder for a hands-free adventure.
The 15 liter size is big enough not only for your camera but for additional adventure gear as well, and the mesh pockets inside make staying organized easy. If you’re an adventurous photographer, you definitely need this bag in your collection.
For all of our kayak lovers who like to venture out on open waters, the SealLine Bulkhead Tapered Dry Bag is an essential piece of gear to take along on your adventures.
Designed to specifically kit into your kayak’s hatch space, this tapered dry bag will keep your valuables tucked out of the way and safe from any water.
Due to the ripstop nylon that’s coated in polyurethane, this is a durable bag that’s ready for anything. The roll-top is easy to use, and the 20 liter size is perfect for an entire day (or three) of exploring.
An awesome feature of this dry bag is that it has a PurgeAir valve which releases any air trapped inside, making it more compressible and smaller in size. When the valve is sealed, it’s completely waterproof. Such an awesome piece of equipment!
How to Choose the Best Dry Bag For You
When choosing a dry bag, the first thing you’re going to want to think about is its main use.
Is this for unpredictable conditions? Or more for water-related adventures? For unpredictable conditions, you may just opt for a lightweight nylon bag that you can carry with you and use as needed. But for more rugged adventures out on the water, you may want a PVC bag with straps.
Straps are another main consideration when choosing a dry bag. Do you want to be able to navigate hands-free? Or are you just going to fill your dry bag with valuables and strap it to your daypack?
Finally, do you need your dry bag for specific gear? A dry bag made for cameras is the best choice for photographers, while a kayaker may opt for a tapered dry bag to sit in the hatch.
All of these are considerations to keep in mind when scouring the market for a dry bag.
We hope this guide has made it easier for you to choose a dry bag that fits your adventures!
Additional content contributed by Jane Elmets
Heading out on a new travel adventure? Read our other guides
- Ultimate Guide to the Best Travel Cameras (2021)
- The Only Beach Packing List You’ll Ever Need
- Best Snorkeling Gear: Ultimate Comparison Guide 2021
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