If you spend a lot of time camping or being outdoors period, you know how important it is to carry a dry bag with you. You should also know how important it is to choose one that is the best quality. Consider it as an investment – you want something that will provide you with the functionality you need, but also stand the tests of time.
There are a lot of brands out there, each with their own specs and features that sound great. But which ones actually deliver on what they say they do? Let’s take a look at a few features to help you decide what exactly you’re looking for and find the best dry bag for you.
What You Should Look for
Regardless of what type of outdoor trip you’re going on, you are going to need the best waterproof bag you can get your hands on. However, it’s still important to keep in mind you’ll make the best choice if you shop for waterproof bags with your activities in mind. Will you be sailing? Sticking to dry land? Rock climbing?
Here are some key features you should keep an eye out for when comparison shopping:
- Material: when it comes to material, you want something that is not only guaranteed to keep your belongings dry, but it should be able to withstand a lot of punishment. Camping is rough work, and you aren’t going to get very far with a bag that falls apart after the first use. Dry bags are typically made from one of two materials: vinyl and nylon.
- Vinyl: used in smaller dry bags.
- Nylon: used in much larger dry bags, and is selected for its durability. It is coated with what is called siliconized CORDURA, which waterproofs the material and protects it against abrasions. Bags that use nylon typically have a number followed by “D,” which stands for how dense the nylon fibers are; the higher the number, the more waterproof and tough the bag will prove to be.
- Closure Type: dry bags usually come with one or two kinds of closure types. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference, as all seams of the openings are taped to be waterproof. The two kinds of closures are:
- hypalon roll top: used on roll-top dry bags because they keep out water effectively. The top is rolled and snapped into place with a buckle to make it both air-tight and waterproof. This also serves as the handle, making for easy carry.
- zipper seal: think of a freezer bag when you hear zipper seal. You press the ends of the openings together to create an airtight seal that prevents moisture from getting in. However, this kind of seal does require a little more maintenance, as proper lubrication is required to keep them working effectively.
- Size: bags of any kind are measured in liters; the larger the number, the bigger the bag will be. Knowing this number will prepare you for what size you should get to carry all of your gear.
Tips for Bag Usage
Of course the main reason for buying a waterproof dry bag is to store your gear while out and about. But do you know how to pack and store your things best, using one of the bags reviewed here? Using bags that come in a multi pack with different sizes is probably a top choice for most people who enjoy being outdoors. Particularly if you’re going to be out a while.
Use the smaller bags such as 2 or 5 liters for storing your phone, camera or other gadgets. Even batteries. Use the larger ones for clothes. The larger ones can also be used for separating your dirty and clean clothes if you’re out camping. When carrying multiple bags, you can also store them one inside the other (assuming you have left enough room to do so for convenience.
Going back to keeping your type of activity in mind, here’s some more examples of what adventure requires what type of bag. For hiking, a lightweight coated bag made of nylon or polyester is a common choice. If you’re going paddling or kayaking, heavy duty bags made of vinyl provide the necessary durability that withstands being stored in tight boat hatchets.
When it comes to packing your things, a common challenge is making sure excess air is out of the bag. To work around that annoyance, look for a waterproof dry bag that features a purge valve, A purge valve is a handy feature that enables you to force excess air out, all while keeping outside air form getting in the bag. You’ll find that bags with a purge valve are one of the best choices out there.
If the bag you choose doesn’t have a purge valve, don’t worry. Depending on the material try rolling the bag to get excess air out. Here’s how you do it:
- Pack your bag half full or no more than ¾ full, then purge excess air from the bag.
- If you’re using a vinyl bag, pinch the top together.
- Next, you want to fold the bag down to the folding band. Assuming there is one on your bag.
- Repeat the fold at least three times to make sure the air is out. Remember to fold, don’t roll.
- Then snap the buckles in place and you’re all set.
That won’t be the way to squeeze air out of your bag every time you need to pack up and head out.
The technique will be vary depending on what material your bag is made from and how much you need to pack. But generally, that method can be uses. So now with some usage tips, packing tips and specs in mind, let’s get into a few waterproof dry bag favorites that have proven to work well.
Top Dry Bags
Outdoor Products 3-Pack Ultimate Dry Sack
- Three pack includes 2 liter, 4 liter and 8 liter bags.
- Flexible, soft fabric
- Popular choice for water sports and activities.
Description: If you think you’ll need a variety of sizes for your next adventure, the Outdoor Products 3 pack dry bags might be what you need. Similar to others, these bags have a roll top closure and double stitched taped seams.
They’re made from a polyutherane coated fabric. Also similar to other bags, they have a disclaimer that they aren’t intended for submersion. They come in an assortment of colors and seem to be primarily used for kayaking and other water sports.
Geckobrands Waterproof 30L Backpack
- The 30 Liter bags are 12” x 10” x 7”.
- Exterior pocket measuring 9” x 8”.
- Interior pocket features a zip closure and is 8” x 7”.
- Comes with 2 D-rings to attach keys, water bottles and more.
- Features 5 star reviews based on design, durability and most important, keeping items dry.
Description: Geckobrands waterproof 30L backpack is great for a number of activities such as boating, hunting, kayaking and more. Even if you just plan on spending a day by the pool or on the beach, these bags have proven to do quite well. Similar to The Friendly Swede, Geckobrands also believes being outdoors should be a worry-free time. So they created large dry bags with a 30 liter capacity.
They don’t recommend extended periods on top of water, submersions or the bags being used as flotation devices. You’ll find that those are typically the general rules for waterproof bags of all brands.
DryCASE Masonboro Adventure 35L Waterproof Backpack
- Backpack style waterproof bag features a main compartment that can hold up to 30 liters.
- Interior zipper (also waterproof) for smaller storage purposes.
- Mesh pocket on the front to store wet items, to keep them away from the dry ones inside.
- water bottle storage area.
- Weighs 2 pounds
- Made of a high-quality Gadwall Marine-grade vinyl.
- Padding on the shoulder straps for comfort and support.
Description: With a 4.5 star rating and plenty of great reviews, DryCASE Manonboro bags definitely set a standard in waterproof bags. Whatever the outdoor adventure you have in mind, these 100% waterproof bags are guaranteed to keep your belongings dry and secure. That sounds like a lofty guarantee, considering most other brands provide a disclaimer stating the exact opposite.
But they follow through on their word. Additionally, another feature that makes DryCase’s bags such a great choice is the purge valve. This unique feature allows you to inflate or compress the bag or enables you to drain the bag, if you’re using it for cooling or even showering. That’s a lot of versatility from a backpack.
Waterproof Dry Bags by Odyssey
- Made of 500D PVC tarpaulin, the strongest waterproof material available.
- Stain-resistant, UV-protected, resistant to temperature, anti-static and even anti-bacterial.
- High tear strength
- Convenient for packing all your belongings and struggle free closing.
- Tested by professional sailing and dive teams, proving to do very well.
- Additionally, if you don’t need to carry the larger bag, remember you can just use the smartphone bag.
Description: Waterproof Dry Bags by Odyssey has an added bonus – a smartphone dry bag. So if you’re a modern outdoorsy type that doesn’t like to travel without your phone, this is probably your bag. Odyssey dry bags are guaranteed to keep your belongings dry and secure whether you’re kayaking in tough waters, deep diving or just enjoying a day on the lake.
And remember earlier when it was suggested you treat purchasing a dry bag as an investment? Well Odyssey’s bags happen to be guaranteed to last a lifetime. So you definitely get a high quality, durable bag that is also very reasonably priced.
The Friendly Swede Compact Dry Bag
- Made with industrial grade 500D PVC Tarp.
- Highly recognized for the level of protection they provide against waters of IPX5.
- Made with a non-rip material, with sealed seams and are double stitched. Those are the features that make the bags extremely water resistant.
- Feature a roll top tab for closure, for extra security and a tight seal.
- Come in a two-pack and are available in the following colors: black, yellow, white and blue.
- Several sizes are available such as 5 liters and 10 liters.
Description: The Friendly Swede’s message is that they believe being outdoors should be a worry-free experience. To help ensure that, they created several different sizes and colors of dry bags that provide the right functionality, to fit your needs.
The only con is that they aren’t guaranteed to be 100% waterproof. However, most bags probably aren’t 100% waterproof (even if they say they are) so don’t let that deter you from giving this one a try anyway. It has plenty of great features that just might be what you are looking for.
SealLine Baja Dry Bag
- The 19 ounce sides and 30 ounce bottom of the bag are scrim-reinforced.
- Great for motorcycle trips, rock climbing and water activities. That makes it a great all-purpose choice.
- Available in orange, black, yellow, blue and green.
Description: The Baja dry bag is SealLine’s most popular choice. The versatility and durability of these bags has been proven for both land and water activities. The vinyl bags are 19 ounces deep, with a heavy duty 30 ounce bottom. They also feature the typical, strong roll top closure and D-rings and come in six sizes. The dimensions are 18” x 5” x 3” and is a light weight of 1.4 pounds.
Exped Fold Dry 4 Pack Drybag
- The Exped Fold Dry Bags come with a 5 year guarantee. Not quite a lifetime guarantee, but still better than most.
- They have a durable and water repellant treated webbing.
- There’s a grab handle on the base.
- It includes hot air taped seams all around it. They also have a soft and durable coated taffeta nylon. Also, a 10,000 mm water column.
Description: These nylon dry bags manufactured by GadgetCenter are ultralight. Exped Fold Dry 4 Pack Drybag are made of a 15D nylon with a silicone coating on the outside. The inside coating is PU and guaranteed to do well for outdoor activities.
Try it out for hiking, rafting, or even rock climbing. They’re even made of a translucent fabric so you can get to exactly what you need quickly. The set of four includes 3 liter, 5 liter, 8 liter and 13 liter bags. According to Exped, nothing is more annoying than a waterproof drybag that does the opposite of what it claims.
Specifically, letting moisture in instead of keeping it out. That’s a sentiment all adventurers probably find agreeable. So Exped has a very good attention to detail to make sure they deliver on what the guarantee. Quality and durability are their top concerns when it comes to their bags.
Karrimor Dry Bag 5 Litres
- The Karrimor dry bags have a fold over top closure with a side release buckle.
- The seams are taped, which helps keep water out.
- They’re made of a light weight, taffeta construction.
- Have been tested and proven great for hiking and water activities.
- They have a 10,000 mm hydrostatic head.
Description: Karrimor Dry Bag 5 Litres are another great option for holding your belongings. They are available in a number of sizes like the smaller 5 liter, or even 40 and liters. They also come in a number of colors.
The 5 liter bags are great for storing smaller items such as cameras, phones, batteries and more. Additionally, when it’s packed down it’ll fit into most rusack pockets.
Freegrace Top Premium Lightweight Dry Sack/Dry Bags
- Made with 250D, double sided paint coat net clamping cloth.
- Various sizes: 2 liter, 5 liter, 10 liter, 35-50 liter and even 65-80 liter.
- Come in a number of colors to choose from such as blue, pink, red, black, green and more.
- The bags’ closure system is a roll top seal for extra security and keeping your gear dry.
Description: According to Freegrace (and a lot of positive feedback from buyers) if you’re looking for the most durable and lightweight bag you can find, they are who want to go with.
They’re also pretty cost efficient. Freegrace Top Premium Lightweight Dry Sack/Dry Bags even goes the extra mile and offers a 90 day, money back guarantee if your bag doesn’t deliver. The bags are available in sizes small enough for you to just carry your phone, tablet, wallet or other smaller, light weight items. Additionally, they are available in sizes large enough to store your clothing and more.
Deciding Which Dry Bag to Purchase
By now you know whether your adventures include white water rafting, hiking, mountaineering or something simpler like a day on the lake with friends, a waterproof bag is your greatest asset for keeping your things secure and of course, dry. The 9 waterproof bags above are all great options in their own ways, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide which is the best option.
There are also plenty more types of bags within the brands mentioned here, for you to try. Before you settle on one, take a look at some other customer reviews as well to help you make your decision.
Look for feedback that specifically deals with whatever activities you have in mind. Pay close attention to any discussing durability, size and whether or not the bag is actually waterproof. Then get your bag and get outside.