One of the most annoying aspects of hiking or camping is carrying a backpack full of wet things. The last thing you’ll want while outdoors is getting your belongings wet, right? If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to find out that waterproof backpacks are available on the market. The best waterproof backpack will ensure that your supplies are safe and dry especially when there’s an unexpected downpour.
But how does one shop for a waterproof backpack? What are the qualities that you need to consider? Shopping for this type of backpack can be really daunting but don’t worry because we’re here to help.
In this article, we have provided a quick guide on how to shop for waterproof backpacks based on a number of desirable features. On top of that, we will be reviewing some of the top-rated backpacks which could jumpstart your search. Let’s take a look!
Our Top Picks
|Aqua Quest Himal||20 L||70D RipStop fabric,|
|2 years||Check price on Amazon|
| OverBoard Pro-|
|30 L||600D nylon, PVC|
|No||Check price on Amazon|
|Aqua Quest Stylin||30 L||420D RipStop|
|2 years||Check price on Amazon|
|Ortlieb Velocity||20 L||Industrial tarp||5 years||Check price on Amazon|
|25 L||Nylon||1 year||Check price on Amazon|
|Big Horn Tortuga||30 L||Heavy Gauge PVC||1 year||Check price on Amazon|
|Earth Pak||35 L||500D PVC||No||Check price on Amazon|
|FE Active||30 L||5 mm eco-friendly|
|Lifetime||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
We can’t really dig into a list of products without pointing out their most important features. If we omit any feature, it must be due to its personal nature, as each person is interested in some specific aspects that others find of little importance.
The material of the backpack is what will make it waterproof or not. Learning which ones are used for this purpose will help you realize just how well the bag will protect against water. Some manufacturers might not post online what their product is made of, and you might want to see it in person before spending your money.
The industrial tarp is one of the most resistant fabrics out there, and any item made of it will last through the most rugged adventure. Most waterproof backpacks come in RipStop fabric which makes them resistant to tearing and ripping.
Closure and Compartments
As you’ll see from our selection, most dry bags close by rolling the top down some three times, and then use a snap closure to keep everything in place. While this system should be secure enough, some manufacturers will also add some Velcro stripes to improve the seal. If you like the bag but it lacks the Velcro closure, you should be able to add one yourself.
Additionally, storage space is important, but this aspect pertains to personal preferences. We just want to point out that bags with more inner pockets will seem less spacious than those with no inner compartments or pockets.
You easily saw in the table that backpacks have certain capacities. This is an important feature for all hikers. Lower values mean the bag is smaller, though usually a model is available in more sizes. Experienced campers and hikers will now how many items they need and their approximate total volume.
If you’re a beginner, first find out what items you’ll take with you, and try to guess their volume by packing them in a different bag that you now the capacity of. Even if you buy a product, you can exchange it for a bigger one (recommended), to ensure your stuff fits.
For most bags presented here, we have indicated the dimensions measured after closing the bag. While packing, make sure you leave enough space for the top to be rolled down, or your possessions will get wet.
We all know that not all products will last a lifetime, and sometimes we can get defective products. A warranty will ensure we’ll get the needed repairs or product replacement for free. Sometimes, some repairs that are due to normal use can be covered by the warranty.
What we’re not always aware of, is that not all companies offer the same warranty, under the same conditions. Some companies might not even offer a warranty, and this is a real issue when you pay above the average price for the item. Just remember that the lifetime warranty refers to the lifetime of the product not of its user.
The straps are quite important when hiking as they can make your load feel more or less heavy. The straps should definitely be padded and adjustable, though at this point in time you might have hard time finding any other type of straps.
Make sure your bag also has a sternum strap. Having one across your stomach might be even better, in some cases. These two straps must also be adjustable: you won’t really be able to use a bag with fixed straps over a thick winter jacket, for instance.
Padding and Insulation
Rarely these bags are insulated: their wall is generally thin. This means that even if you can fit 20 beer cans in yours, it doesn’t mean they’ll stay cold. These bags have no insulating properties because of their thin walls, and you will want a padded slip if you are going to store something fragile in it like your laptop.
Having enough padding can also improve the overall comfort of the backpack and will it less of a burden for you when traveling.
Best Products on Today’s Market
The backpacks presented below are some of the best when it comes to protecting your belongings from water, dust, and other damaging elements. To help you form an unbiased opinion on them, we’ll also talk about their flaws.
Price: Approx. $40
Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 10 inches
Weight: 1.1 lb
Specific features: Adjustable waist and shoulder straps, air-mesh back panel
Best use: Various outdoor activities, traveling
Description: The Aqua Quest Himal Backpack has one outstanding feature which is the front pocket that closes with a zipper. That pocket also acts as a carry or storage pouch when you don’t actively use the bag.
Another feature of this backpack is its handle: it is placed on the front, right above the pocket. Its advantage is that it gives a carrying alternative, should you need it. What this product clearly lacks, is a pocket for your water bottle.
The bag’s only pocket is not waterproof because the zipper is not, but it can hold a smaller bottle of water just fine. You’ll most likely be surprised by how light this dry bag is, however don’t let this feature fool you: the material is rather sturdy. Make sure to place your laptop in a padded slip cover, as this bag isn’t padded.
When it comes to the warranty part, you get one for 2 years, called “no worries warranty.” The straps are adjustable, comfortable, but not waterproof. They do dry fast, so you won’t have to worry about the absorbed water.
- Front handle for easier carrying
- No inner pockets
- The outer pocket is not waterproof
Related: Should you go camping and the weather allows it, you could sleep in a hammock. The Covacure Camping Hammock has an insect net attached, a small carry pouch, and everything else needed to hang it to the trees.
Price: Approx. $95
Dimensions: 2.36 x 17.72 x 19.69 inches
Weight: 2.9 lb
Specific features: Large internal zip pocket, top carry handle, reflective strips
Best use: Travel, sailing or water sports
Description: The OverBoard Pro-Sport Backpack stands out from the other dry bags we selected through its 3 mesh outer pockets. One of them is on the front and is the largest. The other two are on the sides and one is designed to hold a bottle of water. You also have a small inner pocket for keys and other items you want to keep well hidden.
Given its 30 liters capacity, you can easily tell just how many items you can put in. should you want to carry your laptop, make sure it is placed in a padded and waterproof slip case. We recommend this because many customers said the backpack is not 100% waterproof, just water resistant.
Other complaints were related to the product’s durability. Customers said the rubber came off in places where the bag gets used the most: the upper sides, due to frequent use. Not only the rubber has delaminated, but also holes appeared in the material allowing the elements in.
The biggest disappointment however is related to the warranty: the producer of this product doesn’t offer any kind of warranty.
- 3 mesh outer pockets
- Top handle
- Waterproof slip case
- No laptop compartment
- The price tag
- No warranty
Related: If you want something with a more stylish appearance, perhaps the Sak Gear BackSak Waterproof Backpack will appeal to you. It has a large front pocket for phone, keys, wallet, and a capacity of 35 liters.
Price: Approx. $70
Dimensions: 9.8 x 11.8 x 21.6 inches
Weight: 1.9 lb
Specific features: Heat taped seams, double bar tacked stress points,
Best use: All outdoor adventures
Description: The Aqua Quest Stylin Backpack might seem like your typical backpack but it offers more than you know. The difference lies in the way it closes – rolling down and in the fact that it will keep your belongings dry in heavy rain. The manufacturer warns though against full submersion, as water will leak in.
This backpack is made of a highly resistant material, even during rugged adventures. You don’t even have to worry about its seams: they’re heat taped, therefore more resistant when compared to the seams with a similar treatment.
Many hikers worry about the weight of their backpack, as it adds to the overall weight they have to carry. This model is lightweight at under 2 pounds, while many others easily go over this mark.
Another feature liked by those who used this bag before, is its outer pocket where you can store a few wet items until you get the chance to dry them. However this pocket is not waterproofed, just water resistant. The bag also lacks a water bottle pocket, which is much needed when you need free hands.
- Zipped inner liner
- Outer zip-pocket
- No other inner dividers
- No outer water bottle pocket
- Water leaks in when fully submerged
Related: As a traveler, you don’t always want to carry a big backpack with you. The Heartbeat Small Crossbody Bag is a good options: small, versatile, waterproof, genderless, and designed to keep thieves at bay.
Price: Approx. $104
Dimensions: 11 x 5.9 x 18.5 inches
Weight: 2.2 lb
Specific features: Removable inner pocket, dual padded shoulder straps,
Best use: Cycling, commuting
Description: The Ortlieb Velocity Backpack features good back support and ample storage space. However at a capacity of just 20 liters, some of you might find it a bit on the small side. The bag comes with a removable inner pocket that can be used for holding a variety of small items.
Ortlieb used an industrial tarp to make this backpack, and as a result you can be sure it will last quite a while. The top closes with a Velcro after you roll the bag down, and this might wear faster – depending on how often you use it. The Velcro area also seems a bit too short for some customers, but a skilled person could easily replace it, or add more pieces of Velcro.
Many people worry about the breathability of their backs and shoulders when wearing a backpack. This one has a good ventilation system, and the straps are padded to increase the bag’s comfort.
- Good back support
- Good ventilation
- Long lasting
- The price
- No reflective fabric on it
Related: Since this bag is best used on bike, you might want even more storage for the bike related items you must have on hand. The Tourbon Frame Bag are 2 small bags specially designed to be attached to a bike. They’re made of waterproof canvas, and also have a handle if you don’t want to leave then unsupervised.
Price: Approx. $50
Dimensions: 12 x 20 x 9 inches
Weight: 2.95 lb
Specific features: Padded shoulder straps, two-way sealing system, lumbar support
Best use: All outdoor activities
Description: The first thing you’ll notice when seeing the Phantom Aquatics Walrus Premium Backpack is its boxy and rectangular shape. However this rectangular shape makes the bag look more stylish, making it more appealing to women as well.
As far as the storage space goes, the bag has an inner zippered pocket, another one made of mesh on the side, and it can fit a 15-inch sized laptop inside, with plenty of space to spare. Depending on how much stuff you put in it, and their general weight, you could have the bag floating in water instead of sinking to the bottom. To improve the floating feature, make sure to trap more air before you seal it.
Speaking of sealing this backpack, the system used on this product is a two-way one, therefore a more secure one. Now that we mentioned safety, you don’t really have to worry about your own safety at night because the bag has several super reflective patches on the front and on the shoulder straps.
Some customers have reported construction issues like the outer wall tearing after a single use or the drawstring broke. Some people said the mesh pocket is not big enough to hold a bottle of water while others said they had to squeeze it in there.
- Internal zip pocket
- Outer mesh pocket
- Super reflective patches
- Small mesh pocket
- Weak seams
Related: Depending on where and when you go hiking, you might want a warm sleeping bag as well. The Teton Sports Celsius XXL Sleeping Bag is supposed to keep you warm in -18°C / 0°F temperature and is quite lightweight as well.
Price: Approx. $47
Dimensions: 10 x 18 x 21 inches
Weight: 2.4 lb
Specific features: Padded back support, adjustable sternum strap
Best use: Outdoor adventures
Description: If you want to separate items that got wet from the dry items, the Big Horn Tortuga Backpack might be able to help all thanks to the two mesh outer pockets. Of course you can use them to carry a water bottle as well. If you bike or hike at night, the reflective indicator on the bag will be helpful.
When buying a backpack, many people are worried about how the straps will fit them. This product has adjustable straps to fit on most body frames. If you have a bigger or a smaller build than average people, you might want to try the product one before buying, to make sure the straps fit you.
While the capacity of the bag is 30 liters, it can safely carry about 40 pounds of items. Loading it more than this should be done for really short period of times or for really short distances. This backpack currently has no inner pockets, and this is something not many hikers like.
Like with most other similar bags, this one will float if you trap enough air in it, and don’t load it too much. Some customers liked the idea of being able to use a Sharpie to write and doodle on the bag, and have it personalized this way. Should the product get dirty, you can safely use soap and water to clean it.
It was hard for us to find any complaints about this product, and this can be a red flag for some buyers out there. The one year warranty may also not be enough for some, especially when other products receive lifetime warranty.
- Two outer mesh pockets
- Fits a 17-inch laptop
- Best for one weekend camping trip
- No inner pockets
- 1 year warranty
Related: If you travel with a smartphone or any other handheld device, you will want to make sure it is protected at all times. The Mosica Waterproof Phone Case can be submerged 100 feet, is touch friendly, transparent and fits phones up to 5.5-inch.
Price: Approx. $50
Dimensions: 18 x 26 inches
Weight: 2 lb 4 oz
Specific features: Padded back support, padded shoulder straps and sternum buckle
Best use: Camping, hiking
Description: You don’t read often enough about backpacks that can be used as pillows when camping. However the Earth Pak Backpack can be used exactly like this as it has a fairly flat surface all around, therefore saving you some space in your bag. To ensure comfort, make sure you trap some air in it before you seal it: leave it a bit on the soft side for improved comfort.
Some of the buyers really liked the waterproofed phone case that came with the bag. The case is transparent and can be used in any outdoor setting, on devices with a 6.5-inch diagonal. Even big phones like iPhone 7 Plus fit in this case.
The backpack has one big inner pocket as well as another big pocket on the outside. These pockets will help you organize small items such as passport, keys, or wallet, while keeping them safe and dry. The bag is large enough to allow you to pack a weekend’s worth of clothes and supplies.
You should be warned that the bag comes with no warranty. While this is disappointing, the product is affordable enough to make up for this.
- Can be used as pillow
- Protects against abrasion
- Side pocket
- No mesh pocket for water bottle
- No warranty
Related: We also think you could have a look at the Sarki Dry Bag. This item looks very similar to the Earth Pak Backpack, but it has 2 mesh outer pockets and has a slightly smaller capacity at 30 liters.
Price: Approx. $36
Dimensions: 2.9 x 11.6 x 19.1 inches
Weight: 2.1 lb
Specific features: Corded exterior, padded shoulder straps, made from marine grade 5 mm PVC tarpaulin
Best use: Outdoor and water related activities
Description: If you want to carry your 17-inch laptop with you, anywhere and also want it protected from the rain, then perhaps the FE Active Waterproof Backpack could help you out. The backpack is made from eco-friendly PVC which is definitely a nice touch. To be more specific, the material is a marine grade 5 mm PVC Tarpaulin, so you know it will survive quite a rugged adventure.
The waterproof feature of this bag has been tested both in a controlled environment as well as in an uncontrolled situation. The controlled situation was submerging the backpack filled with various electronics at a depth of 5 feet for 30 seconds, while the uncontrolled situation involved surfing. In both tests, both the backpack and the items in it emerged unaffected by the water.
The waterproof feature of this bag also depends on how well you seal it. You must fold the top part a few times and then use the snap closure to ensure everything stays put. Trapping more air inside the bag before sealing it, will also make it possible for it to float, so you’ll have less chances for it to sink at the bottom of the water you get into.
Make sure to check out the side mesh pockets as well as the several pockets found inside, designed to keep your possessions more organized. It was quite difficult to find any negative review about this bag, but it seems one customer had the drawstring breaking during the first use, while another one noticed some water did leak in it.
In any case, should you get this item and notice anything wrong with it, be aware of its lifetime warranty and have the product replaced.
- It can float
- Has several pockets
- Good for rugged use
- Lifetime warranty
- Could leak if not properly sealed
- The elastic drawstring can break
Related: If you prefer a more stylish or city appropriate backpack that is also waterproof, have a look at the ZBRO 100% Waterproof Backpack. It is made of TPU, PVC free, and protects against water and dust.
It appears we reached the end of the list of waterproofed backpacks and of our presentation. At this point, we hope you are better equipped for your next shopping session with good knowledge on these specific products.
You don’t even need to go hiking to buy this type of bag as you can also use them at any time there is a slight chance of rain. Many people who tried a dry bag never considered going back to their old bags.
So have you used a waterproof backpack before? If that’s the case, do you have a favorite model? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!